Pacing Your Teaching Day
Found in: Studio Management
Carrie L. Michigan
I’m moving into larger shared lessons (up to five) from two’s and this summer I’ve got a collection of two-three’s, a couple five’s, and a few privates.
I’m finding it a little bit of a challenge to shift from two’s to five’s energy-level wise and am finding that I’m more exhausted.
My typical day is from 3:30-8pm with one 15-minute break if I’m lucky.
Any tips on pacing yourself!?
Elaine F. South Carolina
This has been an issue I struggle with too. I’ve had to make myself write in my schedule BREAK to be sure I take them. I am a much better teacher if I get a few moments to reflect and get a sip of water, etc every now and then. I find that if I teach more than 90 min. without a break I become sort of an automaton piano teacher— this is all very personal stuff– some of you can just go for HOURS– but its important to honor who you are.
I’m really interested in this thread as I contemplate the sustainability of growing my numbers and my body’s capacities for doing this with grace.
For what it’s worth I’m looking at the nutrition aspect at the moment. I have found this week my good humor and attention with back to back sessions for about four hours on separate days was increased by sipping a ginseng tea (from a pre-prepared thermos) not rocket science I know to consider the nutrition aspect. Because it’s only 18 months since I began I am open to what is possible – The advantage of the back to back sessions I see is that student see snippets of the previous session and get that they are in a bigger world than their own –
And it’s nice to get out in the sunshine for a moment too.
I too have tried to plan breaks in schedule. Unfortunately when I do, the people from the lesson before the break do not leave. They stay to chit-chat about whatever. Do you have that problem, or do you just “kick them out”?
Sheri R. California
I welcome the chit chat because I really wish I could get to know my students more! If someone is late or doesn’t show up I end up often talking to the previous student/s. And the last lesson of the day always ends up being the longest because of the additional time to talk afterwards. If I need the time I simply tell them I need to get some work done or eat something or whatever. They are always very understanding of that.
Carrie L. Michigan
Thanks for the tips. I do recognize some nutrition aspect might be of help as I generally eat early and only have a small snack.
I’m wondering however if there’s something I’m missing or something that would be helpful in the spacing of lessons. For example a group of five is more exhausting than a private lesson for me.
Do those with larger groups have them back to back consistently? Or are there arrangements that you’ve found work better than others?
I find for me that I teach the best when I have scheduled no breaks or only a 15 minute break for my teaching ‘shift’, then I get into teaching mode and feel more energized.
I generally teach 3:30-8pm— four nights a week.
I’m creating a new fall schedule so I’m wondering if there’s a better spacing of larger vs. smaller groups that some have found are easier to handle energy wise.
Elaine F. South Carolina
I tell them with big smile,
Hey, time for me to let you go so I can get ready for my next student. Depending on the type of relationship the current student and I have and my energy I make a face and rub my hands together with pretend glee and say time to get ready for my next victim~~then I start to walk them to the door.
I told this story once before but it was very enlightening: one lesson had been regularly bleeding into 35 or 40 minutes from 30–I had no one after them.
I mentioned this and asked the mom if she wanted to go to a 45 min lesson (this is a private lesson with an advanced student who is just eating up the program). I was thinking they’d say yes. They turned me down flat! It made it so much easier psychologically for me to end at the 30 minute mark. They were willing to take my time– but not pay for it…. It made me angry and I used that energy to vow to never be taken advantage of again. I occasionally choose to go late–but hardly ever anymore.
Yesterday I was at the doctor’s office and had accumulated quite a shopping list of questions– even though I had made the appointment to deal with just one. When I went to pay the bill I noticed they had upped the level of service from brief to intermediate– and the cost too. They value their time. They didn’t let me cram extra stuff into a 15 min. appointment– a good model to follow.
Irene S. Canada
I find that when I teach, I am in “teaching” mode, and all my concentration, thoughts, and energy are in teaching mode. I have found that what works best for me, is four hour chunks, (Give or take up to an hour) where I schedule classes back to back, with a five or 10 minute break between classes. (Enough so that the last class can get out, and let the next class in from the waiting room. I as well found, that people will leave, only when they know that someone is waiting. They will say something like, “If your next class/student isn’t here yet, can I play . . . .for you?” OR “I just need to ask you something . . . . .” So, from that experience, I purposefully, have to schedule classes after each other, not to waste my time. (and my family’s time)
Last year, I scheduled Mondays from 12:00noon to 8:15pm., without more than a 10 min. break between any class. Some only five. What I did, was have a “protein “shake ready in my fridge, and then for my 3:40pm student, I said, just a second, I have to get my green drink (added greens to it). I would then get her a drink as well, since she was coming straight from school. (Water, or pop, whatever I had on hand) Then we would continue with her lesson, and I would sip my drink at the same time. This held me over until 8:30pm.
I was tired by 8:30pm, but knew that I would benefit, by having a big chunk of time near the end of the week, where I did not teach at all. (By the way, my classes range from three to five usually in a group)
This is how my teaching schedule kind of looks like: Mondays 12:00 – 8:00pm Tuesday: 9 – 1:00pm 4:00 – 8:00pm
Wednesdays: 4:00 – 8:00pm. If I get my Mondays and Tuesdays full, this will give me approx. $40,000 income. Then I have the rest of the week for other things! Pretty cool eh? This is what I am aiming for September.
Crystal H. Canada
While I enjoy a little chit-chat, and believe it to be part of relationship building, sometimes I simply say “Well, I’d love to visit more, but I need to do some prep work now (or it’s my only supper time). See you next week”, etc, etc.
Most people are very understanding. If they don’t I slowly move towards the door during the chit-chat, and have been known to open the door, and repeat as above. This always gets their attention. If the visiting is critical, they simply continue their visit on my driveway, sidewalk, agree to meet for coffee, etc.
Deliver these messages with grace and confidence. Your clients will enjoy the visit (if there’s time for one) and they’ll learn to respect your time. Some of my best friends are clients, and if something crucial for discussion (non music related) comes up, we make a social appointment outside of lessons.
Amber B. Michigan
I understand how you feel with regards to larger groups and I recently listened to the time efficiency Teacher Training Audio Files. I really like the part where you resolve a forgotten song by having another students teach it. Perhaps you are “on” too much and might need to empower the students. Neil explains on the tape how the other members tune in when someone else is doing the teaching and process the information in a different way. Of course, you could always switch it up so that everyone is thinking that they are next to take over the teaching of a forgotten song.
I think of the coach sort of coaching from the sidelines and not doing so many of the actual actions but “coaching/leading” others to do it.
I struggle with the kids that won’t talk out loud to even say their instructions so I’m not sure how they will teach others?
Kerry V. AU
Hi all, I am exactly like Sheri. I love the time I can spend with students, be it children or adults. you really get to know them and establish stronger relationships with them. Gives me a chance to find out what the adults do for a job. I get to know more about what the kids like doing for sports etc. This ends up helping me give examples on things if they are having problems understanding something. All good.