When I first started using Music Teacher’s Helper five years ago, I found that I was saving so much administration time that I was able to increase my teaching load considerably. Over the past few years my studio has increased in numbers and has been at full capacity, with a waiting list, for quite some time now. However, I’ve found myself increasing the hours that I am teaching – extending an existing students’ lesson time by another 15 or 30 minutes a week as they progress at their instrument, or taking on siblings of existing students who have been on the waiting list for far too long. This has happened little by little over time, until recently I realised that despite Music Teacher’s Helper taking care of lesson notes, invoicing, resources I’ve lent to students and a whole lot more, there are still lesson plans to write, concerts to organise and emails to respond to. In the past I made sure that I didn’t leave my studio each day until all of this was done, but as my teaching hours have increased I’ve found myself bringing work home. I had only been thinking about this problem and its potential solutions in the past week, when a family of my students gave me notice that they will be moving interstate at the start of next year. As sad as I am to see them go, I am rather grateful for slight the reduction in student numbers – something that I could never voluntarily bring myself to do! My first instinct was to reach for the phone and start calling students on my waiting list, but then I thought perhaps I should move the first and last students of the day into the now vacant lesson times, resulting in a slightly shorter teaching day for me. Then I realised that I could use that time as inbuilt preparation time.
One of the attractions to private teaching is the flexibility to choose your own working hours. I had chosen my preferred working hours, but had filled them with teaching only, leaving no time for any other parts of my job. Now that I have scheduled my designated administration time I will guard it very carefully! With the New Year quickly approaching, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on your own teaching schedule and make sure that it has been designed intentionally to encompass all areas of your teaching practice, not just the time spent teaching.