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Have you ever done this, teachers?

I have a family who often cancels lessons at nearly the literal last minute (and sometimes after the lessons were supposed to start). So then I end up with an hour gap in the middle of my schedule every time it happens; frustrating, paid though the lessons are.

I suppose I could get creative and find other things to do while waiting for my next student to arrive (and I do), but I'd really rather be teaching.

There are two other students of mine -- dedicated, regular attenders and consistently well-prepared for their lessons -- who I know prefer this other family's time slot over their current lesson times. I'm considering moving those students into the often-vacated slot, to reward their loyalty, and shifting the two frequent-miss students to the end of the day so that when they cancel, I can go home early.

Any suggestions about how to approach the "you're-getting-bumped" conversation? Or other alternatives to suggest about handling the situation? I guess most of all it just really bugs me that they have so little respect for the time we had set aside for their lessons ("Oh, we have this other conflict today and forgot to tell you [until two minutes before lesson time; right...]." frown

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This sounds like something I would do - put a flaky family in a spot that I'd be less annoyed about when they inevitably flake. In my case, the family in question gets the first spot of my day (online). In the Before time, when teaching in my home studio, I tended to have more students wanting later-in-the-day times and this family was able to come earlier so there was no conflict with demand. I could see wanting them at the end if I were teaching in another physical location and planning my travel and prep time.

Have you thought about if you would be "asking for permission" to move them or if you are making an executive decision and presenting it as an all but done deal? They don't need to know that other students will be using their newly-vacating spots.

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Originally Posted by Andamento
I guess most of all it just really bugs me that they have so little respect for the time we had set aside for their lessons ("Oh, we have this other conflict today and forgot to tell you [until two minutes before lesson time; right...]." frown

I would suggest caution with this decision.

The sentence i quoted indicates this is not a decision made for practical reasons, but because you resent that they don't respect you. I stated that a little bluntly, but it doesn't it seem to be more of an emotional reason than a lesson or work day efficiency reason?

It's your business and of course you can prioritize your prime hours however you want. You have one flakey family now but they don't seem to complain about paying or demand makeups. You could have lots of similar families.

If you move them to a worse time they will probably increase the number of no-shows, and eventualize realize this isn't cost effective, and they'll quit. And that might not be a bad thing, if they miss a lot of lessons progress is probably slow.

Anyway, you may have different studio policies, but it's kind of traditional that people own their time, unless they drop out in the summer, and then it's first come first served.


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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
Have you thought about if you would be "asking for permission" to move them or if you are making an executive decision and presenting it as an all but done deal?

I've considered both possibilities, but haven't made a decision yet about in which of those ways (or other ways?) I will handle it.

Originally Posted by mostlystrings
They don't need to know that other students will be using their newly-vacating spots.

This is a good point. Probably the less said to them, the better.

Last edited by Andamento; 05/10/21 12:33 PM.
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by Andamento
I guess most of all it just really bugs me that they have so little respect for the time we had set aside for their lessons ("Oh, we have this other conflict today and forgot to tell you [until two minutes before lesson time; right...]." frown

I would suggest caution with this decision.

The sentence i quoted indicates this is not a decision made for practical reasons, but because you resent that they don't respect you.

I almost left that statement out of my post; it was more of an afterthought than anything.

There are actually some practical reasons, involving personal/family situations I don't want to discuss online, for putting them at the end of my schedule, so that I can leave early to head home on the days they flake out.

Originally Posted by TimR
...if they miss a lot of lessons progress is probably slow.

It most certainly is, and for other reasons, too, which I'm sure you can guess. They're not putting in enough time at home to get anywhere, but if they came to lessons regularly, they might be able to at least maintain some skills.

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Interesting, I interpreted the practical reasons as more important because they were mentioned first, and I glossed over "most of all it just really bugs me" because it was shoved in at the end. Despite the wording "most of all", it didn't seem like a primary concern. I used to be more bothered by this kind of thing but gradually decided to view it as people being disorganized and that they probably do this in other areas of life, rather than actively disrespecting me personally. Maybe they also figure that it's acceptable because they are still paying.

