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another melodrama... (Read 2535 times)

Offline green

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another melodrama...
« on: May 01, 2015, 04:50:45 PM »
The parent walked in at the end of last lesson, and my two students, 9 year old girls, they are friends, were horsing around. It was the end of lesson, and well it was to be expected. They are fun to work with but unfocused and a bit silly a lot of the time. Both the mother and students have pretty much failed to do anything I have asked since we started. Low and behold, I get the following heated email from the mother a few days ago:

"I was shocked when I walked in and saw the girls running around and not working in the lesson. I spoke with ... after you left and she told me of what went on during the lesson and I asked her if she learned anything and she said no. She then told me for the past few lessons she hasn't learned much. Could you please help structure the lesson so this doesn't happen again. I think it is a better option to not have (the other student) be part of lessons unless something better is put in place. Can you also please update where we stand financially with the lessons after I paid you the 600USD? (for 10 lessons) Thanks! I have also spoken with the girls and they know they were wrong."

I was really angry. I give very clear instructions on what is to be done every lesson, that's what I do after all. I have made it clear to the mother since the beginning that she needs to make sure the girls have their music and spend some time practicing it.

Every time I try to reply to this email, I feel like I am being sucked into this little melodrama delusion that the mother has created. She hasn't a clue what is going on here, yet has the nerve to accuse me of negligence and to ask me to 'help structure lessons' when she is the one who needs to structure their practice time and come to lesson prepared to learn. The students not wanting to be punished for messing around, have said that they haven't learned anything, and probably said that I am not teaching them anything too. So I get blamed, and now I am being forced to defend my position, and explain how this all works, again. And the 'update me on where we stand financially' seems like a kind of threat that they don't plan to continue.

I am very tempted to reply that I have a zero tolerance policy concerning harassment from parents, and I am absolutely under no obligation to continue lessons if this happens. Under no condition will I accept responsibility for parents and students own negligence to do what I have asked repeatedly. Etc etc...

Its the last thing they expect, I have never done this before, and don't plan to start, but I have encountered parents on many occasions who become abusive and somehow believe that because they pay you, they have some right over your life and to make insults and demands on your time that have nothing to do with how this process actually unfolds.

How would folks here deal with this?

Thanks

Offline 8_octaves

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #1 on: May 01, 2015, 06:23:10 PM »
Hi green,

the "hard" way would be this:

You should take over the initiative now, especially in this point:

Quote
"And the 'update me on where we stand financially' seems like a kind of threat that they don't plan to continue."

Do the unexpected!!

Give the children written notice / cancellation for the parents, in a closed envelope.
In it, don't answer especially to the section of the mother's posting "the girls know they were wrong".

Make clear your position in it and that you in no way accept / tolerate to be blamed for misbehaviour of students ( e.g.: not learning at home, them giving wrong reports about their learning-progress, because they won't want to be "spoken guilty" because of their own lapses, students fooling around, not practicing at home etc. ).

Add in a footnote that part of your posting here (but slightly modified, of course), in which you state that you give very clear instructions during lessons.

Add a detailed list of the financial statement of account / complete invoice.  

They have to hand the envelope out at home. 8)

Doing it this way, it could save nerves and time.

___________

The "more communicative" way would be, to talk to them all, in a friendly atmosphere, again, but not deviating in it from your standpoint. Children sometimes need a pause to relax, but they shouldn't fool around a too long time. Working TOGETHER at that issue would, in your opinion, bring quick and positive results. And point out again, that practicing at home is very important, too. And that they have their material with them the next time.

I'm not a piano teacher (in common sense) , but I think as far as you described your problem, one has to act. Doing nothing wouldn't be good, I think, because then, the negative feeling will be on YOUR side, in the end. Avoid that, by taking the initiative yourself in one or the other way! That's what I would recommend, subjectively.

