To the Independent Teachers out there. Let’s talk about favors.
By favors, I mean letting students retake tests, come to class late, and even teaching them an extra hour or so for free.
Giving favors has some pros and some cons.
Let’s start with the pros:
When I give my students favors, or let them get away with stuff like not doing the homework or pushing their class back an hour with no penalty, they definitely like me better. They may treat me better as their teacher by bringing me goodies or just acting extra thankful. They may even stay with me, as an independent teacher, rather than going to an academy or university, where the classes are generally much stricter and more enforced. And most importantly, they are more likely to let me get away with inconveniences in the future. For example, my student needed to push class back one hour and I let them do it with no extra charge. Then the next month, I was taking the bus and traffic was terrible and I need to push class back. If I’ve shown kindness to the student before, they are more likely to let me get away with it.
Now, as with almost everything, there are also cons:
The biggest pitfall you’ll run into once you start giving students leeway is a fall in their respect. Not their respect as in their esteem for you, but their respect of your time and generosity. If you gave them a favor one time, maybe they’ll expect a favor every time and before you know it, you have a student who is constantly changing class every single week. When it was once, it wasn’t a big deal, but every time is not acceptable.
So, how can we be kind, understanding teachers, and emphasize the flexibility that comes with
independent teachers, without letting ourselves get walked on by our students?
Here are some tips I have found that work:
1. Make the boundaries clear, and make sure the student understands that the favor you are giving them is a onetime only thing. Sample dialogue:
“In the future, I will have to charge you for the cancelled class, but since this is the first time, I’ll only charge you half.”
2. Explain the situation, if it is a special case. Sample dialogue:
“We can change your class for the afternoon, but only today, because my other class cancelled. In the future, I won’t be able to.”
And, of course, you can always decide not to give favors to your students. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you make the rules very clear from the beginning.