Almost nobody likes a deadline, but sometimes, deadlines are the only way something gets done.
In pondering the subject of this blog entry, I decided to use an example from my own studio – and hope the strategies and thought-processes I have used will be helpful to you. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.
Scheduling is a convoluted mess at best, and a nightmare at worst, but it does not always have to be that way. When juggling so many families, students, schedules, and conflicts, the teacher’s job is rarely (often never) just teaching.
How many times have you put off that deadline until last minute? Or, how many times have you assumed the teacher or organization would make an exception for you, because your situation is so unique? Many teachers spend hours coordinating the schedule and arranging time-frames so students are given the best possible scenario for their lessons.
This coming school-year, a few major changes are happening in my studio. One such change… I am returning to school, possibly full-time, while continuing to teach. I may also become very involved in the care of my nephew & niece, so my sister & brother-in-law can both work. Teaching is my career, my livelihood, but I can make some sacrifices to help family and further my own education. While I would like to retain all my students, sadly some will just not be able to handle the changes I need to make.
Way back in April, I sent out a time sheet request of all 6 days (Monday through Saturday) for lesson times, asking students to indicate their top three time requests spread over at least two days. In May, we finalized the summer schedule. In August, we will be finalizing the school year schedule. But, changes and conflicts occur.
How do you handle the last-minute changes when parents and students can no longer make their requested time and day? What do you do if you discover you are unable to teach on a day you know is your student’s only option? Hopefully the family is very understanding. Hopefully you’re able to find them a new teacher who is able and willing to take them in as a student. Hopefully your schedule fills up where needed and gives you space when it is necessary.
Here is the deadline schedule set in my studio…
May 1st = registration for summer (lessons June 21-August 25)
May 10th = last payment for school year tuition
June 10th = ½ payment for summer tuition
July 1st = registration for school year (lessons begin September 12th)
July 10th = ½ payment for summer tuition (remaining)
August 10th = ½ payment for September (counts as holding fee)
August 11th = school year schedule published to studio
September 10th = remaining payment for September
October 10th = begin normal monthly tuition payment schedule
Notes about Schedule:
So far, almost all the families have submitted their requests for the school year, and all but one or two different families have paid the remaining summer tuition. Deadlines matter, and families who are respectful of my time constraints will be given the school-year lesson times they need. In return, I do my best to make clear my expectations and communicate the schedule as soon as possible – because most people like to plan ahead. Students on the waiting list are then offered the available times, and sadly, current students who procrastinated to make my studio life & education planning easier, may lose their opportunity to continue lessons.
As it turns out, teaching will only be able to happen Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Friday & Saturday lessons are out – and while the entire idea saddens me (I’ll be losing a couple students), I know I will be a healthier, happier, better prepared, more energized, and more focused teacher than if I spread myself, my time, my energy, my resources, and my family out a little over each day of the week. Simpler is better, and I am certainly glad I set clear expectations, and that the families in the studio are prompt and flexible. I hope to return the favor when needed.
How do you handle scheduling? When do you start the process? Do you keep the same schedules as the previous year? Do you continue through the summer? Do you have a free-for-all first-come, first-served system? What has worked and what hasn’t? Do you ever run into any problems in your studio as a result of the system you use? How well would you say you are able to focus on teaching and leave the business side of lessons out of the lesson when possible? Let’s share with one another, so we can all grow and learn as teachers, administrators, and schedulers. The new school year will be upon us before we know it!