Cordially, 8_octaves.
"Never be afraid to play before an artist.
The artist listens for that which is well done,
the person who knows nothing listens for the faults." (T. CarreŮo, quoting her 2nd teacher, Gottschalk.)

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #2 on: May 01, 2015, 07:00:48 PM »
Thanks for that!

They have had 3/10 block lessons, and 5 lessons before they paid for the discounted block of 10. The week after they paid me for 10 they took three weeks off on the pretext that an aunt died and they needed to return to the states! They did that with less than 48 hours before the next lesson which means that lesson was forfeited, and then took two more weeks off. In my policy which they agreed to, the block of 10 allows one makeup within 12 weeks. So I think this is what she is driving at with the 'where do we stand financially', with this whole stupid melodrama being a pretext for stopping. I'm guessing what she really wants to know is if I plan to give them all three makeups or not. So she has created a big stink so she could face asking me about this thinking that she is in control and all powerful.

So the question is, if I am going to let them go, how much do I return to them? I think it is only fair to charge them for the three weeks they were away which comes to 6 lessons total, returning the remaining 4. They are entitled to one makeup, but under these circumstances I think not.

Anyways, I will just send her an email before next Tues, ask for her bank details, transfer the money back to her, and be done with it.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #3 on: May 01, 2015, 07:13:06 PM »
I'm not sure what your past history with the mother has been.

One possible interpretation of this scenario is that the mother witnessed something and totally misinterpreted.  She overreacted, true, but some kind of reaction would have been expected.

And then you took it so personally that you overreacted and did not respond appropriately.  You're still upset. 

If there is anything at all to that interpretation, your path would be to educate the mother on exactly what she saw and why it wasn't a big deal, also on exactly what is expected of mother and child as far as practice and lesson behavior. 

That scenario ends up with the relationship being improved and a long term satisfactory partnership developing, to your financial benefit. 

Not saying that's the only way to look at it, but it's one way you could explore. 
Tim

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #4 on: May 01, 2015, 08:44:56 PM »
Thanks Tim!

Yes that is probably the way I have been trying to solve this the last couple of days every time I sit down to try and write a reply. Inevitably I feel like I am stating such blatantly obvious things that I get angry and think what is the point of saying these things? They are so obvious that I feel like I am talking to idiots: "Practice=improvement, and so if we haven't done our practice that means we probably haven't learned a whole lot. So what I do when I come to your condo every week is to show your daughter HOW to practice...so what you can probably deduce from this little equation is that the real learning happens OUTSIDE of lessons during the week. And what you could do to help out here is make sure that your daughter is practicing, and then go take a jump in the lake!" You see what I mean...

But seriously, I'm glad you said that Tim, because teaching really is IMO an extension of our own practice as artists, and one role as a teacher is to share this knowing, to educate. I take this so personally because it is what I value most in life, and I consider it a privilege and honor to be able to share this knowing within a community that I would hope recognize and appreciate it's intrinsic value.

So when I get this sort of nonsense from parents, which is basically mindlessness hard at work, its exhausting, draining, and I get pissed off.

Funny, I had a 7 year old today say, in front of his mother, "I am able to do all of this because of you!" Hey the best compliment I have had in years, if ever! We were recording a composition of his and it got caught on tape, so I was thinking of putting that up on my website!  ;D

Offline stoat_king

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #5 on: May 02, 2015, 07:31:23 AM »
Every time I try to reply to this email, I feel like I am being sucked into this little melodrama delusion that the mother has created.

It sounds like you have accepted the premise of the mother's complaint.
How would I deal with it?
Badly.
I would likely point out that it is unfair to blame me for her inadequacies as a parent lol.

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #6 on: May 02, 2015, 08:58:35 AM »
Well, also it has to be taken into consideration if it is really worth while to take the 'educate' stance, because in many cases, as I believe this case would prove, they just don't care. You can explain whats going on here and what they need to do until you are blue in the face, which I have already done to some extent, but all they really want is a little melodrama to occupy their time, and to suck you into it. Gives them a sense of purpose and direction. Better to just cut them lose and let them wallow in their delusion.

