How Well Do You Relate to Students AND Their Parents?Apr 11, 2016
In the last post I discussed how I’ve recently been delving into the minefield that is one’s own innate strengths. It’s allowed me to isolate some things about myself and how they directly benefit my flute teaching.
I’m wondering, what is it about you and your flute teaching that could benefit from a little insight into your own approach? I’m certain there are aspects to your personality that are being COMPLETELY underutilized, that there are skills that you sort of didn’t even knew you had, but sort of did – you just didn’t think they were important.
Researching a little further into my own strengths of mine revealed that one of my dominant strengths is called “Relator”. According to the Strengths Finders description, I “form solid, genuine, and mutually rewarding relationships”. Well, I do like talking to people about stuff. Not all the time – I need a lot of alone time too. But I find it quite fulfilling to relate to people. So much so that I hadn’t even isolated it as “something I like doing”, just something I did. If that makes sense…
If you are connecting with what I’m saying, then perhaps you are a “Relator” kind of person too. It’s a great skill when teaching the flute, but if you’re not absolutely loving your teaching and the way you’re treated by the parents, you may not be using your skill to its full potential!
There’s a strong part of me that wants to get to know my student and how they learn best. The interesting thing is it’s not always the discovery of how they learn best that propels them forward as a flute student, but it’s them knowing that you’re interested in them…
For a well-balanced student with support at home, this interest that you show in them is something they are comfortable with, are used to, and will learn quickly in that environment. For the less-balanced student with no support from their family will seem scatter-brain at first, but they will see that you are truly interested in them, and a bond will form (no matter how tiny at first – when it appears, it will grow). They are not used to having focused interest in them like you can provide them. This bond will result in them wanting to learn. And, wow, watch them progress from there!
The other half of the process is conveying what you now know about the student to the parent. Teaching at home or in a studio is good because every now and then you’ll get contact with a parent. Showing that you are doing more for their child than just babysitting or entertaining them goes a long way. If you don’t communicate it to them, they won’t know how much you’re working to get to know and educate their child.
A good way of relating to the parent is to tell them they are always welcome to sit in for lessons, or the ends of lessons if they’re “too busy”.
If you’re teaching in a school, never underestimate the power of an initial phone call to the parent, and a bit of contact throughout the term. It may seem time consuming, but in the long run, it’s so not. The three-way bond that develops between parent, teacher and child results in coming on time to lessons, never forgetting to come, being paid promptly, and significantly increased home practice.
If you think of the parent as actually an adult student, and educate them on practice expectations, how you bill for the lessons, how much notice you need for a lesson to not be charged for, what learning progress has been made, what the student is working towards, what they achieved in today’s lesson, you will see appreciation from the parent. And a little tiny bond of trust will form instantly.
You can see it in their eyes. A certain focus that wasn’t there before (depending on how scatter-brain the parent is – which usually is directly proportional to how scatter-brain the child is, you’ve no doubt noticed!). A little connection that goes a long way. Especially as parent and child learn over time that you are 100% interested in them and the child’s progress – that everything you do is to bring the best out of the student and to keep them progressing.
Never underestimate how much value the child places on you being interested in them – as a person. You’ll forge a way into the workings of the child’s mind which will allow great educational things to happen.