Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home Visits By Teachers (Originally published June 2007)

I've always been against the concept of home visits. For starters, I'm a teacher, not a social worker. I'm not trained to evaluate what I see in the home, and even if I were, how would I use that information in the classroom? "Oh, Johnny's home doesn't have many books. And there were dishes in the sink. And the tv was on." I know there might be an impact, but how does that knowledge help me teach Johnny? He's either responding to my instruction, or he's not. If he's not, let's try something else and see if he responds to that.

I'm not ashamed of my home, not in its appearance, upkeep, or conditions. But I would never allow my son's teacher to come to my house for such a visit. In my son's life, my place is at home and at school, but his teacher's place is at school.

I always thought home visits a bit paternalistic and judgemental, because I was told their reason was for the teacher to get an "understanding" of the child's home life. I viewed them as one link in the chain of soft bigotry of low expectations.

Here, however, is a justification I can live with and support:

The concept is simple: Students will do better in school if their teachers and parents get to know each other. The grants go to schools that predominantly serve children from low-income families.

Building a bridge is good. Acting like a social worker after a two-hour in-service on what to look for in a home visit is not.

1 comment:

Ellen K said...

I think I stated this before, but the idea that a teacher, or even a couple of teachers, can safely visit in some areas is questionable. There are apartment complexes and trailer parks where after dark it is dangerous for the residents, much less two teachers in a late model care. Poorly lit, poorly policied, this is an invitation to have some young naive teacher hurt or killed. If it is so important for parents and teachers to meet, then give up an instructional day and let parents come to school. Better yet, feed them lunch or pay them. And while they are at it, get current phone numbers, addresses and family contacts. Nearly half my students have none of these including one kid who put down a local rec center as his home.