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Hi, it's my first post here and I have a rant/question/needs solutions from everyone here. I just want to have a hear on this on how other piano teachers out there are thinking about this incident.

Long post ahead.


So the Story goes on like this.

I went on a maternity break for 4 months and I told Parent A about it. Parent A was ok and told me to go ahead with it and the meantime will encourage the kids to do their own practise.

4 months after, I texted Parent A on the resuming of lessons and agreed to start in November. Then a few weeks before(September), Parent A called me and told me that actually during my maternity break he hired a stand in teacher and asked me if I could start in January 2022 instead as the teacher would like to wrap things up with one of the kid for the piano exams.

Parent A said initially didn't want to let me know about the stand in teacher as Parent A felt it wasn't so nice to do this behind my back.

I agreed on resuming in November and understood where he was coming from. I didnt think much but at the back of my head, I was thinking I could just come back anytime to teach even if the stand in teacher stopped half way through.

Fast forward yesterday, I texted Parent A to have a update on the kids' progress.

Guessed what happened?

The same old story from Parent A again, telling me the teacher asked him if I could start the kids in Feb/March instead as she's preparing the other kid for exams!!!

I was furious and told Parent A we agreed to start in January! And i told him I could picked up anywhere the stand in teacher stopped! However, Parent A gave me 2 options:

1) To start in January with the kid who will by then finished the exam

2) if I'm not comfortable with Option 1 then start both kids when the other one finishes the exam in feb/march 2022


In the first place, why is this parent giving me the options when I'm their main teacher since I taught them from scratched?!

I even sent them to multiple exams and they scored highly for all. And one of them when through a piano competition and won a trophy!

The reason that I'm so upset about this and wanting to start ASAP after my maternity break because I love teaching them. They progressed fast and lessons with them are fun.

I told Parent A that I am not so happy with this incident and Parent A said that he wants to please both sides that's why the stand in teacher and Parent A came out with this solutions! (Seriously????)

Why does it seems that both of them are trying to kick me out?

I mean I don't mind Parent A telling me to stop teaching their kids than doing this whole sorts of funny excuses coming out from both of them?

Btw, most of my students travelled to my place for lessons. Only for this family I travelled over as they have many kids and its impossible for them to travel around.

Am I doing something wrong? Or am I too soft to be being pushed around like that?


I need suggestions and hear out from everybody.

Ps
Thank you for taking your time to read this long post.

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
I went on a maternity break for 4 months and I told Parent A about it. Parent A was ok and told me to go ahead with it

I might not be understanding this correctly, but this sounds like Parent A was giving you permission to take your maternity break. Parents don't set a teacher's schedule; the teacher does. Whether this parent "was ok" with -- approved of -- your schedule makes no difference.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
and the meantime will encourage the kids to do their own practise.

What the parent didn't tell you right away is that they would be practicing the assignments given by a stand-in teacher. The parent did have freedom of choice on whether to have the children study piano with someone else during your maternity leave, but it was kind of an underhanded way to go about things.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
4 months after, I texted Parent A on the resuming of lessons and agreed to start in November. Then a few weeks before(September), Parent A called me and told me that actually during my maternity break he hired a stand in teacher and asked me if I could start in January 2022 instead as the teacher would like to wrap things up with one of the kid for the piano exams.

Parent A said initially didn't want to let me know about the stand in teacher as Parent A felt it wasn't so nice to do this behind my back.

I agreed on resuming in November and understood where he was coming from. I didnt think much but at the back of my head, I was thinking I could just come back anytime to teach even if the stand in teacher stopped half way through.

Fast forward yesterday, I texted Parent A to have a update on the kids' progress.

Guessed what happened?

The same old story from Parent A again, telling me the teacher asked him if I could start the kids in Feb/March instead as she's preparing the other kid for exams!!!

I was furious and told Parent A we agreed to start in January!

This whole timeline is confusing to me. Earlier you said, "I agreed on resuming in November." Was that your original intention, or did you want to resume in an earlier month, but Parent A said they'd restart in November, and you agreed to accept his terms?

But then later you agreed to move the start date to January.

Now he wants the start date to be Feb/March.

This parent is yanking you around, and has put himself in charge, giving you two options:

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
1) To start in January with the kid who will by then finished the exam

2) if I'm not comfortable with Option 1 then start both kids when the other one finishes the exam in feb/march 2022


In the first place, why is this parent giving me the options when I'm their main teacher since I taught them from scratched?!

