Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone by Maureen Wilson

Today, I'm pleased to welcome my friend Maureen Wilson from The Speech Bubble SLP!  This is the latest post in the recurring series, "Stepping Outside Your SLP Comfort Zone."   - Natalie


From grad school to my first years working, therapy was always the same, pull-out. Scheduling and finding the times to make it all work to get my kids from their classrooms to my speech room. Lately, there was been a lot of chatter about 'push-in' therapy. Well, push-in models can push ( pun intended ) a lot of SLPs outside of their comfort zone. It can be scary to leave our speech rooms where our materials are close at hand and move into a teacher's classroom! That was me this year, when my district said we needed to start making an effort to incorporate more push-in services into our days.

 I started out with baby steps. I talked with teachers that I knew well. Many of them had my kids in the past, so we already had relationships. It was easier to talk about pushing into their classroom when they already knew the expectations of speech students. We would plan at least one day a week where I would be integrated into the students literacy stations so I would 'blend' into the classroom better. I would use books the corresponded to the topics that they were addressing in class and use those to target their goals. Using books made going into the classroom easier since I didn't have to worry about bring games and pieces, probably forgetting something, and then figuring out how to make it work. I started using rubrics to take data for the goals I was pushing-in for. It was too hard to take data on language goals in the classroom. There were little friends who wanted to know what I was doing and what it was for. I didn't want to single out my kids or embarrass them. I found filling out a rubric in office when we were done was just as effective and eliminated a lot of questions.

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 I took a big, huge jump out of my comfort zone and a WHOLE CLASS lesson around Christmas time. I had a student who was working on describing and the teacher stated there were other students who needed help too in that area too. I had seen other kids become more interested in what my students were doing with me so I thought a whole class activity would be good thing. I used my Snow Globe activity paired with the EET. It took two, 30 minutes whole class lessons for the kids to go through the EET ( which they thought was pretty cool ) and complete the activity. The results were pretty cute, if I do say so myself!

If you are looking do to more push-in therapy I recommend doing a few things:

1. Look at your caseload and determine which students and which goals and realistically be targeted in the classroom.

2. Talk to the teachers before you decide to push into their room. Ask them about good times or subjects for you to push-in.

3. Find a push-in model that fits your style of therapy. There are quite a few out there. You may also find that tweaking a model way work as well. Also, there will be some trial and error.

4. Make time to talk with the teacher each week to check student progress, classroom topics you may want to incorporate etc.

5. Take a deep breath. You are a highly educated, well-trained professional. Change happens. You've got this!

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2 comments

  1. I do it at the middle school and I have found that when the kids struggle with figurative language, multiple meanings and sentence structures, it helps them if they don't miss class and the lessons are related to the work they have to complete. I often take over when the teacher gets to work with one or two kids.

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  2. Can I ask for an example of a rubric you would use and for which goals and classroom activities? I'd love to try that this year and actually do have some time to do so!

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