I don’t think that a lot of people will know how hard it is to be a teacher. It’s not just showing up for work and teaching from the book. And I know that many teachers face some of these things alone. We tend to not show any kind of emotion, either angry or sad, in front of our students. Today, I want to open up and share some of the moments that made my heart break or the moments that made me so happy. Obviously, for the privacy of the people in these stories, I’m going leave out their names and specifics. I’ve taught A LOT of students, so the chances of figuring out who is who is very slim anyways. Although I have many stories, I’ll share a couple different stories 🙂
1. The first day I taught this pupil, they decided to bang the keys and basically show me that they were not going to listen to a word I said. I actually went out to buy this pupil lessons books with my own money. The first lesson was not good, so I was really hoping that the second lesson would be better. It went horribly. I finished the lesson well with the pupil, and their mom was very upset. First of all, she was upset that I ended the lesson two minutes early… which is kind of ludicrous because two minutes is not much time to teach anything new anyways. And she said that she wanted to pull the student out of lessons to another teacher. I was glad that I wasn’t teaching that student anymore, but the mom went on to treat the other teacher badly. Word of advice: treat your teachers with respect. They are people too.
2. I was on my way to this pupil’s home after I tried to confirm with them that their lesson is today. This pupil started becoming very disrespectful after I had helped them purchase their lesson books, but I told them that they would have to pay me back. First of all, these are not MY books. These are YOUR books. I was driving in the heavy rain over to this pupil’s house and they didn’t even answer the door. I decided in that moment to keep calling because I thought something was wrong. The pupil answered the door, and said that they had plans so they couldn’t have lessons that day. They didn’t call me or try to tell me this in advance after I drove 40 minutes out to teach them. They also said that they were stopping lessons for good. I cried.
3. This parent decided that their child wasn’t learning enough from lessons, but wasn’t interested in enforcing them to practice. The parent thought that it was my duty to enforce practice time…which it isn’t. By this time, the parent had began to resent me very much and I couldn’t justify the resentment because I was giving them discounted lessons. I invested so much time and effort to try teaching their child. They were also late on payments and consistently questioned my teaching. I heard that they went with a different teacher later on, but the lessons were 10x as expensive. Good luck to them, but I feel bad for that teacher.
4. I had just had a horrible night and I really didn’t feel like going to teach. My eyes were puffy from crying. It was one of those days when I really felt like staying at home. I cried on the way to this pupil’s house and in the car when I arrived there. Once I started the lesson, I immediately felt better. And it was in that moment that I knew that teaching was something I could do for the rest of my life. It brings so much joy to my life and I knew I was lucky to be doing it.
5. I could tell that this pupil wasn’t interested in the piano when they avoided practicing at all costs. I can’t force a student to practice, but I can try to encourage them to do so. There were times when they would tell me that they didn’t want to play a certain song. And I would say that they had no choice. I’m the teacher and I don’t bend the rules. This student tried so hard to avoid playing at all! They would knock my hand away when I tried to show them how to play a certain passage. I never felt so disrespected from a student before.
6. There was a student that would not say anything the entire time they were in lessons. Now, I’m okay with those that are shy, but this was not being shy. I later became concerned when the parent started pulling the student out of lessons for certain weeks. It later became clear that the student and I were not compatible, so they wanted to stop lessons. That’s okay. However, the parent started ghosting me for no reason. I would try to reach them to set up a time when they could pick up their books and the parent just disappeared. After that, they still owed me payments for some of the lessons… they never ended up picking up the books or paying for the missing lessons. They just disappeared. And I don’t understand that. It’s not embarrassing or whatever. You don’t have to act weird about it. Why couldn’t there be a civil way to handle it?