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#31 ten left thumbs

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 14:05

When do you want the message delivered? At the very last moment as the last lesson has been given, the exam is over and the concert done? That may be safest (for you), as there is not much that she can do. Or do you want to give them notice? Which might feel professional and 'polite' - but this may be used against you with more unreasonable behaviour in the last lessons. 

 

I think if the message is delivered in person or over the phone, you need to have control over the timing, and you need to have another person there to support you. They may be in another room, this is fine. But you want them there, in case things get out of hand. 


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#32 Gran'piano

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 14:17

I don‘t know how these things have to be done time–wise but would it be possible to hand her the letter yourself at your last meeting?
Normally I am a masochist and prefer to do things face to face so I might say a couple of words as I hand it over, but I would make sure I can walk away.
I cannot think of a good method of doing this at all and this is really rough on the children. However, sometimes ‘an end with horror is better than horror without an end.‘ (Sorry – I don‘t know a better translation and it sounds much better in German)
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#33 maggiemay

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 15:38

Can you enlist the support of one of your teaching colleagues or assistants to be alongside when you deliver the news?

I am so sorry - it is a very uncomfortable situation all round .
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#34 Dorcas

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 16:43

To be honest, when things have deteriorated badly, even with witnesses, you are vulnerable.  I would recommend the recorded delivery route.  As there is a delay in Aquarelle receiving the proof of delivery, it might be an idea to work out the timings, so you have the proof of delivery before the next lesson.  This parent sounds completely unreasonable, to the point of being laughable in other circumstances.  The problem with asking for someone to act as a witness, is if things go completely pear shaped, they have to take sides.  


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#35 Misterioso

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 16:51

 

That leaves  the decision about the way I inform her. Email  or SMS is out as they don't have a computer or a mobile phone. She rarely  answers the land line and I am not happy about leaving a message -either explaining my intention or asking her to ring me. I could write a letter but the last time I had to use that form of communication she denied having had any letter.  There remains the option of a registered letter with advice of reception but the timing for that would be awkward.  Since  the advice of reception doesn't always get back to the sender for several days she could still claim not to have received a letter and I wouldn't necessarily have proof to the contrary. So I think it is going to have to be face to face. Any other ideas would be appreciated.

 

Is there any possibility of delivering the letter yourself (preferably when they are out)?


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#36 Piano Meg

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 16:06

 

That leaves  the decision about the way I inform her. Email  or SMS is out as they don't have a computer or a mobile phone. She rarely  answers the land line and I am not happy about leaving a message -either explaining my intention or asking her to ring me. I could write a letter but the last time I had to use that form of communication she denied having had any letter.  There remains the option of a registered letter with advice of reception but the timing for that would be awkward.  Since  the advice of reception doesn't always get back to the sender for several days she could still claim not to have received a letter and I wouldn't necessarily have proof to the contrary. So I think it is going to have to be face to face. Any other ideas would be appreciated.

 

I have to admit that if it was me, with those options and difficulties, I'd probably do what seems easiest to me - teach the last two lessons, but tell them at the end of the second that I won't be teaching them next year, and probably hand over a letter as well. You could always hand them a letter at the end of the concert, but that might be too much added stress along with normal concert stress!

 

The option that I've taken before - with the only pupil that I've asked to leave post-trial period - was to give notice before a concert (or in my case festival), and say I would teach them until the concert (if they wanted me to and if they paid upfront for it - payment was one of many problems with the parents), but that there would be no lessons afterwards. You'll know if that's likely to cause more problems than it solves in your situation. For me, it was quite awkward, and the parent argued a lot and tried to persuade me otherwise, but it did give me the chance to talk to the pupil concerned (who really enjoyed the contact time and kept telling me they wanted to carry on - they just had no interest in the piano!) and for them to ask questions. In the end, I was really pleased to have that time - the pupil left seemingly happy, understanding the fact that I cared about them and liked them, but, apart from my terms not suiting their mum, I really did think it was best for them that lessons stopped. In your situation, it could give you a chance to wish the children well and give them closure, so they know it's nothing they did. On the other hand, you'll know if that could end in a confrontation at the concert!! Which you wouldn't want! 

 

In any case, hope it gets sorted for you with no more sleepless nights!


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#37 Aquarelle

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 18:41

Just want to say another thank you for all the ideas. I am going to read them all through again tomorrow (Bank Holiday!) and have a long think about what will be the best option. There are various pros and cons to weigh up and the advice you have given will help me to decide. The children have their last lesson before the exam on Wednesday and their exams are on Sunday morning - a Grade 1 and a Grade 2. The Grade 1 is fine and should get through nicely. The Grade 2 is very borderline.


