WHAT TO DO WHEN STUDENTS KEEP CANCELING BECAUSE OF SPORTS AND EXPECT YOU TO ALWAYS ACCOMMODATE THEIR SCHEDULEgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread
HI! I HAVE BEEN TEACHING FOR AWHILE AND I AM GETTING TIRED OF BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF ALL OF THE TIME. IT FRUSTRATES ME WHEN THE PARENTS AND THE STUDENTS EXPECT ME TO ACCOMODATE THEM WHEN THEY CALL AND SAY "WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO, SO & SO HAS A GAME ON THE NIGHT OF THEIR LESSON. OR THEY SAY THEY HAVE PRACTICE AND THEY CAN'T MISS IT. THEY EXPECT ME TO CHANGE MY SCHEDULE FOR THEM. MY FAMILY SUFFERS. I AM TOO NICE AND DO NOT WANT TO HURT ANYONES FEELINGS BUT I AM GETTING TIRED OF IT. I DO HAVE A BIG WAITING LIST. I USUALLY HAVE THE PARENTS PAY MONTHLY AND THEY WILL SEND LESS THE FOLLOWING MONTH BECAUSE THEY MISSED. HELP!!!!!
-- TONI (SONGDIVA4@AOL.COM), August 20, 2001
The easiest solution is have a printed studio policy that all students (or their parents if the student is under 18) sign. Be clear about your payment cancellation policy. You are being paid not only for your expertise, but your time.
Use the sports analogy to get them thinking about their priorities. Would they tell their coach that they had to miss practice because of anything having to do with piano?
You as a teacher expect some degree of commitment from your students. If your students don't give you that degree of commitment, then softly tell the parents or the student that you believe the time they have spent with music has been rewarding, and but since they don't have the time to commit as they had in the past, you have enjoyed teaching them and wish them the best of luck in the future. Then drop them from the schedule and replace them with someone from your waiting list.
You might find that you lose about half of your non-committed students this way. (You'll replace them with people who might be committed, so don't worry.) You may discover a change of heart in the other half, when they are faced with the realization that they will be dropped if they don't show signs of commitment.
You have to be ruthless sometimes when it comes to your income. Make a policy where the student has to call 48 hours in advance to cancel, otherwise a makeup may be scheduled, depending upon circumstances and available times. In any case, if they call you *47* hours in advance ... "Well, my studio policy, which you signed, states that you will give 48 hours notice."
In order for this to work most effectively, you must be consistent with enforcing this policy. If you waver on one person, then it starts a domino effect where you'll have to waver with someone else. Exceptions to the rule are just that -- exceptions. And the fewer, the better for your studio
If the student/parents refuse to pay for those lessons they didn't take but were unexcused, tell them that you're sorry to hear that they're choosing to end piano lessons. If they say they are not happy with you and your policy, tell them you'd be very happy to help them locate another piano teacher. But still enforce your policy. Remind the parents/student that they paid you for your time, which was lost when they cancelled on such short notice.
You have no time for people who will take advantage of your time.
-- James King (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 21, 2001.
I agree. The only point where I differ regards notice. I simply don't make up missed lessons, and it is in my policy. I offer two group lessons a year that are available to anyone who has missed a lesson. They aren't paying just for your time, but for your expertise, your continuing education and your preparation.
-- Arlene Steffen (email@example.com), August 21, 2001.
Just adding to the others' answers--you definitely need a written studio policy, and make it say whatever you want it to say! If you can handle doing an occasional makeup, you might state that one makeup per semester is available. Or, if you're like me, you'll simply state that no makeup lessons are available. But I do type up a list of students, time slots, and their phone numbers (with permission) and give to everyone as a "swap list." Use the sports analogy by asking if they get a portion of their soccer fee back if they miss a game? (of course not--they are paying for the privilege of having a spot on the team). Same with piano--they are paying to hold one of your limited time slots, and you know that you spend a lot more than 30 minutes a week being their teacher. My policy lists what their tuition covers: things like lesson preparation, evaluating new music, recital preparation, making worksheets to address specific needs, etc etc. My policy statement mentions that my actual teaching time is only about half of my working time. It may seem hard to "toughen up" your policy, but after years of feeling taken advantage of, like you do, I am so glad I did!!! And you say you have a waiting list, so that gives you an extra measure of security in case a couple students' parents can't tolerate your new policy. (btw, I lost no students when I went to "no makeups.") Another thing that helped is I no longer mention a "per lesson" fee; I charge by the semester (payable in equal monthly installments if they prefer), but I quite intentionally don't have a "per lesson fee" so that parents won't ask for a set amount of money off their next bill if they miss a lesson. The equal installment thing works great; they pay "x" amount whether there are 5 lessons that month or if there are 2 lessons (ie due to Christmas, absences, or whatever.) Well, sorry to be so long-winded--this is something I have come to feel very strongly about! Good luck to you!
-- Annie (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 22, 2001.