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Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730133
04/19/18 12:22 PM
04/19/18 12:22 PM
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pianopi Offline
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I think if someone has built up and maintained their own successful business over numerous decades, they have BY FAR earned the right to decide who they want to teach. Students should probably feel honoured if they are one of the ones remaining in the student list.

I think you should rearrange your schedule, AZPiano, leaving some time for your own playing, but mainly so you can honestly tell students that, come summer, things have changed in your own personal schedule, and that you have a new teaching project coming up, and unfortunately, this means the available teaching time has been reduced, and, subsequently, sadly, your current student body needs to be reduced also.


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

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Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730140
04/19/18 12:38 PM
04/19/18 12:38 PM
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I thought I was in the face-to-face camp because teaching is primarily an in-person relationship unless it's something like continued weeks of no lesson and you need to communicate before the next time (or not) you meet. I haven't actually dismissed an active student although I have emailed parents before about "there is a situation, something needs to change" (not for ending lessons). It would have been face-to-face except that I didn't want the child to hear it. When leaving on their own, parents tend to email.

Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
I heard a teacher ask her student the other day if he practiced that week, and followed up with "if you didn't practice, we are not having a lesson."

To the extent that a "lesson" means following up on your progress and assigning new homework or modifying an assignment, I agree. If you made no progress (didn't practice), there is nothing to follow up on. My view is, we're not just going to move on from whatever you were supposed to have done last week, so we'll spend time lesson time practicing if you haven't done it (or done enough). Expensive to have me do something for you that you could have done yourself but that's the way it is for some students...

Last summer, I did tell students that many people would have to drop to a less frequent schedule because I was taking some classes myself and traveling. I did fully intend on having back whoever wanted to come back in the fall and told them so, but it would have been a good time to let people fade away if I had wanted to do that.

Last edited by mostlystrings; 04/19/18 12:44 PM.
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Gary D.] #2730141
04/19/18 12:40 PM
04/19/18 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Morodiene

For me, I almost never dismiss students. I've done it once when I had to cut back for personal reasons. Otherwise, I usually let them arrive at the conclusion to leave themselves.

Students who make no progress seldom continue to take lessons for a long time, unless we encourage it, and the moment you tell parents that nothing is getting done, usually it is not long until they figure out they are wasting money.

Every student, of any age, knows about "Groundhog Day". I describe a bit of the movie to people who have not see it, then tell the story of the man who wakes up to the same day, over and over again, always meeting the same people, seeing the same events, reliving the same experiences.

When students come in with zero play at home, I simply say, "Groundhog Day". That's a joke for the people who do it once in awhile, but if it happens most of the time I make it my business to make lessons for miserable for the lazy students than for me. I'm being 100% serious. I'm not going to put up with this insane laziness week after week, so those students get sick of me very soon.

Those students are a small minority. I really enjoy teaching the rest of them.

The only thing I won't put up with is laziness, and I flat out tell them that being bored out of my skull is the one thing I can't stand. Change it or leave.
Quote

I hardly ever have a problem with a student. Only once in a while do I encounter one that is resistant to learning.

That's where I also draw a line. I have never in my life inflicted a teacher with my weekly presence showing up every time with no work. My parents would not have considered paying out money for me to be utterly lazy. We simply did not have that much money. I will go to war with parents over this one issue, and believe me, I have. I have said, in these exact words:

"If you continue to bring you child to lessons weekly and he/she does not work, you might as well take the money and flush it down the toilet. Not only are you totally wasting your money, which I assume you could spend better for other things, but you are teaching a lesson, and that lesson is that doing absolutely nothing is acceptable. If you are willing to spend money this way, I'm not willing to take it."

I would say that things change nine out of ten times when I put it this bluntly. I also say, "Was this the way you were raised? Was it OK with your parents for YOU to do absolutely no work, while they continued to pay money week after week?"

I would estimate one out of 10 comes to me with such clueless, permissive parents, and of course what I am up against is the tip of the iceberg.
Quote

Otherwise, it's mostly parents that are problems for me. As with anything, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so to think that the stuff talked about on here represents entire studios is a bit skewed. I'm sure companies receive more complaints than positive feedback on their customer hotlines. It's just the nature of things, but doesn't represent the whole. smile

See above.

