Make-Up Lessons, Excused Absences,
Cancellations, and Rescheduled Lessons

Excused Absences and Cancellations

Excused absences - - the teacher allows the student to miss the lesson and not pay - - and cancellations - - the student announces he will miss the lesson and will not pay - - have the same effect on the teacher's wallet: less money.

I believe that neither of these situations should be an acceptable part of a teacher's studio policy.

Moreover, the teacher is in charge of that study policy, which includes scheduling procedures. Those students who do not believe that the teacher has the right to conduct her business by her own standards may study with another teacher. Likewise, those students who do not like the standards the teacher has set also may study with another teacher.

Sounds good in theory, yes? But what about in practice? Doesn't a stern policy drive away students in droves?

In my experience, no. The structure is an indicator of professionalism and is a sure-fire way to handle requests for exceptions.

For example, if someone asks for an excused absence or states that he will be canceling a lesson, remind him of your policy. If he begins to splutter, I have found the following murmured statement very effective: "Oh, dear. I hate to see you pay and get nothing!" This usually brings him around. It is worth it to him to continue study with you and to make other arrangements.

What if a family states they are canceling for the summer? Again, state that you will be happy to make up the lessons in advance, but that cancellation is not part of your studio policy. At this point, the student will say one of three things: (1) I'll reschedule; (2) I won't reschedule; or (3) I'll quit. If the student refuses to reschedule, you say that you can abide by that decision but that you cannot guarantee there will be a spot in the schedule in the fall. And then you fill that spot without a qualm if you are able to do so. If the student quits, of course, you do the same thing!

My money's on option number one, even if yours isn't, because I've been doing this a long time and know it works!!

With cancellations and excused absences out of the picture, let us turn to make-ups and reschedules. (If you choose to allow cancellations/excused absences, that is, of course, your privilege since you are in charge of your business.)

Make-ups and Reschedules

There are a number of options for handling these. Below are the four common types of make-up systems.

How do you schedule make-ups and reschedules? Here are some suggestions.

Any of these specific-day provisions may be used in conjunction with the 24-Hour System or the Illness-Only System. There are also many variants on these systems.

As long as you teach, you will have to deal with this problem. Find some method that works for you and stick with it. Make sure it is a prominent part of your studio policy. Enforce it with 150% fairness.

copyright 1998-1999, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
Contact me for reprint permission.

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