8 Useful Home Visit Resources For Teachers
by Terry Heick
School home visits are continuing to see traction in many public school districts as a way to not simply ‘improve relationships with students’ but rather begin the school year ‘on even ground’ with families and communities. While truly meaningful interactions between schools and communities ideally occurs through curriculum, student projects, and even place-based education, school home visits performed by teachers with open minds and hearts–and a little bit of preparation–can pay huge dividends for the entire school year.
The first time I was asked to perform a home visit, my first response–if I’m being honest–was how much it encroached on my already too-brief summer ‘vacation.’ We had training through mid to late June and were already scheduled for home visits by late July, which left me–according to my calculations–less than four weeks of actual ‘vacation.’ Adding in required PD hours and PGP work–not to mention refinement of my own ELA units and collaboration with other teachers for horizontal and vertical alignment and–well, I’m sure you get it. I was interested in the concept but was concerned about the lack of planning and execution. In short, we were given a long list of names and addresses and wished the best of luck.
Years later, I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my teaching career. I’ll talk more about that in another post. Today, I wanted to share a few resources for school home visits for teachers who may preparing for such an experience. If you’ve done them before, little of what I collected will likely help you. But if you’re new to the idea, below is a decent overview of school home visit resources for teachers.
8 Useful Home Visit Resources For Teachers
1. Home Visit Preparation from Teaching Tolerance
How are you equipping teachers to build relationships with families through visits? Learn the benefits of home visits and best practices for how to prepare for and conduct them.
2. An organization called ‘Parent Teacher Home Visits’ on the importance of mindset shifts for home visits
The enclosed report shows how the PTHV model and process of relational home visits builds understanding and trust, reduces anxiety and stress, and fosters positive cross-group interactions between educators and families. Moreover, these relational capacities are critical for identifying and reducing educators’ and families’ implicit biases that too often lead to disconnects, missed opportunities, and discriminatory behaviors in and beyond the classroom. The findings are consistent with what PTHV’s founders intuited at the beginning: when educators and families build mutually respectful and trusting relationships they become more aware of stereotypes and biases and work toward leaving them behind. As a result, they are both better equipped to support the students’ education. With the help of relational home visits, their common interest—the child’s success—wins out over unconscious assumptions.
3. A guide to home visits from the Michigan State Board of Education and San Francisco Unified School District
(During home visits) avoid:
- Imposing values
- Socializing excessively at the beginning of the visit
- Excluding other members of the family from the visit
- Talking about families in public
- Being the center of attention
Project Appleseed is actually an entire model (with paid training but also free tips and resources) for school home visits. There is a lot of useful information here, including tips for a successful school open house after the school home visit.
5. A 32-page (pdf) John Hopkins University study and research summary on school home visits
“Students whose families received home visits were more likely to attend school and to achieve or exceed grade-level reading comprehension than students whose families did not receive a home visit, even after controlling for prior differences in attendance and reading comprehension.”
6. A story on The Power of Home Visits from NPR
Phillips runs a landscaping business and says long days have kept him from being as involved with his daughter’s education as he’d like to be. Seeing this interaction has him a little choked up. “It’s just good to see her grow up and have people around her who care,” he says. “Sometimes parents aren’t there, man. Sometimes we gotta work. Sometimes we’re gone a lot of the time. It’s good to see [teachers] come out to the neighborhood like that. I know she’s in good hands.”
7. A general home visit primer from NEA Today
“Before, teachers would call home to say, ‘Your grandson is acting up’ or ‘He’s been suspended.’ This was the first time teachers had come and believed in her grandson. We said, ‘We’re here to help you graduate!’
8. A broad overview of existing research on school home visits
Although educational researches and practitioners have consistently suggested that greater levels of parental involvement play an important role in promoting academic success of their children, they have been less clear about specific processes and factors that facilitate parents’ involvement in rural settings (Moreno, 2000). Some researchers like William (1996) have argued that rural communities, because of their size and networks have fewer barriers and provide a more conducive environment for parents to participate in their children’s education.