The problems almost always start with the parents, and there are always a few who want everything there way, who are counting very penny. But I insist that the majority of parents are not like this. Most are surprisingly easy to work with.

And the squeaky wheels get nothing out of me they don't pay for. Not one extra second, no makeups, no perks. It becomes strictly business, and I'm as flexible with them as with a parking meter. I have the phone numbers of all my students, so I know who is calling me. I don't answer or call back problem parents. They get nothing from me, because when I don't like someone I'm as hard as a rock and just about as friendly.

For the parents who are cooperative I'll do almost anything possible to help them.

Stupid people never realize how they screw themselves with their horrible behavior!


You shouldn't have to put up with students who don't put the effort in or parents who are a detriment to a child's learning. Just be forward with those people and it's clearly your prerogative to dismiss them.

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: pianopi] #2730145
04/19/18 01:00 PM
04/19/18 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pianopi
I think if someone has built up and maintained their own successful business over numerous decades, they have BY FAR earned the right to decide who they want to teach. Students should probably feel honoured if they are one of the ones remaining in the student list.

I think you should rearrange your schedule, AZPiano, leaving some time for your own playing, but mainly so you can honestly tell students that, come summer, things have changed in your own personal schedule, and that you have a new teaching project coming up, and unfortunately, this means the available teaching time has been reduced, and, subsequently, sadly, your current student body needs to be reduced also.


I own a business. Part of what I consider business integrity and ethics is to provide a service because it was necessary and I because I believed I would able to perform what the customer was asking for. What I do not do is let go of clients when it was convenient to me or because I see other opportunities ahead that may suit me better. If a situation is not working for the client or myself I let this person know the situation immediately and address the situation immediately, doing anything other than that is just leading the customer on and taking advantage of them. I don't see the honor in that.

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Gary D.] #2730177
04/19/18 02:40 PM
04/19/18 02:40 PM
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Andamento Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Where are the students who like their teachers and are happy with the teaching they are getting?

Where are the teachers who enjoy teaching and actually like most of their students?


I enjoy teaching every one of my current students--no exceptions--and the children are delightful and respectful, and the parents loyal and plentiful with gratitude.

I love this business, and I feel loved in return by 100% of my students and families! smile

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730188
04/19/18 03:16 PM
04/19/18 03:16 PM
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Gary,
If you are in a position where you end up culling the lazy students, you are also enjoying yourself more. However, over the years, I've had to keep on with many students who go weeks without practicing.

So some students' visits are more enjoyable than others. I don't think it's a sin to not enjoy teaching certain students. I still do my best, and deal with all of their problems. But when they've left the door, I do breathe a sigh of relief.

Some students are uninspired and give very little back to me. I have to power the whole thing with my motivation. Some of them are very boring people and will always be that way, have little creativity, or are rebellious. I try to change that, but some things are genetic and some things you simply cannot improve. It is nonsense to believe each child is equally entertaining. And yes, I'm hoping for entertainment, not just feeding facts to an uninspired child.

Last edited by Candywoman; 04/19/18 03:21 PM.
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730189
04/19/18 03:17 PM
04/19/18 03:17 PM
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You could do what the freshmen college teacher I was assigned to did on the first lesson of college did:

"It's not that I can't, it's not that I don't know how, I just don't WANT to! You're a nice boy, but I just don't WANT to!" After which he gave a list of other teachers (If he doesn't take you, you will go to him, if she doens't take you..to her, ec).

I was only scarred for....10 years?? =DDD

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Andamento] #2730191
04/19/18 03:18 PM
04/19/18 03:18 PM
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Posts: 4,285
Florida
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Originally Posted by Andamento
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Where are the students who like their teachers and are happy with the teaching they are getting?

Where are the teachers who enjoy teaching and actually like most of their students?


I enjoy teaching every one of my current students--no exceptions--and the children are delightful and respectful, and the parents loyal and plentiful with gratitude.

I love this business, and I feel loved in return by 100% of my students and families! smile


.

