Office Staff and Makeup Lessons
Found in: Studio Management
Carrie L. Michigan
We have a large studio 140 students with three teachers and a waiting list right now. We have had office staff the entire time the commercial space is open up till now but are looking at the options to not have office staff all the time.
What are you doing in regards to office staff?
Also, what are you doing in regards to make-up lessons? We allow for students to come at another time with another class for a make-up lesson but have found that especially the Saturday students seem to be doing too many make-up lessons (up to two a month!!) and we are so full that it’s a challenge to find space for them in a make-up lesson and it also requires office staff time.
Sheri R. California
I don’t have a large studio but just off the top of my head I’m thinking, why not limit make-up opportunities? Put something in your policies that state, “students are offered the opportunity to make-up a maximum of three lessons a year.” Or whatever number would be more manageable for you. Many studios don’t accommodate makeups and if you put a cap on that people would likely be more committed to making their personal class times.
Francine V. AU
It clearly states on our standard Student Enrolment Forms:
When you enroll into lessons, you are paying to secure a specific time, on a specific day. This is your time that you are paying for, and this time is set aside, for the entire Lesson Cycle, as your exclusive time. As such, classes missed for any reason cannot be credited, nor made up.
Carrie L. Michigan
What do you teachers think would be a max amount of make-ups per school year (10 months)?
We now allow 10 per school year and that’s too much as we are finding. Three occurs to me as too little.
Mark M. New York
A few years back I’d heard about a policy that Ray N. had. He was able to keep Fridays off each week, and I believe he then had one Friday per month set aside as a makeup day, and each month anyone who’d had an absence the month before could sign up for a slot. Something like that.
I tried something along those lines for a while, but I found that too few people were actually taking me up on it for me to feel it was worth offering a monthly makeup. This, though, was at least in part because of the differences in size between my and Ray’s studios. He had a few times more students than I have. I switched my policy to quarterly makeups.
Maybe there are two basic ways to look at this.
You could come at this from the perspective of how many classes a student misses. At most, you’d offer a makeup for each missed class. Short of offering that directly, the most obvious thing would be to look at your absence stats and see what’s the average number of lessons a student misses each year, and that could perhaps be your starting point for deciding how many makeups you’d want to offer each year. You could go up or down from there, but that would be a starting point.
The other angle would be just your own comfort level of how much time you’re willing to devote to makeups. If you feel like 10 is too many and three is too little, ask yourself what feels right, how much time you’re willing to give.
And each of these two angles would be affected by your own studio size. The first angle, average annual absences, won’t itself be hugely different based on studio size, but it does then have to be multiplied out to the number of students you have for you to see just how much time you’d actually have to set aside. The second angle, since it comes from your own comfort level, can be much more directly tied to the size of your studio, where you bear in mind what you’re willing to offer and just notice how many annual makeups that might mean per student in your studio, so you can actually see what you’re really offering them.
It would probably work best to look at it from both these angles and see what the difference is between the two. You may find them hone in on each other. You may not, but at least you’ll then have a clearer basis for deciding which of the two you might wish to lean toward, or whether knowing the two numbers you might actually feel it would work best to split the difference, etc.
Robin Keehn, Washington
We do have office staff at our desk four afternoons per week. For the most part, someone is at the desk when lessons are in session.
As you know, we have a music and dance academy so we have many people in on a daily basis. There are always people registering or asking questions or purchasing merchandise so we really cannot do without someone there.
When I teach in the morning, I am on my own so I have to allow time between classes to take care of business with anyone who needs my assistance. For my first class, I come in early to help students and after that I allow 10-15 minutes between each class so I can take care of students. Maybe you could do something like that, rotating that extra time between teachers. If that doesn’t make sense, please ask!
As far as makeups, we allow two per year and most students never use them! Because of the video for the Foundation Levels, students can usually get caught up on their own with those pieces. For arrangements, accompaniment and other projects, I always use students to teach other students in class so there is no need for a makeup lesson. When someone misses more than two classes in a row for some “big” reason, then I will offer them a makeup. Even then, very few students take advantage.
Amy L. Kansas
My policy states that makeup lessons are only considered in the event of illness. School conflicts, travel, skating parties, etc are not eligible for makeup. This has cut down drastically on requests for makeup lessons.
I offer six All Studio Workshops during the 10 month school year. Students pay for three of the six. The three they pay for are added to the number of weeks I teach and then divided by 10 months. They are all welcome, however, to attend all six workshops. In this way they can use these the “free” ones to make up missed lessons during the year.
The workshops have been great. Our fourth one was on Saturday and we played with rhythms, instruments and improvising at the piano with a steady drum beat. I’ve done a variety of things to get the students collaborating, performing, etc.
Carrie L. Michigan
We looked at how make-ups were working last year and thought that 10 make-ups (since they come with another class) per student per year (including long term absences…we have some that go away for a month) might be a good number.
However I think it’s getting used too much and it’s not only wasting time of our office staff but disruptive to our classes that make-up students are joining all the time. I also think that students aren’t utilizing the video and other students in the class to get their assignment and as a result they are thinking they ‘need’ a make-up even if that makeup is not at the same level.
I will be adjusting this… by speaking with the other teachers and we’ll start to discuss with students that it is important to keep up with their homework by talking with a student in the class and using the video as a tool to keep up. I think it’s a management issue as well as an issue with convenience.
I worked ‘the office’ this past week and three people called less than a half hour before their lesson to cancel with no excuse. I think we make make-ups more difficult to get as well.
I have also found that my students (tend to be Level 3 +) don’t ask for make-ups nearly as much as other teacher’s students… this makes me wonder if there are not enough convenient options for them as well as they know to use the tools.