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Favouritism in ballet class


Tutusrus
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Annuli_bi

 

Age 10 and as a parent. It breaks my heart when my daughter appears desperate for a relationship with her ballet teacher like others in her class have despite being quite strong ie reserve royal ballet JA and accepted on a CATS programme. She can sense it and I struggle to explain why her ballet teacher (despite putting her forward for auditions) really doesn't seem to interact with her like with one or two other talented girls . Only thing i can think is that it is down to me as I am not in the "inner circle of Mums"

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In raising our children our hearts will be broken for them as many times as we rejoice for them. 

 

The relationship with a teacher often has nothing to do with the student's talent - it is almost chemical.  It is just natural that in any given circumstance we are going to feel more comfortable with this person rather than another or one group than another.  And, in my experience, the more one tries to break into that circle the tighter the circle draws in upon itself.  One just gets bruised trying to break in.

 

Since ballet class is so "open" and mobile - no one is sitting down in rows of seats - as difference groups coalesce these inside/outside relations become very visible.

 

As for the mothers forming circles, too, this is part of the bigger picture as the mothers translate their feelings (even subconsciously) onto their daughters.  I have seen this a number of times.  But this does NOT put the blame on you.  Maybe these people have been engaging with one another for a long time or share other activities.  Whatever the case it should not affect the teacher's relationship with your daughter. 

 

As for the teacher......it is of course natural that a teacher will feel more comfortable with one student than another.  However, nothing - nothing - can absolve her from keeping the temperature in the classroom the same for everyone.  That's her job.  Since she is not holding your daughter  back (you don'tmention any abuse) and there seems nothing concrete to point to - talking to her - in my opinion (for what that's worth) will not help.  She can point to the auditions she has offered.  You can't contest something concrete with something that is ephemeral - like "sensing" a lack of depth in a relationship with your daughter.

 

As for what to do about it.....well, frankly, I've only ever found a couple of ways to get around it.  One can create another group of others who are similarly "outside."  In other words - create for yourself another "inside." 

 

And, it can also be a lesson for the student to work for the self gratification that comes with improvement rather than needing an outside stimulus of praise or acknowledgement.  In other words, it can be a lesson for the student to understand that success does not depend upon the acknowledgement of a special relationship with the teacher.  It would be nice - but it's not really necessary.

 

Why we torment one another with these needless useless complications in an already complicated life is beyond me.

 

I  hope something I've said here makes sense.

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Tutusrus, have you seen for yourself how your dd's teacher reacts with your dd in class? Have you got anything concrete on which you base your assertion that your dd is treated less favourably by her teacher than some of the other students or is it just an impression on your dd's and your part? Why do you think that your relationship with the other mothers has any bearing on your dd's relationship with her teacher?

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Annuli_bi

 

Age 10 and as a parent. It breaks my heart when my daughter appears desperate for a relationship with her ballet teacher like others in her class have despite being quite strong ie reserve royal ballet JA and accepted on a CATS programme. She can sense it and I struggle to explain why her ballet teacher (despite putting her forward for auditions) really doesn't seem to interact with her like with one or two other talented girls . Only thing i can think is that it is down to me as I am not in the "inner circle of Mums"

Hi Tutusrus

Your DD is obviously talented to be where she is. Once she starts her CAT scheme (and hopefully JA), she will meet many more talented dancers, teachers and choreographers and there will be no clique/inner circle, she will make other relationships and not worry about forming  a relationship with just one teacher. wish you all the very best for the future xx

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I can so relate to this.  There is one child at my DD's school who is so clearly the "teacher's  pet" and I have never really understood why. The girl is OK at ballet, but not outstanding, there are many others who are equal to her and some much better who never get the recognition.  Over the years we have had to endure every summer school, show etc, where we can almost put money on who will have the starring role or a solo or have her face right in the front.  The child  over the years has become quite arrogant and thinks she is a cut above barely speaking to others. In a way It's quite sad, a lot of the girls, especially the older ones can't stand her now and I think the teacher and mum have created this arrogance and the negative feelings amongst the others over a long period of  time. The only explanation I can come to as to why the teacher treats the child like this  is that  her mum constantly sucks up to the teacher to the point of embarrassment and manipulates and befriends her to get what she wants, it really is a mystery.  As my daughter gets older she is starting to notice things more and has come to her conclusion that even though she gets on well with her teacher, in the teachers eyes she will always be second best however hard she tries to the point  where  she are now considering a move to a new dance school which will be quite sad as it would be an end of an era as she has been there since pre primary.  I really don't know what to do for the best as I like the teacher and I know I will feel guilty if we leave and I know favouritism is rife everywhere, how do I know if the new school will be any better? 

