Every teacher at my new school is required to do 40 home visits with our students. This means that I will visit half of my students. If I were super woman, I would do all 80 home visits, but, seriously, you have to draw the line somewhere. If I visited 80 homes, I would never visit my own home.
I had started doing my home visits at the beginning of the year, in what felt like a horrible, never-ending death marathon of working and driving around and visits with parents and children. By the beginning of October, I realized that I was doing home visits at the expense of good lesson plans, which was simply unacceptable to me. The home visits are intended to raise student achievement through building strong relationships with the families. However, my students were not achieving because I wasn’t able to give them what they needed in the classroom.
So, I took a break from home visits for a while. Some other teachers did the same thing, while others put their heads down and busted the visits out. (I still wonder how they were able to do that. I simply didn’t have the energy for it.)
Now, I’m at the point where I’m ready to get the visits finished, so I made a schedule for myself that would ensure I had them completed by December 5. Not bad, considering I still had over half of them to go. I’ve been surprised to find that I enjoy the home visits much more than I thought I would. Some of the unexpected benefits of the home visits include:
1. Driving to parts of San Jose that I would never have visited otherwise. This city makes a lot more sense to me now.
2. Putting some of my students in context. Examples: A student who is frequently over-tired in class lives in a house with like 15 other people. No wonder the kid is tired- he probably can’t get any sleep. Other students are the spitting images of their parents (in both looks and behavior) which explains quite a lot about them.
3. Making connections with parents that simply can’t be made through parent conferences alone. They tell me how much they love our school (particularly, the ones with kids who went to other schools before) and how grateful they are that we are all working so hard together. Every parent has said that if I ever need anything (and I think they mean anything, including a hot meal) that I should call them. Their generosity is touching to me.
Speaking of generosity, it is that time of year once again where Americans get together to eat a lot of food. Some people over indulge, some people watch football, some people go bargain-hunting, and everyone is reminded of what we have to be thankful for. I have a lot this year: a wonderful fiancee, a cute dog, great family and friends, and a job that I actually like. I consider myself extremely lucky.