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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: 2893
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 Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7348
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: 4783
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: 4783
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!
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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: 1264
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.
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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: 4783
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: 3190
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: 982
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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Seamstress for the Band

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#1210728 - 06/02/09 11:59 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: M.O.P.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7348
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: 4783
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: 5458
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: 1264
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: 4783
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: 2893
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: 11656
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: 1264
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....
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Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1210990 - 06/03/09 11:41 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: bitWrangler]
M.O.P. Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Ocala, Florida
For what its worth, I agree with BitW, if you're a professional, you act like it, no matter how the other person acts.

Am I missing something, though, didn't you post the daughter said the only reason she is taking lessons is because she has to? Even though she is a nice and sweet student, why continue if the energy and desire aren't there?

Perhaps you might be more comfortable writing a letter to sever your relationship. From your description of the parent, she seems the sort that will most likely will try to cause a scene no matter how you handle this situation.

Keep in mind, word of mouth gets around very quickly. No matter if the parent causes a scene, as long as you keep your cool and are professional, you are the better person, and your conduct will reflect the same. You have no reason to feel guilty because you need to separate yourself from this situation. There will be another student with a parent who is supportive.
_________________________
Nancy Fanzlaw
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#1211086 - 06/03/09 02:05 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: M.O.P.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11756
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with *not* dropping the student via email. If you cannot communicate effectively with the mom via email(according to your previous post), then this is not the best way to tell her. I think a phone call is probably best. I do a lot of my "serious" talks with parents over the phone, because it is still personal, while not taking up someone's lesson time to discuss it (and not discussing it in front of the child if it is a sensitive issue). You may not like it, but I think it is the right thing to do. Be very calm, and I recommend being non-accusatory, as that would only end in arguing. I would simply say, "Your desire to have lessons once a month is not something that I agree with, and so here are some colleagues of mine who may be able to accommodate you." Leave it at that, and be insistent if she tries to back down. Let her know you do not feel you are the right teacher for her, and she really can't argue that.
_________________________
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#1211102 - 06/03/09 02:29 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Gary D.]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
"I'm sorry, but it seems like the rules of my studio do not jive with you and your daughter taking lessons here. I expect students to attend every week, and I expect full payments promptly when due and it seems that you wish things to be otherwise.

Under the current circumstances, I believe it to be in both our best interests that you find another teacher for the summer/fall term.

I wish little Susie the best. She is such a nice little girl."

Notice that I left off that it is your responsibility to find the next teacher? That is their problem, once you are out of the picture.

Good luck!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211131 - 06/03/09 03:16 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I wouldn't use the word "jive." Now ... here's a guy who'll do the dirty work for you - Joe Pesci.



As George Carlin said once ... "he looks like a guy who can get things done."
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1211133 - 06/03/09 03:21 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I wouldn't use the word "jive." Now ... here's a guy who'll do the dirty work for you - Joe Pesci.



As George Carlin said once ... "he looks like a guy who can get things done."


Ha ha. That would take care of things, wouldn't it?!
maybe I should just start with the knee caps tho...Wouldn't want to break any fingers!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1211144 - 06/03/09 03:29 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
Actually, that would be hillarious! Have Joe Pesci go after piano students who "get outta line."
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1211149 - 06/03/09 03:36 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I wouldn't use the word "jive.


"Oh stewardess, I speak jive!"



Edited by bitWrangler (06/03/09 03:38 PM)

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#1211159 - 06/03/09 03:50 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: bitWrangler]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Hmmmm...

I wasn't sure quite what the right word would be and being as tired as I am right now, that is all I could come up with...but I think the 'idea' got across. What is the word I was trying to think of?

I was thinking dance with / in sinc / ???

At least E/I got it!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211163 - 06/03/09 03:55 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17773
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I think you meant "jibe," lilylady. smile

But even "jibe" is a bit too informal in this context, I think. I'd say "it seems like the rules of my studio are a mismatch to your needs and preferences..."
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1211169 - 06/03/09 03:59 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Monica K.]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I've always said Jive. I must have more soul smokin
_________________________
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Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
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#1211173 - 06/03/09 04:03 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Stanny]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Much better Monica!

Good thing you guys aren't monitoring me for an English tutor!!!!

_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1211193 - 06/03/09 04:25 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: lilylady]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4783
Loc: South Florida
The problem with this thread is that most of you have entirely missed the point. You insist on recommending a kind of confrontation that E&I is not comfortable with. You aren't listening to her.

I would simply tell the mother that her needs are not compatible with the way I teach, and I'd do pretty much what Monica suggested. However, if I have to stand my ground, it's rather easy for me.

