Teaching at Private Schools

Posted by: Robert J

Teaching at Private Schools - 03/17/04 05:47 PM

Hello all, my first post! Have enjoyed reading and lurking for the past 6 months.

I recently went back to teaching part-time as part of my freelance strategy. I am a performer as well (jazz) and I do gigs, private parties, that sort of thing. I am not part of a band but I will fill in or sub as needed. It is not my main source of income, rather a part of what I am up to. I also am an editor for a publishing company, I do sales for another publishing company, and Internet consultation.

Anyhow... I took a teaching gig this past fall at the recommendation of a vocal teacher at a private school. I rehearsed with her last spring with her senior vocal class: everything from classical, to Norah Jones, Chicago, etc. Things went well and she put my name in to be a supplementary teacher. This means I provide piano lessons on the campus after school. I get paid directly by the school, less an admin fee, for my billed hours. This is OK, and I was excited. But now after 6 months I am not so sure of it. I have just 6 students there and a few more at home. Of the private school students, I'd say I enjoy the presence of 1 or 2. The others are doing this in addition to their regular classes and music curriculum. We get along and the parents are supportive. I sense these kids are just too busy. They are there 9-5pm and then more at home. They are truly stressed for their age.

But there will be many missed lessons (I forgot, I had a swimming meet, I was too stressed out, etc). They almost never phone me for my established 24-hour rule. Sure, I get paid for absences. But the attitude is like, who cares? They are too embarrassed to tell their parents, and maybe the parents would be too embarrassed to know about missed classes. I have brought it up with some of the parents. The tuition is $30,000 + per year. So piano lessons are seen as the last thing, I suppose. Again I have one great student and I communicate often with her mother. They are both a joy and they are what keep me going there.

Now I have made the decision to move her in-home (she's 1 hour) because she's my only Wednesday student (getting a hassle to drive just for her – the school promised me more) while the others are on Tuesday. I'd rather have her consistently at my home studio. I never know if the students on Tuesday will show up anyway. While I get paid to practice in their absence, that is not the point. I make little overall monthly $$ to make it worthwhile. Part of me wants to just scrap those Tuesday kids (I have a contract job now til June in education sales), but I love teaching and oddly, I feel committed to these kids. I know what it was like being 12-13-14. I did similar things.

Anyone else ever teach at a private school? Any insight? Thanks!
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: Teaching at Private Schools - 03/19/04 01:29 AM

I don't teach at a private school, but I have tried to get that job in the past.

Your letter is more an issue of committment. June is really not very far away, so hang in there!

I have a contact in Oakville who may be able to take over your students if they study in Oakville, but I have a feeling this school is probably in Toronto.

I wish I could get a similar editorial position and wonder if its for FJH.

How can I write to people directly on this site?

Good luck.
Posted by: Robert J

Re: Teaching at Private Schools - 03/19/04 09:13 AM

Candyman,

Thanks. I guess I needed to rant a little. My issue is more along the lines of whether this is indicative of harried rich kids or not. Again my one great student is a pleasure and so is her mother. I recommended a good tuner to them, she baked me cookies at Xmas!

Another student who seemed committed, just stopped coming for a month. I found out later she had out of town trips, a swim meet, etc. But no phone call to say as much. Again I still get paid but that's not the point.

As for my editing, I've been with a law publisher since 1992 in various capacities. I recently went back to editing freelance out of desperation, though it works OK. I'd rather consult, which is what I also do for their online projects. I managed a website for PriceWaterhouse as well. Not sure who FJH is. The law publisher is Carswell (carswell.com) and I've done some work for literary publishers (I ran a magazine as well) - but the pay is lousy. Now with Pearson as a contractor.

Anyhow... I will stick it out to June with my students. I love teaching, its not just for the money. I month at that school equals about 2 days of my regular pay. Need to keep the chin up. However, though it may seem prestigious to teach at one of these private schools, I am not so sure I will do it again in the fall. I have income from private gigs, subbing for jazz and blues gigs, and I'd like to keep my student base at home now. Plus I bought a fantastic (used) Kawai in December that will motivate any student.