My school has been reserving a week for home visits the past three years.
I must admit, every time this comes around, I dread it for a few reasons. Minimum days make us all crazy. It’s awkward making the phone calls. It’s awkward figuring out translators. It’s just.. weird.
But every year, I really do love it. Last year, I was super gungho and saw a bunch of families (maybe around 7?). This year, I’m going to cap it 4. I’m tired.
I love asking families what their hopes and dreams for the future of their child is. I love watching the faces of their children (7th/8th graders) as they listen to their parents voice their hope.
Last year, in addition to visiting families of newcomers, I purposefully went to homes where I thought I might need to add some TLC early on because I could sense some future parent-teacher collaboration needs.
This year, I’m again, focusing on newcomers, but also, decided to just go to random kids who don’t necessarily make any splashes.
The week began awkwardly. I’d show up at a house and find out that the parent misunderstood and met me at school or wrote down the wrong date. I was driving around Oakland and sad about my gas (if we were unionized, this would be reimbursed). Lots of unanswered phone calls and unavailabilities occurred prior to this week, so I felt discouraged.
But the 3 meetings so far has filled my bucket and twisted my guts. I sat awkwardly in one student’s room. It was clear that they shared their home with other families and had so little. The mother didn’t speak much English or Spanish (rather her own indigenous language), and I felt almost intrusive. I wonder if they had understood the Spanish, if they would have asked to meet at school versus in their home. In another visit, I found out through small talk and chatter with a younger sibling, that the father of my student had passed away. I have always read the phrase “pained smile” but I believe today was the first time seeing it on a young face that usually holds such a confident, nonchalant demeanor. I don’t think I can erase that. Lastly, I visited a home that was more lavish, and I was so warmed by the love they had for each other and for me. But also, I know this child wrestles with a lot of turmoil that he finds difficult to share in his warm home.
And I wonder, it must be so hard to be an adolescent, but to live among opulence so glaring in society and media and in the Bay Area… I don’t know how to end this reflection. Besides just.. admiration for the families of my students and the determination to love them rightly.