I had a difficult day yesterday. My very first student yesterday afternoon was a complete and utter disaster. The student was fine other than not practicing once again. Then mother came in my studio with the door still open and interrogated me about what her daughter needs to do to improve this week. She came on so strong that I immediately got flustered and couldn’t come up with something to say that would placate her. It was terrible! Then after the next lesson (sister of first student) the mother came back in, shut the door and let me have it. She yelled at me and told me I said horrible things about her daughter. She kept asking me if I really thought I could handle teaching her daughter. She questioned my abilities as a teacher and pretty much made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing. She upset me so much I could barely speak, and of course I started crying. I think she was glad that she made me cry because she seemed pleased about it. She finally left and I spent the next 15 minutes sobbing on the floor of my studio with the lights off while my next student waited outside the door. I was devastated. Nobody has ever spoken to me like that. I was angry that I let someone like that get to me the way she did. For the next few hours I was reeling so much I actually started to believe the horrible things she said to me. It was almost impossible to teach the rest of the students, but I somehow made it through the rest of the day.

While she was chewing me out with the door open another teacher heard her and almost came in to tell her to stop treating me that way. I found this out at the end of the night when two teachers and our boss came to talk to me in my studio. They were concerned about what happened, and wanted me to know that they think I should boot these people from my studio. It felt nice to know that these women all thought highly enough of me to stick up for me when I was down. The three of them were shocked that a parent would treat a teacher that way. Also, they were concerned for the student because the door was open during the first part and she could hear every word that was said.

I’m taking a large portion of the blame for this incident. I did say some things that could have been misunderstood by the mother. I was under fire and extremely flustered. One of my biggest fears in life is that I’m going to say something stupid – and yesterday I believe I did. Now I’m racking my brain trying to think of things that I may have said to this student in the past that she could tell her mother that could get taken the wrong way. My style of teaching is very direct. If there is something wrong I’ll stop the student and have them correct it until they can get it right. With this particular student I can say something to her every week and she comes back still doing it the wrong way. There are times when I cannot find a way to make her do it correctly. This does not make me a bad teacher.

So, do I dismiss them from my studio? I can’t decide. Part of my philosophy on life is that everybody deserves more than one chance. What if she was just having a really bad day? On the other hand, I would like to dismiss them before they can quit my studio if that’s what they are planning to do. This family’s payment history is perfect, but I have had problems with this mother from day one. I’ve always been a little scared of her; she’s very intense.

What should I do?