June is over (summer is going by so quickly!!), and so is the June Forum: Making Your Vocation A Vacation topic. Thanks for all the thought-provoking comments, all! Here’s a summary of your comments, along with some thoughts of my own mixed in:
- Teach only when you want to. Don’t overdo it. Only schedule yourself what you can easily handle each day/week. If needed, schedule yourself an occasional 15-minute break so you can chill out for a bit and perhaps get a bite to eat.
- Teach only who you want to. Whenever possible, accept only the students who are motivated and hardworking. I’d like to also add: only teach the levels/ages you are comfortable with. For example, if teaching adult students isn’t your forte, don’t feel as if you have to accept them into your studio. Recognize the areas where you shine and make those your focus! Same goes with styles of music: if you aren’t comfortable teaching jazz, recommend those students to another teacher who is comfortable doing so.
- Be firm on your business procedures. As teachers and musicians, we often don’t like to think about the financial side of things. We like to focus on passing our passion for music on to our students. The reality is, there will always be parents/students who show up late, don’t show up at all, don’t pay on time, etc.. Everyone handles these situations differently, but I would recommend never allowing yourself to be stepped over. It will stress you out. (I know from experience!) Write up some Studio Policies and stick to them. (This is an area I personally need to work on — so I’ve been brainstorming some ways to make “the business end of things” run more smoothly and efficiently.)
- Keep it fun and fresh by varying up each lesson, and tailoring lessons to each individual student. Be on the lookout for new music books or games to try with students. Try to discover each student’s interests, strengths, and weaknesses so you can personalize their lessons to their individual needs. Attend local/state/national music teaching conferences so you can continue your own education as well as network and exchange ideas with other teachers.
- Find ways to make sure your students are making progress. When students are making progress, students are having fun, and when students are having fun, the teacher is having fun! Decorate your studio, create an incentive program, keep communication open with parents to keep them involved, have a practice requirement — in short, find ways to keep students engaged and motivated to develop their skills at the piano and excited about lessons!
All these ideas above are part of being an effective, successful teacher — and that’s when teaching becomes a vacation rather than a vocation. Great thoughts, everyone!
Stay tuned for the introduction of the July Forum topic, coming later this week!