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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

LeVearne Hagen: A View on Home Visits

LeVearne Hagen has taught first grade at Susan B. Anthony Elementary School for six years. Anxious to strengthen the relationship with her students' parents, she was one of the first teachers to participate in the Home Visit Program in 1998. LeVearne became the Home Visit Coordinator at Susan B. Anthony and then stepped up to help train other teachers throughout the Sacramento City Unified School District in California, on how to conduct home visits.

  1. What do you talk to parents about during a home visit?
  2. What makes home visits special? How do they build relationships?
  3. How do you use home visits to support your efforts in the classroom?
  4. What kinds of changes have you seen since beginning the home visit project?
  5. What do you say to teachers who are hesitant about conducting home visits?

1. What do you talk to parents about during a home visit?

The first training really is about getting to know each other. "How long have you been in America? How do you feel about our community in the school?" And then we start talking about the academics, "What's your goal for me? What would like for me, as a teacher, to do for your child?" And then I would say what I expect from them.

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2. What makes home visits special? How do they build relationships?

The home visit's perfect because we're going to their territory and they're calm, they're very relaxed. They feed us, they laugh, and it's so nice. And then hopefully now they can come to our school. I do see more parents coming, dropping their kids off, knocking on my door and asking if they can come in and just watch, which is perfect.

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3. How do you use home visits to support your efforts in the classroom?

I teach first grade, so to the first visit, I always bring crayons, scissors, pencils, erasers, and things that I can give the parents. And I give it to them whether it comes out of my pocket or we get it at school. At the second visit I can bring Math Facts, reading books, lots of tools, and show them how to use them. "This is what we're reading right now and this is how I read. We're teaching your child how to read." And with first grade we're tracking. I teach them how to track, so they can understand, why their child is pointing at each word."

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4. What kinds of changes have you seen since beginning the home visit project?

It's made it calmer. It's increased the parent involvement. It's increased the students' involvement, knowing that mom and dad are involved with the teacher. So it's a three-way relationship of the teacher, parent, and student. And there's accountability, even in first grade!

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5. What do you say to teachers who are hesitant about conducting home visits?

I just tell them the benefits -- the behavior, the discipline, the scores, the relationship with parents, all the positive things that really have increased due to home visits. Why not try it? You can try it and then if it doesn't work for you, then you don't have to do it anymore. Also, encourage teachers and tell them that even if they only have an hour a day or an hour every other day to do it, it's okay.

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