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#1210397 - 06/02/09 03:23 PM "Firing" a student
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
After many no-shows, too many incorrect payments to count and now "can we do THE PIANO THING once a month?" from mom, I have decided to let this student go. I have been avoiding this because daughter is very sweet, and a great pianist, but mom argues with me about money, lessons, etc and is a nightmare. I know from daughter that mom does this all the time, and I felt like maybe I could be her "consistent" thing, but enough already. Curiously, most of the family plays, and they are good at it! Daughter has said that she only does it cuz mom makes her.

I'm not sure what to say! I have only "fired" two other kids in 15 years, and not for any of the above reasons.

Suggestions?
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210407 - 06/02/09 03:31 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Sounds like you might be feeling guilty. But there's really no reason to. It's your business and you have the right to teach to anyone - or not to teach anyone at all.

It also sounds like the kid didn't want to learn anyway. Let go of the need to please others and focus on your own happiness.



My 2 proverbial cents.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1210410 - 06/02/09 03:33 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Wow Ed, your 2 cents are huge!! LOL

I know I have that "flaw" and I am trying to get over it. Easier said than done tho smile
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210412 - 06/02/09 03:35 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Wow Ed, your 2 cents are huge!! LOL

I know I have that "flaw" and I am trying to get over it. Easier said than done tho smile

It's not a flaw. It sounds like you care a lot. Which is a good thing. But you can't let people walk over you either.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1210417 - 06/02/09 03:44 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
A good friend of mine who teaches flute encourages this:

Document everything you remember about how this parent treated you (not paying, incorrect paying, no-showing, etc.). Look back at your calendar and payment records and write everything down that she did to you that was wrong. This can help muster up the courage to go for it and fire the people. You can even have this information in front of you when you make the call should you want to reference anything. I did this with one family and it was very helpful. I needed to fire them.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1210459 - 06/02/09 05:06 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860

Document everything you remember about how this parent treated you (not paying, incorrect paying, no-showing, etc.).


You can even have this information in front of you when you make the call should you want to reference anything. I did this with one family and it was very helpful. I needed to fire them.


Yes, I am very good at keeping records, so I do have all of this noted.

I'm just very uncomfortable with that phone call,
"yeah hi. You stink at everything, so I'm not teaching your daughter piano anymore."
lol

Seriously, I think I will take the cowardly way out, and just tell her the "only" spot that I have left for summer and hope it won't work for her. If it does, then, since I told her I needed 10 lessons to hold a fall position (thanks for that John (I think)), I won't have "room" for her in the fall.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210466 - 06/02/09 05:24 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I would jump on the once a month thing. Tell her you are not in a position to offer that but you can give her the numbers of teacher's who might be more flexible.

These people are such a drain on your resources. You really don't need it.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1210471 - 06/02/09 05:30 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Chris H.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I would jump on the once a month thing. Tell her you are not in a position to offer that but you can give her the numbers of teacher's who might be more flexible.

These people are such a drain on your resources. You really don't need it.


Ummm dah, that seems pretty obvious, why didn't I think of it smile
Thanks Chris!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210472 - 06/02/09 05:32 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Chris H.]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
Jusy MY two cents, but by taking the cowardly way out you aren't helping yourself at all...just postponing the inevitable. If that spot works for her then you are back where you started. It really is ok to be firm. You'll be glad you did. I do understand hating confrontation, but we all have to do it sometime. Good luck with whatever you decide.
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1210479 - 06/02/09 05:54 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
After many no-shows, too many incorrect payments to count and now "can we do THE PIANO THING once a month?" from mom, I have decided to let this student go. I have been avoiding this because daughter is very sweet, and a great pianist, but mom argues with me about money, lessons, etc and is a nightmare. I know from daughter that mom does this all the time, and I felt like maybe I could be her "consistent" thing, but enough already. Curiously, most of the family plays, and they are good at it! Daughter has said that she only does it cuz mom makes her.

I'm not sure what to say! I have only "fired" two other kids in 15 years, and not for any of the above reasons.

Suggestions?


Okay, I'll bite. Is the word, "dismiss" now politically incorrect?

