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Teacher problems!


Iloveballet2804
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I had a teacher last year who was brilliant in getting us to move forward. I have improved so much this year it's unbelievable! The only problem I found was that she constantly was telling us we wernt trying hard enough. She'd say things like 'if you continue with this attitude you will go nowhere in ballet' and 'I think I'm wasting my time with you'. She'd address the whole class with things like this but it would really get me down as I'd try so hard until I was hurting and she never gave me a piece of positive feedback. I can definitely take criticism but I do think that this was a bit too far! It resulted in a few girls quitting and classes became very tense. Do you think this is normal? As I said she was a brilliant dancer and has taught me so much but I struggled to keep on with it this last year and that had never happened before.

Edited by Iloveballet2804
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I do not think her attitude was helpful to anyone. If you improved so much with no feedback or praise, just imagine what you could have done with some acknowledgement! I know from my own experience that "Well done!" or a smile goes a long way.

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How is your teacher generally speaking,when she`s not actually in "teaching mode"? Is she friendly and approachable? What I mean is, if you were to bump into her at the local supermarket,do you think she would be pleased to see you outside class, and stop and have a chat? It could be this sternness is just the way her personality is. Or it could be that she genuinely wants to bring out the very best in you all, and is somehow trying to emulate something similar to the old Soviet teachers [who i`m sure were lovely outside class times !!!]  If you are greatly improving,I would suggest gritting your teeth and getting on with it. But if it is genuinely affecting you [and I suggest it might be,or else you wouldn`t have commented about her], then maybe you ought to look elsewhere.

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She seems lovely outside of class so yes it may just be the way she teaches. Her technique has worked as I'm so much better than before - just wish I could have enjoyed it more at the same time. It did affect me as it did most of the girls in the class but i love ballet too much to stop. I'm hoping for a different teacher next year and I'm moving up so hopefully this will happen!

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I think with the answer you`ve just given you have found your own conclusion. I suppose if we want something and want to get better, there might be a certain amount of "unpleasantness" along the way to reach the desired standard. Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager comes to mind, the way he would yell and scream at his players [all of them world class,of course], because he wanted to get the very best out of them. Seems to have worked for United.[Thankfully, I`d like to add.!]

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I see teaching as a bit like the art of a good gardener. Having expectations of creating a garden whilst treating each plant as an individual. Finding out where they grow best, positioning them in the right environment in order to grow, nurturing, acknowledging growth/attributes but also pruning things which inhibit growth. I don't talk to plants but I do get to know students and how they learn best. There are so many components to the art of teaching dance other than just steps and I continue to learn from my students who also bring many gifts to the teacher in terms of learning. Maybe a bit deep thinking but it is a Saturday....

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In the last year since we have started to attend SSs/Associates/Dance Days we have come across a variety of teachers all who have a different way of teaching.  She has experienced some very strict teachers and some that barely say a word  and yet still command the attention of a class like Tania Fairbairn.  Fortunately I don't think she has come across a bad teacher as they all have something different to offer and it is great preparation for the tough road ahead. However I am very grateful that her main teacher is not super strict but is more firm but fair.  I think that would put off a lot of young potential dancers and also a little village school has to allow children who do want a career in dance to enjoy it, keep fit and active.   :)

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I think what's important is to keep control without being too harsh and empowering. The problem with my teacher is that she gives very little individual comments. She addresses the class as a whole but this doesn't really give you a lot of feedback individually. If she does, it's always critical and I struggle to take a lot from it without getting frustrated after too much criticism on attitude and effort which is so untrue x

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I personally think that Fiz summed it up very well. You worked very hard because you wanted this teacher to see you worked hard, and you improved but you said yourself that you didn't really enjoy it all that much. You are lucky that you didn't get too disheartened, to the point of giving up, or becoming disillusioned. 

 

There are a lot of teachers that think that if you tell a class they aren't working hard enough then they'll work harder. But if they are already working their hardest, what more can they give? It is very frustrating to feel like you can't do any more, and only ever seem to get criticism. Think how much more encouraged you'd be if all your hard work was recognised, every so often?

