visits and the concept of funds of
knowledge. Consider role-playing a
home visit and help teachers develop
questions that will be conducive to
learning from families.
; Agree on a method for selecting
which families to visit. Our first year, I
assigned five 9th graders to each
teacher, matching teachers with
students they had in class when
possible. This year, teachers chose five
kids from their advisory group.
; Decide how to contact families and
set parameters for visits. During our first
year, we sent letters to families and then
phoned to schedule visits ranging from
30 minutes to one hour. Be flexible in
arranging meeting times to accommodate parents’ schedules. We set a two-month window for teachers to complete
visits, which gives teachers flexibility
but creates a sense of urgency about
conducting visits early in the year.
; Follow up with parents. The
program coordinator or a teacher
should contact parents or grandparents
after a meeting to answer questions and
tell them about opportunities for
involvement in school.
; Create opportunities for teachers to
use what they learn. You might design a
form or process that teachers can use to
describe key information they gained at
each visit and reflect on how to use that
rich knowledge. It’s crucial to set up a
way for each home visitor to share information with the students’ other
teachers; this may require further
professional development on how to tap
funds of knowledge. Teachers may also
need shared planning time to revise
The Stories We Must Hear
Stories like those of Sarah, Fualosa, Vai,
Sapphire, and their families need to be
told—and it’s essential that their
teachers hear these stories. Each year,
on the first day of school, I stand in
front of a sea of faces, with names
swirling in my head. Some students
remain a mystery to me until I visit their
homes and they unfold into real people.
Teachers need to know students in this
way; every day we make instructional
decisions that hinge on what we know
about our kids. We can learn so much if
we just enter students’ homes and
Barone, T. (1989). Ways of being at risk: The
case of Billy Charles Barnett. Phi Delta
Kappan, 71( 2), 147–151.
Ginsberg, M. (2007). Lessons at the kitchen table.
Educational Leadership, 64( 6), 56–61.
González, N., Andrade, R., Civil, M., &
Moll, L. (2001). Bridging funds of distributed knowledge: Creating zones of practices in mathematics. Journal of Education
for Students Placed at Risk, 6( 1& 2),
Lopez, G., (2001). The value of hard work:
Lessons on parent involvement from an
(im)migrant household. Harvard Educational Review, 71( 3), 416–437.
Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González,
N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for
teaching: A qualitative approach to developing strategic connections between
homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31( 1), 132–141.
Author’s note: All names are pseudonyms.
Amy Baeder teaches biology at Cleveland High School, 5511 15th Avenue
South, Seattle, WA 98108; 206-252-7881;
For the story of another school’s home visit program, read the online-only article “When Are You Coming to My House?” by Dana Aguilera