But if you read what she wrote, there actually is only one question there, about the money of course. So maybe I should just reply with, "Are you blaming me for your own negligence to do what I have asked repeatedly?" Play her at her own game, force her to respond defensively, a little bit of menacing threat to spice up her life!  :P


Offline stoat_king

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #7 on: May 02, 2015, 09:16:01 AM »
I know this likely wont be very helpful at all, since I haven't been allowed to talk to my customers / users for many a long year (lol).
The melodrama doesn't sound very nice at all though.

There is a principle I use at work which I call a 'stupidity tax'.
A job comes in. I know it will take two days.
However, past dealings with this customer means that I am so sure that they will decide to change their 'minds' (******* pinheads) after the event, that I will charge them for between four to six days.
It doesnt sound like thats going to work in your case.

Throwing them out of the window will likely be frowned on too.

That doesnt leave many options. 8_octaves and timothy42b both give really good and constructive advice on how to turn this into a positive thing and I suppose that is the optimal, mature and responsible thing to.

Pfft. Thats not the way I roll at all.
She must be silenced. You know what to do.

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #8 on: May 02, 2015, 08:04:12 PM »
More fuel for the fire, a first draft, suggestions welcome. And thanks to all who have already provided me with support and excellent feedback, I feel less like I am going insane.  :-[  Yes I would prefer to be doing other things, but I think it unfortunately needs to be said if I am going to continue with them:

(name of parent),

Unfortunately, unless you have a specific question regarding what I am teaching, or what (name of student) is to be doing, Iím afraid that I simply donít have time to become involved in melodramas of this kind.

Where you stand financially has nothing to do with me at this point, but I do encourage you to familiarize yourself with my policy, which you should already have done before we began. I have no information that you donít.

Furthermore, since I have consistently taught 30 min longer for almost every lesson, which I keep a record of after each lesson, I believe those extra hours means I am currently working at a loss. This would also include the time I spend outside of lesson which is normally at least 2 hours per week per student.

It is your responsibility to ensure (student) comes to lesson prepared, and prepared to learn, not to have a party with her friend. No amount of structuring the lesson is going to help unless that is taken care of.

You have not done what I have asked, which was to download the lyrics for about three songs which the girls were to work on learning before you went away on your trip. And the girls failed to do that again since our previous lesson. This is not a problem for me, but if it is for you, then please do what I have assigned.

As chance would have it, my voice memos recorded the entire lesson last Tues and I can show you numerous examples of learning. Iím not sure how you are defining learning, it's a little vague the way you say it, but in my experience the real bulk of learning takes place outside of lesson, during her own daily practice, which at the moment appears to be not happening. Again, this is your responsibility to ensure it is happening, and so to accuse me of not 'teaching' her anything I find to be just a bit offensive.

What I do is show students how to practice, but the students are the ones who do the work. You have got it backwards, what she learns comes from her, not me. I have nothing to teach. This is an unfoldment, and it happens in ways that look very much like this.

Finally, please be aware that lessons are given freely, and as a community service to expat and local families who I choose to work with here in (name of city). What I charge is to allow this service to continue. If you donít feel this service is of benefit, then I would kindly ask you to allow another family to have the time I have set aside for (student).

Thanks!

Offline Bob

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #9 on: May 02, 2015, 09:09:55 PM »
I just glanced at the first post.  A few thoughts....

For dealing with parents, keep it you and them.  As if it's above the student (because they're a kid so their opinion or what they think means squat really.  The parent might consider the kid's input more, but... An attitude of "we're adults, let's discuss" seems better than taking a kid's opinion at full value.

Ditto for teaching.  Teacher beats parents for teaching ideas, although the parent will think whatever they know or did when they were in school is correct.

Get rid of anything negative.  Just to be professional, but also since it's income.  Suck it up. 

