Sunday, October 09, 2011

Teachers increasingly use home visits to connect with students’ families

Kevin Sieff

The Washington Post

October 9, 2011

The two high school teachers knocked at apartment 512 of a Crystal City high-rise and waited to see the inside of Alvaro Nunez Alvarez’s life.

Up to this point, the teachers knew this about 14-year-old Alvaro: He was quiet. He had recently arrived from somewhere in Latin America. He was smart and ambitious.

They were here to fill in the blanks — to conduct a kind of parent-teacher conference on the family’s turf. There’s no better way, many educators say, to turn distant or unresponsive parents into allies and communicators, actively involved in the education of their children.

But that means venturing far beyond the classroom, penetrating the private spaces that students disappear to when the afternoon school bell rings.

When the door to unit 512 opened, there were Alvaro and his sister, standing in their matching Wakefield High School T-shirts, blushing. There were his parents, well-dressed, deferential, letting out a stream of “thank you so much” and “it’s our pleasure to host you” in Spanish.

Debbie Polhemus and Yun-Chi Maggie Hsu, both Wakefield teachers, were reaching out to the Nunez Alvarez family in a manner once considered out of bounds but now increasingly common in the Washington area and across the country: sitting in a student’s living room, munching on homemade pupusas, talking about academic expectations far from school halls.

Read more HERE.

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