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Wow Yellowcar - wonder if we are at the same ballet class! Exactly same situation you describe. Must be a common theme :( Very sad I feel and unfair. Everyone should be treated as an equal irrespective of "parent teacher" relationship.

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I too can so relate to this issue as I experienced it as a student from both angles at different points in my career. I think the important question is perhaps to consider the motive and context of what is going on. Is it am issue which appears to be something occurring due to lack of the teacher's awareness or do you perceive their to be an additional motive. How much is it impacting upon your dd?

 

Regardless it is vital that she is able to find a safe place to articulate how she experiences this and the impact it has upon her learning and self-esteem. If there are other teachers whom she can get some of what is lacking from then this will help. If this is not the case then further contemplation around context might be useful.

 

A good teacher can make or break a young dancer. The good ones know when to push and when to stop. Sometimes past dynamics from the ballet teacher's career can get acted out upon students and this can be more serious.

 

As a starting point I would try and gather as much information in terms of what is going on and how your dd perceives this. Does it happen to other students or just her?

 

I think it is so good that as a parent you are identifying it and considering what is in the best interests of your dd. That is a sign of a parent who puts the well-being of her child at the centre of training. This should always be the case but sadly is not. PM me if you would like to discuss further.

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Unfortunately this kind of favouritism tends to run throughout various environments, even in main stream schools, it is unfair and especially when there maybe a teacher who is vulnerable to a few outspoken possibly pushy parents who know how to manipulate to gain more benefits for their child. My dd experienced this in one of her other kinds of dance class where the teacher has a friend whose dd got the main position or part a lot, my dd wasn't really aware of this until another child pointed it out. We had a talk about it and looked at what she was achieving herself and positives from being there and that everyone's part was important, unfortunately this happens in life and unless it was having a negative impact on dd, however she was still enjoying doing that particular class and being with her friends therefore made the decision to stay with this class as she says its fun being with friends and enjoys it.

I hope you are able to resolve it.

Ax

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This is a topic I would feel a little cautious about. It's sad if favouritism is so strong it puts the less talented at the forefront. However, sometimes we can perceive a situation in a certain way because we want to protect our children from disappointment or because we have strong personal feelings about individuals. That's not healthy either, for us or our dc. I agree with Anjuli, sometimes we just get on better with certain people. is that such a problem if the opportunities continue to be fairly shared?

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We had a similar problem, not at ballet, but at dd's previous academic school. There was a dance club where the teacher (the Head of Performing Arts) continually showed blatant favouritism towards another child, so much so that she always had the lead part in school shows and usually solos as well. I didn't really give it all that much thought until dd came home one day and said "Miss ...... worships the ground she walks on and she thinks the sun shines out of her @&$£"

 

Although it was noticeable, I didn't want to rock the boat with the school, so I never said anything, and tried my best to get dd to just accept the situation.

 

It went on for four years, until the very last parents' evening when I was talking to the teacher about dd's ambitions in dance, and the teacher mentioned this other child not once but twice. 

 

Let's just say that it finally gave me the opportunity to say something!

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The awful thing is that this type of issue happens in all walks of life.

 

A colleague and I were working on a project to define and rollout a standard PC set up across our installation. At the time another branch with whom we were due to merge were thinking about a similar plan. The project manager there did not like what we were doing and won out. Our project ended up over-running by 18 months and we ended up with an inferior product. This person is still considered the bees knees from what I heard recently.

Edited by Janet McNulty
Changed sentence to make sense
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Just have to dd that my  DD has been with her wonderful ballet teacher for 18 months and we are so lucky - favoritism isn't part of her classes, just a dedication to bringing out the very best in every student, they all work against each other (work very hard) and encourage each other, such a pleasure to watch !!!