I think we need to keep in mind that a lot of members use these forums to vent.,,, it may only be a temporary frustration, or a longer running frustration but not with all students/teacher’s. We should not generalize that everything is all wrong because of a topic being generated. It is like with everything else, you often don’t write or talk about things that are going really well and for which you’re very pleased..... But only the frustrations.

If we started a thread asking how many adult students here love their teachers, you will find many of us that do. We just are normally quiet. I really try to make a conscious effort to remind my teacher how much I value my lessons with her; I don’t think as students we say it often enough. I have threatened her that if she closes her studio Or drops me as a Student, I will still show up at my appointment lesson time music in hand


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Jethro] #2730195
04/19/18 03:33 PM
04/19/18 03:33 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 17,105
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Originally Posted by Jethro
I own a business. Part of what I consider business integrity and ethics is to provide a service because it was necessary and I because I believed I would able to perform what the customer was asking for. What I do not do is let go of clients when it was convenient to me or because I see other opportunities ahead that may suit me better. If a situation is not working for the client or myself I let this person know the situation immediately and address the situation immediately, doing anything other than that is just leading the customer on and taking advantage of them. I don't see the honor in that.

I've been in both camps. I was a trained teacher who taught in public school first, then privately one-on-one. I also am a student instrument-wise and look into the teaching side of it. I also run a business in a different field, and am a certified professional there.

You haven't said what your business is in. I'm a translator. When I'm asked to do a project, I look at the entire text, ask what it's for, what other needs may be present. If I accept the work, I know exactly what I'm getting into, and can predict whether I can deliver a good product. I also get to do the work independently, relying on my own expertise and training. I don't need much from my client: maybe to be available to answer a question here and there. So it's easy to work toward standards, and to reject work where you feel you can't meet them.

Teaching, esp. music, is not black and white like that. If the student is a child, then teaching will be an interaction between teacher, child, and parent. The child and parent are both unknowns to you when you take them on, and the child will be in the process of being formed in music through your work. You are not working independently as a professional: 6/7 of the work is done by the student (6 days of practice, 1 lesson day) and that work is out of your hands. The student is literally an amateur and usually so are the parents. Either the child won't co-operate, or the parent doesn't, or both - when everyone co-operates, and if as a teacher you know what you're doing, then that's sweet.

We can't see it exactly as in some other businesses where there is control and predictability. One can aim for it. For example, the teacher should be pre-emptive, making sure that everyone know what is expected; and definitely know how to teach, before trying to teach, and have some kind of idea of where they're going and why. But various things can go wrong which are not in the teacher's hands.

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Jethro] #2730206
04/19/18 03:55 PM
04/19/18 03:55 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,173
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Jethro
I think the "nice" way to fire students is just to be totally honest with them and tell them that you lack the patience, motivation, and dedication (and possibly skills?) required of teaching challenging/difficult students and that you prefer the easier more "talented" students so there's less work involved. That way it's less on them and more on you. In fact, you could take it a step further and tell them exactly how you feel and say you are at "your wits end" and maybe you should be thinking about retiring altogether. There's always a nice way to get a message across especially when you place the blame on yourself rather than those around you.

So you suggest that I lie?

I thought lying was the worst policy.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: pianopi] #2730208
04/19/18 03:58 PM
04/19/18 03:58 PM
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Posts: 8,173
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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Originally Posted by pianopi
I think you should rearrange your schedule, AZPiano, leaving some time for your own playing, but mainly so you can honestly tell students that, come summer, things have changed in your own personal schedule, and that you have a new teaching project coming up, and unfortunately, this means the available teaching time has been reduced, and, subsequently, sadly, your current student body needs to be reduced also.

I thought about going that route. But complication will arise if I keep some of the students, but not the others. I have groups of students in my studio that referred each other. If I take out one kid, I might lose the whole group.

Or maybe I am overthinking it.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730240
04/19/18 05:23 PM
04/19/18 05:23 PM
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AZPiano, perhaps rework your schedule so that the specific blocks of time set aside for your own playing, the new teaching project (i.e. the incoming advanced students), accounting work or anything else you might need extra time for coincide with the times of the piano lessons students who need to move on. Then you have a legitimate and honest excuse.

