Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 18 2011

I’m Coming Over!

I love home visits. I wish I’d just taken the initiative my first two years, called up families, and informed them I was coming over to say hi. At my new school, we’re each only required to visit 5 of our kids’ families, but I just want to keep going forever. It’s the best.

First, you get to see where and how your kids live. What’s the neighborhood like? How well kept is the house? How many people are there? Which adults are around? Is there a quiet place to do homework? My school is incredibly, wonderfully diverse, and in the space of two hours I saw distinct extremes at the homes of two girls in my homeroom. One has a relatively famous dad and lives in a gorgeous home in a beautiful neighborhood. Both parents sat down to talk to me while her little siblings played outside with toys. The other one lives on the opposite side of town, in a small basement with her mother, multiple siblings and a crying baby. They were careful to keep all the doors closed so I wouldn’t see into bedrooms. Interestingly, the second mother was dramatically more supportive than the first, but both were really enjoyable to talk with. It gives great context on the kids and where they’re coming from.

Also, it’s fun to build connections with families. Everyone has been really nice and welcoming, and the kids are delighted to have me in their homes. The family I visited today invited me to stay for dinner, and I wanted to so badly but didn’t have time. We just sit and chat about school and life and their kids and how excited they are for the opportunity to be at this school. I love getting to make a personal connection outside of being the math teacher.

An added bonus is that I’m getting to practice my Spanish. Only two people at my school speak Spanish, so we get sent to all the homes where families speak no English. Conducting an entire home visit in another language, where the content varies so widely from school questions to life stories, is really putting a strain on my vocabulary, but the families are endlessly patient and happy to teach me words. My Spanish looks like it will get dramatically better here, even though I spent two years at a 96% Hispanic school in Arizona. Sweet.

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Middle School

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July 2011
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