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#1707906 - 07/05/11 05:08 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
That rings familiar.
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#1708503 - 07/06/11 02:53 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
And what's even more ironic is that they live in a mansion in a very upscale neighborhood. My fee is a mere pittance to this family.

It's ironic, but it is also VERY common. To such people we are nothing more than servants. This is why I much prefer working with parents who are struggling. I get far more respect from them, and in general their children take lessons much more seriously.

The problem with teaching in other people's homes is that there is no "turf" for the teacher. For me such situations generally put me in a weak position: people at the door, phones ringing, friends coming in and out during lessons, siblings, etc.

That's why I totally gave up teaching in other people's homes MANY years ago!


I guess I never really thought about it, but you are absolutely right--my students whose parents are middle or upper middle class are conscientious, rarely miss lessons and are very respectful, as are the parents. This family calls at the last minute, expects make ups or credits, and it seems everything else in their lives is priority over piano lessons and practicing. And I have to ask to be paid, whereas my other parents have the check waiting. It's been very annoying.

There are pro's and con's to teaching in the student's home. I include all possible issues that may arise, in my studio policy (as many as I can think of, that is). It was a starting point in my teaching career until I accumulated more students at the local music store. I don't have the room yet for my own studio, and I'm not even sure that would work for me.

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#1708553 - 07/06/11 04:16 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows

There are pro's and con's to teaching in the student's home. I include all possible issues that may arise, in my studio policy (as many as I can think of, that is). It was a starting point in my teaching career until I accumulated more students at the local music store. I don't have the room yet for my own studio, and I'm not even sure that would work for me.

I mentioned elsewhere a situation in which I decided to go to a home. It was quite some time ago, but the experience was excellent. I simply think that we need to be VERY careful to protect ourselves, and one way to do it is to make sure we get paid in advance, that we stick to our policies, and that we do not allow ourselves to be treated as servants!
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#1709167 - 07/07/11 03:39 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
To all who responded: I contacted the parent in question and of course, they didn't answer, so i left a message that I was unable to schedule every other week lessons and if and when they were ready to begin weekly lessons, they could contact me. I also extended wishes to them for an enjoyable summer. No return call. And I am relieved. It's so very hard to let go of students. But the longer I teach, the easier it is getting. I can understand why so many teachers include a no make up policy.

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#1709176 - 07/07/11 03:47 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
chasingrainbows,
Thanks for the update. Congratulations on getting closure with this problem. smile
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"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1717429 - 07/20/11 06:19 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
I would exit, as I have encountered the same. I call it the extra musical dramas.
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#1717434 - 07/20/11 06:27 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
I had a quirky situation with a parent, where she was recommended by one of my current student's moms and lived a stone's throw from my studio. Little did I know that she was interviewing other teachers, until the end of what she termed a "trial lesson." The child, age 7, literally HATED the piano as evidenced by her behavior. Was studying with another teacher for about 9 months, and apparently mom thought the current teacher was not "clicking" with her daughter. Frankly, I could see why the teacher would not "click" with this student given her attitude, and reluctance to take piano in the first place.
When all was said and done, I was to "await" mom's decision about the lessons.. Well, I found the whole scenario not to my liking, and as soon as I got home from the Bay area, E-mailed the mom, with Subject Title "My Decision," which obviously precluded hers. I see a lot of this "trying out teachers" with the primer kids, and a lot of these parents think the grass is greener over the fence. Rather than tell the child to practice thoughtfully as the current teacher recommends, many parents would rather look for the Garden of Eden.


Edited by music32 (07/20/11 06:33 PM)
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#1717460 - 07/20/11 07:00 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I've reminded the parent of my policy, everytime she cancels at the last minute. It is my own fault that she continues to be so inconsiderate. I can easily fill the slot with another student, and plan to do that.
For this particular situation it's too late to change, but with all your other students, the only reminder of your policy should be that they pay you for the lesson in question. Polite reminders, if you make them, MUST come with a bill attached every time; otherwise they function as reminders that the real policy is "students have a lesson whenever they want one".


David, what do you mean "it's too late too change"? Do you think I must now go along with the parent's request for every other week lessons?
Sorry, I didn't see your question when you wrote it. I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.
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#1717470 - 07/20/11 07:10 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: david_a
I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.

You are so right. Once students or (parents of young students) get used to stretching rules, it's impossible to change things.

I don't mind making acceptions for people who are appreciative and show me respect, but when I feel "pushed" by people who take advantage and who do not show me respect, they will not get anything extra out of me, including an extra 30 seconds of lesson time. With those people I give them exactly what they pay for, and nothing more.

It becomes hard for me when I'm working with children who are appreciative and respectful, but their *parents* are not.
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#1717485 - 07/20/11 07:27 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
Applause..
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#1717489 - 07/20/11 07:29 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
There are many parents who are uninvolved with their children's lessons, except when they want to "stretch" the envelope. I've seen just about everything. You can sometimes set down rules, and they may be adhered to for a short time, until the testing comes.