Caringly (is that a word..?), get together a list of teachers who you can recommend to the moving on students. And perhaps teachers of other instruments. They may just need to try a new route.

Keep their names on a (visible) waitlist for any possible future openings. Make sure they see they are on the waitlist.

Give it a few months, assume those moved-on students have now found new teachers, and you can re-arrange your schedule again so that those blocked out time can be now used for new students if necessary.

It's your time - make it work for you. And it's not just the lessons that wear on you, but the time taken out of the rest of the the week dreading those wearisome lessons.


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTc4esj9xQG6NjLIr9an29Q
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: dogperson] #2730241
04/19/18 05:27 PM
04/19/18 05:27 PM
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Andamento Offline
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Andamento
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Where are the students who like their teachers and are happy with the teaching they are getting?

Where are the teachers who enjoy teaching and actually like most of their students?


I enjoy teaching every one of my current students--no exceptions--and the children are delightful and respectful, and the parents loyal and plentiful with gratitude.

I love this business, and I feel loved in return by 100% of my students and families! smile


.

I think we need to keep in mind that a lot of members use these forums to vent.,,, it may only be a temporary frustration, or a longer running frustration but not with all students/teacher’s. We should not generalize that everything is all wrong because of a topic being generated. It is like with everything else, you often don’t write or talk about things that are going really well and for which you’re very pleased..... But only the frustrations.

If we started a thread asking how many adult students here love their teachers, you will find many of us that do. We just are normally quiet. I really try to make a conscious effort to remind my teacher how much I value my lessons with her; I don’t think as students we say it often enough. I have threatened her that if she closes her studio Or drops me as a Student, I will still show up at my appointment lesson time music in hand


Dogperson,

Just to clarify, is your post directed to me or to Gary D.?

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730243
04/19/18 05:51 PM
04/19/18 05:51 PM
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@andamento
Really “directed “ at Gary but an addendum to yours: your post Highlights how much you love your students, mine is how much Many of is love our teachers.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: Gary D.] #2730284
04/19/18 09:46 PM
04/19/18 09:46 PM
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Posts: 5,386
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

Where are the students who like their teachers and are happy with the teaching they are getting?


On the ABF!!!


Learner
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: malkin] #2730286
04/19/18 09:53 PM
04/19/18 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Gary D.

Where are the students who like their teachers and are happy with the teaching they are getting?


On the ABF!!!


(Yes, but we can't but help be neurotic too.)


Whizbang [Linked Image]
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Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: dogperson] #2730291
04/19/18 11:59 PM
04/19/18 11:59 PM
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Andamento Offline
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Thanks, dogperson. Totally agree with everything you've said in both your posts on this thread.

Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730359
04/20/18 10:43 AM
04/20/18 10:43 AM
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I had a student who was, IMO, inapporiate and rude. After a few phone calls to mom, asking for insight on how to handle the student's behavior issues, (with no help from mom), I focused on the student's love for improv. I don't do a lot of improv, so I referred the student to a teacher whose expertise was on improv. Parents said they "appreciated" my referral. Hopefully, the student found a better fit with the next teacher.

Last edited by chasingrainbows; 04/20/18 10:43 AM.

Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730466
04/20/18 09:53 PM
04/20/18 09:53 PM
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I think the best way of firing a student is to make it the student’s or parent’s idea. Everyone has pride and no one likes to be fired.


Yamaha G2
Re: How to "Fire" Students Nicely [Re: AZNpiano] #2730484
04/21/18 02:45 AM
04/21/18 02:45 AM
Joined: Nov 2004
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A possible idea: Don't fire them, but get them to quit themselves. If they don't progress, or are deadbeats, say that you've been thinking about how much time you have left on this earth, and you want all of your teaching to have value, and you want to make THEM get their money's worth for lessons, so as a result of this new epiphany, you standards will rise astronomically. Make sure they know it's about YOU, not THEM. Tell them that you understand if they can't rise to these new standards of teaching, and then mention that you have some "Easier" teachers on hand. I'm assuming the reason you want to fire them is because lack of practice/motivation.

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