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How to drop a student?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by thekizzaa, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. thekizzaa

    thekizzaa New commenter

    Hi all

    I was wondering if someone could give me some advice. Most of my students are great, but there is one in particular that I don't want to tutor anymore. She doesn't take the sessions seriously enough and purposefully slow. The hour session always seems to drag on for what feels like an eternity, and after spending a long time on a topic she'll say "oh yeah I knew that". And she also keeps mentioning how bored she is. Basically, it's frustrating for me.

    The problem is that the parents have signed up for a 10 block of lessons (pre-paid), and I'm only 2 lessons into this block. Is there a good way of getting out of this agreement? I obviously don't want to come across all overly negative about their child. I've got no problem with giving the money back.

    Thank you in advance for the advice!
  2. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    You could try saying you're unable to continue as you've got a full time job/commitment, family circumstance for the forseeable future. Apologise and offer a full refund. Benefit of this is everyone is off the hook and you've presented a fete accompli, no hard feelings

    You could try the harder conversation, ie you don't think you're the right fit for the tutee and they would be better elsewhere, the risk is they decide to stay with you.

    I doubt she'll make much progress as she's unwilling and then there's a risk of parents complaining. If I were you I'd go for first option above, I've done it once or twice. Others may have more suggestions to add.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  3. maurice-r

    maurice-r Established commenter

    I've dumped two students this year. One kept skiving off: wedding, funeral, asthma, guests just turned up, no particular reason. and his taxi driver father was hard to contact about it. The other lied that he couldn't open the doors because his mother had locked him in and gone shopping, but he was bone idle anyway. I promptly replaced both with reliable and committed clients. Don't stand for lies and let yourself be ******** about: if you're good, the next client is just round the corner.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Just tell the parents the truth and state the examples of the behaviour you described in your post. Give them a refund and wish them the best.
    Skillsheets likes this.
  5. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    If I was in your situation I would simply tell the parents that I wasn't prepared to waste time on a student who didn't want to learn.
    In the past I didn't hesitated to drop a student who didn't turn up to a session, without any notice or apology. His parents said they tried to contact me, but they were clearly lying.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  6. Georginalouise

    Georginalouise New commenter

    I dropped one yesterday by mutual agreement. The boy was very able but careless, and wasn't doing so well because he hadn't read questions properly or had transposed numbers, rather than didn't know or understand the work. I saw him about half a dozen times and I established he was careless very quickly. He found the sessions boring, and I found them frustrating. My brief from the parents was to make sure he was on top of the year 10 work as he hadn't done as well in his year 10 exams as they would have liked, (or he had been predicted). I suspect I was occupied by the parent's instructions and I didn't challenge him enough, but to be honest, he has the ability to do well, with or without a tutor. I suggested I was a waste of the parent's hard earned cash and that their son would be better occupied on a Monday evening doing something else. The boy wholeheartedly agreed. Mum has now conceded he doesn't need help, but will hang on to my number, just in case.... I think we have all come away from a potentially sticky situation as winners.
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Further to previous replies, I might add that there could be a deeper reason for the student being unwilling to commit.

    I've been tutoring a friend's daughter for around 15 months now. She is inattentive, slow and will try every trick in the book to avoid writing (I teach English). I've been charging mate's rates and was frustrated that she wasn't engaging and wasn't making any progress at all given that I could easily have replaced her with two students paying full price.

    However, more recently I've begun to see quite a marked issue. As she has entered year 9, her issues have become more pronounced; probably to do with the increased difficulty and mention of looming GCSEs (the school do 3-year courses, so she has already picked up her option subjects). She's already had countless detentions due to lack of homework and her behaviour at home is driving her mother to distraction.

    I asked a SENCo friend about possibilities of ADHD and how to get her tested and my friend suggested that the issue sounded like a problem with her working memory.

    Well, everything clicked into place: the avoidance strategies, the forgetfulness, the lack of homework, the disorganisation, and the seemingly poor behaviour at home (her mum has now realised that the child genuinely can't remember a list of instructions, and isn't being deliberate defiant by "ignoring" what she was told to do).

    We are in the process of bringing this to the attention of the school and are hoping to get something done to support her.

    What I'm saying is that 2 sessions might not be enough to really support the child. They need the extra help for a reason and perhaps at first they are unwilling to engage because MORE lessons is the last thing they'd want to be doing if they'd already been feeling like a failure at it all day long.

    I'd stick with it a bit longer. See out the 10 pre-paid lessons (it'll only last up til Christmas) and then review. You might be just the person to tap into what may be bothering the child. I also think it's important to honour your side of the bargain too.

    If they are genuinely a lazy so-and-so, you can stop at the end of the 10 sessions.
  8. thekizzaa

    thekizzaa New commenter

    Thank you all for your input.

    I weighed it up, and decided to no longer tutor the student. I had a word with her parents and explained the reasons why. Although they were clearly disappointed, they thanked me for my honesty, and I transferred the money back to them (minus the money for the sessions we had done!).

