Have you fired a student?

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
#41
manage to smile while putting up with so much ungodly crap from students. Some students need and DESERVE to be fired.
And some students deserve to be fired but we just wait out the enrollment and become too busy for them to be able to enroll again.

A student of my earlier days bought ten lessons. He set up a standing for 5:15pm every Tuesday. It took him almost an entire year to finish his 10 lessons because he cancelled so often. I never really cared that he cancelled because no one else really likes to come in at 5 ... it's too late for the afternoon clientele and too early for the working class... but I am sitting there anyways.

And more than once he showed up at least 15 minutes late for a 45 minute lesson. Towards the end of the year he even asked if I had an extra 15 minutes before or after his next lesson. So that I could make up his missed time. I told him I was booked solid both before and after his lessons... I never told him what a ridiculous assumption it was that I OWED him 15 minutes that he was late for. This is the same man who sent me an email that I owed him 4 minutes because I cut out a little early last week (he was my 6th lesson in a row with no break and I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom!) so FINE I gave him an extra 4 minutes the following week.

On his last paid lesson, as I walked on the floor to greet him, he asked me if I got a new car, because there was a Maserati sitting in the parking lot. I laughed and then walked over to the window to see, and he said "but don't take time out of my lesson!" Again I simply smiled and went immediately back on the floor with him. At the end of his lesson he said "So that's my last lesson I think" I said "Yes, it is. Now, excuse me I don't want to be late to the next couple." and walked away. Sometimes it is not worth the hassle of firing, over just a handful of lessons. It was easy enough to just wait it out calmly and simply not open the door for any further lessons. He can't say anything bad about me except that "She is very busy." And there is no drama or weirdness. Because definitely there is weirdness when ever I run into the two guys I fired years back.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#42
Heh...tonight I taught two guys who are my favorite type of student: diligent, thoughtful about their dancing, listen carefully when I talk and try to apply what I say, want to get it right from the beginning. One of them thanked me for my patience with him and I had to laugh. It's always the ones who DON'T require any patience at all who apologize and thank you for your patience. The ones who try you the most are completely clueless about how much patience they require...or they don't care.

I really love teaching people who love to learn and apply themselves. It makes me feel so fulfilled to watch them progress.
 

DL

Well-Known Member
#43
I've never fired a student but I've tried to have one fire me. They were an emergency wedding couple during the July-October wedding rush. I was teaching in-home lessons at the time and, so far as I knew, was the only professional teacher in my area doing so. This couple, like all wedding couples, didn't have much spare time before the wedding and nothing that worked into my two openings during regular hours in the four days before the wedding when they contacted me. The e-mails were very aggressive and insistent that I had to come teach them, even if it meant bumping my regular students, and weren't taking no for an answer. I decided the best way to handle them was to overcharge so much they'd give up on me, so I offered them an 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM lesson for three times what a former world champion charged for coaching.

To my surprise they accepted and then, at the lesson were as pleasant and charming as could be.
That's an important lesson for anyone in any business: The answer is never "no", it's "here's the price at which that's possible". :)
 

suburbaknght

Well-Known Member
#46
That's an important lesson for anyone in any business: The answer is never "no", it's "here's the price at which that's possible". :)
Well, I've always used Bob Thomas's formula to decide my prices:
Rates. Well, that’s a tough one. Basically, you want to charge enough that when you’re teaching you’re making enough money that you don’t regret it. That could be ten dollars an hour, or it could be seventy-five dollars an hour. One rule of thumb: for a series of classes, try and imagine how much you’ll need to make to teach once, and then how much you’ll need to show up for the last class when the thrill is gone. Add the two numbers together and divide by two. That’s your per class rate for that series.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#47
And some students deserve to be fired but we just wait out the enrollment and become too busy for them to be able to enroll again.

A student of my earlier days bought ten lessons. He set up a standing for 5:15pm every Tuesday. It took him almost an entire year to finish his 10 lessons because he cancelled so often. I never really cared that he cancelled because no one else really likes to come in at 5 ... it's too late for the afternoon clientele and too early for the working class... but I am sitting there anyways.

And more than once he showed up at least 15 minutes late for a 45 minute lesson. Towards the end of the year he even asked if I had an extra 15 minutes before or after his next lesson. So that I could make up his missed time. I told him I was booked solid both before and after his lessons... I never told him what a ridiculous assumption it was that I OWED him 15 minutes that he was late for. This is the same man who sent me an email that I owed him 4 minutes because I cut out a little early last week (he was my 6th lesson in a row with no break and I REALLY needed to go to the bathroom!) so FINE I gave him an extra 4 minutes the following week.

