Lesson Policy

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    italki

    If you have any feedback please comment below. While we can’t reply to each comment individually, everyone’s feedback will be taken into consideration for future updates and improvements.

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    Zahava

    How do you suggest we connect with the student before the lesson time if we have a lesson with a different student that ends exactly at the same time the next lesson begins?

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    David

    So teachers are now expected to wait almost an hour for a student who may be unable to contact us with a legitimate excuse. We then reschedule the session because we are compassionate and have no way of recouping the fee for the entire hour. I disagree with this policy. Do you expect a restaurant to hold a table reservation for an hour?

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    Christina

    In my 3-years experience if a student does not show up during the first 15 minutes without a warning then they will not show up at all because they forgot about the lesson and there is no sense in waiting until the end of the lesson time. Is it possible to make an agreement with a student sending them a message on italki chat? Such as:  “Please note that usually I wait only 15 minutes if a student doesn’t warn me about their delay before or at the beginning of a lesson. After this I don't wait anymore, the lesson is not going to happen and italki credits go to the teacher. Let me know if you agree with this condition or not”. This will make a student feel responsible about our lesson. I suppose both the teacher and student have to respect each other’s time and it is not fair to a teacher to wait the whole hour if a student just forgot about the lesson. Of course, if they don’t accept this condition then I will wait for them the whole lesson time.

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    Cedric

    It's unclear if "removing individual cancellation policies" means removing the (recently added) field on the profile or removing altogether the possibility for teachers to agree on specific policies with the students (see Christina's message for an example).

    There's a contradiction between asking the teachers to remain available when a student doesn't show up (under the excuse that "the teacher's time is booked and paid for") and also "hoping" that teachers will accept to reschedule the missed lesson (who's going to pay for this second hour of the teacher's time? italki? :-) ).

    Students do understand that missing a booked appointment will mean that they won't be able to get the lesson, because that's also what happens when they miss their plane or their spa appointment. Italki shouldn't appear to leave the decision on the hands of the teachers to decide if the 'misunderstanding' was 'honest' enough. Both students and teachers rely on the platform to settle this kind of things, and opening that door will only lead to more dissatisfaction for the students (they're much more likely to find a teacher's call unfair than to really question why italki doesn't want to refund a lesson they didn't show up to). In other words, by not clearly backing your teachers who have to charge for no-shows, you'll leave the students even more unsatisfied, because they'll feel that maybe the teacher could have let them reschedule if he were a bit nicer.

    One more thing: after so many years of italki, I know that the platform mostly listen to business-driven arguments and I'm okay with that. I'm not calling on your ethics here, and I imagine that up to a certain point students satisfaction is more important than teachers satisfaction, so these new policies make some sort of sense. But I'd like to remind you the obvious: the protection against last minute cancellations is one of the first reason many of your teachers won't steal away your students. Of course, we're all honest people here and we hate doing things against the rules as much as anyone else. But still, ask any teacher why they're willing to give up 15% of their fees to italki and I bet that among the top three reasons, they'll mention the safety of the booking system. So this is a dangerous area to play with. To be extremely clear, I think italki has little to win with fragilizing the cancellation policies, which can lead to more frustration student-side and more temptation to bend the rules teacher-side. I love italki and I don't want to see this happening.

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    Jessica SkypEnglish4U

    Cedric!  Especially the last paragraph! 10 up-votes!!!!  

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    Christina (Edited )

    @Cedric
    I'm not sure what kind of business-driven argument would push them to alienate a substantial portion of users and to dump the rest into one-fits-all type of lesson/service.

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    Teacher Juliya (Edited )

    According to the new italki policy,  I should wait for the student the entire hour and be nice enough to reschedule the lesson. Who will pay for my time? 

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    Eliaquim Sousa 易尚明

    This is a new requirement which clarifies the responsibilities of both parties. The principle is that the teachers time is booked and paid for.

    Man oh man, this is a very flawed principle. Italki has been paid for, not the teachers' time. So much so that Italki not only does not accept refund requests -- and puts on the students the extra fees they should absorb for purchasing credits; if a student doesn't use his or her credits in time, they "expire," which means hasta la vista, diñerito. If Italki has been paid for, not the teacher, Italki then should find a solution to have a stand-in, should a teacher not be present, servilely waiting, while the student might have had a real emergency and not show up (like one of my students who missed more than five lessons in a row and didn't send me a word.). The more I think of it, the more dissatisfied I am at it. I am also a student here in the platform, and if I don't show up in the first ten minutes, my teachers usually understand something's come up and I won't be showing up anytime soon. I don't want them to be waiting for me.