    It does mean I'm one student down at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, I prefer it this way for now!
    Skillsheets likes this.
  9. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    If you aren't happy then talk to the parents and tell them why, this is what I have decided from now on. I endured a prima donna for weeks which was foolish, even turning down other students. Next time I felt uncomfortable with another pupil I had a long chat with the mum and now things are a lot better. The parents probably know what is going on with their child anyway.
  10. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I've had one student who on first meeting made it clear that he was not interested: no eye contact, monosyllabic answers. Out of earshot of his parents, I asked him whether he really wanted to do this, or was he being forced into it. I had a chat with his mother, suggesting that she talked it over with her son and then get back to me if she wanted to go ahead. I didn't hear any more, so I assume she thought better of it, or tried with someone else.
  11. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    Sometimes I remember to ask the parent when they first contact me how the child feels about having extra lessons. I do also like some homework to be done too so they understand it is a real commitment that has to be made. I don't mind if the parent says the child isn't keen as long as they are cooperative and not wasting my time or their parents' money.
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I've had a number of great students over the last couple of years but one in particular last year ......well

    It was torture, she didn't want to be there, she put absolutely nothing into our sessions and it was such a relief to get the hell out of there at the end.

    I still don't know what grade she got !
  13. owltutors1

    owltutors1 Occasional commenter

    Hi, I have read that you made the decision to no longer tutor your pupil, and I just wanted to say that I would have done the same thing.
    The beauty of tuition is that you can be honest with parents, and if you feel that you aren't getting the most out of a child, then you are well within your rights to explain that the child may be better suited to another tutor, or that you simply don't tolerate such behaviour.
    Good luck with the rest of your tuition :)
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  14. theluckycat

    theluckycat Occasional commenter

    Just wanted to re-ignite this thread. I have 6 primary students on my books, most are great, however 1 is causing me some difficulties. The child is a dream, positive, eager to learn, and a pleasure to work with. The problem is with the parent, who cancels lessons with less than 12 hours notice, emails me to 'urgently help with homework,' outside of normal lessons, asks me to help with writing things up for the family which are nothing to do with their kid's learning, and changes lesson times at the last minute, often when I'm just about to set out for the lesson. She has never settled into a set routine time, and it has made things difficult. I have pushed back several times, and am on the point of thinking '3 strikes and you're out,' which is a shame as I have a great relationship with the kid, and it is through no fault of hers. I was thinking one more thing, and it may be time to make my excuses, 'it's proving too far to travel,' that sort of thing.
    Any advice/similar stories?
  15. NewToTeachingOldToMaths

    NewToTeachingOldToMaths Lead commenter

    I would be very slow to assume that transposing numbers is the result of carelessness.

    Number-blindness such as this can result from a dyslexic affliction. I suffer from it, and I remember it upset me immensely when work used to come back marked wrong, with "careless error" written against it ... particularly where I had actually correctly answered the problem with the transposed numbers.

    It was not careless at all. I had copied down the problems as carefully as I was able ... but where I transposed numbers I could not see that I had done so. I could read both numbers back and would read them both the same.

    This continues to be a problem for me to this day. Telephone numbers (particularly with the modern trend not to separate out the STD code and just quote a 10-digit string) are frequently an issue for me ... and when I was settling legal documents dealing with large sums of money, my boss ALWAYS used to double-check them for me because she knew that no matter how careful I was they might nevertheless come out wrong.
  16. thekizzaa

    thekizzaa New commenter

    Hi Jenny,

    I've now been tutoring for over a year, and my tutee list has grown leaps and bounds. After dropping that student I originally opened this thread about, I haven't looked back. Sure, I missed out on tuition income for a few weeks, but I easily filled that slot with group tuition, so I'm now making 4x more an hour than I would beforehand.

    In terms of this student, it seems very frustrating. I would hate to be in your situation. I guess you could do one of a few things:
    1) Say you have a new policy. If you cancel/try to change within 24 hours, you have to pay the full amount (but only tell that to the problem parent).
    2) Drop them, stating things have come up and you're not able to anymore (you don't even have to give a real reason).

    Life is too short to worry about parents who are disrespectful of you. If you I would draw a line under this student, and move on. It's the beautiful thing about being a tutor, you get to choose who you work with. I had one parent recently who wouldn't leave me alone - basically asking too many questions and just being irritating, so I dropped them (sent them a quick text to say "I'm sorry, but things have come up and I won't be able to tutor ____ for a while. I will let you know if things change in the future, but best of luck for now."

    Best of luck in resolving your situation.
  17. theluckycat

    theluckycat Occasional commenter

    Great advice thekizzaa, I like the way you closed things with them as well, it's in everyone's interest to keep things positive isn't it. :)
  18. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    What's your cancellation policy?
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I do wonder if, by accepting advanced payment for 10 lessons, the OP entered into a contract. It doesn't sound as if this is going to be an issue here, but perhaps it could. I tutor on a more ad hoc basis, but it you are going to accept advance payment like this, there needs to be something in the terms and conditions to deal with this sort of thing. And if the tutor is allowed to cancel like this and still charge for sessions given, I would say that, in fairness, the student should be able to cancel and get some of their money back.

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