On his last paid lesson, as I walked on the floor to greet him, he asked me if I got a new car, because there was a Maserati sitting in the parking lot. I laughed and then walked over to the window to see, and he said "but don't take time out of my lesson!" Again I simply smiled and went immediately back on the floor with him. At the end of his lesson he said "So that's my last lesson I think" I said "Yes, it is. Now, excuse me I don't want to be late to the next couple." and walked away. Sometimes it is not worth the hassle of firing, over just a handful of lessons. It was easy enough to just wait it out calmly and simply not open the door for any further lessons. He can't say anything bad about me except that "She is very busy." And there is no drama or weirdness. Because definitely there is weirdness when ever I run into the two guys I fired years back.

Hah! A temp job I had years ago had a term for that. It was called Do Not Rehire, DNR for short. It wasn't worth the hassle of firing someone, but, since it was temp/contract work, just let the unwanted employee finish the current contract and never hire them again.

I will say that the teachers at the franchise studios I've been in often did not even have the option of a DNR. Unless the student was deemed dangerously unhinged, the studio management almost always required teachers to keep students, whether there was a match or not and even if the student was an obnoxious, inconsiderate, complainer. There were a couple of extreme cases where a problem student was transferred from one teacher to another but, as a rule, even that wasn't allowed to happen. If the student wanted to stay, in the studios I've frequented, the teacher was stuck. Pretty sucky, IMHO. (I realize this is mostly a digression. This thread assumes that we're talking about teachers who have the freedom to hire and fire students. Or enroll and expel. Or whatever terms you like.)


I would say that the student in this example was a complete bozo, btw, if it weren't against DF policy to call people bozos. lol. I will say, on the record, that his behavior was incredibly narcissistic. What? Only HIS time mattered? See ya later. Bye bye dude.
 

dbk

Well-Known Member
#48
I think I have a problem with the term 'fired' because it can be used to scare students into submission with difficult pros. Students are often taught at the beginning of their pro am journey...'make your pro happy, don't piss him off or he might fire you'. Instead, I think both parties...student or teacher can choose to terminate the partnership if it is not working out.
They should be "scared," or at least aware that they can't act like a spoiled child simply because they're giving someone money.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
#49
I will say that the teachers at the franchise studios I've been in often did not even have the option of a DNR. Unless the student was deemed dangerously unhinged, the studio management almost always required teachers to keep students, whether there was a match or not and even if the student was an obnoxious, inconsiderate, complainer. There were a couple of extreme cases where a problem student was transferred from one teacher to another but, as a rule, even that wasn't allowed to happen. If the student wanted to stay, in the studios I've frequented, the teacher was stuck. Pretty sucky, IMHO. (I realize this is mostly a digression. This thread assumes that we're talking about teachers who have the freedom to hire and fire students. Or enroll and expel. Or whatever terms you like.)
Well..that's their job. Most people in normal jobs don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who they work with-they can do the job, or they can quit and look for other employment. No one has the absolute right to work in a particular position no matter what. I joke (partially) that there are a few regular customers at work who keep me from poisoning all the rest, but ultimately, I choose to work there. If I really hate it that much, I can leave. That I need the money is not my employer or my customers' problem. For instructors who have the luxury of picking and choosing because they have that many clients and no boss, all right, but when that's your day job and you're not the one in charge, you do what you're told and take the clients you're given.

debmc makes a good point, one I see even more of in horses (where many of the "BNTs", Big Name Trainers, in particular, go out of their way to foster total dependency in their clients, to the point they're practically only allowed to ride THEIR OWN HORSE under careful supervision in lessons and at shows because the silly client might do something not in the program and OMG ONOES just RUIN the horse-and of course this requires paying big-time training board, groom fees, show rates, training rides....There are some clients who end up living in fear of doing anything without trainer supervision and approval. It becomes another job.) Creating the aura of "You are PRIVILEGED to be learning from me, I am the master, you are the apprentice" can make it very, very hard for students to realize when they're the ones who are being misused and ought to take their money elsewhere. There has to be two-way respect going on-students are paying for a service the teacher's knowledge allows them provide, they're not crawling up a Himalayan mountain to find an ancient lama to ask for the meaning of life or making a pilgrimage to a holy shrine. Having expectations is one thing, forgetting that ultimately the student is paying for a service and may have different expectations than you is another.

Group classes are another matter, as then there's a whole bunch of other students who are being affected as well and who are paying as much as the troublemaker to be there. I would also think setting boundaries (you must have done x, y, and z before taking this class) would be a bit easier, as most people will have encountered classes with prerequisites before.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#50
Well..that's their job. Most people in normal jobs don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who they work with-they can do the job, or they can quit and look for other employment. No one has the absolute right to work in a particular position no matter what. I joke (partially) that there are a few regular customers at work who keep me from poisoning all the rest, but ultimately, I choose to work there. If I really hate it that much, I can leave. That I need the money is not my employer or my customers' problem. For instructors who have the luxury of picking and choosing because they have that many clients and no boss, all right, but when that's your day job and you're not the one in charge, you do what you're told and take the clients you're given.