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    Teacher Juliya (Edited )

    I have been teaching on italki for 7 years.  And I would totally agree with the previous comment 7 years ago because of the lack of experience teaching online. But for all this time I had only 2 students who showed up after 15 minutes of the lesson.  But if the student doesn't show up at all ( usually because he /she forgot), and after ask me to reschedule, I would not agree. It's my job, I am taking it serious, and value my time and every second of my student's time.  I can understand that all kinds of emergencies can happen, (sometimes you don't have the possibility to notify) in this case it's much more easier to agree to reschedule the lesson ( because you didn't sit one hour in front of laptop waiting for the student) . In the beginning of teaching online, I agreed to reschedule the lesson every time, and the students start take it as a rule and didn't value my time.  I can wait for the entire hour ( even if my experience shows that the student will not show up) but my time should be paid. 

    As a student I would never ask my teacher to reschedule the lesson after he/she was waiting for me. 

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    David

    @Tim, actually, no, italki policy is that the lesson has not been paid for until the session time has ended and the class has been confirmed. Many teachers have a liberal "miss" policy and allow students to reschedule without penalty and that's why it's better for everyone to cancel the session after 15 minutes. Stuff happens and respect is mutual. History has proven that students who are late without contacting the teacher end up not attending that session at all. If a teacher does that, he or she should not be in this business. It has nothing to do with trying to get something for nothing. That's a disrespectful assumption.

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    Margherita

    Tim, as a teacher I agree completely with your viewpoint. THANKS for sharing with us your negative experiences as a student. We work in isolation and we can't have a clear idea of what happens with other teachers / students.

    As teachers, we don't want our potential students to be disappointed by other teachers who don't show up and don't respect their time. As a student, I've only had one tutor who regularly canceled his lessons with me (I had the impression that, at the beginning of the day, he chose whether to give lessons or do something else). Needless to say, I stopped booking lessons from him and got another teacher for that language. But if a student has such experience with several teachers, he'll leave Italki and think that we - teachers - are ALL like this.

    I really struggle to understand why most teachers are complaining. The first show of respect towards our time and profession is paying for it, without making up lame excuses and trying to get a reschedule, as some students do. Teacher's obligation is being available to deliver the lesson during the time which has been booked by the student; student's obligation is paying for that time.

    I'm sorry but I really can't see the point made by the other teachers.

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    Christina (Edited )

    @Margherita

    I have several objections.

    I don't feel I work in isolation. I talk with teachers and students (italki and other places) all day long, I discuss matters with my offline colleagues and I participate in workshops etc about my job. How is that isolation?

    If my students ditch italki because of a bad experience with another teacher, then it means they do not value my efforts and they don't find them worthy of staying. Well... Farewell!

    Am I a lesser person than dentists, hairdressers, plumbers, courier delivery drivers? Doesn't my train leave when I'm late?

    Most important, that is not stressed enough here for italki to "get it", is the contempt towards teaching. I am hired to teach a certain amount of language points for a certain learning purpose. I am not hired to smile and wave at the camera.  I am very much insulted and offended by this requirement. What exactly does italki think I'm selling? Seriously.

     

    @Tim [edited] 

    Point 5 shouldn't be judged in a case-by-case? It seems you only take conversational classes and your level is not beginner. I'd love to see how would you cope in a 60' professional beginners' non-conversational class where they only speak your target language, which is radically different in structure from yours.

    "Where are you from" is a legitimate question, in my opinion. It is used for a lot of prepositions, vocabulary, structure and other learning objects. The student is free to answer "from Mars" as far as I'm concerned. 

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    Margherita

    @Christina

    Yes, we do speak with students and teachers all day long, but we don't know what actually happens. Some students complain about other teachers, yes, but you never get the whole story. Communication on the teacher's forum is written (so you miss intonation, facial expressions, etc.) and many of us write in a language that is not their native language (English). There might be cultural aspects that we ignore, such as direct vs indirect communication style, etc. You know, I think I get what you say because I suppose our cultures are quite similar in many ways - but it's the not the case when cultures are more distant. So I have the impression I get a very tiny picture of things.

    I really understand your point regarding contempt, but I think it's up to us to make students respect us when they start learning with us. Which includes making them pay if they have booked an hour that could have been booked by someone else. In any case it will be a minority of students, as most of them will appreciate our professionalism.

    Yes, I did sometimes have this feeling of contempt from some students at the beginning, but there's one thing I can guarantee based on my experience: the stricter you are about rescheduling requests, the higher the rate you charge is - the least contempt you'll get. It's really up to us.

