Starting At Home is a recent blog post written by Claus von Zastrow at the Public School Insights blog. It’s a commentary on my recent article in Teacher Magazine about teachers making home visits.
I feel honored to be spoken about so positively in a blog I respect so much. I’ve written a number of posts over the past year pointing readers to articles written by Claus. Learning School Insights is published by The Learning First Alliance. The LFA is:
“… a permanent partnership of 17 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. We share examples of success, encourage collaboration at every level, and work toward the continual and long-term improvement of public education based on solid research.”
Their members include the National Education Association, the United Federation of Teachers, National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National PTA.
The positive review was nice, but what was even more important (to me, at least) was that Claus “got” the key to successful home visits:
“Teachers are not coming to parents as missionaries converting the unenlightened. Instead, they are forging strong partnerships with parents, discovering shared aspirations, and putting their heads together to address big challenges.”
I am a teacher in Ireland and for the last 10 years I have been working
exclusively with the parents in my schools. I visited them at home and I had
them in the school developing and delivering many projects.
All the ground work was done in the homes. Initially, I was met with suspicion – why are you here etc. But as time went on and they got to know and trust me we moved from general chat about how their child was doing in class to how we, together, could teach the child. The parents became a hugely valuable resource in the classroom, a support for the staff and a support for the children. Parents who before were wary of the school and who, based on their own experience, felt it was them against the school and who didn’t trust the school were now in helping in the school. They had a whole new perspective.
Over the 10 years I also worked closely with the teachers who felt very threatened initially when parents were so involved. Their experience was that parents who came to the school were usually there to complain. They felt parents were there to watch and judge them. That was very difficult to change.
Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn, the position was discontinued. I was only beginning to see real change. It is a very slow process but it makes such a difference to children, parents and teachers.