Go home!

What if you met every parent where they lived, how would that impact the way you teach their student.

Photo of Trever Reeh

Written by

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

Go home is an initial visit with parents and students to introduce yourself.  This is done within the first week of school so parents can put a name to a face when they see you during parent-teacher conferences, back to school night, or open house.  The visit is about taking making that connection with the parents to let them know that you can always approach them about their child and that they will be safe in your classroom.

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that provides ongoing support?)

  • Provides face to face interaction between parents and teachers.
  • Shows students that you know who their parents are.
  • Shows that teacher is comfortable to reach out to parents.
  •  Provides a connection from school to home with homework, grades, etc.
  • Implemented in Elementary Classrooms can see the teacher before the first day of school. 

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

With our low parent-teacher conference attendance, we need to be making connections between the home and school more frequently at the beginning of the school year.  This bridge between home and school needs to come at the beginning of the year and hold students accountable on both ends.  If we introduce ourselves and reach out to parents during that first week of school, but not by phone call, but incorporating house visits to meet the parents and introduce ourselves as the classroom teacher.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

Start small, get 1-2 other people to go on house visits with you.  At the middle/high school level multiple teachers have the same students. Visit the students’ parents that you know have trouble early on in the year.  Make a connection with those parents and plan to see them at open house or parent teacher conferences.

How you can get started:

  • Form a group of like minded teachers to reach out to a few students at the beginning of the year.
  • You don’t have to do all your students in 1 day.
  • Come up with an introduction and tweak it to fit your style.
  • Make sure to include things about yourself, how you can be reached during the school year.
  • You can never go wrong with a handshake.

Metrics:

  1. Find out what percentage of parents you met before parent-teacher conferences by informal meeting.
  2. How many parents came to parent-teacher conferences.
  3.  Keep making connections between home and school.

Tips

  • Schedule your home visit first. (7-10 days in advance)
    • If it all possible let the parent/guardian set the date and time of the meeting.
    • Make sure all students get a home visit.
  • Learn a few key phrases in “home” language.
  • Ask someone to accompany you, preferably in their language of choice.
  • Avoid talking about negative things.
    • Keep the conversation positive.
    • Don’t talk about grades or behavior.
  • If during the year, bring one example where that particular student shined.
  • After the meeting reflect on what strengths that family can have on your classroom.

Materials to get this idea off the ground:

Common Spanish Phrases (Language of Preference)

Gas Money

Original Post

We never really put ourselves (as teachers) in the shoes of our students and student's parents.  What if during the first week of school we met every student, (or a select group of students) where they lived.  It could be a short informal hand-shake to a good healthy conversation about their student just to meet and introduce yourself as their classroom teacher.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tmkAHJWueDixoU5o9HTgWa9eNQgsSrqskW8mwYwnSeM/edit?usp=sharing

18 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Molly McMahon
Team

Trever -- So good! I think getting home not only rebalances the power between the classroom and the home, but gives teachers insights into who their students are, where they come from, and the types of nights they have before they come into school.  Thanks for sharing this best practice! 

Photo of Charles Ellenbogen
Team

I'm not in power to make anything mandatory. I will try to spread the good idea, perhaps even during our 2-hour parent-conference session tomorrow. I suspect I'll have time to talk it up.

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

Let me know how it goes!!

Photo of Charles Ellenbogen
Team

This interests me. At our last 6.5 parent-conference session, I saw 3 parents (200 in the school). But I couldn't drive to all of those houses. I could go just the houses of advisees (10-12) having collected info from all of their teachers. What happens if a teacher gets in a car accident on the way to a visit? I teach students who don't always live in the safest of neighborhoods. I am white and 100% of my students are African-American. I suppose teachers could travel in pairs - English & History, for example. Gas $? And when would these happen? (We have plenty of Union challenges already.)

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

Charles Ellenbogen this last parent teacher conferences I saw 30 of my 120 students.  We had a conference attendance low of just 22%.  The whole point is changing the power dynamic of open-houses/parent teacher conferences.

