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Students stopping after a single session

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by Bashkemesuesi, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Hello everyone. This is my maiden post (although I've been tutoring for seven years) so please bear with me if I seem to say anything too obvious....

    However, I really don't think I will, because on scanning the thread titles (I've gone through all 50 pages of threads listed), two things really stood out for me as being quite contrary to the way I see things. The first is the amount of fuss so many of you appear to kick up about student "cancellations", which sure enough, on enquiry turns out to be cases where a student misses a session for illness etc. Even more surprising, to me, is the amount of pettifoggery on here about cancellation having "less than 24 hours' notice", when you know perfectly well that someone can go to bed fine and wake up feeling unwell and phoning school they won't be coming in, and then contacting you to say to skip the session, obviously with about 9 hours' notice. I've got quite a lot to say about this, but I won't in this thread because as I say, it's really not my concern and I want you all to focus thoroughly on my second point:

    In complete contrast to the above, is an issue on which our respective attitudes seem to be the reverse of the above. While my overall experience of tutoring is good and I have no intention of quitting, by far and away the most irritating issue is what you might call PERMANENT cancellation, i.e. students/parents pulling out for ever after a single session. I've been taken aback at times by how often it's happened, usually without any reason given, otherwise generally with reasons which, to me, range from the unacceptable to the absurd - but I'll confidently leave that to your judgment when I come to describe them, and am pretty sure there'll be a consensus on the forum about this.

    But what really, really surprises me is that having now scanned, as I said, all the thread titles in this part of TES forums, I can identify only two that discuss this problem, and neither received many replies (nowhere near a second page for example), and one quickly got diverted to a tangential issue. If my case is anywhere near typical, I'd have expected floods of complaints all chiming in. Where are you all? This is even stranger when you reflect that some of the reasons people grumble about individual session cancellations apply with knobs on to the case of cancellation of what you had reason to think would be a string of 10, 20, 30 sessions in the coming school year, apparently gone up in smoke on a whim.

    So before I come to specific cases I've encountered, I'm going to give you all the chance to prove me wrong and come out and say that yes, despite your unaccountable silence hitherto, on reflection you do agree that this is a significant nuisance factor in the tutoring life. I'd be very interested to read your experiences, and then offer some of my own for your evaluation.
  2. StarbucksCovfefe

    StarbucksCovfefe Occasional commenter

    What a bizarre first post.
    adamcreen, sabrinakat and Vince_Ulam like this.
  3. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Would it have been less bizarre if it had been my second post?
  4. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    I can't recall this happening.

    I suggest that the students run away from you for a reason.
    adamcreen likes this.
  5. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    I knew it wouldn't be long before someone replied in this vein. Just you wait till I show you some of the "reasons" (lol) given for flunking out, you'll soon change your tune.

    For the record I have plenty of satisfied (or enthusiastic) customers, including students now in their fourth calendar year with me. Given the overall volume, of course eventually there'll be a few frivolous ones, but I'm still disappointed by how many there sometimes are, even when the initial prognostics looked good.

    If you are seriously claiming that *no one* has ever treated you like that, lucky you, but I'll suggest you either haven't been doing it long, or confine yourself to relatively few students, or insist they come to you or other conditions which help weed out the timewasters from the off.
  6. I gotta say, I don't get it. What are you tutoring??
    sebedina likes this.
  7. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    In line with other replies, I'd say that, judging by your post, I'm not at all surprised that students cancel after their first session with you.

    However, other than personal reasons, this is probably the main reason for cancellations after just one session. Lazy Johnny is aggrieved that despite putting in many hours with his mates, and on social media, his mean teacher unfairly graded him as heading for a D grade. So mummy gets her precious boy a tutor. However, when he attends his first session the tutor's magic wand is in for a service and so he can't wave it and instantly impart all the knowledge and technique Johnny needs, with no effort on his part. Obviously the tutor is useless and so Johnny and his mummy decide to find one who is able to demonstrate the required wizarding powers.
    phlogiston and sebedina like this.
  8. elder_cat

    elder_cat Senior commenter

    I am not a private tutor. I did think about it when I left teaching, but decided against it for a number of reasons.

    I think this is a question of perspective If you're in the tutoring business, time becomes a valuable commodity. As a tutor, you may feel your time is far more valuable than that of the customer. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying I think a lot of private tutors seem to think it is.