Because your past willingness to yield to him when he gives you a new date for resuming lessons gives him more incentive to keep directing you.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
I even sent them to multiple exams and they scored highly for all. And one of them when through a piano competition and won a trophy!

The reason that I'm so upset about this and wanting to start ASAP after my maternity break because I love teaching them. They progressed fast and lessons with them are fun.

It's possible the parent felt that four months without lessons would hamper the children's tremendous progress. I think it's wonderful for your child that you chose to take the time you did for your maternity leave. Parent A likely doesn't care as much about that, though, as he does about his children's musical prowess.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
I told Parent A that I am not so happy with this incident and Parent A said that he wants to please both sides that's why the stand in teacher and Parent A came out with this solutions! (Seriously????)

Why does it seems that both of them are trying to kick me out?

I mean I don't mind Parent A telling me to stop teaching their kids than doing this whole sorts of funny excuses coming out from both of them?

It's hard to know what the other teacher knew when. Does the other teacher even know that "Parent A" has told you his kids will be returning to you? Parent A is perhaps being dishonest with that teacher, giving her/him the impression that they quit you.

The parent could be lying to you, too, making up a story to make it sound like the delays are because of the stand-in teacher's wishes.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
Btw, most of my students travelled to my place for lessons. Only for this family I travelled over as they have many kids and its impossible for them to travel around.

BIG red flag there. Right from the very beginning this family started setting the terms when they wanted you to come to them instead of them coming to your place. It is not surprising that they are continuing to take advantage of you.

Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
Am I doing something wrong? Or am I too soft to be being pushed around like that?

Yes, in my opinion, you appear to be too soft. There are times for flexibility, and there are times for firmness. This family needs firmness from you if there's to be any chance they will respect you.


Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
I need suggestions and hear out from everybody.

My suggestion is to develop a written policy that you can realistically enforce. I would start by not going to their house anymore. You already have a place from which you conduct business -- this family, like your other families, can come to you, at the times you offer them, or they can forfeit their spots on your studio roster.

None of this business with Parent A telling you what the options are. You tell him what the options are, and he can accept or reject your policies.

I wouldn't give him a lot of time to decide. November is almost done. I'd lay out a clear date you expect the children to return if they intend to study with you again: something like, "Lessons for _______________ and ______________ [insert students' names] will resume January ____, 2022 at [time of day], at [your studio address]. Advance payment by [a specific date in December] will secure your children's time slots."

Good luck. Don't be dismayed if the family doesn't return. Have respect for your own well-thought-out policies by enforcing them, and you will find wonderful, respectful families to fill your studio.

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Firstly, thank you for the long and thoughtful response.


So in short the timeline goes like this:

Both of us agreed on resuming lessons in Nov

In Sept Parent A called to ask me to resume in Jan 2022 (Due to the stand-in teacher preparing the kids exams)

(Texted Parent A few days back just to get a quick update on how the kids are doing) Parent A told me if its possible to resume in Feb/March.



I understand that all parents cared about their own kids since I'm on maternity for 4 months it will definitely hinder the kids' progress. However, I'm open for Parent A to stop hiring me since Parent A wanted to please both sides. But from my angle, Parent A leans towards the stand-in teacher than me.



Parent A told me the other teacher knew about me and knows that she's just standing in for me. But from my views, she's just trying her luck to 'snatch' these 2 students from me. Yea I understand that the Parent might be lying to me.

Yes I will take in your suggestion and tell him on what my policy is than him trying to push me around.

Thanks for the help! At least I could stop thinking about it.

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I am not a teacher, but I would recommend you try to consider the parent’s perspective. I’m considering this scenario not from a parental perspective, but what would I want as a student.

Here is my thinking:
My teacher. that I really enjoyed decided to take four months off following the birth of her child. I initially thought I would just self-study, but realized I needed a stand-in teacher for the four month interval. Now, we are close to exams. Even though I want to go back to my original teacher, right before an exam makes me really nervous. What if she doesn’t like the way I’m playing my exam pieces? How do I change? Can I catch up? Too much change at the last minute, so I’ll ask to come back as soon as exams are over


Make some sense? I would take the students back progressively—- after each one finishes exams.


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A very analogous situation happened to me. The upshot is that I lost 2 wonderful students, from fine parents. But from the parents' perspective, allegretto and I are simply unavailable for several months, and the parents want their children to continue moving forward with music.

Then the children develop new loyalties to a new teacher. The new teacher may be just as good as we are. She may even be better than we are. She may be more convenient, in her schedule or where she is located. She may be less expensive. The parents are caught in a bind. Someone has to lose in this inadvertent competition between teachers, and it's us. I get this. It's hurtful, but there we are. We precipitated it.

