How to create your official reschedule / cancellation / refund policies for your students

Misunderstandings, emergencies, or accidents can happen to anyone.  That is why it is good to think ahead of time about what kind of policy you, as a teacher, will enforce when you encounter problems with a student such as delaying lessons or missing class.

Whether you decide on a policy for all students or choose to deal with each student individually, it is good to have an idea of what your expectations are and how you will communicate with your students if problems do come up.

What are the italki policies?

The italki policy on rescheduling classes is that this is best handled between the student and the teacher, but we will step in if the student and teacher cannot come to an agreement. 

italki expects teachers to: 

  • Respond to all lesson reschedule requests within 48 hours
  • Begin and end lessons on time
  • Make an effort to communicate with students if the lesson must be rescheduled
  • If there are problems, try to come to an agreement with the student before contacting italki
  • Use italki messages or lesson messages to keep an official record in case of conflict

italki expects students to:

  • Inform teachers at least 24 hours in advance if a lesson must be canceled or rescheduled. If not, then we consider that the teacher has the right to claim the credits for the lesson.
  • Respect teachers' individual rescheduling and cancellation policies, assuming that these policies are consistent with italki platform standards.
  • If there are problems, make an effort to come to an agreement with the teacher before contacting italki
  • Use italki messages or lesson messages to keep an official record in case of conflict

If there is a conflict, and if italki staff can see that the teacher has clearly communicated a reasonable policy, then whenever possible, we will honor the teacher's policy.

FAQ: How do I reschedule a lesson?

If a student wants to reschedule, refund, or cancel a lesson, then we hope that you will be considerate of the student, but you are not required to agree.

FAQ: How do I cancel a lesson?

italki is able to cancel lessons if we see that both the teacher and the student agree to cancel. We highly recommend that whenever possible, you try to reschedule for a different time instead of cancelling.

If you must cancel, then the best time to do that is before the lesson time, and before rescheduling.  If the lesson has never been rescheduled before, then canceling it will not result in a 'dispute' mark.

What are my options as a teacher?

So long as you are following italki policies and being respectful of your students, you are free to set your own personal policy on what you will agree to, but please do your best to comply with students' wishes if it is both reasonable and possible for you.

Whatever you choose, make your policy clear to your students ahead of time so they know what to expect and are not surprised or disappointed if you have to enforce your policy later.

Rescheduling before the lesson:

If a student contacts you before the lesson time and asks to reschedule, please do try to comply, especially if the student has a good reason or an emergency. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt, and if it is possible for you to reschedule, please try to do so. 

If you allow only a certain number of reschedules or require that the student give you a certain amount of warning, please make this part of your policy and communicate it to the student.  For example, you might have a policy of only allowing students to reschedule three times, or expecting students to give you 36 hours' advance notice to reschedule.

Rescheduling after the lesson:

If you have a general policy of not rescheduling missed lessons, make sure this is clear to the students; that way, they will not be disappointed if they aren't able to reschedule.

If a student misses a lesson WITHOUT informing you first, and then requests to reschedule the class:

  • It is your choice to agree or disagree.  Especially if the student had an accident, emergency, or honest misunderstanding, we hope you will agree.  But, at the same time, it is within your rights to decline and request the student to pay for the class.

If you decline:

  • Politely inform the student that they may request a new lesson, but that you should be paid for your time under the original agreement.

If you have a problem with students missing classes and then wanting to reschedule, you can direct them to read this:

FAQ: What Happens if I Miss my Online Lesson?

Here, we clearly state that if the teacher attended the lesson, the teacher should be paid for the lesson. 

How should I announce my policy?

There are a few good options for announcing your policy.  You may choose as many as seems best for the type of students you work with. The most important thing is that you inform students of your policy before you have to use it.  Here are some ideas that might be helpful for you:

1) Post your policy on your profile in your long introduction so potential students can read it.

2) When you first get a request from a new student, send them a message with your policy.  Write your policy ahead of time and just copy and paste that part of the message to new students so you do not have to write it each time.

3) Communicate directly with the student during class or via lesson messages
(choose the option to send an email), but make sure to do this before there is a problem.  You may do this right away, or if you think a student might give you trouble, then make sure to warn them as soon as possible.

For example:
A teacher and student have been trying to choose a good time for a lesson, but each time, the student asks again to reschedule the class.  The teacher was patient at first, but now becomes frustrated.  She warns the student in lesson messages (and sends the student an email) that she will only be willing to reschedule the class one more time, and after that, she will not agree anymore.  In the message, she asks if the student understands this rule, and the student writes 'yes'.

This is acceptable because 1) the student has been warned and understands the consequences of continuing to send reschedule requests.  2) The student will not be surprised or disappointed if the teacher has to enforce this policy and refuse to reschedule the class. 3) The message is stored in Lesson Messages so if there is a dispute, it will be easy for italki staff to understand what happened and make a decision.

We hope these suggestions help you confidently make and enforce your lesson policies.  Feel free to read more information about rules, guidelines, and expectations for italki teachers in the italki Teacher Policies and Code of Conduct.

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