Institute Suzuki Montreal
Active communication in the Suzuki studio was the topic of a breakout session hosted by the Teacher Development Advisory Committee over the weekend. These are some of our ideas.
Keep in Mind
- We need to hear information three times before it is completely received.
- It is vital to use multiple ways to communicate, as not all parents/students respond to the same type of communication (whether email, hard copy, voicemail, etc.).
Formats of Communication to Consider
- Used to share schedule information, studio rules/expectations, Suzuki philosophy, etc.
- Be careful of the written tone of an email, which can easily be forwarded. Consider if a discussion would be better in person than via email.
- Think twice before responding to certain emails.
- Protocol for emailing teens: ask parent for permission to do so; CC the parent,
- Website for communicating studio news
- To text or not to text?
- Each of us need to decide what we feel comfortable using, i.e. using text only for personal family communication versus using text for studio families as well.
- In today’s world, teens text readily for immediate communication.
- Social Media
- Post photos and videos on Facebook with permission.
- Promote events, concerts, etc.
- Phone call, voicemail
- In-person meetings
- In-person reminders at the lesson itself
- Create the Suzuki environment within the studio via ASJ issues, Suzuki quotes posted on bulletin board, etc.
- Post reminder signs, i.e. no group class next week.
- Google Calendar to communicate
- Links with Gmail accounts and viewable on smartphones.
- Send a calendar link for private invite to the calendar.
- Google Docs offers Google Forms: use for scheduling or questionnaires. Information goes into spreadsheet to collate.
- Have a physical mailbox slot at school/studio for each family. Insert hard copy of info that needs to be circulated weekly to each family. Kids enjoy checking if they’ve received any mail.
- Accessibility: With 24/7 access to email, you may need to set office hours or boundaries as to when you are available to answer messages or calls.
- Silent lesson: Have a studio policy of no smartphone use during lessons, unless it is related to the task at hand (recording a teaching point or photographing a bow hold for future reference).
- Parent get-together: teacher kicks off session with an assigned theme to discuss, then leaves room. Parents are sharing and supporting each other.
- Parent parties: wine and cheese; Suzuki book discussions.
- Adult recitals.
- Parents as Partners Online discussion time.
- Support colleagues within one’s school/program, within one’s community, across the state/province, country.
Student-to-Student Communication and Interaction
- Social time for students to be together: pizza between classes, play at park before group, etc.
- Positive/constructive criticism with peers: informal play-through of upcoming recital piece with student-only feedback.
- Student/parent greeting the next student after finishing a lesson.
- Practice buddies: teen mentorship via matching a teen with a younger child for a practice session. Teacher provides focus for teen to work on in the partner practice time. Side benefits include the teen being empowered, friendships made, the younger student has a role model, and teens take such things seriously, teaching responsibility. Charge a small fee for such buddy mentoring, i.e. $15.
How do you encourage active communication in your studio? Among parents? Among students? Supporting colleagues? Share in the comments!