You didn’t go into education for the money or the fame. You likely went into it for the given; you love children. Other reasons such as wanting to make a difference in the lives of humans, the enjoyment or passion for a certain content area, being creative in instructional design and delivery, an invested interest in the educational structure, the lure of administration telling you what to do, endless red tape and chest thumping policy makers… I digress.
Try this one on for size, how about you tell administration what you’re going to do? Be a leader. As an educator we know things, we know lots of things, and I find educators who know of best practices, empathetic approaches, and see the macro view, rather than the micro view to be the quietest of all. Why? I once read about the appreciation administrators have for those who offer options and solutions to problems, rather than simply presenting problems.
I was recently drawn to a professional exchange regarding what to do when needing to pull students out for certain instructional interventions. An intervention teacher was having difficulty creating her pull-out schedule because the classroom teacher didn’t want students missing content lessons. The intervention teacher was asking for suggestions via a wonderfully supportive social media group, to which I belong. Here are some ideas for those of you who may be facing this challenge; either classroom teacher or intervention teacher.
Action step one: “All teachers have to be problem solvers, not problem staters,” noted Amber Salyers, a former classroom teacher, new Reading Recovery teacher. I agree with Amber’s line of thinking. I also believe that teachers may need to come up with more than one solution, as well as approaching involved parties more than once, no matter the discomfort.
If teachers, were to keep teaching and students at the heart of their work, rather than the endless deadlines, mandates, testing, outside noise, as well as their own insecurities from rearing their ugly heads (or at least seek to minimize that good-for-nothing voice), all could be so much better. The reality of students needing to be pulled out, happens, and will continue to do so. Take a few minutes, yes a few minutes only, for a focused (create a specific outline) meeting every week or every other week to discuss solutions for ideal actions for the students who will be leaving their regular classroom.
Action step two: I’ve worked in schools where the pull-out intervention was the class or the content area, in other words, it replaced what was happening in the classroom; Reading Recovery or Occupational Therapy replaced Social Studies or Literacy/Reading. Students who were pulled-out were only responsible for one thing, the class/content/activity that was the pull-out time, rather than racing around to catch up. The support of administrators made this possible, even an adjustment to that student’s report card, which reflected more of a description of progress, rather than a grade, was made for each marking period.
Action step three: Collaboration of all interested parties, similar to an Individualized Educational Plan, or any type of legal document, meant to meet the needs of certain students; host a laser focused meeting with teachers, parents, administration, and other invested parties, to create a plan for working together, to modify all work, all demands, and all stress on the student for optimal output. Amber also noted in the discussion, “I’m a believer that the teacher must be flexible and creative.” Through flexibility and creativity there is opportunity for movement and idea creation. Think about it, if a student clearly understands that all those who care for her/him are on the same page and are understanding of her/his schedule, everyone breathes easier, including the teachers.
Action step four: By elimination, I mean reduce the work load. When a student is in the process of gaining knowledge and skills through pull-out work which is specifically geared to their individual needs, (which is often lost in mass educational structures) whether it be Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Reading Interventions, Special Education Interventions, or what have you, for the love of the child, and your own sanity, reduce the work! Focused or specific work that a student does outside of the mainstream/regular classroom is time well spent on education that is needed by that student; mainstream/regular classroom time is not the only way for education to occur.
As a side note, classroom teachers, may feel as though everything is on their shoulders. I’ve seen endless paperwork land in their laps, anything that needs to get filled-out, followed-up on, or done, hence I’m in agreement with the feeling; without getting into an another topic entirely… A classroom teacher who finds his/her way to collaboration rather than consternation, frees her/him-self.
Last thought, put yourself in the shoes of the student who must be pulled out. Would you like that position? The position of being pulled out then sent back to class and required to catch up, learn new material quickly, when you are already facing challenges as a learner? Or would you rather people who care for you to have your back, working to create peaceful, flowing, and finest conditions? I know I have wished, at times, there was a better way, be the Firestarter for these students and yourself, as an educator. And keep at it.