Teacher/studio policy question

August 2, 2005 at 05:04 AM · I've decided, this fall, to create a studio policy, and have the parents of my new students read and sign it. What I haven't yet decided is whether to give said policy to returning students. I want to treat them all equally, but at the same time, I feel like it might be tacky to give it to returning students, especially if they've never given me problems before with things like cancellations, and suddenly I'm becoming stricter about it. For those of you out there who teach, what are your opinions?

Replies (9)

August 2, 2005 at 07:14 AM · I'm reviewing this decision myself, about tightening up my cancellation policy. There are always those few that make policies necessary, but you can't just single them out and be fair at the same time. Write out your policy update and send it to everyone in a matter-of-fact way, and let them all know that they can talk to you about it if they have any questions. This shouldn't feel too personal to anyone.

Be nice, but don't let even your friends walk over you. You will have healthy relationships with your families if you have well-established, explained boudaries.

Now if you'll excuse me while I listen to my own advice...

August 2, 2005 at 08:39 AM · I would advise giving it to everyone that way you don't have to remember who is on your policy and who isn't and it won't cause any grief when a non-policy person cancels and doesn't notify you properly and on and on.

Perhaps just tell the returning students that while they have always been good about notifying you and these policies might not specifically apply to their past behaviors, but you felt it best to have all of your students on the same page, so to speak, to make your life easier as you schedule your studio. I am sure the parents will all understand and won't take any offense if they already follow the rules.

If anything you can tell people you blame your "increasing number of students on your need to become more organized" and this will if anything assure the parents that you are a talented and desired teacher and they will gladly fill out papers for that.

Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings. You are running a home business, and as long as the terms are fair and everyone is treated the same, I cannot imagine anyone getting upset about this. Parents sign scores of papers at the start of every school year about behavior and policy...what is one more paper?

August 2, 2005 at 05:32 PM · I agree, give it to everyone. Perhaps some of your students have never had to cancel, so don't know your cancellation policy -- or whatever else you've decided to codify. As much as the policy is there to protect you, it's just as helpful to your students to know the rules.

Most of the teachers I have had have laid out the rules ahead of time. I never had to sign anything, but then I never argued the rules, either. They included cancellation rules -- i.e., you'd pay for the lesson anyway unless you gave a good 24 hours notice, etc; and payment policies -- pay for each month at the beginning of the month, or pay at each lesson. One of my more expensive teachers was willing to work out an installment plan to pay for a lesson that I didn't cancel soon enough, so that it didn't make too big a whole in my weekly check. (She was worth every penny.)

August 2, 2005 at 10:57 PM · You really should have everyone on equal footing. If it makes you feel strange, maybe you could say that it's not them specifically. I've had to do this, and several times I just made sure that the specific students knew it was not them, rather other people giving me problems.

Good luck!

August 24, 2005 at 11:59 AM · When you draw up such a policy can you just do it yourself or does it have to be done by a solicitor?

August 24, 2005 at 03:12 PM · I really don't think a solicitor is necessary. I guess it does fall under the category of a home business to have a studio, but then again, we are talking about basic services....you teach, they pay. I suppose if you charge a large fee and are concerned about students taking legal action, then it woudln't hurt, but it is my opinion that if they read your policy and are happy with the terms at the start of your teacher-student relationship, the policy itself could hold up in court (God forbid) if anyone tried to sue you regarding the policy as their agreeing to take lessons is consent to the terms you list.

August 24, 2005 at 09:31 PM · That's probably a good idea, but you probably don't want to impose it like, "starting..... NOW!"

Think of it as if you were upping the amount you charge per lesson. You don't tell someone "today you need to pay 10 bucks more." You usually say something like "starting next month, I'll be charging 10 bucks more." It gives fair warning.

August 24, 2005 at 11:21 PM · Thanks for your advice everyone. :)

Andrew, I plan to start it in september, when the kids all begin school, and have it stay in effect during the academic year. They usually get forms to sign from school that time of the year anyway. I wouldn't expect them to follow my policy before they get the form.

August 26, 2005 at 01:03 PM · I agree-boundaries are necessary- and updates to policies are expected. My clients sign a contract each year and each year I choose to update or not update the contract according to my judgement. Each year I review the terms with each client. Be firm. You will be respected.

LisaJo

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