If you're talking to the parents, focus on what you're teaching them.  Put the workload on the student (for blame essentially) -- This is what we're covering.  Implying that it's up to the student to do some work.  If they don't, then you focus more on that, but again... You're trying to teach them, but they need to go work on it themselves.  If they don't make progress, well... You're aware of it and have tried x,y,z for them, but... They still need to really focus on that element at home (the student does).

I'd split them up.  Again, place the blame on them.  (Depends on the situation, classroom vs. private lessons though... If it's a classroom situation, public school... Whatever they do is on you, even if the student is in the wrong, it's still going to be your fault.) 

Same idea -- Maybe be proactive.  Tell the parent(s) that the kids do tend to joke around a bit.  ...And wouldn't it better if they had separate lessons instead?  You're not their babysitter or disciplinarian, right?  (...Maybe implying a bit that the parent isn't controlling their kid -- [phrased better but] Your kids acting up in lessons.  This needs to change).


I guess it's professional distance, adults being above the kids, you being the professional teacher, students being privileged to be there. 



Above all that, I wouldn't waste time.  Work in that direction generally, but don't worry about documenting, etc.  Be willing to cut them off if that's an option.  Give a (proactive) heads up to the parents so they're not surprised.  (Strike first, create the impression in their mind first.) 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline timothy42b

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #10 on: May 02, 2015, 10:21:18 PM »
More fuel for the fire, a first draft, suggestions welcome.

I do not know of any parent who could read that email and not quit.

It's hard to read something you've written from the viewpoint of the other party, so sharing this was a good idea, and very brave.

That email was written by a teacher who is completely convinced the relationship is terminal and cannot be mended. 

It may not have been clear to you that you think that, but your email does indicate it.

If that is the case (and you would know that far better than I) then sending it serves no purpose except to leave an angry vengeful parent in your wake.  If you're going to fire this student and parent, then you need to do it in the most courteous and professional manner possible. 

There are two benefits to doing so:  the parent is less likely to badmouth you to every one she knows, and you will not have the regret of "getting even." 

I would write a terminating email like this:  After giving your situation some careful thought, I have the feeling we both have some concerns about future progress.  Would you like to take a break from lessons while we consider this? 

A break is a euphemism.  Parents NEVER come back after a break. 


Tim

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #11 on: May 02, 2015, 10:35:44 PM »
Thanks again, yes I simply think this parent has crossed the line and seems to have no idea how offensive what she wrote is. How do you respond to thoughtlessness? I knew immediately after I posted that it was too long, too negative, so perhaps your right, time to take a 'break'. I have invested a lot of my time with the best of intentions, and I get this garbage. True I could not go back and continue without really despising this parent.

Very nicely put Tim, I think that's probably the route to take, sadly. So would you also refund their remaining lessons? 

Online brogers70

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #12 on: May 02, 2015, 11:30:26 PM »
Very nicely put Tim, I think that's probably the route to take, sadly. So would you also refund their remaining lessons? 
I agree with all that Tim said. I would suggest refunding the remaining lessons. Being generous is a form of power. You'll feel better about it afterwards if you refund everything your original agreement suggests you should, with any grey interpretation going in the parent's favor. You'll be glad they're out of your hair, I'm sure.

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #13 on: May 03, 2015, 01:11:12 AM »
On the other hand, I have a feeling they will probably want to continue, she will probably back off if I suggest we take a break, and stopping does come at a bad time for me financially too.

I am returning home for the summer in two months, with 6 students all returning back to their countries at the same time. Meaning its just one less student I will have when I return in Sept. It means 5 more weeks with them, and then I indeed will be taking a break for the summer(2.5 months).

Perhaps I could add to the very eloquent 'take a break' idea, that if they would like to continue, "could we discuss this on Tuesday in more detail? You are quite right the girls were misbehaving, and I have a few suggestions that might help ensure they get the most out of their lesson time." Or what would you suggest there, Timothy?

