As I was looking ahead to my teaching schedule this fall (think a Rubik’s cube, a headache, and lots of emails), I noticed an opportunity to cut an evening out of my schedule. Everyone certainly has their preferences when it comes to their teaching schedule. I, for one, am not a huge fan of teaching the later it gets in the evening. And as my other roles (wife, daughter, friend, pastor’s wife, blogger, etc), have change throughout different seasons, I find that my best teaching is done morning into the early evening.
This may not be the case for you, and that is okay 🙂 But the point I want to make today is not that you need to change your schedule to look like mine. I am in the position where my adult and homeschool population has been growing to where cutting an evening didn’t mean any loss of income for me.
My goal is to encourage you to take an honest look at your schedule and do what needs done for YOU.
I know what you may be thinking … the students dictate my schedule. This isn’t about what I need or want, but rather what they want.
So I want to give you 3 questions to ask yourself that need ~honest~ answers in order for your studio to move forward well this fall.
1. What gets me excited to teach?
This may not be your idea of the first question. If you’re trying to make a living, excitement about the process isn’t always at the top of the list. But setting business goals and working to achieve them is healthy practice no matter where you work or what you’re doing. Understanding what makes you most excited about your work is a great place to start. Do you love teaching adults, but find that you have mostly 5-10 year olds? Begin marketing in spaces that attract the attention of your target age. If you prefer preschoolers but have a schedule of teenagers, it might be time to look at phasing your teenagers out as they graduate and target preschoolers and young mom Facebook groups.
Maybe you find that whatever makes you most excited is right where you have landed. Then rejoice, and move on to question number 2, and make sure to take inventory every so often. Seasons change, and so do people 😉
2. In a perfect world, what would my schedule look like in order to set me up for the best teaching success?
We hate to admit it. We want to be all things to all people. But if we are not putting ourselves in the best position to exceed, we will remain inadequate when it comes to setting our students up for success. This fall, I’m cutting out an evening. I’m not cutting out all my evenings, and I truly do love my evening students. Which means this decision comes at a time where I saw the opportunity to do this well, and I’m taking it.
But if you are nearing burnout, constantly running on empty, or putting other important life responsibilities on the back burner to accommodate your students, it could be time to blow up the schedule. You might lose students. You might retain more than you expect. And you might find new students that contribute more to your mental well-being and the health of your studio than certain students currently taking up lesson timeslots.
A perfect world may not exist, but knowing what will work best for you, and doing what you can to choose this, will go a long way for success – both yours and your students!
3. How can I best serve my students?
This is not last because it is least important. But it is last because, as previously mentioned, we can only serve our students well when we take care of ourselves well. Life often throws things at us, and I’m not recommending we try to control what we cannot. But there are things in life we can control.
So on that note, the second biggest way to serve our students is by asking what they need. I’ve done this through paper surveys, individual emails/texts/phone calls, and online surveys. Not everyone gives feedback or gets what they want. But it is a start!
A couple of weeks ago I added an online survey to my weekly newsletter with 5 questions. 1 – Name. 2- What school do you attend? 3- When does your school start this fall? 4 – Do you want/need a new lesson time? 5 – If so, what blocks of time might work better for you?
No surprise – not everyone took the survey (I asked which school AND the start date so I could hopefully fill in details where needed). No one was guaranteed what they requested. But I was able to shuffle to the point that MOST of them got what they wanted. The biggest factor in this? I had the info early and collectively. I wasn’t making any switches without seeing the big picture.
The other big surprise … I discovered some students weren’t happy with their time for whatever reason, and I was completely taken off guard.
Assuming is never a great way to walk into any relationship in life, teacher/studio family relationship included. So as you juggle the Rubik’s cube of fall scheduling, change some of your teaching style, commit to better communication, etc, be sure to LISTEN to the needs of the people you are trying to serve. You will never make everyone happy, but you certainly can move further in that direction when you know what they are wanting instead of assuming what they want!
Fall scheduling can be daunting. As we head into the season, take a deep breath, plan ahead, stick up for yourself, and listen well. Trust in your teaching and in the relationships you have already built with your studio families. Above all, do your best to create an excitement for a new season of lessons, remembering that as your students experience lots of changes ahead, you get to be consistent 🙂