The summer student-quitting frenzy is coming. I can feel it. I had a student give her notice the other day. This happens every year, no matter how hard I work at doing things to retain my students. My highest turnover time for students is always late spring and summer. Now that it’s started, I’m on pins and needles for who else is going to quit this summer.
I know that summer always tends to have the highest amount of turnover.
I know that teaching year-round makes this summer attrition less than it would be otherwise.
I know that I’m having regular conversations about what it means to have music as a long term commitment.
I know that I’m holding my students accountable and that most of them are practicing what I ask at least 5 days a week.
And yet, every time a student tells me they’re leaving, I grieve. And I panic a little about losing their monthly lesson fee.
It took me a couple years to get past the feeling of anger at having been “dumped.” At least now, it’s more a feeling of sadness and loss than anger.
And now I have enough students and enough new classes starting that losing one student doesn’t break my finances. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from panicking a little.
I’ve even noticed the annual patterns of when students tend to quit, so every year I think I’m prepared. And then, when a student I adore, who has done everything I ask for years tells me she’s leaving (for extremely good and understandable reasons), I just want to cry.
I suppose some would say that it’s a mark of how much I invest emotionally in my students that it hurts so much when they leave.
I can also take comfort that they invest emotionally in me too. With the last several students who quit (I had another bout of turnover in January), there were tears on all sides – from parents and students, and me.
But, every time a beloved student quits, no matter how depressed and sad I feel, I still have to get up the next day and teach my lessons as if nothing has happened. I still need to be 100% present for all the rest of my students who AREN’T quitting.
I wouldn’t WANT to feel indifferent when a student quits. I love my students!
If both student and I didn’t feel sad when they leave, I would wonder what was wrong with my teaching. When it hurts me and the student this much for them to quit, I am doing something right.
But at the same time, compartmentalizing is hard. It still hurts when the students we love leave. And I don’t have any easy answers. But I hope that if you’re reading this, and you’re feeling sad about a student quitting, you know that you’re not alone.
Keep it real, friends. How do you take care of yourself emotionally when your students quit?