The point is not what is best for the mother, who I really believe is a problem. The point is how E&I can do what she needs to do to protect herself.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1212304 - 06/05/09 02:27 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1212366 - 06/05/09 04:30 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: pianoobsession]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: pianoobsession
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!


I'm embarrassed to say....I caved. I told her that I could only offer weekly lessons and that my invoices needed to be paid quarterly.

She said "Oh, no, my daughter just loves you! We can't lose you, I will borrow money from my dad, and I'll get her there every week. She would be crushed if we had to find a new teacher".

SO....I guess it's good that she understands and will comply. Let's just hope she really meant it. Or I REALLY WILL cut her out of the schedule. The payment was due on the 4th, but they "couldn't make it" that day, so I'm waiting for a check in the mail. In a few days I will know. If the check is wrong or doesn't come...I guess it's over with.

You guys all had a lot of good ideas and you gave me the courage to "tell it like it is". If I still need to "fire" her, I will.
Thanks to all!
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1212378 - 06/05/09 05:13 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
as a nonteacher who has nevertheless had some dicey moments with teachers, i have to say i think you handled it just fine.

it's easy to be judgmental of the mother, but we aren't there, and it's possible that in your desire to cause no offense, you haven't been communicating clearly *enough* with her in the past.

i say this because of the mother's attitude when you were upfront with her. maybe try being more upfront with her more often. that may be the communication style she needs in order to "get it."

do you have the rules of your studio plainly spelled out on one page? if not, i would write something up, and send it to the mother, but address it as if you are sending it to all your parents.

something like:

"for the sake of clarity and getting off to a good start this fall, here are my policies:

1. i do not teach students less often than once a week.

2. payments are due at the beginning of the semester in full, ..."

etc.

maybe if she wants to pay in installments, you can tell her that is only possible if she arranges for her bank to make an automatic deposit in yours once a month.

sometimes the desire to cause no offense ends up causing much greater offense in the long run.

be straight up and clear with her, and then stick to what you say. i bet things will run much better.

and if not, you will then know that her intransigence is not because you were not clear enough, and you can fire her in good conscience.

as for the daughter saying she only plays because she is made to--this is not necessarily a bad thing, imo. especially if the whole family is musical, this girl may yet find her way into falling in love with the piano, and even if she doesn't, it's something she'll have for the rest of her life.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


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#1212382 - 06/05/09 05:21 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: piqué]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: piqué
it's easy to be judgmental of the mother, but we aren't there, and it's possible that in your desire to cause no offense, you haven't been communicating clearly *enough* with her in the past.

Ummm ... how clear does "pay me" have to get? I mean, it's not rocket science here. You pay for a service you use. Clearly, the mother is/was walking over her. It's all about respect here.

You get what you pay for. By not paying, the mother is getting free lessons for her child. That's a no win situation in my book. What other service provider would put up with this? If you want your car fixed and can't pay for it guess what? You ain't gonna be driving.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1212532 - 06/05/09 11:27 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: eweiss]
pianoobsession Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 109
Loc: Hot and Humid Houston Texas
I hope this works out for you, I really do, but in all honesty I'm not sure I am optimistic. It sounds like she really has money problems and reminders don't help with that.

I am also concerned about the student...how does she REALLY feel about the lessons? Why does it seem more important to the mother? I'd have a good talk with the student to get her feelings about lessons. Maybe she senses her mother's anxiousness over the money?

I hate to see you get stressed about the same situation all over again too....

Now, having said all that..have a wonderful summer and we will all be cheering you on and waiting to see what the next chapter will bring. Good luck.
_________________________
Righty-O!

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#1212540 - 06/05/09 11:45 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: pianoobsession]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution. If I am ever on the "firing" side, I have promised myself to be honest,direct and compassionate. And I will not do it at all unless I have exhausted all options first. So seeing all of these suggestions, and thoughtfulness behind this issue is very nice for me to witness! Because that is what I would have wanted.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1212654 - 06/06/09 09:08 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: pianoobsession
So any update? We are all on pins and needles here!!


I'm embarrassed to say....I caved.

You guys all had a lot of good ideas and you gave me the courage to "tell it like it is". If I still need to "fire" her, I will.
Thanks to all!


A long time ago, two careers back, I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.

The child likes you, you like the child, the parent is a bit of a well intentioned pain in the rear. You can live with one student like that. Just accept the fact that it's going to be this way, and it's nothing for you to feel guilty or incompetent about, and you can laugh about your one problem student and it won't bother you anymore.

Just don't take a second one like this!
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1212661 - 06/06/09 09:32 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17773
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

I'm embarrassed to say....I caved. I told her that I could only offer weekly lessons and that my invoices needed to be paid quarterly.


