Great relationships rely on clear expectations and good communication. Without a Studio Policy you could potentially damage the most important relationships in your teaching practice. An effective Studio Policy, and the consistent enforcement of it, will help you build and maintain solid relationships with your students. A Studio Policy both informs your student as to what they can expect from you, and most importantly it sets out your expectations of your students. Without a solid Studio Policy, you will inevitably spend less energy on teaching and more on managing people.My Studio Policy addresses the following topics:
- Lesson Times
- Lesson Fees, invoicing and due dates
- Contact Details
- Procedure for both teacher & student absences
- Catch Up Lessons
- Termination Policy
- Practice expectations
Before creating your Studio Policy, consider your preferences carefully. Outline the times that you are willing to teach. If you don’t want to teach past 5pm, put it in your policy. If you don’t want to start before 10am, put that in there too. Most teachers are kind & accommodating, and if you’re anything like me you, you will find it difficult to say no when asked if you can teach half an hour later. Being able to refer to my teaching times in my policy enables me to be more assertive. I also outline term dates in this section of the policy so that there is no confusion during the holiday season.
Set your fees in relation to the industry standard in your area and your qualifications. Decide if you will charge per lesson, or charge a monthly retainer for a certain number of lessons per year. Inform students when they should expect to receive invoices, and when payment is due. If you charge late fees include that here also.
Inform parents of your contact details, as well as the appropriate times for contacting you. With so many methods of communication, I find that there is an expectation that I will be available to answer questions at any time of the day or night, 7 days a week. In my studio policy I state that parents are welcome to contact me via email at any time, and they should expect to receive a response within 24 hours. They can phone me between 7am and 5.30pm weekdays, or speak with me during their child’s lesson.
The next section of my policy is referred to constantly. It outlines what will happen in the event of my absence, or the absence of a student. This includes the amount of notice required for planned absences (eg. school camps) and unplanned absences (eg. illness). If you offer catch up lessons, the conditions for these also need to be outlined clearly. I also inform students of how much notice they are required to give to terminate lessons.
Finally, the most important section of my Studio Policy outlines my expectations for student practice and tips for how parents can help their child practice (in the case of younger students). This means that prior to beginning lessons with me, my students and their parents understand that I expect a commitment to practice.
If you are new to teaching you will most likely find that you have to refine your policy as your studio grows and your circumstances change. Making changes to your policy is perfectly fine, as long as you give your students reasonable notice of the new policy.
What’s in your Studio Policy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.