Ask the Experts: What Should I Tell Parents When a Teacher Suddenly Quits?

Q: I just had a teacher quit midyear, and it wasn't on good terms. I need to e-mail the parents about it, but don't want to cause a panic. Any suggestions on how to mitigate damage and make a smooth transition with the new teacher?

A: When a teacher leaves, regardless of the terms, it can be disappointing and upsetting for students. They've spent a good amount of time connecting with that educator, and it's hard to see her or him go. Parents don't know about some of the behind-the-scenes issues you've had with that teacher, and the faster you can communicate with them, the more likely you are to reduce rumors and fallout. E-mail out a statement with an upbeat and positive tone. Include only succinct facts necessary for them to know. Communicate your commitment to your students, and clearly state how they can count on you as the owner and director. Graciously acknowledge the contributions made by this teacher and thank her for the work she's done. Then, quickly announce your excitement for your replacement teacher and the energy and enthusiasm she or he will bring to the students.

For example, your statement could say, "Miss Sarah has made the decision to move on from our studio to pursue other employment options. We wish her the best and thank her for her time, talent and contribution to our school. Everyone here at XYZ Studio is committed to creating our quality dance education program, and you can count on a smooth transition as we begin working with this new teacher." Encourage your staff to repeat elements of the statement to anyone questioning the situation after the e-mail has been sent.

Be sure to give instructions on how a parent could reach you with any further questions or comments, as it pertains to their child. Always respect the departing teacher's privacy by not disclosing details on the matter. While parents may have their own experience and stories about the situation, staying positive with your words, expressions and actions will allow you to maintain your professionalism. If you have a new teacher lined up, it's good to include some of their bio in the e-mail, along with a sentence or two about what they are looking forward to. Be ready to shadow the new teacher the first few weeks with your students to ensure they're a good fit.

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