Dear PTHVP supporters,
The combination of relationship building and collaboration as practiced by PTHVP has been recognized as a best practice in the U.S. Department of Education’s “Dual Capacity Framework for Family Engagement,” released this Spring. The document, meant to guide policy and funding priorities, explains the characteristics of “high-impact” family and community engagement that makes the most difference to student performance.
Researchers have already shown educators that family engagement is essential. But some practices are deemed more helpful than others. What, according to the report, makes a program “high-impact?”
First of all, activities must be relational. Trust and respect must be established between a school and its community before any progress can be made. Barriers to this relationship may include the fact that the school staff is different ethnically and/or culturally from their students’ community, and all parties may have had negative experiences or associations from the past. PTHVP trains participants to reflect on their assumptions, open their minds and hearts, and connect with what they all have in common: their hopes and dreams for their children.
Secondly, programs must be “dual capacity building.” This means that the program raises the competence, and confidence, in everyone involved (teachers, families, students) instead of knowledge being transmitted in only one direction. For example, at PTHVP, our evaluations show that home visits result in improved academic performance and positive behavior in children. But the benefits don’t just go one way: teachers and family members experience transformation as well. For parents and guardians, they report more trust and collaboration with the teacher, which often leads to increased involvement in the school. And they feel better equipped to help their child achieve their goals. For teachers, they report a deeper knowledge of their student’s lives, which helps them differentiate curriculum and make the classroom more relevant. Teachers also report that doing home visits teaches them to leave negative assumptions behind, and see families as essential partners in their mission to teach. Despite the extra effort, teachers credit home visits with more rewards and less burnout.
And lastly, the researchers find that the highest impact engagement methods are collaborative. Strong, sustainable efforts that stand the test of time are supported by more than one agency. This aspect is also relevant to the PTHVP model. In fact, the project was born as a collaboration between a community organizing group, ACT, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), and the local teachers union, CTA.
To see the actual framework click on the link below. Thanks for your continued support in this transforational work.
Carrie Rose and Lisa Levasseur
Dear friends and supporters at Global Giving,
As you know, the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project was started fifteen years ago by a couple of single moms and a community organization. All they wanted was to end the cycle of blame and put parents and teachers on the same team. So they developed a method that establishes trust between teachers and their student’s families. With that trust has come big benefits: sending trained teachers and school staff to their students’ homes resulted in better classroom behavior, increased attendance and higher academic scores.
These benefits came with no other agenda than an authentic relationship. Now, the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project is employing their model to help schools with specific objectives. Recently, for example, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) wanted to implement Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT), which is a teacher-led meeting for parents and guardians, familiarizing them with the curriculum and discussing ways to support their children’s learning.
The APTT program has had strong results for those who participated in other cities, but how could SCUSD implement it in Sacramento so that its benefits would reach the most families and have a significant impact on student success?
The district was already a strong partner with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, and had already trained over 400 teachers to do visits. Could visits help with getting parents and guardians to participate in APTT? The district began with APTT at 5 schools in 2012, and then added 7 in 2013 to make 12 schools conducting the APTT program. The partners found that doing home visits prior to the APTT made a significant difference in the parent participation, according to data collected via parent surveys and classroom assessments.
In fact, teachers that did a home visit first doubled their parent attendance at each their APTT meetings vs. those teachers that did not conduct a home visit first.
Subsequently, the partners found the following benefits from APTT meetings:
PTHVP has helped local schools employ the home visit strategy for other objectives, such as college readiness and chronic absenteeism. The specific objectives or programs may change, but all programs are more effective when a visit has established a personal connection between the teacher and the family. We truly appreciate your support for making this transformational work possible!
Carrie Rose Executive Director and Lisa Levasseur Project Director
Dear Global Giving friends,
In Fall 2013, we quietly celebrated 15 years since a small coalition of mothers, community organizers and school teachers joined together for their mutual interest: their children. There’s been a sense of accomplishment here this fall, of puzzle pieces falling into place after years of very hard work at the grassroots.
First of all, our much anticipated national conference brought educators, community members, families, funders and policy makers to San Francisco. We don’t mind saying it was the best ever! We laughed a lot and shed a few tears together as people shared their stories of how home visits have transformed their kids, their teaching methods, and their own assumptions. The program was focused on both action and reflection, as we strategized on best practices and next steps for our growing movement.
Also at the conference, we collected the latest statistics from our affiliates: a snapshot of how much home visiting is happening out there. And the results? Unprecedented. In the last year, our grassroots affiliates across the country:
In conjunction with the conference, the newly formed national board of directors met for the first time, focusing on governance, funding and nominations. The national organization is officially launched! You will be hearing more about the national board’s actions in future reports.
