Teacher Networking - A Practical Example
by John Ruka, firstname.lastname@example.org
In a previous issue of Vic Firth Education, I championed the general
advantages of private drum instructor networking. Networking with
a "competitor" was suggested as one possibility. I would like to give
a concrete example of how this can be well worth the effort.
The holiday season is unusually hectic for the private instructor.
Students and their parents often request lesson time shifts or even
"cut backs" on lessons. The demand for the instructor's playing services
goes up, throwing further conflicts into a full teaching schedule.
A recital might even be in the mix. On top of this, the holidays place
increased demands on personal time - shopping, church services, family
get-togethers, etc. This supposed period of good cheer and reflection
on the past year is often a private teacher's juggling tournament
to see if, after all the rearranging and bustle, the wallet and the
mind are still intact when January hits. Happy Holidays?
The Drum Instructors' Guild network decided to try to find a solution
which would benefit all teachers, parents and students. Teachers needed
income constancy plus scheduling flexibility to meet the aforementioned
seasonal factors. Parents needed less demands put on their valuable
time for the month of December - fewer trips to the studio. And students,
above all, needed to continue to learn even though their schedules
were as crazy as everybody else's! What we came up with was a concept
we call the "Team-Taught, 4-in-1 Lesson," which provides students
with all four December lessons in one 2-hour session.
We needed topics of interest to all levels of students, beginner to
pro. We needed a neutral, more-or-less central location to run our
2-hour sessions to avoid the perception of "turf wars" among the retail
establishments our collective students came from. We needed more than
one session to provide several time choices. We also wanted to capitalize
on the "group dynamic" afforded by our relationships as teachers and
students. Above all, the decision to do the 4-in-1 needed to be an
option for each student, not an "only recourse" for December. After
all, some people would not wish - or would be unable to - participate
for any number of reasons.
We did an informational survey before doing any of this to see just
how the 4-in-1concept would be received. The response to our survey
was very positive! Not only did the parents and students express interest,
some of the really time-pressed wrote little side notes practically
demanding that we carry through with the project. We proceeded.
Our chosen topic was "Drum Sticks - The Complete Story." Vic Firth
and others kindly provided information and materials, allowing us
to do a thorough presentation. A band director colleague arranged
for use of his band room. We chose 3 dates and times - early, mid
and late month; a morning, an afternoon and an evening. We had a Guild
friend bring in an array of hand drums to offer group exposure to
our mostly stick-oriented students.
Thirty-eight of my private students and about a dozen of my networking
partners' students signed on, earning 100 hours of free time between
us with no loss of income. Three other Guild instructors came to help
out, adding even more value to the team-taught approach. Our presentation
was so intently received that about an hour into the first session
when I announced a "potty break", every single student refused,
preferring that we continue with our study.
The hand drum portion was a hit! The facilitator remarked that this
was the first time he had a chance to work with "real" drummers -
drummers whose background made them unafraid to play and jam. The
release of pent-up energy was amazing!
The parents? They were all smiles - not only because their young drummers
were so eager, but because they regained precious time during the
holidays. In fact, I met one mom at a concert in mid-December who,
at first, hadn't been sure about abandoning regular lessons in December.
However, she was so glad they chose the 4-in-1 because "things are
turning out nuts and Mark's time was much better spent at the 4-in-1.
He learned some valuable things and I maintained my sanity!" A fitting
testimonial, don't you think?
This is just one example of the power of a network. The motto of our
Drum Instructors' Guild is, "Together We Achieve the Extraordinary."
As you can see, it can happen. Consider networking with a fellow private
teacher. It works!
Comments? Let's get the discussion going!