Crafting an Effective Push-In Teaching Schedule for ESL Students

For many ESL teachers, ESL push-in services have become an important part of their teaching approach in middle and high school. However, creating a schedule can be challenging for some teachers, especially new ones. This session addresses creating a push-in schedule that promotes successful language acquisition and academic achievement.

Unlike pull-out services, where English learners are taken out of their regular classrooms for specialized instruction, push-in services allow ESL teachers to enter mainstream classrooms. ESL push-in allows ESL teachers to provide targeted support to ESL students during regular content instruction.

esl push in

A well-developed push-in schedule fosters inclusion, minimizes disruptions to the student’s day, and allows students to learn alongside their peers. A key aspect of successful push-in services is creating an effective schedule that aligns with ESL students’ needs and the mainstream classroom’s structure.

Assess Student Needs

Before creating a schedule, it is crucial to assess the needs of your ESL students. Consider their language proficiency levels, the content areas in which they struggle the most, and the times when they would benefit most from push-in services.

Language Proficiency

Prioritizing student English language proficiency must determine which students should provide ESL push-in services. This is because students with a lower proficiency level tend to be the neediest students who need immediate support in services. If we refer to the WIDA proficiency levels, these may be students with a score lower than 3. In most cases, ESL teachers are forced to prioritize these students and create their schedules based on these particular kids.

Content Area Instruction

The next factor to consider is the class to which you will provide ESL push services. Although students take at least six classes, a teacher cannot support every class. Prioritizing is key here, and considering the language level involved in each content area helps. For instance, English language arts tends to be a class I often focus on, followed by Social Studies. These two classes tend to cover and require a higher language level, but this does not mean the Math and Social studies are unimportant. If a group of ESL students struggles with language arts, scheduling push-in services during this time would be beneficial.

When possible, aim to push in all four content areas. Consider alternating classes every other day to target all when possible. Adjust the amount of time you’re in each class when possible. For example, if you are in a school that follows a 90-minute block schedule, it may help to push in or check in with different content classes during a 90-minute block. As you learn what is covered in each class, supporting students in multiple content areas becomes easier.

Schedule Rotation

The next factor to consider when creating a schedule is the schedule rotation and student schedules. You must gather all student schedules to determine which students can fit in your push-in periods. This may entail referring to a schedule one at a time to see which students are taking what class during period 1, period 2, period 3, etc.

This task may be the most complicated part of creating an ESL push-in schedule. Some teachers print every student’s schedule, while others just look them up online and review them individually. Some teachers create a chart they fill in, while others may write down a list of the classes they will go to. Your approach can be time-consuming, but it is easy to change or tweak once done.

As a teacher, I used a chart where I would fill in each student’s content area class. The chart would then help me determine which classes I could support. Download a copy of the chart I once used to create an organized schedule.

Download a ready-to-use Schedule Template you can use over and over again! Use the form below…

When creating a push-in schedule, consider the size of the groups you will work with. While working with all ESL students at once may be tempting, working with smaller groups or even providing individualized support may be more effective. Consider your ESL students’ needs and the mainstream classroom’s structure when determining group sizes.

Coordinate with Content Teachers

Collaboration with content teachers is essential for the success of ESL push-in services. Discuss with the classroom teacher your intentions to provide push-in services. You can also work together to create a schedule that aligns with the content teacher’s lesson plans and minimizes disruptions. Make sure to communicate regularly with content teachers to discuss the progress of ESL students and adjust the schedule as needed.

Create a Flexible Schedule

Flexibility is key when creating a push-in schedule. While having a schedule in place is important, it is equally important to be flexible and make adjustments as needed. Regularly assess student progress and adjust the schedule to provide more support in areas where they are struggling or reduce support in areas where they excel.

I remember adjusting my schedule when newcomer students joined in the middle of the school year. We all know we will have to make this change based on new student enrollment. Prioritizing here involves considering the needs of all students. When newcomers join, they become a priority because other students have received services and may have adjusted to a routine.

Instructional Supports

Push-in services should include various activities that address ESL students’ language needs. This may include scaffolding the content and language, adapting instructional materials, clarifying instructions, and providing targeted language instruction. Be sure to incorporate a mix of supports that target listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.


Creating an effective push-in teaching schedule for ESL students requires careful consideration of student needs, collaboration with content teachers, flexibility, and various activities. By taking the time to assess the needs of your ESL students, coordinating with content teachers, creating a flexible schedule, and incorporating a variety of instructional supports, you can create a push-in teaching schedule that promotes successful language acquisition and academic achievement for your ESL students.

Remember, push-in services aim to provide targeted support while promoting their inclusion in the mainstream classroom. With careful planning and execution, push-in services can be valuable in the ESL teacher’s toolkit.

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