Quite a few of my students don't live in the safest of neighborhoods too, but what was brought up is that these kids live there everyday.  The goal is to get to know the students and living in not a safe place is getting to know where that student comes from.

The place where I got the idea from did it once, because it was a headache for the district.  They did travel in groups and over two weekends they visited all the students in their homeroom.

I am sure there are some limitations of what can be done, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Photo of Charles Ellenbogen
Team

Please understand. I think it's a GREAT idea. I'd like to continue with its design, evolution, and implementation. I'm just thinking of my audience. I'd like to be as prepared as possible to 'sell' it to them. Do you think the school (we're pretty small) has to be "all in" from the beginning? Or is this the kind of thing a few teachers could start and could become contagious?

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

If it is small I would start with 2-3 teachers and try to recruit more.  Don't make it mandatory, but teachers will see the benefits long term.

Photo of James Campbell
Team

When I taught at St Georges Technical High School in Delaware for NCCVT we did a home visit for every new student.  Very powerful.  

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

Did you have a script to talk to parents or was it more informal?

Photo of James Campbell
Team

Hello Trever
We had basic information to cover but it was not scripted.  

Photo of Moss Pike
Team

Hi Trever! I'm in complete agreement that personalizing our relationships within a community only helps to strengthen them. You've shared an interesting idea here, and I'd love to help you build it out. It's also something we could test with parents and students, perhaps, which could give us some valuable feedback.

To begin, I'd love to see some discussion of the specific needs and/or problems you see the "Go home!" idea addressing. In other words, what problems did you see in the "Discover" phase that helped generate this idea as a solution? Any feedback from parents, students, or teachers to share?

Since this idea can go in any number of directions, it might be helpful to suggest a few concrete starting points, e.g., an short home "handshake," a longer "afternoon coffee," and a more involved "home dinner." Within any directions you see best, it could be helpful to give participants some activities or talking points to drive us toward any desired outcomes.

Those are some quick thoughts, and I'm more than happy to continue the conversation and help you build out a fuller plan. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, and I'll be eagerly looking forward to seeing "Go home!" evolve!

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

I will get on that... I will set up a google doc and start finding some people to collaborate with.

Photo of Moss Pike
Team

Great; let me know how I can help. And check out the Get Around Town idea that Brett Brownell shared. It has some similar components that you may want to consider (e.g., involving others within the community to open up their space). Looking forward to the development of your idea!

Photo of Moss Pike
Team

Luke Thomas has the start of a great idea in his Informal is best post, and perhaps you two could team up to build out an idea that addresses the problems you've both raised. Could be a lot of fun!

Photo of Lisa Yokana
Team

Hi Trevor:
My daughter's school actually did this before she started kindergarten. The teacher came to our house and spent about 15 minutes with her looking at her room, asking her questions about what she liked and making her comfortable with the whole idea of going to kindergarten. It was great. Wonder how this would look on an older level? As a teacher, I know I would learn a lot of kids and their family situation, but I wonder about the time it would take and how you would motivate all teachers.... Would love to see you push this further, find some folks to collaborate with and start a google doc...
Lisa
Lisa

Photo of Trever Reeh
Team

At the higher levels we were thinking of starting with just our "homeroom" students and be advocates for them here at school.  It would be awesome as a Kindergarten teacher to see them at home before they go to school so they see a familiar face that first day.

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Trever,

I have heard of teachers sending a welcome letter to the students before they start school, but this idea is new to me. This visit would be like a debrief? and probably you would build better rapport with the parent as well. I agree with Moss Pike you should build on this.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hey Trever! Glad to see you back on the Guild!  I love this idea. There are so many things barriers that a visit can remove. Transportation, fear of coming back into a school setting, working around families busy lives, etc.. I wonder what the pitch to teachers would be. How would you get a teacher excited to go visit? It also makes me think about what key insights home visits would address.  Looking forward to how this idea comes together!