US: Teachers conduct home visits, connect with students and parents
WORLD / U.S. – A home visit from teachers is not a revolutionary concept. Memphis Rise, a charter school in Tennessee, is opening a week later than other schools in the area due to construction difficulties leading up to its first year of operation. However, teachers are using the extra days to meet individually with their incoming sixth grade students.
Memphis Rise is certainly not the only school taking the time to connect with its families on their own turf. Schools in Washington decided to do the same in the 2013-2014 school year in an effort “to lift academic achievement by creating stronger partnerships between families and the schools,” according to an article by Emma Brown. At the time of writing, the website reported that the district had already visited over 1,400 families.
Home visits programs
Home visits are usually about 30 to 45 minutes long, and two teachers travel to each home together. Discussions center on the students in the family and expectations for the school year. The goal is to build a relationship with parents and thus encourage communication throughout the school year.
Districts receive teacher training for home visit programs from organizations such as HOME WORKS!. Teachers are paid for the extra time they spend visiting students’ homes, and they learn how to facilitate a visit that some parents may view as intrusive and offensive.
Visit underperforming students
The National Education Association suggests that teachers find out what parents’ experience in schools has been up to the time of the meeting. Then teachers and parents discuss parents’ dreams and hopes for their children. After this, the teachers explain what they need from parents and then ask what parents’ expectations are of teachers. The NEA also suggests that teachers do not take any notes to avoid seeming like they are evaluating and to not take any papers out like flyers or calendars to give to the family until at least 20 minutes into the conversation.
Teachers should try to visit both “good” and “underperforming” students so as to avoid the image that they are visiting only one type of student. Some parents may also be uncomfortable meeting at their homes, and they may feel better meeting at a neutral location, like a library or coffee shop.
In the end, home visits can help students, families, and parents build relationships that will encourage more family participation at school, help teachers to understand their students’ home lives and backgrounds, and simply help everyone better support students’ academic success.
For more information on the HOME WORKS! programme, visit their website.
Have you done a home visit? Do you think it is a useful initiative?