Everyone should have that buzz and come home thinking that was good, something has been achieved instead of feeling frustrated and snarling into the kitchen sink (yep-have been guilty of that in the past)

I know it has worked so well for us, but if anyone is unhappy enough with these issues to post on here about it there is a problem, so step back and look around, otherwise your DD may be demoralized enough to give up completely. 

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Let's turn it around.....

 

Has anyone ever been one of the favorites or had a child who was/is?

 

Were you aware of it at the time?

 

Were you an adult or a child?

 

Was it ballet class or somewhere else - like regular school?  Work?  Socially?

 

How did you feel about it?

 

How do you feel about it now?

 

If you were in a position to do something about it did you - could you - was it possible to alter the situation?

 

Should you even want to alter the situation?

 

Just in case anyone feels shy about this.......I was the teacher's favorite in 3rd grade.  I did realize it but was too young (7-8 yrs old)to understtand how it might have impacted the other children.  It didn't seem to alter my friendships with the other children - those who were my friends before were still my friends.  This happened at a time when I needed that extra attention - my grandmother lived with us and was very ill (dying) and my mother was pregnant so the household was very upset.  Maybe this teacher sensed this. I do remember  there was a distinct chemistry between her and me. 

 

In ballet classes which I took -  I know there was favorism but whichever way it went I refused to allow it to distract me. 

 

When I was teaching I tried every thing I could think of to let each student know and feel that he/she was important.  But one never knows how one comes across.  One mother insisted I liked her child less because of the various pastel colors of the costumes her daughter was wearing yellow while someone else was wearing pink.   It didn't seem to matter that ALL of the childrern had pulled slips of paper out of a bag with the color written on them.

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Ja sm, Opportunities at my dds school are not shared fairly, so for my dd this is now starting to become a problem.

It's hard for her to ignore because the girl in question is now in all of dds classes since they've had a change in timetable this is why she is becoming increasingly aware of what I, as an adult have seen for many years but as she has been always happy before, have chosen to ignore.

I have always brought my dd up to be a good sport and accept that you can't always win, you can't always have the big part in school plays etc and to accept disappointment, however, lets not forget, we are not talking disappointment through underachieving we are talking about favouritism which is a totally different thing and sadly in this case brought about by parent and teacher "relationship". Nothing wrong at all with being good friends with your dds dance teacher if its a genuine friendship. Favouritism is not something you can work on to improve like technique, It's very unprofessional and tricky to deal with. After reading others experience on this issue,Dh and I have decided that my dd must make her own decision as to whether she accepts things as they are or moves to a new school in the hope that credit will be given on achievements rather than relationships!

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I personally feel that part of the problem is that some teachers, in both academic schools and dance schools, develop personal friendships with some of the parents and that even if this does not result in actual favouritism it can cause the other parents to believe that it exists. Perhaps I'm unusual or old-fashioned but I have never wanted to become friends with my children's teachers, and certainly not the ones at their academic schools, and I feel that there's something to be said for teachers keeping some distance between themselves and their pupils' parents.

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As a retired teacher I can say that I never became friends with any of the children's parents and didn't feel it was right. that's not to say that I didn't like some parents better than others though!!

I did help one parent with an application to Arts Educational school for her daughter who got keen on ballet after beginning in my dance club. This involved going round her house a couple of times but that was it. Was this misinterpreted by other parents? I don't know never heard anything negative anyway. Certainly didn't seem to affect children in that class who were convinced another child in the class was my favourite...their perception....the one who always had her hand up because she was a clever and knowledgeable girl. They were wrong about that too. I actually had a soft spot for a very helpful dyslexic boy in the class at the time but they never found that out!! I was always very aware of trying to be fair to all and hoped I manage to conceal my real feelings most of the time. In one class I had they were all guessing different pupils as my 'real favourite' so it's quite interesting really how people perceive this.

However in various jobs over the years one does meet up with this from time to time as an adult where you are put into some sort of 'box' and seen in a certain way and that's it!! A sort of ruling clique can emerge! So it's usually time to move on in those circumstances.

