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#1724636 - 08/01/11 02:59 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Just this morning, as I was traveling by Amtrak I thought about this whole parent issue..How I could almost classify parents by various kinds of behaviors. There are the participating parents who genuinely express an interest in the progress of their child, and generally do make it a point, more often than not to sit in on lessons. Or at least they acknowledge receiving e-mailed assignments with comments on how to best improve technique, pieces etc.

When a parent has to exercise CONTROL by diminishing the value of the teacher, then for me, it's time to call it quits.

If some of these parents want to basically teach their own kids, and not allow the teacher the parameter to impart instruction, then I say, either why don't you teach your own child or obtain a teacher in synch with your philosophy of education. Life is too short to get bogged down with interpersonal issues that lead nowhere fast.


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#1724685 - 08/01/11 04:10 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: bmbutler]  
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bmbutler, yes I've told the store that she should switch to another store teacher, but the store doesn't want to do that.


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#1724687 - 08/01/11 04:12 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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ten thumbs, thanks! I actually followed up her second email about more clarity with regard to HS practice by stating that I had explained it in the prior email and cut and pasted the prior explanation to the email. I like your diplomatic, yet to the point language. I will use that in the future.


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#1724693 - 08/01/11 04:22 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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music32, I agree 100%. I welcome parental involvement and parent and student questions until it becomes rude and offensive. She admitted that she told her son to ask me why he had to practice HS when his prior 2 teachers didn't ask him to (to which I responded very positively and explained in great detail to him and her). I suspect she is the reason he always starts off the lesson asking if I will make up his late arrival, or when the lesson is over, he asks me if I have another lesson waiting. I feel on the defensive now. It's been a barrage of incidents -- some small and easy to overlook, but when added together with questions such as "how does _____ a particular instruction "improve the student" and why more theory isn't covered in the lesson (it is covered in every lesson which I've told her repeatedly), well, it becomes intrusive and IMO offensive.


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#1724721 - 08/01/11 05:38 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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I do think that there are some strange people out there, who are particularly needy, or seek attention, or who have strange ways of achieving gratification. They make it their business to go around seeking good subjects for their ends - people who will give individual attention, or engage in conversation. When they find a good person for this, they can latch on and really stick tenaciously.

As musicians, music teachers, we are very involved in our profession. We think carefully about, for example the need for HS practice, or scales, or note reading, or whatever. We do like to explain what we are doing and why. This can make us really quite vulnerable.

I have more experience of this from some charity work that I do - sometimes we end up being 'used and abused' by the particular members of the public, and then it turns out workers from other charities have been treated similarly by the very same person who clearly has a problem. It just leads to this sense of sniffing out those for whom the process of interaction seems more important than anything else. I just don't like that feeling of being manipulated.

It is quite possible, chasing, that if you stop it dead, they will move on.

Sorry you're having to deal with this.

#1724743 - 08/01/11 06:20 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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tenthumbs, if this were a private student, I would have dropped them long ago. She wants to continue with me, and my store doesn't want her to switch teachers. You are absolutely correct --she loves being the center of attention, making suggestions to me, talking about her background and her son's extracurricular activities. She is perfectly at ease asking for more of everything, my time, make ups, credits, more clarity, more explanations, more justifications. It's relentless and very draining. There's no pleasing this person. I started out very accomodating, very attentive, very accessible, but I feel it's become an unsurmountable task now. I didn't mean to keep venting about this particular parent, but I want to be "clear" that, IMO, I've gone over and above. I understand that as teachers, what we take for granted as necessary, such as HS practice, may seem foreign to students and/or parents and they have every right to ask for an explanation. But when they then ask how it improves the student, I feel that is an indication of lack of trust in my methods. Isn't that the goal of everything we teach? To improve the student's musical ability?


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#1724870 - 08/01/11 09:55 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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So where do you stand now? You've gotten various opinions on what to do. My feeling is you've made your decision but have trouble following through with it. If I were you, I'd contact your boss and explain that you've made your decision: you will not be able to adequately serve your other students with this draining situation. You WILL quit teaching this student. What you fear is that you will get fired. I doubt you will. In all likelihood you will get more respect from your boss. Please let us know your decision soon, as this is starting to drain me! (Just kidding!)

