Suzanne Blake Gerety shares her amazing insight into studio ownership concerning a critical best practice for your studio.
One of the most dreaded events you can face as a studio owner is when you have to replace a teacher mid-year. Whether it happens because a teacher quits suddenly or you have made the decision to let one go – it happens! In some cases a pregnant teacher finds out they must be on bed rest or their spouse was quickly relocated. Regardless of the circumstances, it is important to know how to mitigate any potential fallout from students. Here are some best practices to follow when you replace a teacher mid-year.
Rumors spread fast, be proactive in your communication
It only takes moments for your students, their parents, and staff to take to social media or texting before the rumor mill can get out of control. While you cannot control what is being said online, you can control what you statements come from within the studio. Take a proactive approach to communicating with the students registered into any of the classes of the departing teacher whether it’s through an email and/or a printed notice or meeting before class.
Always maintain a positive, upbeat tone in public
Even under the worst departing circumstances maintain a positive attitude and tone in public. It is very easy to want to call out any disappointment in a person or behavior however, in the long run you will benefit from taking the high road. When you can position the introduction of the new teacher as a positive one, it will build confidence and ease the transition for parents and students and mitigate a negative impact on enrollment or studio culture.
Be ready and available for questions
It is normal for students of all ages to become attached to their teachers during their dance education. Even if the teacher was doing things that were hurting your business there are some students and parents who may not have seen it or understand why they are abruptly gone. Without airing too much private information, sometimes simply stating to parents, “Miss Amy was a talented dance teacher, she just wasn’t the best fit for our studio culture and vision” will build their confidence in you as a leader. Let parents know that they are more than welcome to set up a private meeting to discuss if they have any questions.
Transition proactively when possible
Every once in a while you have an opportunity where you can openly discuss with your students and prepare for a mid-year transition. This often happens when a teacher is going on maternity leave or has to move away. In this case, set up a meeting between the new instructor and the teacher leaving to discuss the syllabus taught for each age and level. Have them share and compare teaching styles, methods, and review the progress and work done by the students. It’s useful to write a welcome letter on behalf of you and the teacher leaving to distribute in classes and post at the studio. Include the new instructor’s experience and let them know that he or she has met with the teacher to learn about the dancers work thus far. When possible, build excitement by having the new teacher visit the classroom and be personally introduced by the teacher leaving.
Turn lemons into lemonade whenever possible
While you cannot retain every student when certain teachers come and go, you can make it part of your studio culture to welcome the opportunity for your students to learn from a diverse faculty. When you exhibit confidence and professionalism in your decisions it will set people at ease and help to reduce attrition. You can turn an unexpected staffing change into a wonderful new opportunity for your students. By implementing some of these practices you may be surprised by how warmly welcomed your new teacher will be!
Suzanne Blake Gerety is the Vice President of Kathy Blake Dance Studios and director of DanceStudioOwner.com the leading online resource dedicated exclusively to help you start, run and grow your dance studio.