Saturday, November 23, 2019

Push-In Special Ed Services

I've been getting questions asking me how things are going with my new job position and I thought I'd share some details!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

First and foremost, I absolutely LOVE it. It has definitely been an adjustment for sure, as things are much different than what I was doing while teaching in Delaware, despite my job title being exactly the same.

In Delaware I had my own classroom and all of my students were on an IEP. In Maryland, I am working with pre-school (3 year olds), pre-k (4 year olds), and kindergarten. All of my students are in inclusion settings, and all of their services are push in. I have 2 students who require 1:1 support in their inclusion settings so they have an additional adult with them all day. I create my schedule to push into their classrooms to provide the services listed in their IEP. If you looked at my weekly schedule I actually over service my students, but this makes up for times when I may miss seeing them due to a training, my absence, a meeting, etc.

You can see in my schedule that I also provide coverage for breaks and lunch for the 1:1 adults with my students. I obviously blacked out names, but the blocks are color coded by student that I am working with.

I also want to point out that my pre-k students have a 1 hr nap in their schedule. The 3 year old class and the 4 year old classes have their naps at different times. There is a chunk in my day that between specials, lunch, nap, and recess, I have no students I can service. One nice thing that works out, is when I provided lunch coverage for a 1:1, I'm able to do my push in services with that student at that time.

Another tid bit-- I have my own instructional assistant (IA)! This was a surprise to me! All special ed teachers have their own IA. In the higher grade levels, IA's provide the push in services for students, while the special ed teacher provides the pull out services. Since none of my students have pull out services at this time, both my IA and I push into the classrooms. I am free to determine how I need to use my IA and create their schedule.

As I started falling into a groove with my services and what my students needed, I realized I was constantly juggling materials around and carrying so much stuff with me. Working with the little guys requires a lot more manipulatives and not always items that are easy to carry. Not to mention, once I walked out of my office, I never walked back by it, so it was eating into service time to have to drop off materials and pick up different ones.

Enter, the cart!

Cart photo taken from Amazon.

I'm surely not sneaking up on anyone when I'm pushing this through the halls, but I needed something, so I ordered this cart on Amazon. I wanted something stable, large enough to hold my stuff, but not too large. This was $65 so a bit of a splurge, but worth it!

I ordered containers from Really Good Stuff to put on my cart that would allow me to organize the materials I needed for each student. I wanted something that allowed me to continue color coding student materials and something that would be easy to carry into each classroom.

Photo taken from google search.

Putting my cart together has made things so much easier for me! I keep my binder on top where I have my data sheets for each student that I take into the classroom with me, as well as, additional copies of any data sheets I use, or leave behind for the classroom teacher in a hanging file bin. This is nice when I'm out in the classroom and realize I'm out of something or the teacher says they are in need of more copies. I can give them a few from here so they have what they need right away and I can get them more during my planning. I also decided to be a little extra and decorate my cart too.

Thankfully there are places I am able to leave my cart nearby the classrooms I go in that allow it to not be in the way in the event of a fire drill, or just kids passing by in general.

When I go into the classrooms I am partially assisting the students with what they are working on with their general education teacher, and also having them complete the activities I have brought with me for data collection on their goals. I swap out materials in their bins every 2-3 weeks, but we are still focusing on the same goals every time I come in. For example, if we are working on counting with 1:1 correspondence we might practice with counting books for a week or two, and then I'll switch the materials to mini erasers and ten frames.

There are definitely times that I miss having my own classroom. This has been an adjustment for me for sure, but if I am being honest, the stress level is lower. I have students with significant needs and the idea of not being with them all day every day took some time to get used to. Spending 30-45 min in their inclusion rooms at a time, 1-2x per day, really made me feel like I wasn't doing enough for them at first. But I had to remind myself that I AM doing more for them than their IEP requires and the benefit they have from an inclusion setting is as equally important.

For my higher needs students, I also have conversations with their general education teachers about their lesson plans to provided accommodated materials for the student that allows them to participate with what their general ed peers are doing as much as possible. This part has been hard. It didn't immediately happen. It took some time to see what the student can do, how they function/participate, get the proper support in place, not to mention finding the time to talk with the gen ed teacher isn't always easy either as our planning doesn't overlap. My goal is to make this happen more frequently and become more streamlined, but it's a work in progress.

For those of you who have been providing special education push in services at the pre-k/kindergarten level for some time, what are your tips and tricks? I'd love to hear your suggestions!



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