I still call it the extra musical dramas..and sad that we have to deal with too many of them.
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#1717509 - 07/20/11 08:06 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...
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#1717813 - 07/21/11 08:15 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Luke in ChiTown Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/11
Posts: 96
Loc: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Here's a good test. If you are spending precious time and energy dwelling on a particular student or parent, and it has nothing to do with progress at the piano but rather with your relationship with them, it is time to move on.

Earlier in my teaching career, I considered myself to have failed if a particular situation didn't work out. However, I later became aware how just one or two bad apples could adversely affect my entire mindset toward teaching, even with my other students. The time and energy wasted stewing over a bad relationship could always be better spent on other things.

When I would look at my studio, I would notice that most of my students (and their families) GOT what I was about as a teacher. They appreciated what I had to offer them, were happy to pay for it, and in return I busted my butt being the best teacher I possibly could for them. Now, they weren't all model students, but they were good fits to my teaching style. I decided then and there that I wanted to fill my teaching hours with only these kinds of students. This means that it can take longer to fill your schedule, and that you may have gaps in your schedule that go unfilled for a while when a student leaves, but in the long run you will be much happier.
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#1717869 - 07/21/11 09:46 AM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I would suggest that whatever the situation is, the decision not be impulsive.

I am in the middle of trying to schedule fall lessons. Some of my students' parents are being as cooperative and gracious as possible, and others are being greedy and selfish. For some reason, everyone this year seems to want Tuesday at 5. I'm getting emails implying that I "owe" a student one thing or another. Do I favor the child who came several times this summer, or the child whose been in my studio for years? Do I prioritize the working parent who has one day off from work, or the jobless parent who has one day off from school, or the parent of the new student whose sibling (who quit) had last year? The parent who digs her heels in deepest usually gets what she wants, but I also resent it the most.

I feel like parents are asking me to play favorites - and like a parent, I love different things about each child, but am not willing to declare that I love one more than another!

It's been so irritating that I am losing sleep, and contemplating just closing my studio. I find myself remembering every criticism, complaint, missed lesson, or late payment, and the situation escalates in my mind.

But I force myself to remember the progress I've seen. The relationships with the children. The good I feel I do. The surge I get from interacting with each and every child (with perhaps one or two exceptions.) Often, the most irritating parent has the most wonderful child!

I know it will work out eventually. This too shall pass. Another month or two, and this will all seem petty.
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#1717970 - 07/21/11 12:31 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Lollipop]
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
I identify with all that you have said.. having encountered much of the same, but knowing in the end, that the profession is worth embracing for all the right reasons.

But how about this one. A parent wanting to bump another student's time because his kid is traveling in from the mountains.
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#1717983 - 07/21/11 12:48 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...


laugh Thanks PD for a big laugh this morning! I love your description.

Whether the discussion is riveting is up for debate. But I still enjoy reading everyone's posts.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1717993 - 07/21/11 12:55 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Lollipop, you have my sympathy in scheduling woes. Your post shows me that there is an advantage to teaching year round (as I do) that I had not appreciated. By teaching through summer, kids keep their lesson time and there is no scrambling for a new spot in the fall.

I might take a whole month off next summer. Or at least 2 or 3 weeks. That is if I can come up with plans within my means. If I'm just going to be home anyway, I'd rather teach. Much more interesting.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1718029 - 07/21/11 01:47 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3156
Loc: Maine
Lollipop, even without teaching year-round, do you have an expectation in your studio that students will keep their same slot in the Fall, with only limited availability of switching depending on what slots open up or on who else asks to switch? Or do you remake your schedule from scratch each year?

[ETA: I hope it's OK to ask. I'm a mere piano student, but I am fascinated reading what teachers have to say. My current daydream is to become proficient enough playing piano to be able to be a piano teacher. I know there's a lot more than playing skill to teaching, but playing skill is the current looooooong challenge for me.]


Edited by PianoStudent88 (07/21/11 01:51 PM)
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#1718047 - 07/21/11 02:13 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: Ann in Kentucky
Your post shows me that there is an advantage to teaching year round (as I do) that I had not appreciated. By teaching through summer, kids keep their lesson time and there is no scrambling for a new spot in the fall.


I have never seen it work out that way. Some students have their situations unexpectedly change so they permanently drop out, and some decide in the summer to drop out.

I try to keep everyone happy, so if a student or family has been coming for lessons reliably, and wants to take all or part of the summer off, I will keep that spot open for them in the fall. I will use it in the summer if necessary for other students.

But if they have proven to be unreliable, I tell them I will try to make that time slot work, but to check back later, nearer the fall to see what is open.

This is because I have been burnt by unreliable people who want a time slot reserved, then they do not show up, or want to change it at the last minute.


Edited by rocket88 (07/21/11 02:23 PM)
Edit Reason: clarity
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#1718076 - 07/21/11 02:41 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: rocket88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
I teach year round. Students who drop out, even for a month, have no guarantee of getting the same slot back. For me it is first come, first serve. No exceptions.

Therefore no arguments!!!
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#1718077 - 07/21/11 02:43 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
I can't tell you how interesting these round-the-campfire complaint sessions are ...

Not campfire complaints.

