Sunday, October 3, 2010

home visits begin!

The line leader stood proudly in front of me, his hands in a "duck tail" behind his back (hands in a duck tail mean you can't touch all the tempting art work lining the hallway walls) and his cheeks blown into big bubbles (if your cheeks are making bubbles you can't talk), showing me how ready he was for the hall.  I gave him a thumbs up and he stood up a little straighter. Then his excitement got the best of him. leaning toward me he lost his bubbles as he whispered,
"You're coming to my house today"
I know we don't talk in line, but I was just as excited as he was.
"I am" I nod.
"My house is number 4." he says, holding up his fingers in case I misheard the number. "When you get to my neighborhood drive way, way, way to the back, the walk a few steps, then go up one flight of stairs and you'll find me!" he explained seriously, not wanting me to get lost. "Number 4, don't forget."
Then quickly, as soon as he finished his explanation he returned to his line-leader duck-tail and bubble status, continuing to be a role model.

That afternoon when we walked into his house he grinned with pride. He showed us his bed, his computer, his window. His little brother stood in the doorway and shouted "no go!" We caught up on middle school gossip with his older sister (middle school is hard!).

I adore home visits.  I love how excited the children are the day we are coming to their house. I love their faces when we walk in the door- a teacher, in their house, can you believe it?

I love chatting with their older brothers and sisters, seeing their special stuffed animals, sitting at their kitchen table listening to their parents share their baby stories and their concerns. I love hearing the loud voices of shy children- the ones who wont speak in school but at home shout, laugh, and chatter away. I love when we leave that we are followed by waves from the window- they watch us go until we are out of sight.

My partner-in-crime and I started conducting home visits last year, and it was such an incredible experience that we knew we had to continue this year. Even though we were both exhausted Thursday afternoon and the idea of holding two conferences in the evening filled us with dread, the minute we arrived at our first house all the stress was gone. I love this time of year.

Thursday we had 2 visits, tomorrow 3 more. We'll slowly check them off one by one as the fall goes along, seeing our children in another setting, beginning to understand why they come to school so tired (they sleep on the couch and there are 2 other families living in their one bedroom apartment), why they try to mother everyone in the class (their mother works and so at five years old they are in charge of babysitting their little brother and sister) or why they are so cuddly (from a wonderful cuddly family).

Friday morning my line-leader friend proudly walked into the classroom and gave me a thumbs-up sign. "You came to my house!" he announced as though I didn't already know that.
He walked a little straighter as he headed over to his seat- hopefully feeling that much more loved and comfortable in our classroom.


Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I would love to do home visits with my kids... it does seem like such a cool experience and so exciting for the kids. Last summer I tutored two of my former students in the summer and it was funny to see their reactions to me being at their house...

magpie said...

I love the duck-tail and bubble status I'll have to try that ☺

Home visits are a lovely thing to do but I am intrigued as to the purpose of the visits and how the idea came about?
I suppose this would be far more meaningful with all your apparent language and nationality barriers when schooling starts than it would be in most of the schools I attend.
As a relief teacher we are taught to respond only towards behaviours exhibited in the classrooms and given little if any background knowledge of any student.
From what you've said it does seem that this is too cold a notion when it comes to starting school and adapting to new routines.