Over the past month, I feel like I've been turning students away like crazy. Each time I get a phone call, email, or personal inquiry about lessons and have to say no I find myself feeling a bit guilty. Couldn't I have squeezed just 2 more in? That's when I have to remind myself of the personal boundaries I have set for myself as a teacher and hold myself accountable to what I know are my personal limitations.
Boundaries are important in every area of life. What does that currently mean for me as a teacher? Between my private studio, my church position, playing for private events, my other part-time housesitting job, and making sure I allow personal recharge time, that works itself out to between 20-25 students. At that volume I'm able to juggle all my responsibilities without feeling too burned out at the end of the week.
Before I start giving the impression that I have always perfectly maintained this balance, let me set the record straight. I haven't always been so good about maintaining my boundaries! ;) There have been terms where I've totally overbooked myself and arrive at the end of the week completely exhausted. There have been terms where I've overscheduled myself on certain days, meaning that I'll find myself at the end of a teaching day with a terrible headache and unable to give my final students the focus, attention, and patience they deserve. That's what it's really all about: making sure that we're the best we can be for our students. Numbers aren't important. Being able to engage and having the energy to communicate well is what's important. And if you find yourself with too many students to effectively communicate and teach, then you've gone too far.
So how do you find that 'magic number'? It's going to look different for every person, and will most likely change from year to year depending on other responsibilities, age, health, etc. It also takes time to get to know your limitations and give them the respect they deserve.
Taking time to recognize personal boundaries isn't always easy. When the calls come in, it can be so tempting to keep saying yes! But when that temptation comes, I remind myself of my boundaries and think of current students and what would truly be best for them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you set boundaries for yourself as a teacher. Have you been successful? Ever had any major disasters?!