    I would imagine that the decision to continue or not is based on the feedback the parents get from their child. Maybe the child doesn't feel the tuition actually helps, and there could be a number of different reasons for that. Perhaps the child just doesn't 'gel' with the tutor. It happens in the classroom, and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't also happen outside the classroom. In either case, I don't see why the parents would continue paying for the child to attend sessions which don't appear to offer much benefit. As for the reasons/excuses given for not continuing, in some cases they may not wish to offend, or feel embarrassed about a change in their personal circumstances.

    If I had gone into tutoring, I think I would have been tempted to view each attendance as a bonus, rather than building up an expectation of multiple sessions, and then being disappointed if for any reason they didn't materialise.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    How strange. I have always had that chance, but never taken it for the simple reason that it has never happened to me. Perhaps the reason why there has not been much on this subject is because it is not something that happens more than very occasionally to many people - not so 'unaccountable' after all. I am sure that if this were a big problem, we would have had a lot of threads on the subject.

    Aren't you asking us to prove you are right in thinking this is a common problem?
  10. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    (1) But a cancellations means you *gain* time that's restored to you and which you can now use for something else. There's always an upside to one-off cancellations. However, as I said, this is OT to this thread....

    (2) Why would any parent/child expect "much benefit" from a single session if they refuse to continue? If the child has been lagging for a long time, who in their right mind thinks that a single session will fix this? See David Getling's "magic wand" thread, lol.

    (3) And again, I quite disagree: I'd have assumed any parent taking up tutoring would have enough common sense to realise that it would take several sessions to achieve satisfactory results, and that should be the *default* assumption by all concerned. Dropping out after a single session should be seen as the exception not rule - as indeed it is with me, although still a lot more common than seems reasonable. I agree though that some parents basically tell porkies in a pointless attempt not to offend me, in which case their attempts at diplomatic lying are a bit of a flop as they're so transparent, as I'm sure you agree once I come to specific examples. But at the moment I'm interested in people's reports of their own experiences....
  11. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    No, my conclusion from the almost total silence on this board was that I really am a very exceptional case, for whatever bizarre reason. Having several of you pipe up and agree that unfortunately it's quite a widespread problem would have definitely proved me wrong in this assumption, which I suppose would have been some consolation of safety in numbers so to speak. But since you, and an earlier poster, have already said that it's *NEVER* (seriously? not even once?) happened to either of you, I'm afraid that my initial assumption is tending to be proved right after all (thought early days for this thread yet, let's see what others say).

    But even if it's never happened to you after the very first session, surely - surely - there must have been some occasion when someone pulled out without apparent warning when you'd assumed you were going to continue e.g. up to the next major exams at least? If so, what did they say and what did they think? At least if there'd been several sessions they could plausibly claim that they think they'd made enough progress to justify discontinuing sessions - a justification which is plainly impossible when you've only had one, which after all is bound to be partly a reconnaissance session to see where the student is at and to attempt to map the way ahead.
  12. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    I don't mind tutees cancelling with less than 24 hours for genuine illness, as it is possible for them to be fine one day and not the next as you have said. It's cancelling for other reasons that annoy me e.g. "it's my sisters birthday" as surely their sister's birthday happens on the same day every year and they would have known last week that there may be a problem!
    I think there may be a problem if you obtain tutees on the basis of offering a discount or even free trial lesson which certain tutoring websites encourage you to do. If a client can obtain a free first lesson where is the commitment to a particular tutor? I think most of us on here don't offer these type of discounts or freebies which does weed out a lot of these timewaster clients quite effectively.
    clareturnertutor likes this.
  13. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Please could we all try and keep this thread strictly on topic? Cancellations are one thing, but they deserve a thread of their own (one big one, not the multiple ones to be found scattered through this forum).

    Agreed about discounting/freebies being a honeypot for timewasters. But I'm not even talking about those. Maybe David G. and others will tell me that it's because I'm silly enough to be generous enough to drive to people's homes that they get uppity and repay my thoughtfulness like this. Frankly, the more I think about this issue, now that I've posted this OP and other posts, the more I'm recalling/reviewing various cases and the more annoyed I'm getting, looking forward to describing some of the hall of shame and getting it off my chest!