On a related note, I see what has happened, and this seems to repeat itself when similar situations arise with other parents. I get locked into a battle of 'egos', and end up turning it into a melodrama too. A fear reaction to what 'might' happen.

I have a tendency to retreat to the intellect, and while I may be right on one level, I probably lose sight of the fact that I too have become offensive in a self righteous kind of way. They have invested a good chunk of money here, and probably have high hopes that their daughter will benefit from this. So to see her daughter just messing around, probably did look pretty bad. Never the less, the way this was handled was not cool. So a new perspective is emerging I see. This also feels powerful, to be able to step outside of your own emotional re-activity, and focus on simple solutions.

How do other folks manage not getting caught up in the emotional reactivity that inevitably crops up? This feels like management 101, how to keep afloat when the boat is sinking.  :)

 

Offline timothy42b

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #14 on: May 03, 2015, 02:57:35 AM »

Perhaps I could add to the very eloquent 'take a break' idea, that if they would like to continue, "could we discuss this on Tuesday in more detail? You are quite right the girls were misbehaving, and I have a few suggestions that might help ensure they get the most out of their lesson time." Or what would you suggest there, Timothy?

 

No suggestions, that's dead solid perfect.

Except for one thing, of course, the difficulty of executing it!  You have to remain calm and let them have their pride, at the expense of your own, even though technically they are in the wrong.  That's not easy to do.  I have the benefit of many years working in mental health and I'm good at this, yet I sometimes struggle with situations like this.   Good luck. 
Tim

Offline outin

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #15 on: May 03, 2015, 05:06:35 AM »
I think we have discussed this before. To be treated like a professional you need to act like one. What is preventing you is that you seem to be a bit emotional and get easily offended. You see melodrama where someone else might not think twice about what happened. I understand that is how you are, but you can still learn not to act on it. It's a good first step to seek advice before contacting the parent, but it would also be good to sit down and consider matters yourself in a more analytic way, trying to put your feelings of injustice aside. Because that is what professionalism is about.

Be firm, but also friendly and polite. People pay you for your service, they don't have time to spend considering if something they said may have hurt your feelings. Some things you say or do may feel just as bad to them sometimes. Unless there's direct straight communication things will easily escalate out of proportion, if you let them. Since you are the professional and the person with more knowledge, you should be the one to solve the issue in the most objective way possible. Explain to them WHY some things have to be a certain way, always in a simple and understandable way (remembering that they do not know the demands of your profession) and if you need to drop them, do it without any blaiming or emotional tantrums.

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #16 on: May 03, 2015, 07:50:06 AM »
Many thanks!

Offline stoat_king

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #17 on: May 03, 2015, 08:45:50 AM »
I'm a bit too busy to comment in detail atm but having read your email, i hate it.
I'm not criticising your writing - its just that, in writing that, you have accepted the premise of her nonsense.
Your anger comes through all too clearly. If you are so angry that you have to get rid of them, then letting that show can only be counterproductive - not to mention a waste of words. Brevity / terseness would be more appropriate in that instance.


How do you respond to thoughtlessness?
If you lower yourself to her level, you risk getting an even angrier response and a situation that ends in 'Yr mom' insults. If thats what you want (and I dont think thats wise) then your email doesnt go nearly far enough - a bewildering variety of wild, baseless accusations would be a better strategy - and likely more cathartic.

I think a response that sidesteps your anger and her stupidity would be worth considering. Something disarming - maybe funny. Finding some way to centre a response around something positive about her kids has a very high expectation of wrong-footing her.

Your situation is a familiar one to me - I have an unfortunate tendency to overreact to such an extent that I have been forced to learn strategies for dealing with such situations without the 'Hate as hot as a billion suns' thing.

I'm afraid I have drunk so much coffee that I'm babbling a bit. When it wears off a little I shall try to elaborate on what I mean - ideally with a couple of examples.