TimR mentioned something that I forgot about because distance learning schedule has meant changes in how I view semesters and terms. At this point, close to the end of the "school year", I would probably try to find out in a casual way how they feel about changing. If it seems like it would be a big deal, I'd keep their current time (along with the inconveniences of being last-minute-cancelled on) but plan to present summer or fall as "time to change".

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If lessons are paid and there are no makeups, then certainly it's not the best use of your time, but... there's always knitting or the internet or any number of things that can occupy that bit of your time.


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But sometimes getting home is the best way to occupy your time.

I would say that with a new semester, whether summer or fall, that there are some changes to your schedule. And offer accordingly that fits your needs. You do not need to justify why. NO is a complete sentence if they ask for the same time.

A couple of times I get to school to find a text was sent while I was driving- "Johnny was not feeling well so the school nurse sent him home. He will not be at piano today."

Well, I could have used that time for home chores or errands...but I can forgive that. A constant, "oh, we had sports practice, play date, after-school tutoring, moon spots..." would make me bring along personal homework as I wait for the next student(s). And, I would tell them that their time slot for the next semester had to be changed- do they prefer time A or time B?


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Originally Posted by missbelle
And, I would tell them that their time slot for the next semester had to be changed- do they prefer time A or time B?

That is almost exactly what I came up with last night, missbelle! I've found a way to offer them two choices -- back-to-back at the end of evening A, or one child at the end of evening A and the other at the end of evening B. Whichever one they choose, the other families affected by my change of schedule are all cleared to step into the newly opened spots. (And they're excited about their new times because those times are more convenient than their present spots.)

Win-win-win: the loyal families are rewarded with better spots; the sporadic family gets a small choice of times instead of an assigned time from me; and my schedule is more fitted to my work/family balance goals, whatever the sporadic family chooses going forward. smile

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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
...plan to present summer or fall as "time to change".

Yes, this. Next month -- summer! -- will be the month to bring on the change. smile

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Originally Posted by malkin
but... there's always knitting...

I can play piano pretty decently wink but wielding knitting needles is about as safe for me as juggling knives would be. Let's just say neither of the latter two activities would be anywhere near my forte. smile

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Are the students paying for the lessons regardless of showing up?

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Get rid of them.

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Originally Posted by JoyfulKeys88
Are the students paying for the lessons regardless of showing up?

Yes, always, and amazingly, they are still paying while taking the summer off, too. So I'm holding their slots (at the end of one of my teaching days). It works for me!

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Get rid of them.

I think they will show themselves the door if they decide they don't like the new time, and/or if taking the summer off (which they're doing; see my post just above) totally destroys any small inclination the kids may have had to go to the piano and leads them to quit.

I plan to keep them on my schedule (at the end) while they are happy to keep paying me.

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Originally Posted by Andamento
Originally Posted by fatar760
Get rid of them.


I plan to keep them on my schedule (at the end) while they are happy to keep paying me.

We've all got our own circumstances in which we make these decisions. If you're happy with the solution that works for you that's all that matters.

The reason I say 'get rid', in a rather pithy way, was because I held on to a lot of students/families just for the money and the day I decided to let them go was an incredibly liberating one. Life is too short for time-wasters.

Pleased you have a solution!

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by Andamento
Originally Posted by fatar760
Get rid of them.


I plan to keep them on my schedule (at the end) while they are happy to keep paying me.

We've all got our own circumstances in which we make these decisions. If you're happy with the solution that works for you that's all that matters.

The reason I say 'get rid', in a rather pithy way, was because I held on to a lot of students/families just for the money and the day I decided to let them go was an incredibly liberating one. Life is too short for time-wasters.

Pleased you have a solution!

Thanks, Fatar. Very good thoughts. I agree life is too short, and it's important to consider the many circumstances that go into deciding what to keep, what to try to change, and what to let go.


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