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Would You Say Something or Would you Simply Move Along?


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My son takes a weekly class on Outschool. It is a social/fun sort of class; nothing academic, but it's an important social outlet for him right now. 

The issue I am having is the instructor will cancel class or change the meeting time with little or no notice. Like last night, at 5:58pm we found out the instructor decided to go on vacation and there would be no 6pm class.  One of the kids asked if there would be a class meeting, and she responded "My family is on vacation this week.  It's our first in over a year. Return to normal next week".   

The week before that, she cut the class short by 30 minutes and posted a message to the class that she's struggling with long covid and she has all these health issues as a result, so she needs to rest to stay out of the hospital.  Another time, she said she's trying to restore her health because she's worried she'll need surgery.  There have been 5 classes since November that she's cancelled at the last minute, and 2 or 3 more that she cut short or the class time changed because her kid has a school event.  I'm not without empathy for her health struggles, but a little notice that she can't make it would be nice?  There's no way she doesn't know in advance that her kid has a band concert or that she is going on vacation.  Her response to "Will we have class today?" is sometimes a bit defensive, like the kids need to be more understanding of the fact that she's super busy with her own family obligations and health struggles.  

It's disappointing to the kids, plus I have to request a refund from Outschool each time she cancels class.  So far they've refunded me fully for every class she's cancelled prior to yesterday, but I'm waiting to see what they say about last night's class.  I don't get a pro-rated discount if she cuts class short.  She said she'd give a pro-rated refund for last week, and then didn't. 

So, I want to contact her and let her know that I'm not happy with the situation. DH says I shouldn't even bother, because she's probably not going to change what she's doing.  He's concerned she will single kiddo out if I say something, and thinks I should just pull him out, leave her a bad review, and find a new class for kiddo. 

What would you do?

 

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I'd leave a honest review (cancels class x out of y times with little notice, cuts classes short by x minutes out of a y minute class with no notice, etc), pull child, explain to Outschool why, and sign up for another class. She sounds irresponsible. 

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Do I understand it correctly that this teacher is employed by outschool and does this for pay, as opposed to volunteering out of the goodness of her heart? If so, the behavior is unprofessional and I would complain to her and also report her to Outschool/ leave a  factual review. I would not take classes from her again.

 

Edited by regentrude
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Can you review the teacher on Outschool?  Can you contact Outschool directly to let them know?  That is just extremely unprofessional behavior and I would be very annoyed too. But is she is already responding defensively to questions, it's likely she knows people aren't happy with it so I'm not sure contacting her further in hopes of a change would be productive.  What I'd do right now might depend on whether or not you want your child to finish out the class.  

It's nice Outschool allows refunds for cases like that but I can't imagine they would want a teacher like that running classes on their site for ever.  Emergencies happen. But like at our local tween/teen co-op, out of like 20 teachers we probably average about 2 emergency situations a year where a class really needs to be cancelled.  She should have just cancelled the class on the front end if she didn't have the time or energy.

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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Do I understand it correctly that this teacher is employed by outschool and does this for pay, as opposed to volunteering out of the goodness of her heart? If so, the behavior is unprofessional and I would complain to her and also report her to Outschool/ leave a  factual review. I would not take classes from her again.

 

Yes, it is a paid class. She's sets the schedule and class time, so it's not like Outschool told her "You have to take this 6pm Wednesday class". She's the one that picked the day and time. 

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2 minutes ago, MissLemon said:

Yes, it is a paid class. She's sets the schedule and class time, so it's not like Outschool told her "You have to take this 6pm Wednesday class". She's the one that picked the day and time. 

In that case I would expect her to be actually teaching this class at this time, unless an actual emergency occurred - house fire or ER visit. Vacation or a kid activity are not valid reasons to not show up for your job. And I would tell her so in no uncertain terms.

Edited by regentrude
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 since this is a paid class, and she is the one who set the schedule - I would absolutely say something to her. Though it sounds like she doesn't care what other people think.

 

I would also report her to outschool that this is happening.  From your description - it doesn't sound like the first time she's taken off from a scheduled class.  Make a note of that to them as well.

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You should let Outschool know, because it's harming their reputation and they should decide what action to take with her. I would also let her know you are unhappy. You are buying a service for your child; she is there to work for you. You are not there to work for her. If she gets defensive, she doesn't understand the dynamics of her job. It's too bad she's going through health issues, and it's ok to have sympathy and understanding as a fellow human being. But, that's really not your role in her life. I hope you will be able to find another great class for your kiddo. 

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You're much more optimistic than me if you expect her to change her behavior based on feedback. She's an adult- surely she knows such behavior is inappropriate and unprofessional. I would drop the class and complain to outschool but not bother sending her anything. I agree with your DH. Even if she promised to change her ways I wouldn't risk setting my kid up for disappointment again.

