There is no better source for learning about a student than the child’s parent(s) or guardians. Yet teachers can go months or even the whole year without any significant interaction with the families of their students. Intentional family engagement, therefore, is a critical aspect of creating a sense of classroom belonging. It allows for a deepening of the teachers’ knowledge about his or her students, and also explicitly communicates to students that their teacher cares enough to engage substantively with parents.
There are many different avenues for teachers to connect with parents/guardians, including texts, phone calls, newsletters, and websites. Teachers can determine which of these methods (or some combination thereof) they prefer, depending on time constraints, the number of students they teach, and many other factors.
Arguably the most powerful form of family engagement is the home visit. A home visit occurs when a teacher (alone, or accompanied by another teacher or administrator) visits a student’s home to learn more about the various facets of a student’s identity and build stronger channels of communication between both parties. This guide, from Teaching Tolerance, provides an overview of Home Visit logistics.
One of the most common forms of Home Visits is the “Hopes and Dreams” protocol, in which the teacher uses the visit as a chance to learn about the family’s aspirations for their child. Regardless of the form the conversation takes, home visits often contribute to more positive interactions between school and home, as both sides recognize the other wants what is best for the student.
You can read more about the mindset shifts involved in Home Visits here.