 

Personal feedback is so important - every member of a class needs to know that they count, and the best way for a teacher to let them know that they matter, is to give each participant some kind of personal comment during the class. I always try to mention everyone at least once. As a teacher you will always be watching everyone in the class, but unless you are acknowledged personally, it can feel as though you're working and working and getting very little recognition, which can be very disheartening. Add to that a teacher who tells you you're not working hard enough and I'd be screaming inside! Not great for developing confidence, self esteem and motivation in young dancers!

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Making technical progress is not the be all and end all of ballet class  - or any class.  If your technique improves but you end up disliking what you are doing - is that progress?

 

A truly good teacher manages to maintain the respect of the class - not through fear but because of the ability to impart knowledge through contact - reaching every student in the room.  Since each student is an individual it makes sense that the approach to each student has to acknowledge those differences.  It also thus makes sense that when comment is not directed individually - along with general class correction - an opportunity for progress is lost.

 

It has to be both - individual as well as general.

 

A class with some laughter -- a smile - a positive attitude is not any less of a learning environment than one which is filled with fear or negativity - in fact just the opposite.

 

A teacher who thinks she has to rely on fear and negativity is a teacher who is in fear of her own self perceived lack of ability to earn the respect of the class.  It doesn't matter how "lovely" she is outside of class.. 

 

Teaching is not just about having knowledge - it is about being able to transmit that knowledge  AND inspiring the class to what to pursue that knowledge.

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I had a teacher last year who was brilliant in getting us to move forward. I have improved so much this year it's unbelievable! The only problem I found was that she constantly was telling us we wernt trying hard enough. She'd say things like 'if you continue with this attitude you will go nowhere in ballet' and 'I think I'm wasting my time with you'. She'd address the whole class with things like this but it would really get me down as I'd try so hard until I was hurting and she never gave me a piece of positive feedback. I can definitely take criticism but I do think that this was a bit too far! It resulted in a few girls quitting and classes became very tense. Do you think this is normal? As I said she was a brilliant dancer and has taught me so much but I struggled to keep on with it this last year and that had never happened before.

My comment won't be very helpful, but my DD who's in her 6th year of full time training said, welcome to vocational training as that's how the teachers talk to the students.

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Dr dance - you summed up EXACTLY wht I felt! To be given no feedback except your not trying hard enough when your trying so hard to be noticed is so damaging!

Anjuli bai - yes this is true! I'veprogressed a lot technically but there was a point when I almost gave up which is a huge step backwards. It's taken quite a while to regain that this summer through workshops and things.

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My comment won't be very helpful, but my DD who's in her 6th year of full time training said, welcome to vocational training as that's how the teachers talk to the students.

 

This is what makes me the most sad about ballet... When will those working in vocational schools and with dancers realise how damaging this can be? It might result in success for a minority, who then become the next generation of dancers and teachers. And because this method worked for them, this is the basis of their own teaching/coaching style.

 

But what about all those young dancers (who are at a vulnerable stage in the development of their own identity) who become demotivated, lose confidence, suffer a loss of self-esteem etc etc? I suspect that for every dancer that succeeds having had this type of day-to-day negativity, there are many more who did not succeed, having been affected in some way. 

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This is what makes me the most sad about ballet... When will those working in vocational schools and with dancers realise how damaging this can be? It might result in success for a minority, who then become the next generation of dancers and teachers. And because this method worked for them, this is the basis of their own teaching/coaching style.

 

But what about all those young dancers (who are at a vulnerable stage in the development of their own identity) who become demotivated, lose confidence, suffer a loss of self-esteem etc etc? I suspect that for every dancer that succeeds having had this type of day-to-day negativity, there are many more who did not succeed, having been affected in some way.

Try being the parent on the end of the phone, hundreds of miles away, trying to convince a demoralised DD, that the comments weren't personal to her. It does start to grate 6 years later, when it still goes on. Just hope it's all worth it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Don't get me started on this topic....other than...we used to send children up chimney's, down coalmines and into factory mills.....we don't any more...just because that how it was when "I was at voccatinal school or in a dance company" doesn't make it right, clever or good. How on earth it can be motivational or inspirational heaven knows....in any other area of education it would be regarded as cruel and bullying. Yes it's ok to put some reality their way, but only when its balanced with encouragement and support as well, and too often that lacking. There are great programmes in place on dance phsychology, but it will only work when its practised broad scale, not just preached.