True. I'm not saying dance teachers SHOULD have the option of a DNR. Just observing that independent teachers are in a better position that non-independants, in extreme cases. I remember one instance where a student marched into the studio office and whined about her teacher's "slights" toward her after almost every lesson but absolutely refused to take lessons from a different teacher. What a pain she was, even for us fellow students. She made her teacher's life a living hell. We were all relieved when her contract was up and she opted not to come back. But I'll tell you what. If she'd chosen to stay, she'd still be taking lessons at that studio to this day.


I can't imagine that independents go around firing a huge number of students, either. Independents have bills to pay, clientele to build and a reputation to maintain. Just because they have an option to fire a student doesn't mean they go around exercising it left, right and center. I can imagine that firing would happen only as a last resort.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#51
Many businesses have signs on their doors or walls saying they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. If someone is making me miserable or affecting my business with their lack of respect for their time, it is my right to not work with them anymore. We're not talking about the typical retail employee-customer relationship where the interaction lasts a few minutes at a time. We're talking about an ongoing relationship that involves two people essentially alone together (even if it's in the middle of a studio with other people around) for an hour at a time, probably once or twice or even more per week. That is a lot of your life to spend with someone who makes you miserable. And if they cost you money because of their cancellation practices, well, that's just not cool.

So, yeah...there is a big, big difference between the Big Name Professional who either holds his students hostage or thinks he's so awesome he makes his students feel like they should be lucky he even deigns to teach them...and the teacher who is sick of dealing with someone's crap and refuses to teach them.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#52
Amen, sister. You certainly have the right if an obnoxious student gives you the reason.

In my comments just above yours, I was thinking about the weirdness that Larinda was referring to, among other things. Before firing a student, I can imagine that teachers do some long, hard thinking about any possible fallout. I know I would. This doesn't mean that firing is never an option. It just *probably* isn't the first choice.

My $0.02.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
#54
Amen, sister. You certainly have the right if an obnoxious student gives you the reason.

In my comments just above yours, I was thinking about the weirdness that Larinda was referring to, among other things. Before firing a student, I can imagine that teachers do some long, hard thinking about any possible fallout. I know I would. This doesn't mean that firing is never an option. It just *probably* isn't the first choice.

My $0.02.
Exactly. I don't have a waiting list, so losing a student does hit my paycheck...although not too much since she didn't take half the lessons she scheduled.

By the way, I work in a non-franchise studio, but I am an employee there. My boss was 100% behind cutting this student loose. There was a wedding couple I had a few months ago who were so difficult I asked if I had the option of refusing to teach them. She said that was fine. In the end, I decided to stick it out because they only had two or three more hours in their package.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#57
you know...I'm totally cool with teachers being able to fire their students...I don't think anyone, new instructor or veteran, should have to tolerate an unpleasant scenario against their will...obviously the better established pro has more freedom ...I don't want to dance with anyone who doesn't want to dance with me (I get that we can all feel that way in isolated windows of time, but to have it be ongoing is not going to work for me)...I mean, I practice, have respect for my pro, never cancel, work very hard and play well with the other students, but...if he still didn't want to dance with me, I would rather he didn't....I am okay with having a pro who is neutral about me but continues because, even if they don't need it, they might not yet be interested in saying no to the amount of income that comes with teaching me....but, I think when it gets beyond neutral tolerance to wishing one didn't have to teach a student, I think it is best for everyone for someone to fire someone...in my previous scenario, we developed many issues on both sides, and really shouldn't have waited as long as we did to part company, but his financial considerations and my emotional considerations skewed our best judgment and it made for a prolonged period of time where lessons happened under unpleasant circumstances and then prompted a firing that was really ugly....so this is a scenario that I am particularly sensitive to not repeating.....because I would rather avoid firings in either direction...I would rather either resolve issues or, in a grown up manner, agree that we have differences in perspective, personality, approach that make continuing unwise....
 

debmc

Well-Known Member
#58
They should be "scared," or at least aware that they can't act like a spoiled child simply because they're giving someone money.
One thing I know for sure, no adult should ever be scared or intimidated by another, regardless of position, regardless of whether you are pro/teacher or client/student. Neither should be scared of the other...
 

debmc

Well-Known Member
#59
Well..that's their job. Most people in normal jobs don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who they work with-they can do the job, or they can quit and look for other employment. No one has the absolute right to work in a particular position no matter what. I joke (partially) that there are a few regular customers at work who keep me from poisoning all the rest, but ultimately, I choose to work there. If I really hate it that much, I can leave. That I need the money is not my employer or my customers' problem. For instructors who have the luxury of picking and choosing because they have that many clients and no boss, all right, but when that's your day job and you're not the one in charge, you do what you're told and take the clients you're given.
I agree. I go to work every day and have to interact with an assortment of personalities. It's part of my job. I dont get the luxury of saying." if so and so doesn't do this or that, I'm not going to work with them anymore".That being said, I still maintain that both student and pro need to conduct themselves in a pleasant and professional manner.
 

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