Advice on explaining why a teacher resigns a student

Sarah Davis said: Mar 5, 2013
 3 posts

The teacher my 9 year old daughter has been with for over 4 1/2 years (since she was 4 1/2) has decided to decrease her studio numbers due to commuting.

Despite trying to explain to our daughter it is not about her and other students who are her friends that are also affected, rather its because the teacher says the commuting time is so long and that she just misses her family too much, my daughter still feels like she is being “dropped.” An especially hard thing about it is the teacher is going to continue to teach in her same studio in our area but just the older students she has decided to retain. How do I explain to my daughter that her teacher will still be teaching close by -just not her. Yikes I need some advice.

Irene said: Mar 7, 2013
Irene Yeong160 posts

how about time to move on to another teacher,, that may be more suitable?
it will break my heart, if my daughter’s teacher move on like that.. but… maybe find a teacher that is more fun and your daughter can get along pretty well with?

Mircea said: Mar 8, 2013
Mircea Ionescu
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano, Cello, Viola
Crestwood, KY
24 posts

This is tough stuff Mrs. Sarah. I think just being honest with your daughter is important. Why? This is just one time in her life that she will have to deal with situations when she has to move on.
It’s also an opportunity to grow together in your relationship with your daughter. What if you and her write a “thank you” letter with a picture of your daughter for your teacher? I have always appreciated students doing these kinds of things even though saying “goodbye” is difficult.
And it is a good opportunity to find the next teacher that will take her to the next level. =)
What do you think?

Mary said: Mar 8, 2013
 39 posts

When my son was about 5 and in early Book1 his teacher at the time went on maternity leave and then decided to let go of most of her beginning students so that she could focus on her new baby. She kept some of the older students she had been working with and taught out of her house. We all understood and made the best of it. Before taking leave she made sure to have some nice final lessons with my son and helped to find him a new teacher at the school. We ended up deciding to switch schools and go for a new teacher through the recommendation of friends. At the time, my son was probably too little to really understand what was going on, but the way we handled the transition was to focus on the new school and teacher. Luckily for us, when he met his new teacher at the trial lesson the two of them made a great connection. We have all been together ever since.

I’m sure if his now beloved teacher were to decide to stop working with him or move away it would be really, really hard on all of us because my son just adores her. But that said, I think it would be ok because I’m pretty confident that she would do everything she could to make sure that he was with a new great teacher and also help to make that transition work.

I guess I am wondering if your old teacher made that kind of effort with your daughter. If so, then your job would be to just help her celebrate her past accomplishments with her old teacher but then get excited about the possibilities of her new violin journey ahead.

I hope this helps.

Sarah Davis said: Mar 12, 2013
 3 posts

Thanks for the great responses. I am still looking for a new teacher since our schedule is so difficult (both parents work) but I have strong lead and am optimistic things will work out. My daughter is pretty sad about the whole situation as is the other affected student. It will all be for the best since if the teacher is not dedicated to a student who they have had for over 4 1/2 years than it’s best to move on.

Mary said: Mar 13, 2013
 39 posts

This sounds difficult and I wish you great luck in finding a new teacher. In the meanwhile, I wonder if you’d consider doing a summer institute for your daughter. We did one a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun for my child. It introduced him to a world of new teachers and fellow violin students. Maybe it would help with the transition to have your daughter see this incredible gathering of children and teachers working on the same repertoire so that she doesn’t associate her violin journey with just her old teacher.

Now is the season when applications are open so you might go online and check some out. Depending on the location, it could be a fun family vacation for all as well. It would give her something to look forward to and a break from your busy work lives. We are full-time working parents, too. The week we spent with my child at institute was a great time for all of us to just focus on him and enjoy the music.

Kiyoko said: Mar 26, 2013
 95 posts

If you are still seeking suggestions for teachers, might I suggest you post your locality and perhaps some folks here might either send you a private message (under the user name) or make some suggestions here?

Sarah Coley said: May 20, 2013
Sarah Coley
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
36 posts

Dear Sarah,

This is a tough topic. I hope that you have some success in finding another teacher, and that your daughter is coping with this “drastic” change at her tender, young age.

