Sending Your Students to Another Teacher Temporarily

Some teachers send students to other teachers on a temporary basis for reasons which include: childbirth/adoption, bereavement, surgery, extended absence for schooling, etc.

Receiving Teachers

Probably your students will have to be spread around over several teachers. Try to make good "personality" matches as often as possible. If your student load is small you may be able to find one teacher to take them all.

Ask what tuition figure you should tell your students for this period. The teachers probably will want to teach at their normal fee.

Ask the receiving teachers to continue with your students' books, even if these materials are not what they usually use for their own students. Provide each receiving teacher either a list of "common" books your students will be bringing (technique books, method series, etc.), or make a personalized list for each student.

It is unlikely the receiving teacher will request that the student purchase new materials, but cover this eventuality, anyway, by asking that no additional materials be purchased.

Of course, if this hiatus three months or longer, you cannot expect the receiving teacher not to add materials of his choice. You might ask, however, that nothing contrary to what your students are using be added. For example, if you are using Method A and the teacher uses Method B, ask that your students continue in Method A.

Students and Parents

Tell all students what is happening, even the wee ones. Tell them that this is a temporary situation only and that they'll be coming back to your studio in just a few lessons. ("Weeks" doesn't mean a lot to a child; conception of time is not something that develops that early in life, as anyone who has ever asked a child to pick up his room in the next hour will know!)

Set a specific date that the studio will re-open. Don't leave it open-ended. Give each student the date of her next lesson. Don't use "the week of," but a specific calendar date.

Inform your families if tuition will be different. This may be more or less than you charge.

Tell families that they are unlikely to be able to keep their current lesson days and times because they will have to be fitted in around the receiving teacher's current students. Ask for their understanding and cooperation since it will not be an extended period. Most people will put up with some inconvenience if they know the date it will end!

Children need to be reassured that the new teacher may do thing differently and that that's ok. Ask your students to do as the new teacher requests for the time you will be absent and to do so without complaint. Say that you will listen to all gripes when you return. ("Be sure to remember them so you can tell me.")

It is a courtesy to provide a map to the temporary teachers' studios if you have time to prepare it. In the case of unexpected surgery or bereavement, there may not be time. At a minimum, each student should receive written confirmation of the temporary teacher's complete name, address, and phone number.

Does This Work?

I have spoken to teachers who have farmed out students for short periods. They don't seem to have been too pleased with the results.

Some teachers thought the temporary teacher didn't give their students enough attention; the teacher's "own" students were more important.

Some temporary teachers used methods contrary to what students had been used to. -And- told students that their permanent teacher's way of doing things was wrong!

Some temporary teachers tried (and occasionally were successful) to lure students into their own studios.

Some teachers, however, thought this system worked fine.


Would I farm out my students? No. I would prepare them to work on their own for a while (no longer than a month) by:

If I could not resume my previous lessons schedule after a month, I would teach bi-weekly for a while, dividing students between the weeks, until I could shoulder my usual weekly teaching load.

copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me for reprint permission.

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