Thursday, January 30, 2014

Should I Charge for a Cancelled Tutoring Lesson?

Examples and reasons why you need a lesson cancellation policy.

I recently missed a dentist appointment.  How did I remember I missed it?  Well, I received an invoice for $50 in the mail about one month after said cleaning should have occurred, reminding me that I scheduled said appointment in a calendar I never use.  Fail.  Now, I highly doubt that my dentist took it personally when I simply didn't show up that morning, and I didn't take it personally when I received a $50 charge for wasting an appointment time that another client could have used in my place. I assume that the $50 no-show fee was somewhere in some fine print I never actually read, but even if it wasn't, a no-show fee seems fair considering the error was entirely mine.  I don't want to receive another fee for my own frivolous oversight, though, so I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again!

Similarly, if I fail to show up for a doctor's appointment, a spa treatment, or any other service appointment that I don't cancel in sufficient time to provide another client the opportunity to have my time slot, I would expect a cancellation fee.  Using some very basic deductive reasoning (I'm only on my first cup of coffee, so bear with me), it seems logical that tutors should also have a lesson cancellation policy.  Just a thought.

Previously, we looked at instances of why students cancel tutoring lessons, and why you shouldn't take it personally. Thought not quite the bane of tutoring, one too many can affect your scheduling, the respect the parent or client has for your schedule, and your income potential.   Therefore, it is important to have a Lesson Cancellation Policy.

Let's look at an example of what a Lesson Cancellation Policy might look like:
1) Lessons Cancelled within 4 Hours: Full-price of scheduled lesson
2) Lessons Cancelled within 24-20 Hours: Half-price of scheduled lesson

Make these policies clear to your clients by including them in correspondence when setting up initial appointments, or post them with your tutoring rates when advertising your services.

Everyone deserves a second chance, though.  It bodes good will to not charge for a first cancelled lesson, as sometimes life just happens, and everyone deserves a second chance; however, it is incumbent upon you to send an email saying that you’re sorry Sally was not feeling well (or whatever the reason for the cancellation), restate the lesson cancellation rates, and then explain that you will not charge for this as it is a first cancellation, and you (the ever-understanding and patient tutor) look forward to seeing Sally in her next lesson. Knowing that you kindly chose not to charge for a first missed lesson should prevent a repeat offender from striking; however, if it does happen again, then you have plainly explained your policy, and the client will expect a charge.

Should you not charge, then what is to prevent the repeat offender from scheduling you for multiple sessions, all of which he may choose to cancel at any time?  If it still bothers you to charge for cancelled lessons, then consider this alternative: Had the student not booked the lesson with you in the first place, you could have scheduled that time for another student who did both need and want your tutoring assistance that day; therefore, the cancelled lesson represents time where you could have assisted a student in need. 

Maybe I should send this post to my dentist to ask for a second chance, too...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What Should I Write in My Tutoring Lesson Notes?

Hmmm...What should I write about our lesson today?
Sometimes it can be challenging to think of what to write in your lesson notes after meeting with a student.  While you may think that it bodes good will with a parent to send a note with each lesson saying something to the effect of, "Janie did awesome today!  She's super-duper!  She's going to do GREAT this year!!!" please recall that your clients are not daft and (most likely) they do not appreciate either disingenuous or patronizing notes from their student's tutor. 

Instead of having to think up a novel way to write about how hard Janie did or did not work during your tutoring session, it is more productive to write about what Janie worked on and how she achieved in that specific task.  A good item to include in notes to parents regarding lessons is an “At Home Assignment” section where parents can quickly review a list of items with which they, too, can follow-up with their student.  This list can also serve as a copy-and-paste tool for beginning your next set of lesson notes.  For example, if you wrote this section at the end of your lesson record:

Janie’s At Home Assignments:
1) Complete essay using all 10 new vocabulary terms
2) Cursive letter K - finish 2 pgs.
3) Study prefix (1) and root words (5) for quiz on Tuesday!
4) Read to page 50 of book for English class

Then, for your next lesson with the student, you may wish to begin your lesson notes as such:

Review of Janie’s At Home Assignments:

1) Complete essay using all 10 new vocabulary terms—Janie did a wonderful job incorporating 7 of the 10 vocabulary words into a well-crafted, 5-paragraph essay, successfully using the transitions and topic sentence skills we have been working on for the past few months.  Janie found the remaining 3 vocabulary words more challenging, so we focused on those words until Janie was able to master each word and integrate it into her essay.  We learned 5 new vocabulary words today.
2) Cursive letter K - finish 2 pgs—Janie is working well towards her goal of learning to write in cursive script.  She wrote very elegant letters for today, and only had to rewrite 3 letters out of 2 entire pages! We began letter L, both upper and lower case, today.

3) Study prefix (1) and root words (5) for quiz in next lesson! –Janie studied her introduced to prefixes and root words from our last lesson, learning how they can help her better improve her understanding of vocabulary.  She successfully identified the correct meanings of the prefix and all of the root words on her quiz.  We learned 2 new prefixes and 3 new root words today.

4) Read to page 50 of book for English class—Janie explained that she was quite busy this week, so she did not have an opportunity to work on this assignment.  It is important that she complete this reading for her English class, so I encouraged her to read 10 pages before bed each night to help make sure she has completed the book in time to write her book report at the end of the month.

Janie’s At Home Assignments:
1) Study 5 new vocabulary words for spelling and definition quiz in next lesson!
2) Cursive letter L - finish 2 pgs.
3) Study prefix (2) and root words (3) for quiz in next lesson!
4) Read 10 pages of English book per night.

Note that the format is pretty simple, consistent, and easy to implement if the student has a regular enrichment lesson plan for which you design lessons.  This format is a little trickier for students who have irregular tutoring sessions or who require homework help in a variety of subjects.

Writing these lesson notes takes approximately 10 minutes, so again, it is important to integrate administrative time into your hourly rate; otherwise, you will end up  resenting the amount of time that it takes to complete good lesson notes.  If you end up resenting the time spent, then you could end up resenting the client...just not a good combination.  Set your rates accordingly!