Monday, April 18, 2005

Home Visits

Home Visits
In efforts of controlling my often unruly second graders, I frequently visits their homes-with or without advanced notice. Often these visits are necessary because my students don't have telephones at home. I've been to about seven of my 26 students' houses; some houses I've visited 4 plus times over the school year. Some houses have broken screens hanging off the windows and stink of cat urine and are surrounded by flies, others are in federally subsidized complexes with clothing lines and blow-up wading pools in the common back yard shared with 5 other families, still others are well kept and new. I most commonly speak Spanish on these home visits (or a Tex-Mex mix of English and Spanish). One time, I actually had a student's cousin offer to translate to English for me because she was afraid her grandma (my student's legal guardian) would not fully understand me! I reassurred her that I could explain the student's behavior in English or Spanish (or any necessary combination). :)

My most recent home visit lasted an hour and was a true test of my Spanish flueny. I was meeting with a mother (pregnant, may I add) whose daughter, while high-achieving, is a repeated behavior problem in my class. For most of the conversation it was 2-on-1 (disgrunteled mother and student vs. newbie teacher). While being questioned about my classroom policies and strict rules ("my daughter is only in 2nd grade, she should have the liberty to speak out in class without raising her hand"), I held my ground and defended myself. Somewhere between living in Spain (unsuccessful refutation with my host mom) and now, I've gained the communication skills to Spanish. Also, in this home visit, I constantly switched back and forth addressing my student and her mother, thus I learned that I am improving my ability to quickly change between "tu" (informal) and "usted" (formal) forms....yay! So, while this home visit was difficult, it was great because I was forced to really use my Spanish in a more unfamiliar setting.


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