Of course, in progressive nations with decent labor laws, businesses have maternity leave provisions that guard a job for awhile. But even then, no one can force a client to remain loyal.

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Nobody did anything terrible here. My perspective. If these two children have been doing so well all this time, then it is not just your good work, but also that of the parent cooperatively working with her children, and in turn, guiding via their teacher's (your) instructions. If something starts slipping during your 4 month absence, or the kids don't know how to do something- should the parent try to invent solutions - or get an expert to help out and guide during that teacherless period? (Did you tell the parent, "If you have a problem during my absence, feel free to give me a shout?) So the parent did the responsible thing of hiring someone for the interim period. She has always worked hand-in-hand with a teacher rather than winging it herself, and continued to do so.

So there's a teacher during your absence, planned for four months. Regular lessons are not like buying groceries every week, and the clerk rings through your items. Not with good teaching, anyway. It's more like planning, projects that get developed and evolve, and their completion may take longer or shorter than expected. One teacher's teaching cannot just be "taken over" by another when they're in the middle of something. Mindreading doesn't work well between teachers. So one of the two projects is taking longer to finish than expected than the other. The parent was accommodating about your 4 months - no choice for either of you on that - you can be accommodating about one of the two children's return being delayed by a few months. No biggy.

I've written mostly from a student & parent perspective, because I would not want to be stuck without a teacher for that long. In fact, when I started my first lessons, I was a beginner, my teacher was absent 3 months during that fragile phase, and I had technical problems for the next 4 years due to things that evolved wrong while I had to "teach myself" in that period. AS A TEACHER:

In the public school system, we had a contingency system. We created long term lesson plans of a each teaching unit, and copy was left on the teacher's desk. If you ended up being sick and having to stay home, the substitute teacher could look through your lesson plans, and simply continue with what was being taught and developed, so that there was continuance and consistency. Did you have a contingency? For example:
- arrange that students/parents can contact you with problems or questions if they came up during your absence
- set out a plan for the parent, that during these 4 months, they should be doing these things, so they knew what to do
- or, arrange for a colleague to take over for you during your absence, with discussion with the colleague on how that would go?

If parents/students can go without you for four months, then maybe they don't need a teacher at all, including you? This parent apparently did think that a teacher is indispensible, and had also arranged a return with you, steadily keeping you in the loop.

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
Firstly, thank you for the long and thoughtful response.


So in short the timeline goes like this:

Both of us agreed on resuming lessons in Nov

In Sept Parent A called to ask me to resume in Jan 2022 (Due to the stand-in teacher preparing the kids exams)

(Texted Parent A few days back just to get a quick update on how the kids are doing) Parent A told me if its possible to resume in Feb/March.



I understand that all parents cared about their own kids since I'm on maternity for 4 months it will definitely hinder the kids' progress. However, I'm open for Parent A to stop hiring me since Parent A wanted to please both sides. But from my angle, Parent A leans towards the stand-in teacher than me.



Parent A told me the other teacher knew about me and knows that she's just standing in for me. But from my views, she's just trying her luck to 'snatch' these 2 students from me. Yea I understand that the Parent might be lying to me.

Yes I will take in your suggestion and tell him on what my policy is than him trying to push me around.

Thanks for the help! At least I could stop thinking about it.

Hi allegrettoforte,

Thanks for clarifying the timeline.

I'm thinking about your post title: "Ethical or unethical teacher?" I didn't really address that in my first response because it's hard to know how much the teacher knew about the situation.

Given that the teacher apparently does know she's a stand-in (if the parent is being truthful to you in that declaration), then there are some additional considerations.

I'm trying to put myself in the position of the other teacher. Here are my thoughts. (Apologies in advance that this may ramble. See the tl;dr ("too long; didn't read" portion at the bottom of the post if you want to skip the storytelling.) wink

------------

At one point, after I'd been teaching for a brief period and had a handful of students, I became a "stand-in" teacher for someone else.

I was asked by staff at a music store I frequented if I would cover for their piano teacher during her then-upcoming maternity leave. I accepted the offer and inherited her students, assuming I would have them for whatever duration her leave would be. (I don't remember now what timeframe was discussed.)

As it turns out, the teacher decided sometime after her baby's birth that she wouldn't return to the store, so my temporary job became permanent, and then those students felt like they were "mine" rather than hers. (Though they actually never were "mine" or "hers" -- they technically were the store's -- and didn't go with me when I stopped teaching there five years later.)

