I’m a big fan of pros and cons lists. They’re very systematic and it helps me to take the emotion out of almost every decision and then look at it logically. We are often asked questions surrounding whether or not a student should be “let go” (obviously a very emotionally-charged situation) and so we’ve created the “Should I Let This Student Go” Checklist.
Personally, 90% of the time the negatives associated with letting a student go far outweigh the positives and I adjust my approach rather than let a student go. I believe in the importance of music education for every child very strongly and I can usually make changes that end up bettering the situation to the point where everyone is happy. However, this is very much a case-by-case consideration and one that involves a lot of considerations.
So, the next time you’re faced with this quandry, grab a pen and paper. Create a Yes column and a No column. Place a check mark on the correct side for each of the questions below.
The “Should I Let This Student Go?” Checklist:
1. Are you having trouble separating your personal time from this issue (in terms of time, stress, emotions, etc.)?
2. Is the child disinterested in piano lessons? Has she stopped practicing… progressing?
3. Are you financially okay to potentially lose the income from this piano student if you aren’t able to replace her for more than 6 months?
4. (If it is behavior-related) Have you exhausted all resources and teaching techniques in an attempt to help this student?
5. Has this child always been a difficult piano student?
6. Do you feel as though you are not assisting this child to the best of your ability and that she may be better off with a different teacher?
7. At this moment in time, is this child’s life outside of piano lessons relatively stable and calm?
8. Has your relationship with this child’s parents always been strained or shaky?
9. Are you uncomfortable letting this student represent your piano studio in public performances, school talent shows etc.?
10. Is your ability to effectively run your studio being hampered by this one issue?
11. Have you had more than 2 face-to-face conversations with the parents after which no change took place?
12. (If it’s a studio policy issue)… Were the parents informed of your policy in writing before they began at your studio?
13. Have you changed your approach in more than 2 ways in an attempt to rectify the situation but the issue is still unresolved?
Here’s the Verdict
When finished, add up the check marks. If the Yes column outweighs the No column, it likely indicates that you feel it is time to part ways and let the student go.
But… most importantly, assess your initial response to the outcome. Do you feel good about the result? Use the combination of these two factors to make your decision as, sometimes, your heart’s feelings are as important as your head’s.
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