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    Christina (Edited )

    @Tim

    I was replying after I saw the message in my email, so I thought it was the italki member Tim Kung I was replying to. I'm happy to edit that part. My mistake, I rushed to reply. As for the rest of my comment, you can read it as written in the 3rd person and then we can discuss the validity of my argument. If I must admit I made a discriminatory comment, I would put it as 'partially informed', not racist. Feel free to ask my students.

    Anyway, I insist on my view about use of target language and general everyday questions. I'd like your viewpoint on that, regardless of my wording.

     

    @Margherita

    I agree about the information we can gather from in-italki interractions. I was, however, referring to a bigger picture, compiled by opinions of collegues and students (and me as a student) under several conditions. This picture, I think, is quite representative of teacher-student communication, maybe more than this of limited scope of italki.

    Also, what about contempt from italki (as I receive it)?

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    Margherita (Edited )

    @Christina

    Honestly, I don't feel contempt from Italki. They are selling a service provided by us, so if we don't provide this service, which has been paid in advance by the student, not only we but also they will lose reputation. I really don't feel mistreated. I would be if I was forced to give free lessons, cheaper trial lessons, two hours of availaibility instead of one, etc. or if I had to adapt to compulsory teaching methods and materials or if they allowed students to mistreat me, but luckily it's not the case.

    In any case, I liked the exchange of viewpoints, thanks! :)

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    Christina

    @Margherita

    You are welcome :)

    I gather that each one of us teachers have different ideas on the nature of our services. It is good to know that.

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    Guyomar

    I have been both a student (with over 300 lessons) and a teacher on italki, so I do see things from the student's perspective as well. When I have been late or cancelled last-minute as a student, I have always paid without expecting/begging for a reschedule or trying to get more time. I paid happily. The idea of trying to put the teacher in a difficult position by asking for more when I was already late or getting them to rearrange their schedule when I hadn't cancelled with enough notice is alien to me. It would have embarrassed me to do such a thing. If I don't show up within 15 minutes of the start time without any notice to the teacher, and they leave, I certainly don't hold that against them and am happy to forfeit the lesson. 

    In my experience, some teachers are unreliable, but I've had way more experiences with students showing up late, trying to cancel last-minute, or being a no-show than teachers. 

    Personally, I don't think the waiting policy sends the message that teachers are professionals to be treated with respect. By the way, does this mean that students are supposed to wait the whole time for late teachers, since the time is reserved and all? Shouldn't it be a two-way street? I can imagine more than a few people complaining if most teachers were regularly late as frequently as students.

    I expect that teachers who were previously more flexible about rescheduling missed lessons are going to become far stricter and more inflexible, because they are now required to wait the entire time and rightly expect to be paid for it.

     

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    Caroline Downing

    I don't normally post but I thought I would add my opinion.

    I have taught via a variety of means, online lessons, private lessons and in an academy. The majority of students use italki because they genuinely want assistance in improving their level and take the classes as seriously as the teachers. In return they expect their teachers to be professional in the delivery of lessons. 99% of my classes have involved long term teaching with students and as such you build a rapport and you realise that when they miss a lesson without notice there is a genuine reason. I personally contact the student and ask for the lesson to be rescheduled without saying they missed the lesson so their attendance isnt affected. Again, this is personal preference because I know my students.

    This is a very different situation to the very small majority of students and teachers who take the process of learning less seriously. In my role as a teacher I prepare my lessons and am there for when the lesson is due to start. If italki is saying that I have to be ready to take the lesson for the entire lesson time even if the student does not show, then I feel I should be within my rights to charge for the lesson if I so wish. My argument for this is a) I have spent time preparing the lesson prior to the lesson b) the time I am waiting for a student not to appear is time that I cannot spend teaching another student (this isnt purely about money, but that another of my students who would have liked that time was prevented from booking the lesson) c) if the student was attending an academy and did not show for the lesson they would still be charged for their non-attendance.

    I think what it comes down to is mutual respect between the teacher and the student and ensuring that whatever happens there is effective communication between both parties to avoid misunderstandings.

     

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    Chris Cook

    I've been both a student and teacher here, and I must say that I agree with Tim. As a teacher I had already implemented the policy of being present for the whole class regardless of if the student is present. My idea is, the student has paid for my hour, so what does it matter if I'm paid to teach, watch YouTube or do anything else on the computer. I had already planned to be at the computer for an hour and am being paid to be at my computer for an hour. 

