14/365 There’s Much to Learn about Home Visits

My friend and colleague Elizabeth Schlessman has a piece in the most recent issue of Rethinking Schools worth the time of anyone who’s ever considered visiting their students homes.

Drawing on her social justice philosophy and understanding of privilege, Schlessman discusses the difficult decision to conduct home visits and shares the key questions she took along with her when visiting students’ homes and families.

Although I often carried public library card applications, extra reading material, or an overdue permission slip to home visits, listening was my priority. I remember Erick’s dad standing on the front porch, asking, “Do you have any questions to ask me?” When I assured him that my purpose was to introduce myself and learn more about his hopes for his son, the conversation opened up.

My own learning opened up in the article when Schlessman’s understandings of bilingualism came up against the indigenous languages spoken in some of her students’ homes. Suddenly, the English/Spanish dyad was insufficient. Also noteworthy is the effect of home visits on Schlessman’s instructional practice beyond the interpersonal connections she was able to construct with her students and their families. Knowing from whence they came meant being better equipped to help them get where they wanted to go.

 

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