Student may be two-timing

said: Jan 19, 2010
 1 posts

How would you handle a situation where you have a student you enjoy teaching very much, but you have been alerted by a colleague that the mother is searching for a new teacher? The colleague was gracious to share this information and also to refuse teaching the student.

What do you all recommend as far as how to broach the topic with my student’s mom?

Connie Sunday said: Jan 19, 2010
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

This does happen, and one cannot control it because it’s impossible to make everyone happy; it in fact may or may not have anything to do with you, actually. Probably in the long run, the kindest and wisest thing to do is to be courteous and gentle about the whole thing.

IMO, causing a fuss won’t accomplish anything, make anyone feel any better, and will hurt you in the long run.

One of the things I learned from my teachers is to be courteous no matter what, treat people with enormous respect—and this brings out the best in everyone.

It’s also surprising, because most of us are not treated that way, as a rule, by most people. I think it’s the best policy in dealing with the public. Not easy, I know, but best for everyone.

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Barb said: Jan 20, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

You may find what it is they think they are lacking in your teaching if you put out a survey to all students/parents asking for an evaluation.

But I agree that you should not cause a fuss. Sometimes students or their parents just feel a need to move on to another teacher, and sometimes this can be a very healthy thing for the student.

You could simply be direct in talking to the parent (the student might know nothing of this) and tell them you heard they are looking for a new teacher and ask why in the interest of improving your teaching (in a courteous and gentle manner as suggested above). You may or may not get the truth, but accept it humbly, and if it’s something you can change, consider doing so. Don’t fight, but also don’t grovel.

It would be nice if the parent had talked to you first, but that’s not an easy thing to do—I know because I have done it!

I have also been at the end of having another teacher’s student approach me. The reason being that she was traveling out of town to the other studio. She was a bit torn about what to do—felt badly about leaving but was tired of the drive, so I suggested she talk to the other teacher and explain the situation before making up her mind. I told her I certainly wasn’t out to take away students from another teacher, but in the end it was her decision, and I understood her wanting to avoid that drive. In the end she decided on the advice of the original teacher to try one of the other teacher’s older and advanced students who also lives in our town.

If your student is two-timing, taking lessons from another teacher as well as you, I think you would notice it in the student. I have one adult student who has a friend helping her and the questions she asks and music she brings in shows that (though she is not trying to hide it by any means). So far it has not been a big issue, but if she gets more contrary advice I may need to bring to her attention that she may be hurting herself in the long run by trying to take two different paths at the same time, and she may need to choose between us at least until she is better grounded.

Best wishes—let us know how it turns out!

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