Fireside Chats turned into therapy. wink


Edited by Gary D. (07/21/11 02:43 PM)
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#1718097 - 07/21/11 03:08 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....
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#1718130 - 07/21/11 03:52 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: david_a]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I've reminded the parent of my policy, everytime she cancels at the last minute. It is my own fault that she continues to be so inconsiderate. I can easily fill the slot with another student, and plan to do that.
For this particular situation it's too late to change, but with all your other students, the only reminder of your policy should be that they pay you for the lesson in question. Polite reminders, if you make them, MUST come with a bill attached every time; otherwise they function as reminders that the real policy is "students have a lesson whenever they want one".


David, what do you mean "it's too late too change"? Do you think I must now go along with the parent's request for every other week lessons?
Sorry, I didn't see your question when you wrote it. I meant that with this student, it's a bit late to start enforcing your policy now, because you've let them get away with not following it for so long - but with your newer students, don't ever let them get that way in the first place.


David, thanks for clarifying. I have decided that if continue lessons with this family, I will provide a revised policy that I will absolutely abide by. I know the families that will not take advantage, nor feel entitled and those families will get more flexibility.

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#1718131 - 07/21/11 03:53 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
My "method" is to allow everyone first dibs on their old spot. For folks who want to switch, I take it as "first come, first served."

This particular issue came up because a family decided to have one child quit at the end of the school year, and their younger child to begin in the fall. Since everyone knew that child quit, there was jostling for her spot. However, the family assumed that they had first dibs on "their" spot, and therefore didn't bother to respond quickly. I asked them if they would be willing to move to 5:30, and they wouldn't even consider it. Apparently that 30 minutes difference messes up dinner, homework, and bedtime. Who knew?

I've gotten spoiled, because in the past, the schedule has fallen neatly into place without problems.
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#1718134 - 07/21/11 03:55 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Gary D.]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I teach year round. Students who drop out, even for a month, have no guarantee of getting the same slot back. For me it is first come, first serve. No exceptions.

Therefore no arguments!!!


Gary, I agree -- first come first serve. Unfortunately, I cannot rely on promises to return in the Fall, and hold that slot open throughout the summer, only to learn the family cannot return in the Fall, or needs a different day, or time.

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#1718148 - 07/21/11 04:14 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....


pianodad, my post wasn't meant as a complaint. I am soliciting the opinions of my esteemed peers who may have more teaching experience, more education, etc. than I. I truly value all the input I receive on this site. I never thought I would be in a position where I dreaded giving a lesson to a student. I didn't realize I would be faced with student after student who really hated piano, didn't practice, didn't show up for lessons, was disrespectful, sulky, rude, etc. I work in a store and there is a huge turnover. When I began teaching, I never would have dreamed that I would drop a student. As music teachers, we obviously share a deep love and passion for music and it's a rude awakening when we encounter students who arrive at the first lesson (assuming they aren't being forced) and seem to really want to learn piano, but once they realize it's not as easy as playing randomly all over the piano, and that practice is required, they quickly deteriorate into a totally different student, no matter what we try to do in each lesson to keep them interested and excited. In those instances, I suggest a short break, or possibly another teacher. I guess it's still hard for me to decide when to let go.

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#1718158 - 07/21/11 04:22 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hey, round-the-campfire chats supported by baked beans and whiskey is a form of therapy too ....

Unfortunately, I often dash off comments between students, so the whisky fumes and [ehem] possible side-effects of the beans might not go over very well. <wry grin>

On a more serious note, to everyone:

I have learned these things, the hard way:

1) Last year's "loyal students/families", when they drop lessons, may or may not return. And how loyal/serious are the families who simply stop all summer, without a very good reason?

2) Students who start in the summer may become serious students who continue year-round. Why alienate them by bumping them from *their* times when they are here *now*?

3) Serious students who are away a couple weeks, at least in my life, will either:

a) Pay for lessons they miss with the agreement that we will reschedule them at times convenient for all of us, thus keeping their slots.

b) Go off schedule and take any time slot I have that works, after they return.

As long as those guidelines stay in place, I have no problems except with trouble-makers, and they are welcome to make some *other* teacher's life miserable
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#1718212 - 07/21/11 05:32 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows

pianodad, my post wasn't meant as a complaint.

Hey, let's say you are venting a little.

We all do it sometimes.

I have really good days.

I also have days where I curse the day I decided to become a teacher.

Most days are somewhere in between. smile
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#1718235 - 07/21/11 06:09 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
chasingrainbows,

My light jab was not directed specifically at your original post. But when a thread on the teachers forum turns into serial story swapping, and in this case it turned into serial parent bashing for a little while, then the thread at that point can aptly be described using my little campfire chat analogy. I thought I had pulled off a gentle critique with a touch of humor.
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#1718243 - 07/21/11 06:18 PM Re: Did you ever drop student b/c of parent? [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1022
Loc: NJ
No problem, Gary. I was a little surprised at your comment, b/c my OP was really not my kind of "venting." When I vent, it's usually much more intense. smile I like to think of our replies as sharing, but there are times I do vent, I will totally admit to that.

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