None of those students, to my knowledge, had ever done exams or competitions, but if they or their parents or the teacher on leave had requested that I continue preparing any of the students for such events, I likely would have.

But I would not -- at that time, anyway -- have asked that the original teacher change her timeframe for getting back her students, in order to accommodate my wishes.

That said, at this point in my career, I might feel more comfortable asking a teacher for whom I might be acting as a stand-in if she thought it might be to certain students' benefit to stay with me longer during an exam/competition preparation period if the switching back to the original teacher might be more disruptive to the student at that stage.

If your students' stand-in teacher feels that way, it would be courteous for her to communicate directly with you about that. At the very least, that could help dispel the feeling you have that she's trying to steal your students.

But here's another consideration: one benefit I see from exams and competitions is that students get feedback from others besides the teacher with whom they prepared their pieces. However, the examiner only has a brief amount of time to assess a student's performance and provide feedback.

What a great benefit, in my opinion, it would be for your students to get feedback from both you and the stand-in teacher prior to their exams. Teachers vary in what they emphasize, and students, especially those who are more advanced, can get a more well-rounded education through the comments of multiple musicians/educators.

In this sense, your having gone on leave and their studying with someone else in the interim, may have begun a good thing. They've received from her whatever she's taught them so far in their exam prep period, and they'd have opportunity to receive your feedback, as well -- and that from the teacher who knows them best -- through the stand-in teacher's cooperation in respecting your original timeframe.

-----------

tl;dr

Bottom line: good communication between all parties about the timeframe and role of this "triangle" -- family, original teacher, and stand-in teacher -- is essential so that everyone is being respected.

An ethical stand-in teacher will want to clearly communicate to the original teacher what the stand-in feels is beneficial for her temporary students if it involves a different timeline than what the original teacher determined. Professional courtesy would compel a stand-in teacher to speak directly with the main teacher, and not use the parent as a go-between when the stand-in would prefer the original schedule be altered.

You determined the original schedule. If the stand-in wishes it to be different, for whatever reason, she should directly consult you, the original schedule-maker and teacher who knows the students best.

If she doesn't do that, I don't know what to tell you. Probably I'd consider contacting her instead of using the parent as a go-between. (Though you might have to get her contact info through the parent.)

My two cents. I hope this helps.

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Originally Posted by Andamento
I might not be understanding this correctly, but this sounds like Parent A was giving you permission to take your maternity break. Parents don't set a teacher's schedule; the teacher does. Whether this parent "was ok" with -- approved of -- your schedule makes no difference.
Coupla things. We don't know what words the parent used, and when we do use words, they can come out being heard differently than we intend. Meanwhile, a teacher's schedule also affects the student. You may teach between 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. every day, so I can't insist on a lesson at noon. You may only have Tues. or Thur. open, so those are my choices. If I choose your Tues. slot, then I'm also arranging my life around that schedule. I have to make sure that I can show up every Tuesday, and that I / my kids have prepared during the week for that lesson. A four month absence affects the parent guiding the kids studying with a teacher. If the parent is "ok" with it - maybe she's reassuring the teacher like in "stuff happens".

I work independently as a professional and have customers. I have total freedom in how I use my time, because my parents don't have to be present when I do my work. If I promise it will be done this Friday, then how I arrange my time is up to me, as long as it's delivered on Friday. One-on-one lessons don't work that way. Classroom lessons might (get a friend to take notes for you; study at home, while you're absent as a student.)

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Andamento
I might not be understanding this correctly, but this sounds like Parent A was giving you permission to take your maternity break. Parents don't set a teacher's schedule; the teacher does. Whether this parent "was ok" with -- approved of -- your schedule makes no difference.
Coupla things. We don't know what words the parent used, and when we do use words, they can come out being heard differently than we intend. Meanwhile, a teacher's schedule also affects the student. You may teach between 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. every day, so I can't insist on a lesson at noon. You may only have Tues. or Thur. open, so those are my choices. If I choose your Tues. slot, then I'm also arranging my life around that schedule. I have to make sure that I can show up every Tuesday, and that I / my kids have prepared during the week for that lesson. A four month absence affects the parent guiding the kids studying with a teacher. If the parent is "ok" with it - maybe she's reassuring the teacher like in "stuff happens".

