Addressing The Problem of Students Who Never Leave on Time
Found in: Studio Management
Jane K. AU
I have a group of two adults who loves chatting. One of them loves to ask questions about the old songs that they have learnt which also take up part of the lesson time. They never finish their lesson on time. They don’t leave until it is 10-15 minutes past the finish time. And I do not like it because it is late by the time they leave and I still need to prepare dinner for my family. There was even one lesson that they talked so much, they did not learn anything at all. Well, I do not mind that if it is fine with them, but at the end of the lesson, the lady asked me: “Oh, what new things are we learning today?”. Are they taking advantage of me, or they just love to chat with each other so much that it is never enough?
Have any teachers dealt with such students?
I cannot place any student after them because that is the last time slot of the day.
I tried to “make” them write down the notes when it is time to go, but they just ignored me and kept on talking!!!
I just had to take a quick moment to respond… I love my students but I wish they would leave on time! I’m sure all of us (or most of us) can relate, especially when we first launched our studios – right???
Well, the best thing is to schedule another group immediately afterwards if possible (for our lingering students/classes) but if not possible I did this once and it worked for me. I had a group that one person did the same thing and although we would have so much fun, the time slipped away. I decided I had to be much more pro active and had in advance the “outline” for the class on the whiteboard. I did this is 10 minute increments. And, if you start out by saying you want to value THEIR time, it will take the pressure off you. That said, it’s a bit scary at times (it was for me when I was building my studio) to just speak your truth. You have to be ready to begin the class time with YOUR agenda from the start of the class and of course stick to your time allotment. It helps too if you pause five minutes before end of class time to say “OK we have five minutes left for quick questions” or something I do as well is I tell my group to take a seat and then I review “Ok, what did we learn/share today?” You get the idea…this puts YOU in control and then at the end of class time, say your good byes and start physically moving towards closing up shop so to speak. I’ve even said, “OK thanks guys, now I’m off to my next appointment – with my family!” Of course with a laugh or in a kind but firm and sincere tone.
Now, it all depends on how you have your studio and your style of course. We have to balance a lot of things with this wonderful program and ironically, the same things that attract people to our studios can sometimes hinder us: fun, comfort, ease of style, etc.
I certainly don’t have it all tweaked perfectly, but have come a long way since I started and really, once your students see that you are committed to enforcing (ahem , I mean committed to) the time allotment, they will adjust and respect your time.
Carrie L. Michigan
I tend to say something like, “ Oh my goodness, the time has slipped away, and it’s time for me to make dinner for my family, have a great week!!” When I was at home I could close the studio doors and move into my house, but if you can’t do that, I might say something like, “Wow, you are really enjoying hanging out together…perhaps you should head out to dinner together.. I’d love to come to but I need to make dinner for my hungry family.”
Kathy K. Texas
The whole thing is such a learning experience isn’t it?
To me it sounds like a claiming territory issue. In your email you said, “they never finish the lesson on time.” But, really it is your studio and up to you when the lesson finishes. I know it’s easy to get bulldozed by strong adult students, but if you are straightforward about the departure time and then stick with it I’ll bet you can get that territory back.
At the beginning of their next lesson I would probably say something like: “This lesson ends at such and such a time. I haven’t been great about getting you ladies out the door on time, but starting this week I am going to make sure that we finish up on schedule. I know you have things to do and my studio closes for the day at such and such a time.”
Then when it is time to take notes you can be assertive and respectful at the same time. When I have a chatty class I do break in and direct their attention back to me. If they don’t listen I break in again and politely insist that they give me their attention. Then when it’s time for them to leave, I actually walk them to the door. There have been classes that I know just take longer to take their notes so I allow a couple of extra minutes.
And it’s ok to cut someone off and say that you would be happy to answer her question next week, but that the lesson time is over for today. You can draw these boundaries and say these things with love and communicate to the students that you are committed to them, but that you are going to run your classes and your studio the way that you feel is best.
Elaine F. South Carolina
I am mindful that the social aspects of the class are more important to some in the class than others. One may really want something new every time and not talk much, while others don’t and would rather socialize. I don’t mean that judgmentally. The social time may be an intricate part of the psychology of the lesson for them.
So, ASK them. You will learn how they feel and as importantly, so will they. Most adults in my experience don’t want to step on other’s toes. That said, I try to end on time and if I choose not to I make a point of saying: do you mind if I go five minutes over? I want them to know that I am in control, that I am respecting their time, that I am choosing, with their permission to GIVE them five extra minutes.
This has helped me several times when I was running late and offered to do a make up lesson cause they had lost 10 whole minutes due to my issues…. The dad said he was aware of how many times I offered to stay a minute or five longer over the year and had no problem with getting a very short lesson this time.
Sue C. AU
I suggest at about ten minutes before the end of the lesson mention that we will just have time to write everything down and go through one more song as you have an appointment at the end of this lesson.
You could make a phone call or your appointment could be just with your children away from the teaching location. You don’t have to say what your appointment is.
It’s always an issue with adults, and it’s always an issue with the last lesson. You have a combination!
I guess if you absolutely cannot put anyone after them, the best thing would be to talk to them straightforward. Do not delve into dinner-preparation details, but say at the beginning of the lesson, not at the end or in the middle, “Oh how I understand you! How I love chatting and we have such a crazy life that we never have enough time to do that! But I guess you came here to learn to play piano, so ladies if you want to learn, let’s set aside some time, let’s meet for a cup of coffee some day, but let’s spend more time playing piano.
I must be at a different place at 6:30, and driving there is about 25 minutes if there is no traffic, so I REALLY need to leave this building at 6:00. (If you are teaching at home, say that you need at least 45 minutes to take care of something that you MUST do before leaving the house – whatever you say, it has to have firm time limits and it has to be scheduled on a regular basis, so they would get trained in a while.)
Another (softer) way, if it’s comfortable, you can suggest you won’t kick them out of the house so they could talk after the lesson, but you won’t stay there: you must leave the room and close the door behind. Also, this conversation has to take place before the lesson.