Offline j_menz

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #18 on: May 03, 2015, 11:26:26 AM »
You seem to be extraordinarily prone to these melodramas. Have you considered a common factor?
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline Bob

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #19 on: May 03, 2015, 08:44:59 PM »
If you work enough people and parents, you'll run into more of that.  I'm still working through the thread, but I'm picturing a protective mama bear. 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #20 on: May 03, 2015, 09:02:50 PM »
The parent walked in at the end of last lesson, and my two students, 9 year old girls, they are friends, were horsing around. It was the end of lesson, and well it was to be expected. They are fun to work with but unfocused and a bit silly a lot of the time. Both the mother and students have pretty much failed to do anything I have asked since we started. Low and behold, I get the following heated email from the mother a few days ago:

"I was shocked when I walked in and saw the girls running around and not working in the lesson. I spoke with ... after you left and she told me of what went on during the lesson and I asked her if she learned anything and she said no. She then told me for the past few lessons she hasn't learned much. Could you please help structure the lesson so this doesn't happen again. I think it is a better option to not have (the other student) be part of lessons unless something better is put in place. Can you also please update where we stand financially with the lessons after I paid you the 600USD? (for 10 lessons) Thanks! I have also spoken with the girls and they know they were wrong."

I was really angry. I give very clear instructions on what is to be done every lesson, that's what I do after all. I have made it clear to the mother since the beginning that she needs to make sure the girls have their music and spend some time practicing it.

Every time I try to reply to this email, I feel like I am being sucked into this little melodrama delusion that the mother has created. She hasn't a clue what is going on here, yet has the nerve to accuse me of negligence and to ask me to 'help structure lessons' when she is the one who needs to structure their practice time and come to lesson prepared to learn. The students not wanting to be punished for messing around, have said that they haven't learned anything, and probably said that I am not teaching them anything too. So I get blamed, and now I am being forced to defend my position, and explain how this all works, again. And the 'update me on where we stand financially' seems like a kind of threat that they don't plan to continue.

I am very tempted to reply that I have a zero tolerance policy concerning harassment from parents, and I am absolutely under no obligation to continue lessons if this happens. Under no condition will I accept responsibility for parents and students own negligence to do what I have asked repeatedly. Etc etc...

Its the last thing they expect, I have never done this before, and don't plan to start, but I have encountered parents on many occasions who become abusive and somehow believe that because they pay you, they have some right over your life and to make insults and demands on your time that have nothing to do with how this process actually unfolds.

How would folks here deal with this?

Thanks

Restructure your lessons so you dont have two 9 yo at the same time. The concerned parent has good point but you are being overly defensive for some reason according to your post.

Offline keypeg

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #21 on: May 06, 2015, 08:25:36 PM »
One point.  A parent should not walk in to students horsing around in a lesson.  As the teacher, you are the authority figure, especially when the children are only 9 years old.  The suggestion to separate the kids is a good one.  You could broach it as a "solution" to the mother's legitimate concerns, and if the girls are sad about being separated, it's through their actions.

I would not send that e-mail.  It sounds out of control, emotional, almost incoherent - if it gets shared, then it gives a bad impression of your professionalism to anyone who reads it.  E-mails and letters can be passed around.

Offline Bob

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #22 on: May 06, 2015, 10:56:25 PM »
One idea, not perfect but understandable -- They wore you down.  Long day of teaching, you're tired, you already tried to get them to settle down but they kept at it.  Who isn't going to have that happen once in a while.

And then the easy solution is to separate them. 

What adult and esp. a parent isn't going to understand getting worn down from kids once in a while?
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #23 on: May 11, 2015, 10:26:09 PM »
First of all, I"m sorry for what happened. It is parents like this who give parents a bad name.

I know any number of parents who believe that teachers are somehow their employees and teaching is a matter of structuring a learning experience for "results".  I sometimes come in before our son is done with his lesson (mine is directly thereafter) and I"m always delighted to see what fun he has during his lessons.  He practices because he has fun, he has fun because he practices. 