Our program is inexpensive, replicable and effective in a wide variety of cities and there is no way we could have made it this far without your contribution. With your help, we will only increase our momentum in 2014! Please consider making a significant gift to the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project in the first quarter of 2014, so that we may train more teachers, reach more families and make a relational difference in education.
Dear PTHVP friends,
The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project has been busy. Our model of training, support, and relationship building has proved effective in a wide variety of settings this year, from urban Washington, D.C. to rural Billings, Montana. Our program has not only trained hundreds, and visited thousands, but has also implemented the exciting strategy called Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT), which deepen the relationship between families and schools, resulting in greater student success.
From an organizational perspective, PTHVP continues to grow into a national network. We are about to hold our annual conference, which brings together home visit practitioners, education leaders and policy makers from around the country. This year, held in San Francisco, over 300 will be in attendance. Following the conference, we’ll send in a report that gives you the stats on work throughout the nation. For now, take the example of Sacramento, CA, where the project started fifteen years ago. The following numbers give you an idea of the exciting activity in just one place, the Sacramento City Unified School District, in 2012.
Academic Parent Teacher Teams
All this incrediable transformational work would not be possible without the support from our donors like you. Thanks for thinking of us!
Home Visit Teacher Published in Educational Leadership! Stephanie Smith's passion for building relationships with her students goes far beyond her classroom walls. Since 2009, Smith has participated in Sacramento City School District's Home Visit Project. She writes eloquently about this commitment to visiting families at their homes in "Would You Walk Through My Door?" an article published in this month's Educational Leadership. The educational journal's May 2013 issue is titled "The Faces of Poverty.” Smith shares her belief that "home visits are especially essential in areas characterized by poverty and diversity. Most teachers come from a middle-class background and have never experienced the realities of low-income students' lives. It's my responsibility to experience and embrace that reality, even if just for 30 minutes in a student's living room." Smith continues, "The school is always asking parents to enter our world--to come to conferences or family nights or volunteer in classrooms. I want to return the favor and go into your world."Smith's journey with Sacramento City Unified School District’s Home Visit Project began in 2009 at Harkness Elementary School. There, she saw the positive impacts that home visits had on her classroom community. When moving to Oak Ridge in 2010, Smith had no doubt that she would continue weekly visits with her students' families. To date, Smith has completed 80 home visits, 26 of which have occurred this year. This commitment to home visits has surprised Smith, since her own childhood experiences initially caused her to question the mission of the Home Visit Project. Stephanie's family would not have been eager to invite one of her teachers home. Smith recalls, "the abyss between the school’s bright lights and the government housing I grew up in was great and it would’ve been too embarrassing to allow any teacher to cross it." But Smith persists in arranging visits with the parents of her 3rd graders because she knows it’s essential for teachers to see the realities of home life for students living in poverty-- and how much relationship building and insight into students’ hidden strengths a family visit can yield. "As embarrassed as I was by my own childhood home, I can't help but wonder how things would have been different if a teacher had visited my house. That teacher might have seen my brother's hilarious sense of humor and my mom's sheer determination to make her children's lives better than her own-- and seen more clearly why I was so shy and lacking in confidence." Smith knows that the hidden strengths of her students may only be visible in their own living rooms. Stephanie's article concludes with a call to action to the Educational Leadership readers: "The paradigm needs to shift in schools that serve poor students. Teachers need to spend less energy complaining about parents' lack of involvement--or even brainstorming how we can get parents to step through the school doors. Instead, teachers need to ask themselves when are they going to step though students' front doors. This shift can make all the difference--to students, families and school culture."Smith gives fellow teachers tips for home visits in her Educational Leadership article, "Would You Walk Through My Door?":1. Never go alone. Invite the teacher of your student's siblings, or other staff members (including translators) to accompany you.
2. Ask your principal for training (Parent Teacher Home Visit Project www.pthvp.org)
3. Bring a gift. Something as small as a baggie of school supplies shows your appreciation and breaks the ice.
4. Take copious notes after each visit. Write down information that you learned from the families and keep these notes going after every communication you have with the family. Review these notes before conferences.
5. Don't worry about timing. It's ideal to get as many home visits done in the fall. This is a time to send out a general request to visit. Then, make phone calls to arrange visits early on with those parents with whom you anticipate needing a strong relationship.
6. Don't worry about the location. Just get yourself off campus and go to a place where the parents feel comfortable: a park, a restaurant, or their front yard.
Thanks for making this type of work possible for all interested teachers and families! We couldn't do this transformational work without your support!
Carrie Rose, Executive Director and Lisa Levasseur, Project Director
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local project director/teacher