18 Times a week someone shows up at my classroom looking to take a student or students out for pull out instruction. The counselor, an occupational therapist, and adaptive PE teacher, a Wilson reading instructor, a physical therapist, and two special educators. There isn't a single day or even half day when a child isn't being pulled out. This is difficult for so many different reasons.
First, the most important thing I do at the beginning of a school year is build classroom culture. This is really hard to do with you seldom have all of your students in class. It is hard to build teams of students when everytime students practice teamwork members of each team are missing. It is also extraordinarily challenging for students to learn classroom routines when their routine is changing every day do to their pull out schedule. So while I'm teaching most students to take their lunch and jackets to specials class, I'm teaching others to grab those things as they head out for OT because they'll go directly to special from there.
One of the most challenging things is scheduling the truly special events that unfold in the classroom. These events obviously include holiday parties and cultural arts events as well a special guest visits. However, their are a plethora of other events that kids don't want to miss. They never want to miss #classroombookaday. I swear, when they return from a session, they come into the room and immediately check out the bulletin board to see if they've missed it. When they see that a new book jacket has been added to the bulletin board, their face falls. I try to lesson the blow by putting the day's picture book into his or her book box so that it can be enjoyed during Daily Cafe. There are special lessons in math too. Sometimes it is a Math in 3 Acts lesson or a favorite routine that is missed. It isn't avoidable but that doesn't mean that it feels okay either. It feels crappy.
The other very real challenge is keeping kids caught up. There is no down time during the school day so how exactly am I supposed to get a kids caught up who misses critical whole-class instruction during math class. How do I ensure that the kid who missed the chapters we read in reading class has an opportunity to read those chapters before we move on tomorrow. Assigning missed work is not an option. I won't punish kids with homework for being pulled out of class. We figure it out, we make it work. But let's be clear, these kids are missing out. They are missing out when they're pulled out and they're missing out when we catch them up. They don't get choice during Daily Cafe. They have to get caught up on missed reading or writing. They don't get choices during math practice time either. There are seldom fun games to build fluency and provide practice for them, when kids get to make choices during math class these kids get caught up . At times, when there is no other option, I have the kids pulled out AGAIN during "less important" instructional moments. It is just crap. I just don't know how to fix it.