One of the hardest things to do as a special education support teacher or resource specialist is to create a pull-out schedule of when you will see your groups. In this post, I share the important steps I use in my process.
Pull-out Schedule Rule #1-Block out your Lunch and Recess times
Start by blocking out your lunch times and recess times. Neither you nor your general education teachers can modify those dedicated times.
Build Your Groups for an Effective Pull-out Schedule
Decide which kids you need to group together for which type of intervention. Understanding some students might come more than once a day. Decide are you going to be able to see all of the students in that grade for writing support at the same time? Would the group be a good size or too big? Do you need to combine students from different grades to address a basic skill needed so they can begin to participate in the grade level content?
Teacher Input for the Pull-out Schedule:
Next, find out which teachers this impacts and get ready. Are you ready? . . .wait for it . . . Don’t ask them, any of them, what time they want to pull out to happen! This will only lead to disappointment on their end and chaos on yours. You can’t build a pull-out schedule that works best for kids if you worry about what teachers want.
Instead, ask the teachers, “what time does not work for you?” You are doing this for two huge reasons. First, you will never get five, or even three, teachers to have such similar plans for their day and similar ideas about special education pull out support that they will offer up at the same time. It just won’t happen. And that is fine. What you need is to give them some choice. Teachers in general are big on control and planning. Asking this question ensures the part of the day the teacher considers non-negotiable to have students miss can be avoided and you are given the whole rest of the day as a workable option to pull your groups out for intervention instruction.
We need to remember, it is a goal to have students in the general ed setting as much as possible while still meeting their needs. We need to build a schedule so all students are receiving FAPE (Fair Appropriate Public Education) as determined by the IEP team.
It might also be best practice to avoid pulling a student every day during their favorite subject, or have them always miss group work. To avoid this, I like to create an alternating service schedule. Students I only see three days a week will drive the schedule. Students at the same grade that need 5 days a week will have their additional service provided at a different time on those two extra days.
IEP Document Drives the Pull-out Schedule
So, you have grouped the students, found a magical way to fit them all in with an alternating schedule, then, out of nowhere you get approached how this time just doesn’t work. (Face Palm) Here is where the documented IEP becomes your job description and permission. Start by acknowledging the teacher is concerned as to what they will be missing. Sometimes I just nod. Then remind them that you avoided the time they said would not work. Sometimes I ask if that has changed, if so, I will go back to the drawing board. Generally, it hasn’t but the teacher feels if they are noisy, you will redo your whole plan to make them happy. I suggest don’t do this without checking with other teachers – you never want to have them think one teacher’s idea will overturn a schedule that has been built. If all the involved teachers agree and it really is no better or worse for you, go ahead and make a change. But, if, and this is what usually happens, it is not better for everyone and others prefer the pull-out schedule they already accepted and adjusted to, the schedule remains the same. THEN, if a teacher wants to point out again what the child will be missing, you remind them, the IEP plan does state the child will miss whole class instruction and that part of their day must be out of the general ed classroom as the setting page of the IEP indicates.
So, there you have it. After you create your groups, ask teachers what can’t work and plan away. But remember, just because I didn’t say give yourself a lunch – I totally want you to include a lunch.