I work independently as a professional and have customers. I have total freedom in how I use my time, because my parents don't have to be present when I do my work. If I promise it will be done this Friday, then how I arrange my time is up to me, as long as it's delivered on Friday. One-on-one lessons don't work that way. Classroom lessons might (get a friend to take notes for you; study at home, while you're absent as a student.)

Right; I understood all of the things you point out in your post, keystring.

Just sayin'. wink

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As a student, I have had two outstanding teachers at the same time. There were always differences of opinions—from fingering, to phrasing, to interpretation. Although initially befuddling, as an adult I was able to resolve it. But you are really suggesting a child should be able to handle two different perspectives right before an exam? IMHO, not reasonable snd ‘two is better’.is not always true.

You are also not considering that this plan about ‘wait until after exams’ is the student’s or the parent’s strong desire. If I planned to go back to original teacher after my exam, but was given an ultimatum of when I must return, I would not go back immediately prior to exams but would look for another permanent teacher.

If you want to draw a line in the sand, you may well lose good students who planned to return.


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Understood there are 2 sides to everything and I thanked everyone for the response.
The exams here I was talking about was a theory online exam. Will it make a difference to the opinion?
It was not a performing exam, that is why i strongly felt that I could take over at any point of time .

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Originally Posted by dogperson
As a student, I have had two outstanding teachers at the same time. There were always differences of opinions—from fingering, to phrasing, to interpretation. Although initially befuddling, as an adult I was able to resolve it. But you are really suggesting a child should be able to handle two different perspectives right before an exam? IMHO, not reasonable snd ‘two is better’.is not always true.

You are also not considering that this plan about ‘wait until after exams’ is the student’s or the parent’s strong desire. If I planned to go back to original teacher after my exam, but was given an ultimatum of when I must return, I would not go back immediately prior to exams but would look for another permanent teacher.

If you want to draw a line in the sand, you may well lose good students who planned to return.

She might also be losing income if she's got a waiting list and is holding open multiple spots without payment from people who say they're coming back at this time, no wait! this time!, no wait! this time! (or maybe never?).

And why would a stand-in teacher want to begin a long-term preparation period with a student whose original teacher was planning a shorter-term leave if the stand-in didn't think interrupting the preparation period with a change back to the original teacher would be a good idea?

Either the students would have their exam prep period with her interrupted in order to go back to allegrettoforte at the originally-agreed-upon time, or the stand-in would keep the students beyond that time.

From what the OP says, it appears that the stand-in does not want those students to go back to their original teacher until after the exams. Is this the stand-in's decision to make?

Not in my estimation.

If it was the stand-in teacher's idea to do the exams (rather than the students', parents', or allegretto's), and said stand-in doesn't want the preparation time interrupted, then she knowingly positioned herself to keep another teacher's students longer than the original teacher's leave. That's unethical unless the parents are paying both teachers for reserving their time slots on their respective schedules.

I don't think that's the case, but our OP can clarify that if I'm wrong.

If it's the students' or parents' idea to stay with the stand-in through the conclusion of exams, then the parents should be upfront with allegretto about that, pay her for November, which was the month she wanted to resume teaching the family's children, and continue paying her for the months they're going to the other teacher, for the privilege of remaining on allegretto's studio schedule during their chosen absence.

If they are unable or unwilling to pay both teachers, then the right thing to do is for them to stop stringing allegretto along with an ever-changing narrative/timeline.

That said, I suspect the exam route was more the stand-in teacher's idea than the parents' or students' idea, based on this line in the OP:

Quote
I told Parent A that I am not so happy with this incident and Parent A said that he wants to please both sides

Meaning, Parent A wants to please the stand-in as well as allegretto. Does Parent think "pleas[ing] the stand-in" means staying with her as long as she wants? If so, how did he get that impression?

Perhaps that's a communication problem, where Parent A thinks Stand-in Teacher would be pleased to have allegretto's students longer (well, yeah, who wouldn't want to have good students longer?!), but I would think Stand-in Teacher would understand the ethical problems of depriving a colleague of income, if that's the case, by keeping the colleague's students on one's own temporary roster beyond the time by which the colleague returned to work.

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
Understood there are 2 sides to everything and I thanked everyone for the response.
The exams here I was talking about was a theory online exam. Will it make a difference to the opinion?
It was not a performing exam, that is why i strongly felt that I could take over at any point of time .

Oh wow. Only a theory exam?

Well, yes, that's an even weaker reason to stay with a stand-in teacher than if there was a performance component.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with all this, allegrettoforte.

