Recently a friend of mine was telling me her daughter was having a drink with a friend after work when after a while her friend had to excuse herself for a P.T.O. meeting. When her daughter asked her why so late she responded, “Oh we don’t go there anymore, they come to us.” WHAAAAT????
This prompted me to do some research and what I found was, while innocent and good intentioned on the outside, was chilling in other aspects indeed. Apparently this has been going on for the last 15 years at least and is a law in15 states. The idea is to build better relationships with the families of the student and the school. St. Paul Minnesota has such a plan and is a good example:
The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is a regional training site for the National Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project started in Sacramento, California over 15 years ago. Today, the project has spread to over 15 states across the country. More information can be found at www.pthvp.org.
SPFT provides training on how to conduct effective home visits, along with other strategies for building partnerships between parents and teachers.
In only three years our project has grown from 6 teachers trained visiting about 15 families, to a total of 500+ teachers trained today and over 500 families visited last year. We have also begun to train outside of St. Paul. We have trained two schools in Colombia Heights and one in Eau Clair, WI. SPFT’s work has been noticed and featured in the Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, and the Twin City Daily Planet. Last fall our work was featured on NBC’s Today Show during Education Nation.
Visits with Parents
Forge a strong partnership with parents by meeting them on their own turf.
Sometimes it’s hard to get the help you need from parents in getting their children motivated and ready to learn—especially when the parents didn’t go to school themselves or had a bad time of it.
There are many approaches to enlisting parents’ support. The program outlined here was developed by parents and teachers working together in Sacramento, California, with strong support from the Sacramento City Teachers Association. It has been used in hundreds of schools in six states.
(Visit www.teachervisits.org for more.)
Before you start:
At least half of the faculty should want to do it.
Nobody should be forced to do it or punished for not doing it.
Everybody who does it should be paid.
Typically, there’s a three-hour training program before the home visits start.
Preparing for a visit:
Don’t visit only kids in trouble. That puts a stigma on getting a visit. Go see everybody, or if that’s not possible, be sure to include at least some students who are doing well.
When you call to set up a visit, offer alternative times—few parents will say no if you’re flexible. Most visits are in the afternoon or on weekends. If the parents are uncomfortable inviting you into their home, meet at a coffee shop, a library, or even a park.
Go with a partner—two teachers or a teacher and a support professional.
At the meeting:
- Have everyone explain his or her relationship to the student. Usually, the student is there.
- Getting to know you. Find out whether the parents have other children in school. What’s been their experience in schools up until now?
- Most important. The hopes and dreams conversation. Ask the parents about their dreams for their student, and share yours. You will probably discover you have much in common. “To stop and say why you do what you do—that can be very powerful for the teacher, not just the parent,” says Carrie Rose, who directs the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project.
- Explain what you need from the parent, and ask what the parent would like you to do. (Often, parents ask how they can contact you.)
If possible, don’t come with papers and don’t take notes. Parents will feel you are evaluating them. If you must deliver information, like the bell schedule or graduation requirements, don’t pull out any paper for at least 20 minutes.
The typical meeting lasts 30 to 45 minutes.
Then there are situations such as this that happened to one teacher:
“When we started, home visits were not part of the culture, and some parents would not let us come to the home. One mom had a lot of problems, including drugs. She had had her kids taken away before. She reluctantly agreed to meet at a McDonald’s, but she would not open up.
“Her children had poor attendance, and we were trying to impress on her that she needed to get them to school on time. Her answers were curt. The whole meeting was over in 10 or 15 minutes.
While this program apparently seems successful, with today’s liberal establishment controlling the education dept. and with all the NSA spying on us there are other scenarios that can arise. For instance, a teacher wanders into a home and sees a gun rack and books by Dick Cheney and Ann Coulter. The teacher can report back to the supervisor that the family are right wing extremists or a teacher wanders into a home with a cross on the wall and a bible on a table, the teacher can report back that the family is of the religious right. It can’t happen here you say? Well as soldier was just court martialed for having a bible on her desk. No, no, no it can’t happen here they say, but it does.