teacher-family relationships and extra contacts

Edited: February 26, 2018, 1:43 PM · From the other discussion:

"more wealthy families tend to take the teacher's time for granted, whether it's with the lesson location or inane unscheduled 15-minute phone calls about the specifics of what their child wants/needs. "

I am asking as a parent: do you think it is inapprppriate to call to the teacher? Do you have any personal relationships with your students/parents?

I actually do calls/emails to my son's teachers if i have any concern. Not only violin, but to the school as well. I never thougt it can be a bad habbit, and i never felt that i am doing something wrong.

Replies (12)

February 26, 2018, 1:38 PM · Teachers care about their students, so what you're doing is perfectly fine if it's directly related to what the teacher's teaching.
Edited: February 26, 2018, 6:04 PM · I think a teacher should expect a certain amount of time to be spent corresponding with the client, to answer questions, address small issues. If something major comes up, like you want to spend half an hour discussing a solo recital for your child, then I think you should be buying that time, but again as long as you're not abusive, most teachers will give you even this.

When you start taking your teacher's time for granted is when you show up 20 minutes late for your child's lesson and still expect the same hour even though it pushes back the whole schedule, or when you're constantly calling to ask questions because you were on your phone during the lesson so you weren't paying attention. That kind of thing. I've seen that kind of stuff going on.

February 26, 2018, 3:27 PM · I usually chat with parents after the lesson, and I will talk or email. I don't like parents who cancel all the time. We make a bit of progress, then I don't see the kid for a couple of weeks and they backslide. Then they do poorly on auditions and make no progress, which reflects poorly on me as a teacher. I will drop students for missing too much. Lateness is also annoying. But I never mind talking with a parent about how to make their kid a better musician.
February 26, 2018, 5:18 PM · If a parent has a violin-related concern about their child, it's helpful to me if they share it. I prefer texts or emails over phone calls but the information is good either way.

K Ch, you're fine.

February 26, 2018, 8:19 PM · I also prefer texts or emails, but I am happy to talk to a parent about their child's progress etc. What I don't like is when parents try to ask me questions after their child's lesson is over when I clearly have my next student there ready to start their lesson. I've also had parents send texts at unreasonable times (between 11pm and 7am and on major holidays (Thanksgiving)). (e-mails are ok anytime, but texts and calls should be reserved for hours when most people are awake).
You sound like you are just fine.
February 26, 2018, 8:25 PM · emails can be easier for me because of busy teaching and rehearsal schedules, but I will eventually get back to a phone call too. Yes, there should be close contact and communication between the teacher and parent, if needed.
Edited: February 26, 2018, 8:45 PM · I vastly prefer electronic communication, but if you have to cancel or need an urgent answer it is okay to call.

I don't mind chatting with the parents for a few minutes after or before a lesson as long as I don't have someone else waiting, and I do always answer emails with as much detail as possible. I consider answering extended questions to be part of what they are paying for. The only reason I prefer emails is because there is less pressure to answer immediately - if you are on the phone with me I feel obligated to drop what I am doing to assist you and I don't enjoy that feeling.

You are not doing anything wrong by doing that. Different teachers will prefer different things but none of them should be extremely against it. I think it becomes a problem when you start hogging time. My understanding of the context from the quoted statement was more along the lines of them demanding more than their fair share of your time for their child because they're more special than your other students (in the parents estimation) and not directed at parents who have questions or care about progress in general.


I've seen that before. My rule is hard and fast: Your lesson starts at the assigned time if you are here or not. There are very few exceptions I make to this. It makes me sound like an asshole but it is my time too. Things like emergencies or unexpected situations are one thing, but consistently being late is not acceptable and the time isn't coming out of my pocket, it's coming out of yours.

I guess it's my privileged for not earning the living portion of my income from teaching, instead doing it for extra cash and because I love it.

February 26, 2018, 11:21 PM · Part of my monthly fee includes the right to email or text me questions during the week. So I make it clear that it's acceptable, and that it's part of what the student is paying for.

Whether or not your specific teacher thinks it's acceptable totally depends on them.

I personally enjoy being asked questions because it confirms that the student is trying hard even when I'm not watching over them, or that the parent cares about doing things correctly. Both of these are favorable to me.

I often say that I can judge how hard a student tried during the week by how many questions they bring to me on the next lesson (or during the week). So questions are good. I can definitely draw a correlation between the amount of questions asked and the speed of progress that a student makes.

But if you're not clear on how your current teacher feels about it, I would just ask her if she'd prefer to have you wait until the next lesson to ask questions, or if it's preferred that you ask them as soon as they come up.

Edited: February 27, 2018, 10:00 AM · I dont call my daughters teacher, only in emergency. I do send her one emailbefore the lessonto let her know how we have practised as we cannot talk all in front of my daughter. But I know even that would be too much if it came from every student,but I have asked her and I know it is ok considering everything. It only takes one minute for her to read the email but if I called it would be longer. And I never expect a reply to the email. And I never ask her if she has read them either.

I think that I am paying for the teaching time and nothing extra basicly. If I called I wuold have to pay for that time too, the fee does not cover calling in my view.

I would never call a school teacher at home either, it is disrespectful and only for emergencies. Mails are a lot better and even with them one has to be careful.the teacher has several students and cannot give extra time for every parent.

But in schools here we have a so called ”Parent 15 minutes”, every year with the teacher to discuss things face to face. Kindergarden is somewhat different, the teacher is expected to talk to the parent daily on how things are going when the child is picked up. But no phoning after work obviously.

But surely if there would be some bullying or some such bigger problems then of course I would need to contact the teacher. But I wouldnt contact her for things like, how my childs is advancing at school or such. It would be considered arrogant where I live to do that. And of course lateness is not tolerated.

The lesson ends when it ends whether the student is there or not. But this is also cultural, in my country we are very punctual, 5 minutes is being late and many people, me and my daughter included are almost always before the lesson waiting so as not to be late. Sometimes there are exceptions but generally everyone knows that clock does not wait for people and things happen excactly when they are supposed to happen.

February 27, 2018, 2:55 PM · "more wealthy families tend to take the teacher's time for granted, whether it's with the lesson location or inane unscheduled 15-minute phone calls about the specifics of what their child wants/needs. "

I've found it to be more personality-based, rather than income-based.

Edited: February 28, 2018, 1:40 PM · I have never received an "inane" phone call and am happy when students/parents take the initiative to communicate! Usually it's via email or text; if I think we need to actually talk I'll generally text or mail first to let them know I'll be calling the next afternoon or whatever. I do appreciate families being considerate of my time and other students' time by not trying to stay and talk after every lesson. But if I can tell they want to talk I'll follow up with a phone call, or ask them to call me at a better time.

Caveat that i have a small studio and that for me, good family relationships are an integral part of the studio dynamic. So it's important to me to keep an open line within reason. But I really have rarely found that abused. And I still find the phrasing "inane phone call" to be odd and almost insulting...most parents aren't going to take the time to call unless there is something behind it that they think is important. Maybe they don't know how to express it well or maybe that teacher just wasn't really listening?...

February 28, 2018, 1:53 PM · When you've been with a family 5, 10, 15 years it would seem odd to me to not be comfortable texting or calling whenever it seems appropriate, both ways. The best teachers genuinely care about what's going on with their students and there has always been open lines of communication.

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