I don't read this as you "caving." Sounds like you were assertive about your needs and stating the terms under which you were willing to let the girl remain in your studio. thumb

Now, if the "check in the mail" doesn't come by Monday, and/or you keep letting the mom string you along, THAT'S caving. wink
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1212668 - 06/06/09 09:38 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: TimR]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: trillingadventurer
I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution.


WHAT?? Are you serious? OMGosh that is unconscionable!
I think that's pretty rare.

I hope you had the intestinal fortitude to call her and ask why!
I hope things worked out for you.

That was one of my concerns for the student. If I "fired" (mom basically) would I get a change to speak with daughter first. I decided that if they didn't end up coming back, I would send daughter a nice card and note so she wouldn't think she did something wrong.


Originally Posted By: TimR
I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.


Just don't take a second one like this!


Sounds like a good class, for ANYone!
Yeah, the problem is you don't know they are "like this" until you've already gotten them lol.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1212685 - 06/06/09 10:11 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3190
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory

Originally Posted By: TimR
I used to teach assertiveness training to college kids. One of the concepts we included was that you have the right not to be assertive in any given situation if you so choose, without feeling any guilt.


Just don't take a second one like this!


Sounds like a good class, for ANYone!


At the time I was a graduate student in clinical psychology, doing an internship at the university counseling center, and working in the dorms running a variety of programs. Some of my work study students were essentially bouncers, checking IDs at the doors and trying to prevent drunks from carrying open alcohol around. Some of them really improved assertiveness skills through the training. I didn't sleep much in those days and I did a lot of late night coaching. I saw some very shy girls eventually do the assertive interaction perfectly late in the semester. Of course it didn't always work - but they did their part.

A few years later I was married and my wife broke her arm. The X-ray tech had obviously just been through one of those assertiveness courses, you could tell by the wording she used. She told me about the chair outside where I'd be more comfortable, I thanked her effusively, smiled, and stayed. She escalated - Sir, the husband stands out there. I escalated - even more polite, bigger smile, even more thankful for her consideration, but I'm okay here. This went on for several cycles of increased assertiveness on her part, combined with increasing puzzlement that it wasn't working, and the same cycles of increased gratitude and coopertiveness on my part, but NOT complying with what she wanted. In the end she gave up, still not sure what was happening.

In short - yeah, way too late for that!!! - you can do it perfectly and not succeed, and you just have to accept it and not beat yourself up over it.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1212715 - 06/06/09 11:14 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: dumdumdiddle]
SueKZ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Colorado
This is how I do it> " I am really sorry but it appears that we are not on the same page" PERIOD. HEH.
_________________________
Sue
Private Piano Teacher since 2009

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#1212808 - 06/06/09 01:49 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Bob618 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 1
Maybe ( if you chose not to fire her) you could aim your anguish directly to mom. Tell her in order to do any further lessons, because of the past payment problems, you require lessons be paid for prior to scheduling and if you do not call in and cancel 24 hours in advance you lose 50% of that pre-payment.
Now you'll be able to focus on gettng back to the business of teaching the girl. granted, she may not be wanting to do it too much, but she was not wanting to do it too much a month ago and that was not reason to fire her then. so the point is, that is not what is bring this to a head so that should not be part of the solution to the "mom problem." Continue to teach her, until she no longer wants to be taught - but don't let mom interfere wth your teaching.

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#1212836 - 06/06/09 02:38 PM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
[quote=trillingadventurer]I was "fired" by my master teacher a few years back. I think she read the "The Wrong Way to Fire Your Student Handbook" because she had her husband call and let me go. I was left with no explanation and no resolution.


WHAT?? Are you serious? OMGosh that is unconscionable!
I think that's pretty rare.

I hope you had the intestinal fortitude to call her and ask why!
I hope things worked out for you.

She was claiming a conflict of interest...since we never spoke directly I was confused by this but her actions spoke mountains about the limitations of our relationship. I could see very clearly the invisibly glass ceiling that was there since day one. I would have been able to go only so far with this teacher...Also, I think what I was looking for I have found...RIGHT HERE on this forum!Thanks for the support! Yes, things worked out for me absolutely. It led me here.
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1213249 - 06/07/09 11:11 AM Re: "Firing" a student [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Happy Birthday musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I've fired several students, at least 3 in the last year, I just want to keep my sanity...the usual reason is inconsistent lessons but poor practice habits are another big one, and one I fired related to his behaviour in lessons (banging on the piano or my percussion instruments, for example)--I have 4 year old students who behaved better and this kid was 12!

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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