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#38 Aquarelle

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 18:51

Update. The children have their lesson at the end of Wednesday afternoon, half an hour each. The girl normally has the first half hour and the boy the second. Today the boy turned up first and when I asked if his sister was coming after him he said she wasn't coming for her lesson as she was away spending a few days at the boarding school where she will be a weekly boarder in September. So the boy got the whole hour. His school had Monday and Tuesday off and he said he had done a lot of practice. There was a marked improvement in all his work and we had time at last to do aural - rather weak - and sight reading - fair to middling. I also had time to do all the things I usually do in the last lesson before an exam.

 

However the girl has now missed the last lesson before her Grade 1.  I am sure her mother must have known about this arrangement when she saw me last Wednesday but she didn't mention it. She  didn't come into the school today.

 

Such a contrast with the very nice mother who took the trouble to come in and see me this morning to ask how her  daughter (another Grade 1) had got on in  her lesson this morning and was there anything special that should be done before Sunday.


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#39 ten left thumbs

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 07:55

Thanks for updating us. My heart goes out to the children. 


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#40 Aquarelle

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 22:34

Second update. The family turned up for their exams and father came too. Because I had allowed time for them to go to mass they were the last 2 candidates of the morning. I had told the rep that I would have to absent myself for about 20 minutes of the lunch hour to go home and let the dog out. She suggested that I leave before the lunch break and said she would look after the last two candidates. I warned her there could be difficulties and she said she was sure she could cope. I thought it might be as well  anyway if wasn’t there during the exams. I stayed long enough to say a few encouraging words to the children and explained that I was leaving them with the rep. Father was polite. Mother was icy and didn’t say anything.

I got back just as they were leaving so asked the children if things had gone OK and they both seemed quite delighted with their exams. I said goodbye and reminded them that I would see them on Wednesday. In the event the boy got a Merit and the girl just made a Distinction.

 

I told them their results at their lesson today. It was heart rending to see their delight. I was very tempted to succumb and change my mind about dropping them. I wasn’t surprised about the girl (Grade 1) as she has worked reasonably well and can be  very determined. The boy (Grade 2) was very pleased with his result and told me that he had spent all day Monday practising his scales! About half way through the girl’s lesson I realised that there was another child in the next classroom. It turned out to be a friend but I hadn’t been asked if it was OK for another child to be present and since mother was apparently outside in the car waiting, theoretically she should either have asked me or kept the child with her.

 

I had left the classroom doors open as it was hot. About half way through the boy’s lesson  mother appeared in the doorway and said she wanted him to finish early. I asked what time she wanted him to leave and she said whenever it was possible. So I asked him to play his piece through just once more and then let him go. She was not rude or argumentative but her whole attitude, tone and body language started the red lights flashing and I resigned myself to not being able to change my mind, however sad it was.

 

I can’t help wondering why the father so uncharacteristically came with them for the exams. I do know that he has been asked in the past to “control” his wife so it might have been that – or maybe he wanted to be there to defend her in case I said anything critical.

 

The boy was very anxious about whether or not there is a lesson next week so I made it very clear that there was a lesson on Wednesday and the concert the following Sunday. I have not received the form given to all pupils some weeks ago about their choices for times in September. They are the only family not to have replied. The date limit for replying is next Saturday. I did not, of course, remind them.

 

It’s all rather uncomfortable.


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#41 ma non troppo

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 00:32

I really feel for you Aquarelle. What a very difficult and sad situation. But I think your judgement is right and you should not feel bad about it. You have done all you can. Big hugs xx
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#42 Dorcas

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 07:06

Aquarelle, you will get through this.  At least you know you are making the right decision.  Leaving an additional child without your agreement or knowledge is completely unacceptable.  As I understand it, with both students off to boarding school, lessons with you any longer would be unworkable anyway.  Good luck.


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#43 HelenVJ

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 09:00

That's so sad, especially after those exam results, and also pretty awkward. So, after the concert you can finally breathe? Bon courage! I'm sure you'll cope admirably.


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#44 jenny

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 09:24

I can imagine how sad you feel about losing the children, especially as they did so well in the exams. It's a horrible situation, but I know the relief you will feel not to have to deal with the mother. As you say, it's very interesting that the father put in an appearance. Who knows what the family dynamic is, but it does show how we, as teachers, sometimes find ourselves in very uncomfortable situations and have to remain professional despite our personal feelings. 


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#45 ten left thumbs

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 10:15

What you have done so far is absolutely fantastic! Well done, keep going. Hold your nerve. 

 

I am guessing there is a lot going on, like mental health things, and likely what you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg. It's not about you. And the family is probably seeing all sorts of other things collapse around them. Times like this don't happen often. Sometimes I wonder if social service involvement would help (as the children are caught in the middle of it all), but that is a tough call, and you are not in my country, in any case. If the dad is on the scene, then that is good as another adult who is capable of stepping in if things get out of hand. 

 

Keep going! The children will remember that you were nice! But it is not your job to sort them out and it is not your job to put up with unreasonable behaviour. 


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