As a parent (and a person who thrives better in relationships that have longevity to them), I sympathize with your situation. However, I would like to give the perspective of a teacher who may be finding herself doing the same thing in her studio later this year. We are expecting our second child in October, and we already have a toddler who will be just barely 2 when the baby is born. As a parent, I am already feeling overwhelmed, and although the thought of doing so pains me, I think that it may come down to me telling some of my studio that I will no longer be able to continue to teaching them after my maternity leave. If I do decide to do so, it will be for the reason of putting my family first, and because, I do not want to be an ineffective teacher with any of my students. If I am stressed with my full-time teaching load and taking care of a toddler and baby, I will not be of any use to anyone. It is probably in my students’ best interests if I make some changes so that I can continue to be effective at both my roles.

As a teacher, this is a very hard decision. I am sure that your previous teacher had to think long and hard about which students to keep and which ones to let go of—and I do not use those phrases with the intention of trying to be mean. I am not sure why your teacher opted to keep older students over younger ones, or why she decided to let go of students that she had worked with for many years, but she did what she felt she needed to do. (And you do know that commuting was an obvious factor in her decision.) I do know that working with younger-aged students requires a lot of energy, preparation time and effort to keep the momentum of the lesson going in the appropriate direction. If I had to venture a guess, your previous teacher may have decided to keep just her older-aged students, because it would mean less preparation and work on her part. This is not to imply that she is selfish or mean for doing so, because I know that for me working full-time in addition to taking care of my little one(s) can be slightly overwhelming. In the year following the birth of our first child, I deliberately did not take on any new younger-aged students for this very reason. Also, your previous teacher may be planning to get out of teaching entirely at some point, and so keeping just her older students means that once they graduate, she can be done with teaching.

People decide to do what they do, and that does not always mean that we agree with their choices or actions. Personally, if it had been me, I probably would have handled the situation a little differently. As a teacher, I would have spent some final lessons working with the student and letting them know how much I have enjoyed working with them, but that I have had to make some changes. I would be clear about letting them know that these changes are being made because of ME and not because of anything the student has done. I would not have suddenly cut-off the relationship as it sounds like your teacher did. I would have made every attempt to have some “transitional” lessons and not just say that things are over. I do not know that I would have chosen to keep just my older students though. I probably would have considered several factors including longevity of teaching relationship with student; their commitment and follow-through on lessons; parental involvement; attendance at group and private lessons; etc. (And I will be honest, I would have kept all of my younger-aged students. I think that older students can handle an adjustment/change to a new teacher much easier than a younger-aged student can, but that is entirely my opinion.) For those students that I would have “let go of” I would have made every attempt to set them up with an alternative teacher in the sense of speaking with fellow colleagues; making a list; and giving parents my suggestions. I would not have just cut things off, but would have made every effort to make sure that students and parents could continue forward with a viable alternative in terms of a teacher in their musical studies. And if I happened to know which teacher they would be going to, I would make a point to highlight positive points about going to study with the new teacher with the student at their lesson.

I know that this last little bit is probably cliche, but I would try not take this whole situation personally. I know that it seems unfair that your teacher has “dumped” you like this, but know that she did not make this choice simply to invalidate you or your daughter or because she did not enjoy working with you. For me (and I would hope that I am not the only one), finding that elusive balance between teaching and home life is very hard. I struggle on a daily basis whether or not I am being attentive enough to my daughter, and/or whether I am devoting enough time to my students and parents as I think I should be.

I am sorry that your daughter will have to form a new teaching relationship with a new teacher. I know that can be very difficult, and I was blessed to have a Suzuki teacher when I was younger who taught me up through when I graduated high school. The longevity of the relationship was just what my fragile self-esteem needed, and so I sympathize with your daughter entirely. Try to see this as an opportunity to learn from someone new; learn something new and different; become better at working with a different teacher; and growing all the better as a student as she continues on her Suzuki journey. Don’t let any perceived negativity from this past situation ruin the possibility for her to blossom from a new experience. Most of all, don’t blame the teacher; you do not have to agree with her choice, but try understand why she is doing so.

I wish you all the best and hope that you have found a great Suzuki teacher to step in and continue to guide your daughter forward!

Sarah Coley

Sarah Davis said: May 21, 2013
 3 posts

Thanks everyone for the understanding, support and advice. Happy news to report—we have found a new teacher and our daughter is doing great. She has had to go back to basics—with a new bow and violin hold….seems like we have lost a lot of time this past year with a teacher who was not engaged..but now we are on a new and better path.

It’s wonderful how supportive this community is and please accept my sincere thanks to all of you.

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