    As for anecdotal evidence, in my 1 year of teaching I've given multiple 10-15 minute classes to students booked for an hour. They were always happy to get what they could of the time that they paid for. The reasons varied (traffic, Internet issues, fell asleep, simply forgot) but they should be able to use the time they paid for. I feel it is disrespectful to the student to not provide the service they paid for.

    It may be annoying as a teacher for students to show up late or not at all, but there are plenty of things to do on the computer. Getting paid to watch Netflix isn't that bad.

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    Guyomar

    Chris, do you find it disrespectful to the teacher for students to consistently show up any time they like?

    I had professors in college who didn't let students into the classroom if they were more than twenty minutes late to a 50-minute class. I thought it was strict, but I also thought that respect goes both ways, and I don't find it respectful to consistently show up late to one's appointments. It worked, by the way. Those professors rarely had students show up late, and if they did, it was because of a genuine emergency, not because they couldn't be bothered to set their alarm or take an earlier bus. More lenient professors had chaotic classrooms. 

     

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    Christina

    @ Chris Cook

    If you see it this way, that you get paid for being at your computer for an hour, your policy makes sense.

    If you think that you get hired for offering a specific service (teaching) for an hour, at your computer, but you are perceived as someone who just sits there...

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    Chris Cook

    @Guyomar
    I agree that in many (not all circumstances) that yes it is disrespectful. I ask the same of you though, if someone pays you for an hour of your time, and you leave after 15 minutes, is that not also disrespectful?


    @Christina
    I understand your point but disagree as at the end of the day we are paid for our time. Is it disrespectful to be late, sure, but have they paid us for that time, yes. There are many productive things you can do in this time too.

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    Guyomar

    @Chris

    I consider it respectful and my duty to show up on time or a little earlier if possible, wait for the student if they indicate that they will be late, and wait a certain amount of time (I think 15 minutes is the norm) if they haven't notified me at all.

    However, I don't agree that it's disrespectful not to wait longer than fifteen minutes if the student hasn't bothered to let me know they are going to be late. This is minimum courtesy, and it's not much to ask when it's so easy to communicate.

    In my experience, people who are not there beyond 15 minutes late after the start time without communicating it at any point, simply never show up. They've booked my time that another student could have used (and shown up!), and I've possibly already put in an hour or two of work creating a professional lesson if that's what they selected. I don't consider it my duty to wait more than 15 minutes when I teach in other settings.

    I know there is disagreement about this and different perspectives, but no, to answer your question, I think waiting 15 minutes for someone who hasn't given you any notice is already good enough.

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    Christina

    @ Chris Cook

    I'm probably going to be at my computer anyway, but I'd like to think I'm not being paid "for my time". I am not a sentinel.

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    Chris Cook

    We'll have to agree to disagree on that, which is fine. However I will mention, in many countries with unstable internet, I argue it isn't always easy to communicate when having issues.

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    Guyomar

    Chris, fair enough. Sure, if my student is from Venezuela (or even another place that isn't in such a dire situation, but still has problems with infrastructure), I'm not going to be unreasonable about missed lessons or lack of communication. However, if the person is from Western Europe or North America, as are the majority of students who can afford my lessons, there's very rarely an excuse for not sending a message saying, "Hey, I'm running late."

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    Chris Cook

    That is likely a major difference between us. My specialty is Latin American students.

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    Reuben (Edited )

    Please be careful. I am really worried. I have always told my teacher friends that italki is the best because they respect and protect their teachers but if you are going to allow us to be treated disrespectfully by rude students who come vastly late to a lesson then I am not sure I can stand by what I have said before about you. Do you want to allow students to get away with treating teachers rudely? Is it ok that there is no punishment for being late? Teachers should just put up with this? How long will it be before teachers find a platform that treats them like were treated by you before this new "update"? Waiting for more than 10-15 minutes is tremulously rude. How should we conduct a lesson with a student who doesn't respect us enough to tun up on time? 

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    Tim Kung (Edited )

    It seems the main issue, with the requirement for teachers to wait the entire lesson duration (in order to be paid 100% of the lesson price), centres around respect.

    Truth is there is no way we can satisfy everyone. I respect all your viewpoints and they are valid, but we have decided on what we think is fair to all.

    If a student fails to communicate that he/she will be late, and you deem that disrespectful, you have the right not to teach them in future. If the student is rude to you in any way you have the right to make a complaint against them and choose not to teach them in future.

    If you do not wish to wait the entire lesson duration for the student, you can do so but you won't be paid IF the student disputes the lesson. If the student agrees that they are ok with you waiting 10, 15, 20 etc. mins rather than the entire lesson duration and wants to pay you that's fine.

    As long as there is no dispute, you and the student can agree to whatever you wish.

     

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