Friday, August 1, 2008

While making home visits

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Today I decided to do home visits. For those who may not know what these are, a home visit is when a teacher visits the home of his students to assess possible problems, to meet with parents, or to get to know pupils before the school year begins. These visits were for the sole purpose of meeting the kids at my new school before back to school night.

I dressed up as I usually do (white shirt and tie) with the subtle addition of a sports jacket, plotted out the course which would save the most gasoline, and headed out to meet the new students of AE school of Elementary Academics.

The first few students were home, and parents were surprised at my visit…not a shocked surprise, or even the type of surprise when you enter a darkened house and suddenly discover the birthday party someone secretly threw together—even though you asked them not to. This was more of a pleasantly impressed surprise which rates up there with experiences of going out to dinner with friends, and your server knows your name and brings you a Dr. Pepper without being asked.

It was fun.

I saw a few kids whom I already know, and several I did not. There were some houses which I stopped at where knew someone was inside, however, seeing a dressed-up stranger at the door treated me like one of the Mormon missionaries…you know, hiding and pretending they’re not there; however, little did they know that I could clearly hear them as they were trying so hard to appear absent. The clincher was the phone conversation I heard through one door which went something like this:

Boy: Yeah, Mom? It’s me. This guy just knocked on the door (pause). I don’t know who it is. (pause) He’s all dressed up like a Jehovah’s Witness or something. (pause) He’s got an envelope in his hand, so he could be selling something. (pause) Should I call the police?

People just don’t seem to realize how flimsy front doors and walls of houses really are.

One particular door on my visits opened about halfway, and I heard a familiar voice whom I’ll dub as “Joey.”

“Hey, Mr. Z!”

“Hello, Joey. Are either of your parents here? I need to talk to them as well as you.”

“Yeah, hang on.”

(Parent arrives whom I’ll dub as “Joey’s Dad”)

“Hello, Mr. Joey’s Dad. I just wanted to let you and your son know that I’m out doing home visits before school; I wanted to let you know that Joey will be in my class this year.”

Joey’s eyes widened and I thought, just for a moment, that they might shoot out of his head. “Are you serious? Really?”

Joey ran up to me and gave me a hug. “This is great!”

“I wanted to give you this,” I held out an envelope. “In this is a letter for you, one for your parents, and your first homework assignment.”

Pause. The subtle settling in of reality.

“Homework?”

I smiled. “Yep. I didn’t want you to get bored this summer…and if you have any questions, call the school or use the email address, okay?”

Joey looked down at the envelope again, running his fingers across it, as if he were reading Braille. He smiled, “Homework…cool.”

During the course of my visits, I ran across one set of parents in their yard. I discovered they had transferred their kids to my new school from the old one. They made it a point to let me know, “You’ve already gotten three of our kids, Mr. Z. You know, to really get the real experience you need to have the last two as well…that way, your collection is really complete.”

Even after five hours of phone calls and visits, I found myself smiling. The whole reason for these visits was purely to meet my new students; however, it quickly transformed itself into a serious ego-stroking.

Did I mention that it was fun?

7 comments:

Gerb said...

Think you'll teach long enough to get my whole crew? That would be awesome.

Bee said...

I have always wanted to do home visits! My kids' Pre-K teachers were required to visit, but older grades do not. I'm not sure how my county would feel about me doing this, but I should ask.

I go back to school Monday, and I haven't even seen my class list. A lot of my students end up living in my neighborhood. I didn't realize that until last Halloween.

Do you call and arrange these visits first or just show up? How many other teachers do this where you're from? I bet you're an awesome teacher:)

Teachinfourth said...

Gerb - That all depends...how many more will there be?

Bee - My school wasn't doing home visits...it's just something I decided to do to get to know some of my new students. I just stopped by for a few minutes, no appointment...I don't know if other schools require their teachers to do this or not to be honest.

You go back Monday? Ugh, I feel for you...I find that really need this last week to get things prepared. Good luck, okay?

summer said...

you are hilarious...I like that at least you admit that your ego has been suffiently stroked. way to do home visits - I found that they were very enlightening as well, although not always in the best of ways, but usually a fun time for me as well to see students out of the classrom. I can't believe it's down to the final 2 weeks of summer break - enjoy it and good luck with your preparations for your class.

cari said...

It's things like this that set you apart from the rest. You are awesome!

annette said...

Your visit made my daughter feel very special (and all of the others a bit jealous).

Teachinfourth said...

LoS - I think I will make this a tradition with the students I don't know so well in ensuing years.

You're going to have a break soon...well, from 1 1/2 kids, right?

Cari - Thanks. It was fun. I even got to see "M." He offered to go with me on my next visit after the one to the "O" family.

Nettle - Maybe one day I'll be doing home visits for the rest of them...that is, if I'm not dead by then anyhow...

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