#1724889 - 08/01/11 10:32 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Well, you've got to appeal to the source of money.

#1724962 - 08/02/11 01:00 AM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
scherzetto, geez, I should have spell checked that post, could you tell I was emotional when typing? And I was a Spelling Bee champ, so this is very embarrassing.


No problem, chasingrainbows. smile

Thanks for the explanation. I've been trying to catch up on the numerous posts since I last wrote, and I can better understand now why you're frustrated with this parent. Seems like she won't be satisfied with you, so why she keeps signing up with you is a mystery to me. What especially stands out for me is what seems like a constant abuse of your time, both the lateness before and chat sessions after the lesson. I think you sound a lot like a certain kindly young teacher (me, lol) who was inclined to be lenient about things like that, as well as makeup time--yet I quickly and painfully began to find out that if you're inconsistent in sticking to policy, it can make your life difficult faster than you ever expected--and your students/parents lose respect for your authority and begin to control you, as others have mentioned, just the reverse effect of what I tried to gain from being lenient. But I know it's easy for me to say this, not knowing the people or the exceptional circumstances you've been faced with. One thing's for sure, it's a good warning to people like me to be consistently firm about policy.


"Where words fail, music speaks." --Hans Christian Andersen
#1725167 - 08/02/11 11:29 AM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Want to get rid of a student gracefully?

A few ideas:

Take advantage of opportunities to suggest a "break" from lessons. I've done this a few times. The students never returned anyway. But I like the suggestion that future piano/music study is always possible.

"With school, sports, etc. starting up, Jonny may need some time to adjust. You may want to skip lessons for "a month or two. Of course we can't hold the exact spot without payment but something will surely open up."

"Goodness, you need to miss two lessons because of vacation/overscheduling. Why don't you save yourself some money by stopping lessons temporarily. Of course, we can't hold the exact spot, etc.


Teacher. 1926 Steinway M. Kawai CE200. Casio PX3. Yamaha P-60. Yamaha NP-30. Roland C-30 Digital Harpsichord. Roland Integra 7.
#1725447 - 08/02/11 06:37 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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In this regard, I ended up scribbling this blog on my way home from the Bay.. It's supposed to be funny, but it fleshes out all kinds of problem parents.. put into neat categories

http://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/0...-the-right-balance-worth-a-few-chuckles/

If you can think of any others, let me know.


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#1725464 - 08/02/11 07:04 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Want to get rid of a student a bit less gracefully, but with a lot more fun?

A few ideas:

Next time the parent asks a silly time-wasting question about what you're doing, respond that the quantum quarks in the child's hand have to be aligned properly or the hand might shrivel into a shrunken husk. As you say this, make sure that your left eye is twitching in a sinister manner. When the parent looks confused and taken aback, let your upper lip quiver, raise your eyes to heaven and call on Loki to help you. Problem solved.

Alternatively, when the mom asks for a make up, cackle in a high-pitched voice for one full minute. Tell her that you have a meeting of your coven at her preferred time. Suggest that she and her son are welcome to join the group, but that the coven's taste in food and beverages might seem strange to her. Lick your lips forcefully and look hungrily at your cat at this moment. Problem solved.


#1725513 - 08/02/11 08:52 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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#1725958 - 08/03/11 01:55 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Pianodad, thanks for making me laugh. Unfortunately, I agreed to do the makeups for their vacation but the parent tells me what days and times work for them, generally making it very difficult. Overall, the best option for all concerned parties is to move on with another teacher who would be a better fit for this family.


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#1725960 - 08/03/11 02:00 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: Candywoman]  
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Candywoman, the straw that broke this camel's back occurred since my last post. I was very clear that this was very uncomfortable and stressful for me, and that I was not able to continue with this family. I stressed the importance of the right family/teacher match, and clearly this was not working. Without going into more details, the parent went over my head to the store staff, in an attempt to override my policy. It's time to move on.


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#1725962 - 08/03/11 02:04 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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smile thanks, that about covers all possible scenarios!


