The Negative Nickname SLPs providing services in classrooms is a good thing. Calling those services “push in”—not so much, says one SLP. School Matters
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School Matters  |   September 01, 2016
The Negative Nickname
Author Notes
  • Barbara J. Ehren, EdD, CCC-SLP, directs the doctoral program and is a professor at the University of Central Florida. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education; and 16, School-Based Issues. barbara.ehren@ucf.edu
    Barbara J. Ehren, EdD, CCC-SLP, directs the doctoral program and is a professor at the University of Central Florida. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education; and 16, School-Based Issues. barbara.ehren@ucf.edu×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / School Matters
School Matters   |   September 01, 2016
The Negative Nickname
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 34-35. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.21092016.34
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 34-35. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.21092016.34
Don’t talk about “push in,” please.
Are you shocked by this request from someone with a long history of advocating for school-based speech-language pathologists to deliver services in classrooms? Let me explain.
I highly value the delivery of speech-language services in classrooms, including models where general and special education teachers are the primary instructors. In my experience, these delivery models facilitate school success in ways that pull-out services typically do not.
In the classroom, SLPs gain knowledge of the academic and social demands for specific grades and subjects. We also get to see teachers present lessons and engage with students, which can shed light on students’ learning environment. In-classroom services also enable SLPs to understand students’ specific difficulties in trying to meet rigorous curriculum standards, as well as in interacting socially. And we learn the contexts within which we can target generalization of skills and strategies.
Perhaps most significantly, our presence makes us visible contributors to classroom success and valued collaborators.
I can also offer reasons for asking SLPs to rethink the pervasive use of a pull-out approach: It disrupts the flow of learning, students struggle to make up missed classwork, and has other negative impacts.
So, while I’m a fan of in-classroom services, my request to stop “pushing in” concerns the phrase itself. I cringe at the term. When I hear it, I envision an SLP barging into a teacher’s classroom, perhaps knocking over classroom furniture or even a few students in the process. Frankly, it sounds too, well—pushy. I also don’t think teachers on the receiving end find the construct particularly inviting. Would you want someone entering your space with the degree of gusto “push in” suggests?

I cringe at the term “push in.” When I hear it, I envision an SLP barging into a teacher’s classroom, perhaps knocking over classroom furniture or even a few students in the process.

I suspect “push in” originated as the opposite of “pull out.” From a purely linguistic perspective, it makes sense. However, when one really contemplates meaning, the picture isn’t pretty. The language matters. After all, we’re language people, and we appreciate the power of words to facilitate or hinder. The term doesn’t help make the in-classroom delivery model palatable to teachers, and it doesn’t entice them to collaborate.
If we want to provide services in teachers’ classrooms, we need to present our case in the best possible light. We should make them comfortable with our presence in their space. The right language can help promote the idea of services delivered in the classroom.
Therefore, I suggest an alternative. How about saying that SLPs gently “go in” to classrooms, and just call them “in-classroom” services? This language captures the nature of the delivery model without the negative imagery attached to pushing, shoving, barging in or acting pushy. I suspect teachers will more favorably engage in conversations about in-classroom services.
I think it’s worth a try. I love the idea of SLPs—who are language people—using language judiciously to meet a goal. I hope all SLPs soon reply to the question, “Do you push in?” with the answer, “No, I don’t. I enter classrooms gently, with great tact and respect. I provide in-classroom services with teachers who are glad to collaborate with me.”
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September 2016
Volume 21, Issue 9