    But I'm still waiting for someone to identify with what I've faced again and again. If not one of you has ever seen it, what's jinxing me?
  14. BG54

    BG54 Occasional commenter

    In four years of tuition I've only had a cancellation after one lesson on two occasions, one of which I would have been minded to cancel myself as it clearly wasn't going to work too well. The other was something of a mystery as the lesson seemed to go well but the mother phoned to say the student had decided against any more tuition. I can't say I was annoyed about it, disappointed perhaps but these things do happen occasionally.

    Late cancellations for illness can be frustrating but are largely unavoidable, I'd be hypocritical to complain about them as I've had to cancel at short notice myself on a few occasions. The only late cancellations that I get annoyed about are ones related to some social event that the student suddenly remembers he/she will be attending that same evening.

    I totally agree with that and never offer a free lesson.

    That is more or less how I view things, I've been lucky enough to have a few long-term students (2 or more years) so the very short-term ones can be put down to experience.
  15. SayItLikeItIs

    SayItLikeItIs Occasional commenter

    A student stopping after the first session has only ever happened to me once in eight years, so not an issue for me. Most of my clients genuinely want help for their children. If after the first session I thought I didn’t have the expertise to help their child then I say so. But this is not usually the case because I try to get quite a lot of background information first, and parents usually feel quite invested in the process by the time they come to their first session.
  16. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Whereas in astonishing contrast, last autumn term I had no less than FIVE such oncelers in the space of two months!!

    Which on the face of it, if you knew no more, would tend to suggest to you that I'm not much good - until I tell you the circumstances of each, which decisively tells for the other side. Believe me, I'm straining at the leash to do this, but what's the point when the mods are being so slow, blocking all my replies to this thread still almost 12 hours after approving my OP?
  17. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Don't think this has happened to me but if it did I'd look at my teaching methods. Most have been with me for a couple of years
  18. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    What don't you get?

    Really the subject shouldn't matter - or so one would think, except that on reflection, maybe the fact that it's maths does have an impact in some cases, given that it's the most abstract thing taught in schools and therefore the hardest for certain types who insist on taking all their cues from the visible "real world" around them.

    BTW I'm curious as to why your post, which is timestamped quite early in this thread, has only appeared to me this (Monday) morning after several others dated later. Same with David's post below it:...

    I've re-read my OP and I still don't see what I said there that made you reflect like this on me when you know nothing about me. But given that, as noted above, your post was early in the thread (but strangely invisible to me until this morning), it sounds like you didn't get to read my later remarks, which may help explain things to you a bit; as it stands, your remark does sound a bit prejudiced, when you would have done better to ask me questions to help you form a judgment. Based on many of your earlier threads and posts I've read, I see you clearly take a no-nonsense approach to students/parents, but I don't recall you being quite this brusque with a fellow-tutor you don't yet know anything much about.

    And by the way, there was only one reply above your own which you claim you agree with, but because of the moderation blockage (now lifted) you didn't see what I replied to that, before you posted. Please read it now.

    Anyway, I enjoyed your piece about lazy Johnny, which echoes what you've said elsewhere - indeed you can see I've already referred in this thread to your earlier "magic wand" thread which I hope others will now go and check out. Your analysis here is particularly pertinent over against a couple of commenters here who seem to think that even a second session would be some kind of bonus or favour for the tutor, when really every serious parent should firmly intend at least half a term of sessions (likely much longer, depends on the kid).
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    No, seriously, never. However, it is true that I don't have many tutees, as I only started tutoring because somebody asked me to, I only advertise by word of mouth and I only take tutees who really want to be there. I once gave in on the latter point and took a 6th form student whose mother nagged him into coming. He lasted three sessions, and it didn't come as a surprise when he packed up. Never again!

    It does seem a strange way to start a first post by having a go at the people you are communicating with. I haven't joined in the threads about cancellations, but I found myself getting irritated. But now we are past that, and I would be interested in finding out what the reasons you are given for not continuing with you are. I am not sure exactly what you want to get from this thread, but perhaps people might have some suggestions to help if they know the reasons.
    NoSuchThingAsNormal likes this.
  20. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    How did the five students find you (word of mouth, your independent marketing, some tutor directory site...)?

    What reasons did the five give for not wanting to return?

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