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I agree with everyone else. I’d find dc another class that they’d be excited about and drop this one. I’d absolutely give outschool a very detailed feedback/review so they can (hopefully) take action. I agree with the above poster that this does reflect poorly on outschool, so hopefully they’d want to know AND do something about it. IMO, it really doesn’t matter that this is just for fun, or even how cheap it is or isn’t, or whatever—by doing these things, she isn’t doing what you paid for and is failing on her commitment. I also don’t think telling her would change anything in her behavior, but I’d probably let her know anyway once I pulled dc out. 

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2 hours ago, regentrude said:

Do I understand it correctly that this teacher is employed by outschool and does this for pay, as opposed to volunteering out of the goodness of her heart? If so, the behavior is unprofessional and I would complain to her and also report her to Outschool/ leave a  factual review. I would not take classes from her again.

 

Not employed, Outschool teachers are independent contractors, but she is getting paid, yes. It's more like she is the owner of a small business, or no different from her offering classes/tutoring at her home. 

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4 minutes ago, katilac said:

Not employed, Outschool teachers are independent contractors, but she is getting paid, yes. It's more like she is the owner of a small business, or no different from her offering classes/tutoring at her home. 

ok, that does not change my answer. She is paid to be a professional and does not deliver the goods she promised.

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Yep, money back, Outschool alerted, leave an honest and balanced review. 

If the class was otherwise good, when it happened, no need to trash the woman, but other parents need to know the class can get cancelled at short or no notice for non-emergency reasons. 

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I am with your DH.  Do not waste any more of your time and energy on this class. The Instructor has issues and will not change her behavior.

Sit down with your DC and find another class. 

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Write a summary report to Outschool. Tell them that your kid has not had a complete lesson for the number of minutes this class was supposed to be held for x out of y times. Tell them that the reason has been the teacher's excuses: document the reasons - e.g. 2/18/21: Teacher went on vacation, 2/10/21: Teacher unavailable due to her child's activity etc. Tell them also the hardship you are facing in keeping your child up to date on this subject due to the paid class being inadequate. Cancel. Ask for a full refund and move on. I had a violin teacher like this who was unhappy that the Music School took a large part of the fee and paid her a pittance and she used to moonlight somewhere else and show up halfway through our lesson. I canceled after trying to work with her for 2 years and wish that I had done sooner.

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Under normal circumstances, I think this would get her fired, but I think companies are trying to be accommodating about health related stuff during Covid.  Even if they would like to fire her, the optics would look bad.

I would send her an email at a leisurely time (not right before class) explaining that you would appreciate knowing in advance of a cancellation as it requires you to rework other things.  I would give her a chance to do the right thing after such email.  If she failed to do it, I would probably pull my kid out.

As long as you stay in the class, have an alternate activity ready in case the "class" doesn't happen.  Then maybe it won't be as frustrating.

Is there any way the kids [her students] can get online anyway when the class is cancelled?

Edited by SKL
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1 hour ago, SKL said:

Is there any way the kids [her students] can get online anyway when the class is cancelled?

I could message the other parents and host a zoom session, but the whole reason I pay Outschool and her is so that I don't have to do that work myself. 

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Thanks for everyone's advice.

I am going to look for another activity on Outschool for him. I'll leave an honest review and contact Outschool, but I won't engage with her directly.  I dug through the instructor's feedback and found some comments from other parents that had the same problem with her back in August, (before she said she was diagnosed with Covid), and her response was "Sorry that you feel like you had an unsatisfactory experience".  Good grief.  

Unfortunately, when I checked her feedback, I only skimmed through the first 2 or 3 pages of comments. I would have had to go several more pages back to find someone with an issue. 

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5 hours ago, katilac said:

Not employed, Outschool teachers are independent contractors, but she is getting paid, yes. It's more like she is the owner of a small business, or no different from her offering classes/tutoring at her home. 

whether she is employed by outschool, or a contactor to outschool - she is connected to outschool, and her very uprofessional behavior is reflecting poorly on them.  if they allow teachers like this - people will lose confidence in their teachers.

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I'd leave negative feedback, ask for the partial refund again from her and then Out school if she doesn't follow through. Then I'd find a better teacher on outschool and invite the other parents to their class.

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1 hour ago, gardenmom5 said:

whether she is employed by outschool, or a contactor to outschool - she is connected to outschool, and her very uprofessional behavior is reflecting poorly on them.  if they allow teachers like this - people will lose confidence in their teachers.

I was not implying otherwise, just clarifying employee vs independent contractor. 

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