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
Understood there are 2 sides to everything and I thanked everyone for the response.
The exams here I was talking about was a theory online exam. Will it make a difference to the opinion?
It was not a performing exam, that is why i strongly felt that I could take over at any point of time .
In general, something like that happens because the parents want better condition (in general economic). They are maybe waiting for your initiative to re-negotiate the contract.


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On the topic of who initiated the exams, according to the parent. It was the teacher. Parent said that the stand-in teacher said that the younger sibling is progressing fast in theory thus sending the young sibling for the theory exams first. The elder one is not as fast and would wait a bit longer before taking the exams which is by then handed over to me in Jan.

However, from the last phone call I was told that both couldn't start in Jan as the stand-in teacher wants to prepare the elder one for theory exams?! Wouldn't this cycle continues should this stand-in teacher tried to talk to the Parent on the performance exams for the younger one; that is she's trying to 'steal' my students & income.

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Some of the new information changes my stance. A stand-in teacher initiating an exam - whether theory or practical or both - does not make sense in terms of a four-month absence.

As for leaving a time slot open. I'd give the time slot to any student who comes along, and if the kid(s) come back, you'll have to see what time slot is available, and maybe let the parent know this ahead of time.
An alternative thought. If the other teacher wants to finish of the theory exam project, sure, why not, as extra paid for lessons, while the students have also returned to their original teacher. One can have double lessons with two teachers, you know. Though it's a more expensive option. wink

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
However, from the last phone call I was told that both couldn't start in Jan as the stand-in teacher wants to prepare the elder one for theory exams?! Wouldn't this cycle continues should this stand-in teacher tried to talk to the Parent on the performance exams for the younger one; that is she's trying to 'steal' my students & income.

There's no telling how long that cycle of delaying the students' return to you could take.

Like you say, the stand-in might try to talk the parent into performance exams for the younger one while still under her direction.

She might decide the older student isn't ready for the theory test by February/March, after all, and needs more prep time. (With her, of course.)

She might come up with some other reason entirely to keep them longer...

Is the stand-in a member of a professional organization? If so, there is probably a published code of ethics to which members must adhere to be in good standing.

The MTNA Code of Ethics, for example, includes this statement in the Commitment to Colleagues section:

Quote
The teacher shall maintain a professional attitude and shall act with integrity with regards to colleagues in the profession. ... The teacher shall participate in the student's change of teachers with as much communication as possible between parties...

If the parent is being truthful with you, then that stand-in teacher is not acting with integrity toward you if she tries to come up with new ways to keep those students longer without consulting you about her motives. She should have been talking with you as well as the parent instead of putting her head together with just the parent to come up with possible "solutions" to present to you!

I'm assuming you put in writing just how long your maternity leave was to be. If not, I would get that done ASAP so everyone is clear about the duration of your leave. Then I suppose there would need to be some sleuthing done to find out if it is the stand-in teacher attempting to circumvent your timeline -- an ethical breach -- or if the parents are being dishonest with you about the situation.

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For me it seems pretty clear that she wants to take your students. One option is to phone her and state clearly that you want your students back and do some shaming if necessary. After all she must understand you as a woman and mother. Another option is to try to influence the parent, probably in a written form, you may write to her that although you have to accept the delay with the second kid's lessons, you consider the behavior of other teacher a violation of professional ethics and you are dissatisfied with it, and that this situation may affect the kids negatively. Things often seem more clear when written down.

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Originally Posted by allegrettoforte
On the topic of who initiated the exams, according to the parent. It was the teacher. Parent said that the stand-in teacher said that the younger sibling is progressing fast in theory thus sending the young sibling for the theory exams first. The elder one is not as fast and would wait a bit longer before taking the exams which is by then handed over to me in Jan.

However, from the last phone call I was told that both couldn't start in Jan as the stand-in teacher wants to prepare the elder one for theory exams?! Wouldn't this cycle continues should this stand-in teacher tried to talk to the Parent on the performance exams for the younger one; that is she's trying to 'steal' my students & income.
Parents are deciders.


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I am not a piano teacher, and I’m sure we are getting only one side of the story. However, from the way you tell the story (and as it has evolved), my sense is that either the parents or the other teacher (or both) are not acting in good faith. The parent has certainly not been up front in their communications with you and keeps changing goal posts.
I know you like the kids and would love to have them back. But I think you should be fully forthcoming about your plans with the parents. It is not fair to you to be keeping time slots open for students who may return at some point that keeps getting delayed. I would tell the parents that as of January 1, you will not be holding the spots open. If the kids want to return, they may not be able to do so if you are full.

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