Growing up, the sterner teachers used the word "dismiss" while the more people oriented teachers said, "let go."

Just so you know, I have a policy about students who need to leave the studio before the term is over - once they quit (disenroll?), they may no longer rejoin the studio. Had a student do just that this spring, so I am expecting a load of grief later in the summer.

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. I had a parent who was doing precisely the same thing as yours, so I contacted the parent, told them that they were obviously dissatisfied with my services, so I would help them find a new teacher. That ended that problem!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1210480 - 06/02/09 05:58 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Two problems:
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
After many no-shows, too many incorrect payments to count and now "can we do THE PIANO THING once a month?" from mom, I have decided to let this student go. I have been avoiding this because daughter is very sweet, and a great pianist, but mom argues with me about money, lessons, etc and is a nightmare.

That's bad enough, but this is the clincher:
Quote:

Daughter has said that she only does it cuz mom makes her.

That's a no win situation. Fire away!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1210486 - 06/02/09 06:07 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

I had a parent who was doing precisely the same thing as yours, so I contacted the parent, told them that they were obviously dissatisfied with my services, so I would help them find a new teacher. That ended that problem!

I LOVE it!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1210490 - 06/02/09 06:09 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Some may disagree, but you might send her an email first, and suggest that if she has further questions or concerns that you'd be happy to discuss them with her in person.

I like to write things out, carefully thinking about what I want to say. Sometimes when dealing with people on the phone, things are said that shouldn't have been, or you wish you would have responded a certain way to something the mom said, etc....

A couple of years ago I had to let a student go for various reasons. I sent the mom an email and told her that 'although I'd enjoyed teaching her daughter, unfortunately I would no longer be able to continue'.

You can be as specific or vague as you like. And really, no matter how nice and sweet you are, it will be a blow to them, they'll feel hurt, etc.... Oh well.

You do what you have to do.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1210501 - 06/02/09 06:26 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: dumdumdiddle]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
Since you don't like the idea of confrontation, the email idea sounds like a good alternative. Just be prepared to get a phone call. Know what you want to say before they call. I do hope you let us know how it works out.
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1210581 - 06/02/09 07:48 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: pianoobsession]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Dumdumdiddle and pianoobseession,
Personally I like Email, and do a lot of my correspondence that way. You don't think that's an unprofessional way to go about it? (although I guess if I'm "firing" them anyway, does it even matter?) I like to type and retype and collect all my thoughts first too.

I kind of think of email as the cowards' way out, but you're right, it still gets the message across.
This particular mom is on my notify list already (so when she reads my emails I know it) because of the problems stated earlier....
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210583 - 06/02/09 07:53 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
The coward's way out is all that extremely rude and selfish people deserve. Save your heroism for the nice people, who give you some respect!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1210586 - 06/02/09 07:57 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
The coward's way out is all that extremely rude and selfish people deserve. Save your heroism for the nice people, who give you some respect!


You are SO right about that! Why is it people (me lol) always worry about offending rude selfish people??
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210638 - 06/02/09 09:32 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
In my view, I think you owe it to your student (who has done nothing wrong) to attempt to work out your problems with her mother face to face (no matter how unpleasant it may seem to you). Never try to solve a problem by e-mail.

Of course, the final decision on how to handle the matter is ultimately yours, but, to me, it seems unfair to the student, if you don't make a valiant attempt to solve the problem.

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#1210644 - 06/02/09 09:42 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Akira]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3230
Loc: Virginia, USA
I tend to agree with Akira.

I suggest an alternative solution.

Since the biggest objective complaint is the slow pay syndrome, make that the focus.

Require them to pay a semester at a time, up front. No refunds for missed lessons. Then if there are too many noshows, you don't care. You collect your pay while you do the crossword puzzle. Nobody gets upset, no emotional involvement.
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gotta go practice

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#1210662 - 06/02/09 10:13 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: TimR]
M.O.P. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 986
Loc: Ocala, Florida
Parents like this unfortunately will continue to drain you and your resources. I believe you said the student indicated she was only taking lessons because her parents were making her. It sounds as if you're up against two, not just the irresponsible parent. You obviously have compassion and want to do the right thing, but professionally it sounds like a waste of your time, as well as theirs. When we have this type of issue, we just go ahead and cut the tie - professionally and compassionately, but always face to face - its the respectful thing to do.

