How do you deal with students who don't respect your time?

Hello all,

I am writing this because I have one student who always extends our lessons by at least 10 minutes. The other day, she extended it for half an hour. I noted this saying that perhaps we needed to address this and she said that as she is prepared to book more lessons with me, I should just accept it. This is a first for me, typically students are very respectful when the lesson is up. I wonder if you have any strategies on how to deal with this.

Thank you in advance.

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10 mins is not a lot of time but 30 mins is way too much. It shows that the student does not respect your time.

I think you need to be firm and say we can address it next time.

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Yes, you need to be firm and just explain that you can continue next time or book an extra lesson if they need it.

When you have about 5-10 minutes left before the end of the lesson, tell them “We still have X minutes left. Do you have any more questions before we finish?”. I am not sure what is your student’s attitude but maybe they just need to be reminded that the lesson is ending.

You can also just politely say that you’ve enjoyed the lesson, thank them for their input and say that you have another student that you need to see. I hope they will understand :blush:

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To start with, I’m curious how that even happens. How does she extend the time?

As to dealing with it, you have to be firm. She pays for your time, if she wants more time she pays more money. If she’s going to book more lessons that’s great, and you can take up the issues that take you over-time in those lessons.

Also, tell her at the start of the lesson that you have another student booked straight after her, so you have to finish on time. If she still protests ask her she’d feel if you came late to her lesson because you’d been going over-time with another student.

Then, if necessary, just stop the lesson.

Try to be polite about it, but be firm and clear from the start. She gets the time she’s paid for, unless you are happy to let it go over by a little bit.

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As we are mainly revising linguistics, it is very easy to jump from one issue to the next given any topic, so she keeps on asking questions. That’s how we got to 30 minutes yesterday. I politely remind her that we are out of time, but I guess I need to be more firm about it.

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2 suggestions from me

(A) Tell the parents that she is really interested in the subject and that lessons need to last 90 minutes - get paid for the extra time.

(B) At 65 minutes interrupt and say. " I think we are about to be disconnected".
At 65 minutes and 15 seconds… disconnect.

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I have a student like this; he’s always at least 15 minutes late. When I bring it up with his mum, she just seems to shrug it off, saying ‘what can I do?’ It drives me mad! If a student is rarely late, I’ll run on the lesson if I can. I think if they’re paying for an hour’s lesson they should get an hour’s lesson, but I never run it over with him because I don’t feel like I should when he constantly disrespects me and my time. I think you should be firm and tell them if they continue to waste your time and can’t turn up properly, you won’t run the lesson over. I never do now for my one that’s late. Hope this helps.

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Tell her if she wants more time, she needs to pay more time. There is no way you should be doing a 90 minute lesson for an hour’s pay.

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That’s pretty interesting that a student would straight up come out with the statement that you should accept it!

This may be how I like to do things, but the reaction I would have would be to treat their statement like an interesting position in a debate and, with a manner of welcoming curiosity, ask them to justify their statement or why they think that. If they say because they are prepared to book more lessons, just ask ‘what is your reasoning for thinking that your preparedness to book more lessons suggests that I should accept lessons going on for longer’. You could perhaps point out that you could replace them with another student who wouldn’t do that, and thus their preparedness to book more lessons actually doesn’t make it in your interest to ‘keep them happy’ or something.

Just don’t get defensive or negative in your tone of voice! I do teach philosophy so maybe I’m just used to dispassionately reasoning about things that matter a lot, like whether it’s ok to kill people, but I suppose I just like to rely on my ability to persuade people with rational argument in any problematic situation, including ones like you describe.

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That’s a very useful reply, thank you. I will address this with her next time and hopefully she will understand how unreasonable her request is.

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Hey everyone! :wave:

Some really interesting points and suggestions on how to deal with lessons when they overrun. I know it can be quite uncomfortable and at times difficult to deal with! I agree, running over by 10 minutes to round off a point or topic is different from an extra 30 minutes…

Just so you’re aware, when a lesson does run over and you want to be paid for this time, you can get in touch with our support team who would be more than happy contacting the student to backdate this additional time. This removes the awkward conversation you may have with the parent and ensures you get paid for added time if you want to.

You can read more about this here.

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Thank you Luke, I wasn’t aware we could do that. I hope this doesn’t happen again, but I will keep it in mind.

