Friday, January 14, 2011

Weather Policy

This has been a busy week for me.  It started out with my mom having hip replacement surgery on Monday (which went well!) and continued with a HUGE snowstorm!  I spent much of Wednesday and Thursday shoveling out of almost 20" of snow (some parts of Connecticut got 30"!)! And...we're expecting more this Saturday and another storm next Wednesday!  WHITE is the new color, by the way!

With all of that said and done, my week has also been filled with rescheduling lessons. I very quickly realized that my studio policy does not address the weather issue.  Snow is not uncommon here in the Northeast, but it's rare that here in Connecticut we get so much all at once.  Because I don't have a full studio right now, I was able to plan ahead, contact parents and reschedule most lessons to earlier in the week but some of my students were not able to reschedule at all.

So, I'm working on putting together a policy that addresses the issue.  One that is fair to my students but also fair to me.  There is only so much time that I have so rescheduling may not always work.  I'm curious to know what some of you do.  If you live in an area that gets hit with extreme weather, do you have a policy that addresses those missed lessons?  I would love to hear how you handle this type of issue.


LaDona said...

I live in a Canadian city that does get hit with bad weather sometimes, but I treat lessons the same way sports practices or games are treated. They are simply cancelled. No re-scheduling, no money back. I try to very nicely let them know that I am still available to give the lessons (the absolute beauty of teaching in my own home!) and it is their decision whether or not to brave the elements. If they don't want to come, I gently but firmly say, "Thank you for letting me know. I'll see you next week."
Hope this helps!

Aleta said...

Minus 40 today in northern B.C. Thankfully, not with new snow. And, the sun is shining - thus, the cold temperatures! An adult came out for a re-scheduled lesson this morning. I am using a pre-paid system for lessons for the first time this year; a bit shakey to start, but it will improve.

Sarah said...

I live in Maryland so we don't usually get extreme weather, but I can typically expect at least a few missed lessons due to weather. What makes it even trickier is that one of my studio locations is on a private road, which means that even if the main roads are fine, the road back to the studio may not be!

When I plan each teaching term, I allocate the final week of the term for student evaluations AND make-ups. I let my students know that if they miss a lesson they can take a lesson that week to make up for the missed time. This tends to work pretty well. Some parents jump at the opportunity, while others aren't interested, but at least they are given the option.

Natalie Wickham said...

My policy is about the same as LaDona's; there is just no way that I can reschedule a whole day's worth of students (or more!). One thing I would highly recommend, though, is setting up a Skype account and letting parents know that if the roads are too dangerous for them to travel to the lesson that you will gladly conduct the lesson virtually so that the student can play their pieces for you and write down their new assignments. In addition to still getting the benefit of the lesson, it's super fun! And even if a family opts not to go with the virtual setup, at least you've made it available and don't have to feel obligated to make the lesson up at another time. Just a thought!

Courtney said...

I guess I am a little bit surprised that some teachers cancel and don't reschedule lessons for things that are beyond the student's control. I give parents a choice whether or not they want to have a lesson- if they cancel that day, I give them a credit. Of course, I'm not relying on my lessons to pay bills, so I'm pretty laid back in that way. Everyone is different so you have to do what is best for you.

Mary Cumming said...

I also live in Canada and we often have "not so great" weather for being out and about. I leave it up to the parents to decide whether to come or not. I do offer a make-up lesson or longer lessons until the time is made up... for example three 40 minute lessons to make up for a lost 30 minute lesson. This only works if I happen to have a space open. I charged a semester rate for lessons this past year and it worked very well. I made it clear that the lessons were so well priced that even if they missed a couple during the year due to weather or sickness, they would still be ahead of the game compared to what other teachers in the area are charging, and that it would be to their advantage to make all lessons. I only readjust if someone has a long-term illness, or a broken bone.