Be careful offering to find another teacher for them. You may lose the respect of a colleague, especially if they start pulling the same thing. The new teacher might not be too happy and feel like you've just "dumped" a problem in their lap just to get it out of yours. In this kind of situation, we've been asked to refer, but we always decline.

If there is one thing for certain in teaching music, students are going to come and go, and there are always going to be some parents/students that you have to wonder why they bother. Move on and focus on the students who are excited to be studying, the parents who are interested and supportive of their students, and you'll enjoy your chosen profession.

Best of luck to you, remember, you are the instructor, and they have come to you to teach them. Sometimes it just doesn't work out.
_________________________
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#1210728 - 06/02/09 11:59 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: M.O.P.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7394
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: M.O.P.
Be careful offering to find another teacher for them. You may lose the respect of a colleague, especially if they start pulling the same thing. The new teacher might not be too happy and feel like you've just "dumped" a problem in their lap just to get it out of yours. In this kind of situation, we've been asked to refer, but we always decline.


Just because you offer doesn't mean you'll have success, if you catch my meaning! If I had a problem student and they wanted a new teacher, I would most certainly talk with the teacher first, before "officially" referring them.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1210729 - 06/03/09 12:02 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Akira]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Akira
In my view, I think you owe it to your student (who has done nothing wrong) to attempt to work out your problems with her mother face to face (no matter how unpleasant it may seem to you).

I totally disagree. Remember:
Quote:

Curiously, most of the family plays, and they are good at it! Daughter has said that she only does it cuz mom makes her.

If the student loved lessons and practicing, it would be different. When a parent is difficult to work with and the student does not want to take lessons, case closed.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1210736 - 06/03/09 12:11 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5526
Loc: Orange County, CA
I think the most professional way to "fire" a student is to tell the parents directly in person, or at least via the telephone. I really don't think e-mail is the way to go. In fact, if my school's principal fired me by sending me an e-mail, I'd be pretty angry.

In one of my first jobs, I was dismissed via regular mail. I thought it was the most tasteless thing my employer could have done. It did feel like the cowardly thing to do.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1210756 - 06/03/09 12:48 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: AZNpiano]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I think the most professional way to "fire" a student is to tell the parents directly in person, or at least via the telephone. I really don't think e-mail is the way to go. In fact, if my school's principal fired me by sending me an e-mail, I'd be pretty angry.


I would normally agree except that in the OP's situation the parent has routinely caused grief and problems for the teacher. The teacher has put up with way too much. IMO, the parent doesn't deserve a phone call. An email should suffice.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1210779 - 06/03/09 01:52 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I think the most professional way to "fire" a student is to tell the parents directly in person, or at least via the telephone. I really don't think e-mail is the way to go. In fact, if my school's principal fired me by sending me an e-mail, I'd be pretty angry.


I would normally agree except that in the OP's situation the parent has routinely caused grief and problems for the teacher. The teacher has put up with way too much. IMO, the parent doesn't deserve a phone call. An email should suffice.

Bingo.

Again, when people treat us without respect, I think we are justified in taking care of the problem as efficiently as possible. Dealing with a pain the *** one more time on the phone or in person is pointless when all has already been said.
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Piano Teacher

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#1210808 - 06/03/09 03:31 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
If you don't like confrontation (I don't) then there is nothing wrong with giving reasons which are not the whole story. Like I said, this parent wants a lesson once a month. Most teacher's could not offer that as it leaves an empty slot for 3 weeks in a row. However there are some teacher's who could maybe do it if they are part time and more flexible. A few of these teacher's would even charge by the lesson with no cancellation fee so it might work out fine.