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#1725970 - 08/03/11 02:20 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: Candywoman]  
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
The student has already had two other teachers and he's only eight.


This says it all right here. It's quite possibly the other 2 teachers didn't stand for this parental nonsense as well.

You've also said that as you were writing the post, that you should dismiss them. Go with your instinct, you are usually right as to what is best for yourself.

Also, the fact that the parent is second quessing your teaching techniques is down-right infuriating. YOU are the professional, and "stick to your guns". If the parent doubts this, then maybe that parent should be teaching his child, then!


tommytones
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#1725980 - 08/03/11 02:37 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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I can understand your frustration, but frankly, it seems that you're allowing some of this stuff happen. When the lesson time is over, why don't you just say, "See you next week". And if they try to stay and talk, say, "Sorry, I can't talk. I have some things I need to work on." And if the mom asks for explanations through email, just reply, "We can discuss this at the next lesson." And if they ask for make-up lessons, tell them,"I'm sorry, my policy doesn't allow for that." It may be a little brusque, but that's how you have to deal with some people. This certainly won't solve all the problems you have with them, but it could give you more energy to deal with the other ones.


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#1725983 - 08/03/11 02:41 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: MaryBee]  
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Originally Posted by MaryBee
This certainly won't solve all the problems you have with them, but it could give you more energy to deal with the other ones.


We are looking for a solution here, and what WILL solve the problem will be to get rid of this student (See my post above).

What's the point of teaching a student if it's not enjoyable?


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#1725986 - 08/03/11 02:44 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: tommytones]  
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Originally Posted by tommytones
We are looking for a solution here, and what WILL solve the problem will be to get rid of this student (See my post above)
Yes, but it sounded like the OP wasn't able to arrange for that. Besides, you don't want to run into those same problems with yet another student.


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#1725991 - 08/03/11 02:52 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Quote
What's the point of teaching a student if it's not enjoyable?


Paying the rent?

#1725992 - 08/03/11 02:52 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: MaryBee]  
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Originally Posted by MaryBee
Originally Posted by tommytones
We are looking for a solution here, and what WILL solve the problem will be to get rid of this student (See my post above)
Yes, but it sounded like the OP wasn't able to arrange for that. Besides, you don't want to run into those same problems with yet another student.


Of course she can arrange for that, any teacher is free to do so.

On your second point, very true, one would want to avoid problems like this in the future, and stating your policies early and clearly are the best bets


tommytones
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#1725994 - 08/03/11 02:53 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Quote
What's the point of teaching a student if it's not enjoyable?


Paying the rent?


Find a new occupation?


tommytones
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#1725995 - 08/03/11 02:53 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Yes, this is a store student, not one of my private students.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
#1725997 - 08/03/11 02:55 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Quote
Without going into more details, the parent went over my head to the store staff, in an attempt to override my policy. It's time to move on.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this sounds like YOU are the one who is leaving, instead of this family. If true, that sounds like the store owner insists that the customer is indeed king, despite any language you may have put into your policies, and even any language that might exist in his arrangement with the teachers who teach out of his store. Again, if true, it sounds like he figures you are easy enough to replace.

Can you take your existing students with you, I wonder, or are there any (possibly unenforceable) non-compete clauses in your contract?


#1725999 - 08/03/11 02:58 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Yes, this is a store student, not one of my private students.


I'm sure there are many other stores in your area, looking for a talented teacher as yourself?


tommytones
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#1726062 - 08/03/11 04:22 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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peace.


Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and Baldwin165, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda
#1726068 - 08/03/11 04:26 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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peace.

Last edited by music32; 08/03/11 06:35 PM.

Piano blog: Performances, Instruction, Interviews
http://www.arioso7.wordpress.com

You Tube Channel
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7



NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
NYU, M.A., Steinway M grand and Baldwin165, Yamaha Arius141
MTAC Alameda
#1726087 - 08/03/11 04:52 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Do you have anything better to do than construct a series of put-down stereotypes?

#1726098 - 08/03/11 05:19 PM Re: When parental involvement crosses the line [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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Originally Posted by music32
It can be so viral, that even private instructors are vulnerable.


Wow, sounds like a pretty nasty area to teach in!


tommytones
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