by Linda Kline
Director of Education
All teachers hope that our students will decide whether to come to our next class because of our artistry, our ability to convey concepts, and the resulting value to the students. But sometimes we force students to make decisions about us based upon other factors, like a messy studio, a late-starting class, or distractions in the classroom. It's even easier to fall prey to these sorts of problems when you work from home.
Here are two big issues to keep in mind. Be your own toughest critic and your students may thank you.
When was the last time you walked into a friend’s home and knew exactly what was for dinner last nite? Or that the garbage needed to go out; or the kitty litter box could use some attention; or the dog is long overdue for a bath. Lingering odors of raw and cooked food mixed with pet smells and a neglected disposal can combine to make a home smell pretty funky.
Some of us have really sensitive honkers…..that would be me. My olfactories are a curse! I can smell someone smoking 50 feet away, outside, in a strong wind. Perfume, cleaning supplies, and harsh chemicals can set my allergies into a full-fledged-gasping-for-air-fit. It seems that more and more, many of us are becoming overly sensitive to adverse environmental conditions.
If you plan to teach at home, take heart. Maybe you need to bring in a trusted friend to give your home studio the “sniff” test. Our own senses grow accustomed to our environment so a neutral nose may detect something you don’t.
Noise pollution is another sensitive issue when teaching at home. If you play music during class, watch the volume and try to keep the selection neutral and soothing. I’ve had mixed-age audiences for classes where music became a big issue. Young people wanted something rockin’ and fast paced; older students want classical or calming. It’s best to have a conversation with the group and come to an agreement.
Are children running in and out disturbing you and the group? Believe it or not, not everyone will find your kids or grandkids as adorable as you do. Is the TV blaring in the other room; doors slamming, dogs barking? You may hear these sounds so often that it seems like a normal part of your environment. You hear "home," but your students might hear "cacophony."
Remember that your students are coming to you for a quality learning experience. They’ve invested time and money in this experience and they expect it to be all about them. And it should be! Teachers who teach from home generally do so because it’s less expensive and convenient. But it shouldn’t negate the professional image you project and the quality of the overall learning experience.