Why do you need to say you are firing them because they don't pay on time and keep failing to show up and the kid doesn't want lessons? You will just end up in an argument. Send an email saying you can't do once a month but here are some numbers of teacher's who might. If you get a call (which you won't) stick to your story. No need for confrontation. The end result is that they are gone and you are better off.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1210847 - 06/03/09 07:30 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Chris H.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11769
Loc: Canada
I have a question in terms of a child student, if the parent is a problem. In this particular instant it says that the child isn't interested either, so maybe it matters less (?). But surely you are also handling the break-off with the child, and not just the parent. The child has a relationship with you, and you are a weekly part of his life. Whenever he practises, it is for you and what you will say. If you just cut it off without saying anything to this person who was your student, because of what his * parent * did, how will the child feel, and will he think he did something wrong, or that you don't like him? Do you not deal with your student as well if you are breaking off the lessons under such circumstances?

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#1210905 - 06/03/09 09:16 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: keystring]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Akira
In my view, I think you owe it to your student (who has done nothing wrong) to attempt to work out your problems with her mother face to face


Originally Posted By: TimR
I tend to agree with Akira.
I suggest an alternative solution.

Since the biggest objective complaint is the slow pay syndrome, make that the focus.

Require them to pay a semester at a time, up front. No refunds for missed lessons.


I have tried many things with this mom. She can't afford to pay semesters, so I let her pay with 3 checks (1 current and 2 post dated). I send her a bill in the mail and with the student (I believe it's important for kids to see how much $ their parents are paying). She doesn't appear to look at them. She sends 3 checks, but they are in random amounts.

The no shows aren't a biggie, but it is usually on "pay day" (among others) that she doesn't show. That means I have to wait another week to get paid, then I have to make a new bill with the late fee on it, and adjust the bill again for the incorrect amounts that she sends. (she doesn't bring her daughter, so I can't ask her for the $ right then).

I got an email from mom yesterday. "why do I owe this Thursday?" I answered her "because payment is due on the first lesson of the month". She replied with "I believe this Thursday IS the first lesson of the month". Ummm, yeah, that's why it's due! Seriously, those are the types of communications I have with mom.

Daughter is a delight, otherwise I would have ended this long ago. I feel bad for DD because apparently mom tries to run rough shod over other people in DD's life too.

Originally Posted By: Chris H.
If you don't like confrontation (I don't) then there is nothing wrong with giving reasons which are not the whole story.

Why do you need to say you are firing them because they don't pay on time and keep failing to show up and the kid doesn't want lessons? You will just end up in an argument.


I agree. This mom questions everything already. She seems to thrive on confrontation, that's why I am so leary of calling.

Originally Posted By: keystring
If you just cut it off without saying anything to this person who was your student, because of what his * parent * did, how will the child feel, and will he think he did something wrong, or that you don't like him? Do you not deal with your student as well if you are breaking off the lessons under such circumstances?


No! I would never, ever do that! I would never cancel things without talking it over with the student! you're absolutely right, that would be extremely unfair to the innocent bystander (the daughter).
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1210977 - 06/03/09 11:24 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I think the most professional way to "fire" a student is to tell the parents directly in person, or at least via the telephone. I really don't think e-mail is the way to go. In fact, if my school's principal fired me by sending me an e-mail, I'd be pretty angry.


I would normally agree except that in the OP's situation the parent has routinely caused grief and problems for the teacher. The teacher has put up with way too much. IMO, the parent doesn't deserve a phone call. An email should suffice.

Bingo.

Again, when people treat us without respect, I think we are justified in taking care of the problem as efficiently as possible. Dealing with a pain the *** one more time on the phone or in person is pointless when all has already been said.


Well there is a school of thought that says that one should be respectful to all (even if they are not necessarily reciprocal). It's a slippery slope once you start down the path of justifying why it's ok to be "rude" to certain individuals/groups.

I understand that there are realities to any human interactions, but just something to consider.

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#1210989 - 06/03/09 11:39 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: bitWrangler]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I guess it depends on if one considers sending an email instead of a phone call as 'being rude'. I don't. No one is advocating verbally bashing the parent. For some people, gathering one's thoughts in a clear, concise way is done better in the form of a letter, rather than in a phone call where the parent can respond out of emotion, then we respond back, etc....
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
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Today at 05:10 AM
Thinking of trading up to a baby grand...
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Piano Lock Key -> what is it used for ?
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Yurmauer Piano
by PhilipInChina
Yesterday at 11:54 PM
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