 

NL

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NL you are so right. It seems that right now we are at an impasse between schools trusting teachers who have been through the system, and "it worked for them, so why should they teach any differently?" and taking a perceived risk and trusting teachers who are the preachers, and know that what they preach makes sense.

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I do have something to add about one of the summer schools this year regarding some things brought up on this thread but will wait till next week when all classes for summer there have finished.

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ILoveballet2804,

 

My first assumption is that your ballet teacher is a "tough cookie" person. A person who always has the highest expectations of herself and she might have been applying the same criteria to her students. I've had a teacher like that (not a ballet teacher but her behavior was the same). What happens to students being taught for years by teacher like yours is: the strongest birds reach the sky and the rest fall emotionally wounded for the rest of their lives having complexes, low self-esteem and self-doubts if they didn't drop the class on time.

 

I am going to tell you a little story which is not related to ballet but it is related to the kind of person your teacher is: "extremely demanding, pushy, and never showing appreciating of your progress".

I have always been highly intellectual person and my parents saw that potential in me since I was very young. They were very demanding, I got yelled for a very occasional B (I usually had straight As) and they never ever said even once "You are doing well" or "We are proud of you". My high graded were always taken for granted. This is a pattern that happens in many families actually. A kid being treated like this for a long time starts to push itself even harder just to get its' parents approval (and love correspondingly). Very often the kid starts to feel that it is really not doing well enough (because never gets approval), and becomes a very ambitious person in time.

 

The worst thing that can happen is that the kid growing up, becoming a teenager, then becoming a young woman/man, becomes so focused on its parents ambitions and demands that it doesn't get the chance to explore its own inclinations and personality and chooses a profession or life not because it wants it but because it has been pushed in that direction all its life.

 

 

 

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Chocchip- yes this is exactly the same attitude my teacher has! It's as if I cant do anything right. I agree that those going into professional training would benefit from this as it shows them the ballet world but my class is an open class and I don't think this attitude is helpful for us as we are not looking for professional training.

Pas de quartre - thanks for the link!

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If a teacher makes a comment it should always be directed at the activity or action the student is doing and not on the person themselves. For example if a child is doing something incorrectly the teacher reminds them of the correct way and asks them to do again maybe and if they are not taking the correction on board then the teacher should be thinking...why not....why cant they do it.....and may have to rethink how they give the advice or approach from another angle or check some other part of the students technique is not preventing them moving forward into the new step or whatever it is.

Having said that there must be times when teachers do feel frustrated that students are not really listening and they feel as if they are repeating themselves ad nauseum and may on occasions feel a little tetchy!! They are human after all!!

But hopefully this should not descend onto the personal level where instead of focussing on the technique and improvement of this rude and sometimes insulting things are said about the student themselves.

So instead of "I don't know why you do ballet classes you're much too clumsy to make it as a dancer" It could be " We need to really start working on your muscle control as you have to have this consistantly now to progress as a dancer." And offer supporting exercises to do at home and so on. Continually destructive comments just make most people think they can't do something or are never good enough really......and can lose faith in their own inner teacher this way.......not something that's useful to dancers(or anyone). It is this inner teacher in students that ballet teachers should be encouraging and that can only come by having a good relationship with yourself and fostering it in others.

I am making this post because even on a summer school recently some negative comments were made that I felt were entering into the personal realm and so not that helpful and took away concentration while the emotional response to the comments was taking place.

In fact the comments were not particularly nasty but to the age group concerned were hurtful. And after all the students are dedicated enough to be giving up there holiday time to do a ballet course.

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It sounds a bit like the battered wife syndrome - the husband beats up his wife and she apologises to him - the teacher humiliates and insults the students and they feel that it must be their fault. Personally, I'd rather have my students work hard because they want to, than because I had browbeaten them into it.

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My dd's previous teacher wasn't one for positive praise, and was very much one for saying things like:

 

"Oh yes, that was a bit better, but you need to work on .........",

 

or "No, no, that's all wrong,  you're still not doing ......properly"

 

or - worst of all - (to me, in front of dd) " Oh no, there's no point in her auditioning for that, she won't get in".

 

Talk about how to demoralise someone suffering from a lack of self-confidence!

 

Well, I stopped telling the teacher when dd was auditioning, and never bothered to tell her when she DID get in to an associate programme. We left soon afterwards, her loss, not ours!

 

edited for spelling

Edited by taxi4ballet
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