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Aileen, totally agree. Although I like my dds teacher I could never imagine socialising with her or even want to. I only really talk to her about things like tights, shoes etc, apart from that there would be nothing to talk about.

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There will always be competition in the ballet world but I guess the question here is when is this part of developing a robust sense of self to survive in the dance world and when does it reach a stage where it is destructive rather than constructive.

 

I am not sure what method of training your daughter is doing but most have a teaching standards and child protection information on their main websites- the RAD for example has this accessible online and perhaps is something which is useful to review when trying to place what is going on in context.

 

There are so many variables here which would produce different outcomes so it is difficult for anyone to assess other than those directly involved. I think the age of the dancer, their level of self esteem, other personality traits and the amount of contact with this dynamic are important factors to consider.

 

Ultimately you know your DD best and therefore are best placed to make the decision. Perhaps it might help to explore if there are other options. Sometimes just knowing you have a plan B can help if things deteriorate.

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I think the main issue is whether this favouritism is genuinely disadvantaging (is that a word?!) your DD (of course feeling you are not appreciated is one way of being disadvantaged *if* you let it alter your perception of yourself...) Remember there are many instances quoted on this site of children who have got their heads down and worked hard when they were NOT the favourite and in many ways this made them create their own work ethic which stood them in good stead in the future. Being the favourite at a young age can be a distinct disadvantage- as can too much early success- as the child may then get an inflated sense of their own brilliance and then really struggle when they discover they were only a big fish in a small pond (I have seen this in spades in the diving world). Ultimately in order to make it in the dance world you have to have your own personal work ethic, not one that is based on external praise and endless positive feedback - because the older you get the less of that there seems to be!

 

So unless you want to change ballet school with all the attendant hassle (and no assurance that you wouldn't just get more of the same) the important thing is to process with your DD what is happening in such a way that she doesn't conclude the favouritism is related to her ability. It's the same conversation we have with our kids over why some of their friends like other friends better, why sometimes they get told off at school over something that wasn't their fault, why they don't always get top marks even when they performed as well and so on. Another of the endless joys of parenting... (if you think it's bad now wait until she's 14 !!)

 

Sorry, just to add I hope this does not sound as if I am in any way belittling/dismissing your distress-only you can evaluate how much of an affect it is having on your DD and judge what is the appropriate level of response.

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I think that you make some really good points, CeliB. I particularly agree with you that children and young people need to develop their own work ethic and learn to value their success and progress (and even failure) themselves without always looking to other people for approval and validation. This is a particularly important lesson for girls to learn as they are by nature more likely to be people-pleasers. This may not be quite the same thing but some children (and adults) are always going to be popular with others, including teachers, mentors, bosses etc, because they have a great deal of charm or personal charisma. At the other end of the spectrum there are the prickly ones and the awkward squad (I have one of those) who may have a lot of talent but are often going to lose out to other, possibly less talented, people when opportunities come along. It's unfortunate, but that's life.

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As a teacher, I too, like LinMM, go out of my way not to show favouritism. Unfortunately, I once took it to the other extreme - I remember that I was so afraid of showing too much favouritism to the most talented girl in the class, that I ended up ignoring her pretty much, when what I wanted to do was give her compliments all the time! I thought that if I did that the other girls would resent her. Of course over the years I have found that most girls accept that someone is special and don't resent him or her, as long as they, themselves, get enough feedback, attention and encouragement from me. Anyway, to get back to my "baby ballerina", eventually the poor girl was so upset that she came to ask me what she was doing wrong! I told her that it was in fact the opposite story. In the end, we worked out a little method, so that I could show my appreciation without bringing too much attention to her - I would smile and give her a "thumbs up" when she did something particularly well and that sorted that out!

 

I have had parents come to me to tell me that their child feels neglected, when I have actually been giving them the same amount of attention as the others. There are definitely those who need more feedback than others, so I listen to the parents, reassure them and give a little bit more attention, whilst trying not to draw attention to the fact that I am doing so. I do appreciate that favouritism exists and that what you "sense" may well be true, but I just wanted you to understand that with the best will in the world, there can still be imagined slights and misunderstandings........

Edited by Dance*is*life
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