First, let me share my opinion on pull out intervention. For my first three years as a reading specialist, I primarily pulled out my students. This was a decision made by administration.
- For the most part, I had control of the environment. We had plenty of space with few distractions in the room. Many of the students receiving intervention services struggle with attention. The quiet environment separated from the busy classroom helped my students focus. Students were able to attend to concepts they might have missed in the classroom.
- I had the resources I needed at hand. I had room to put up anchor charts and a dry erase board. There was space for sets of leveled readers, notebooks, and a variety of other supplies. I never had to worry if I had left a supply behind. I also did not need to buy additional sets of supplies to store in multiple rooms.
- A change of environment is refreshing. Students enjoyed leaving their classroom and going to a new place. The movement is also beneficial.
- Travel time. Students must travel from their classroom to the intervention room. (In my case, however, it has never been more than 2-5 minutes.)
- Some students might feel embarrassed leaving the classroom. (In my experience, we have had all the students go to different locations for reading groups and services at their level. When we did this, we eliminated the stigma because all the students were going somewhere. It might be to intervention or to a higher level group with another grade level teacher.)
- Less time with the classroom teacher. The intervention teacher must find time outside the intervention block to communicate with the classroom teacher. (However, when I push in, my schedule is so packed that there is not time to communicate with the classroom teacher during that time, anyways.)
While I have done push in intervention all four years I have been a reading specialist, I used this form of intervention primarily this past school year. Once again, this was a decision made by administration.
- Less time lost during transitions. When I switch groups, the students are able to come to me quickly because I am already in the classroom. Time is still lost in my schedule, however, because I have to travel to the different rooms. I don't doubt that I travel faster than the students, though!
- The intervention teacher is able to interact more with the teacher in the classroom. He or she is able to witness the teacher's instructional style first hand.
- A more united front is presented for behavioral issues. It is very easy to use the same behavioral system. (Ex. Change clip, flip card, etc.)
- More distractions. This will depend greatly on class size. With classrooms of 30 children, I had to deal with the distractions of other reading groups, centers, and general classroom interruptions. At some points, I was even distracted hearing other teachers lead their groups! I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the students.
- Time wasted putting materials away and setting them up. Once again, this depends on your situation. I was required to store my materials on a shelf and then set up on a group of student desks. I had to clear the students' desks, set up a foldable board, and set up any other reading materials. Then, I had to clean all of these up. This time had to be scheduled into my overall schedule. Time that could have been used for instruction.
As I write this, I realize that these are my opinions based upon my experiences. Other teachers will have different experiences based upon the structure of their schools and classrooms. This past school year, I found that of all my groups, the group that I pulled out grew significantly more than any of my other reading groups.
I find it very interesting that many of the popular names in education advocate for push in, including the well known Richard Allington, but when I looked at popular teaching forums, such as Pro Teacher, the majority of teachers seemed to be in favor of pull out.
After my research, I think this fact illustrates the problem. There is a disconnect between administration and teachers. While teachers should always do what they believe is best for their students, the structure of the school plays a crucial role in the success or failure of the intervention system. Most of the success stories I have heard for push in intervention centered around a strong school wide approach.
As a result, I believe that until all school systems are run exactly the same (which will never happen!), the model that works best for one school will not work best for all. Many factors determine whether push in or pull out is best for your students and your school.
What are your thoughts on pull out vs. push in intervention?