These girls didn't do anything "wrong". They were being 9 year olds.  I'd worry more about a 9 year old who at the conclusion of a lesson filed out quietly with heads bowed.

I think the first approach I would take:

Give the kids a practice log with the assignments down one side and the days across the other.  Have mom check off each day they complete their assignments.

Aim for 6 days a week of practice.  There's always some last minute project your kids forget to tell you about so 7 days a week isn't realistic.

Every week they practice 6 days, give them a sticker and create a sticker book for them. At 9, our son still liked stickers.  At the end of every month, you can give mom a report:  They practiced x number of times, and earned x stickers.

You can present it to Mom as, "I know you want your children to learn, as do I.  This is a method for tracking what they do at home so I can reinforce it during lessons."

This mom reminds me of some of my friends who complain that their schools are not teaching their kids enough, when their kids come home and are glued to video games till 11 p.m.

This isn't you.  I congratulate you on your graciousness.

Offline mikeowski

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #24 on: May 12, 2015, 01:49:37 AM »
It might be because I don't know your history with this woman, but frankly, I don't see what the problem is.
Sure, she doesn't understand how hard it is to teach kids and produce results, especially when they don't practice at all. Maybe the mom comes home from work and her daughter lies to her about how much she practiced just as she did about not learning anything during your lessons, because she doesn't want to get scolded.
Even if that's not the case and the mother knows she doesn't practice, misunderstandings happen. Even more so when you're dealing with people who never took lessons themselves. I suggest you try to see the situation from her perspective and explain your own as professionally as possible.
I would rather state it like this:

"Dear Miss Whatever,
I'm very sorry you got the impression that my lessons are unproductive, I can see why you would. And thank you for talking to your daughter about it, I'm sure it will help.
However, I feel that the root of the problem lies in that your daughter is simply not practicing enough. She doesn't seem to be doing the homework I give her and comes to her lessons unprepared. Thus, it is very hard for me to keep her interest up since I have very little to work off of and we have to go through the same passage every lesson.
Of course splitting the girls up is a good option aswell, but before doing that I would like to ask you if you could try to get your daughter to practice at least 10 min every day. Here are a few ideas how to motivate her: (list of ideas, like those from bernadette's post).
Also, here is the financial info you requested: (financial info, sorry can't help you with that since I'm not sure I fully understand the situation).

Regards,
green"

You can then either split the two up or just stop giving them lessons if things don't get better, but arguing and getting angry right from the start will solve neither your nor their situation in any satisfactory way.

Offline Bob

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #25 on: May 13, 2015, 04:03:23 AM »
Just glanced at the post above...

It would require more brainpower, but you might not want to put anything in writing.  Things tend to come off more negative in text. 

A phone call or in person convo might help.  I'd stay away from anything like placing blame though.  Probably go humble on the kids acting up during the lesson -- yes, I should have done more... and I am, let's separate them in lessons.  And then mention practicing more, if they like the lessons, etc.  They could be separate issues. 

If you say the kid was acting up... and the real cause is because they don't practice, the parent might take offense to that.  They might see it as you saying it's not your fault, it's their fault. 

Besides splitting them up, you could offer to give the parents a behavior report.  It probably wouldn't hurt.  Might scare the kid.  Might appease the parents.  You really shouldn't have to deal with bad behavior in private lessons.  If it's one on one, the kid will have less chance to act up.  If they do act up and you're sitting there waiting to teach, the parents might see that and crack down on the kid since it's wasting their money.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline green

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Re: another melodrama...
«Reply #26 on: May 13, 2015, 06:30:25 PM »
We've already had our 2nd lesson since the incident 3 weeks ago, they are stopping as I expected after they finish their prepaid lessons in 3 more weeks. It was pretty much everything that my initial gut reaction told me, mother was just looking for some pretext to stop, felt the lessons are too expensive for them, etc etc, and since then the student still has not practiced anything!