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My strategy is if they are 5-10 minutes late, I will send them a message, and another message after 15-20 minutes if there is still no appearance. Depending if I have a class straight after, I will add the extra 5-10 minutes. However, if after 15 minutes they don’t arrive I will just do the remaining time for the hour’s pay. Obviously, if it’s extenuating circumstances then I will do the extra time or add it onto the next lesson.

But, if they are later than 30 minutes, I usually just encourage them to reschedule; I’d rather they had the full lesson than a shorter adapted version.

I try and finish my lessons at 55 minutes and leave time for a short review of the lesson and make a plan for the next plus room for any questions.

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For me the obvious expedient is to point out you have another lesson with another student straight after. This is not a fib as that is usually the case. Set your rules politely but firmly, be prepared to contact parents and give a warning - if they value what you are doing then it should sort itself fast. I have only had to do this three times in four years - in each case the circumstances were different - two sorted quickly one ended lessons as a result. Now having said all of that my student are 15 and over. I will be honest I would never tolerate a student regularly late and would cancel lessons after a warning. Hope this helps - Paul (History Ambassador and tutor)

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I usually just say I have other students and if I am online leave the lesson. It’s your classroom not theirs.

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I’m afraid I don’t take that attitude at all and would inform the parent that I no longer wish to tutor them.

I run my lessons I say when and where for for how long.

I choose my students and my price and my hours.

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The (really) old classroom used to time out exactly at the end of an hour. I wonder if some similar feature could be brought back to solve this issue? Definitely would prefer it to be optional this time around, that would always cut me off mid sentence.

But something like timing out after an hour and ten minutes might be a good way to prevent this happening :blush:

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I remember that one used to have a button to extend the time. How about something similar, maybe have it cut off by default a few minutes after the scheduled end with an option to extend further if need be? Further to this, maybe it could be integrated with the system @Luke_Tutorful described?

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I know your question has been answered, just thought I’d let you know you are not alone! I used to have a student who I would visit in their home. He was great, but his mum would keep me back every lesson to talk about his work and his school and all sorts. She was lovely, just very intense.
One day she asked me to stay back to talk to her son because he had been told off at school for not focusing, and she ended up keeping me there for 45 minutes in an awkward front room family meeting. I have learned since then!!
I always say ‘I have another student waiting, I better go!’ . It usually works. Some younger students have tried to keep talking after that, but I just go, ‘right, well done today. Have a think and write down any questions you have and we can look at them next time. Bye!’. They never do, but it tends to work.
If she has that attitude, you should definitely either say you have another student but she can email any questions (and then go through them at the start of the next lesson) or send her parents a message stating clearly that next time they will be charged for the extra time, and then charge them. Personally, I’d say I had another student.
Also, make it very clear how you will be spoken to with respect. I find this very difficult, as I am a very ‘soft’ teacher, but I did have to really sternly tell a young boy off a few weeks ago as he had raised his voice at me, and I made it very clear to him (and mum) that it would not happen again, as I will stop working with him, and it has not. Kids push boundaries (even the older ones, and especially with the year everyone has had) because they need them setting. It is so hard, but it is for the best to make your expectations very clear. You are the professional and you are in control.

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Hi All!

I have read all the feedbacks and answers to the question, I do agree with some of them and I don’t with the others. What I do? and since I have joined TUTORFUL in 2018, I keep my policy and it works. Right now I have about 30 Students more than half of them are 100% active, all the others are booking with me sessional, or 2 months before any exam, to have enough time to give them a boost… What do I do? I am just managing my time in a way to have always a spear 20 mins for everyone if needed… there are some cases when the lesson is sophisticated or really hard to understand or to comply with the exercises, and I like to see when everyone is happy and ready to practice in a proper way… Better to spent a couple of minutes more with them than to let them go home in case of doubts… Learning something in the wrong way means waisting triple time until to correct it. This extra help I always mention to my students or their parents at our first meet up. I am also telling them, that this is not a mandatory spear time that I need to spend with them… Is just a kind favour and offer from me to them for special cases… And they always understand from where I come. No one has ever abused my decision and has never asked me to hold my lesson any longer if not needed. They have always respect me and my job. :wink: But this is me and my opinion. I will never stop this…

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