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Knowing when to change teacher?


munchkin16
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I've been dancing with the same teacher for two and a half years and I'm starting to feel more and more that she just doesn't want me to suceed. I am the oldest in the class by 3 years at least and although I consistently work hard the only correction I really ever get is to 'tuck my tail in' which I am working hard to do! As soon as she found out I wasn't doing the exam, she pretty much ignored me. There must be something good or bad about my work, yet I don't get either compliments nor criticism. I was landing doubles (I think!) And she said nothing, despite repeating the exercise twice. We had a new teacher covering one lesson a week and she taught me so much and still challenged me despite the fact I wasn't doing the exam. I feel I could reach intermediate if I work hard, but my teacher seems to want to hold me back. Maybe I'm over estimating my abilities and a little upset over the lack of attention, not because I want it but I am paying and the teacher does have obvious favourites... is this normal?

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Oh I do feel sorry for you Munchkin16! My DD went through this last year and it really knocked her for six and made her question her ability to succeed. She has a new teacher this year and she is going from strength to strength so if you really learnt a lot from this visiting teacher and really enjoyed her class it might be the right time to maybe find out where she teaches and speak with her about possibly switching. If you feel diheartened now leaving it might make it worse, it certainly did with my DD and my DH and I regret not doing something sooner because my DD ended up very unhappy.

 

Good luck with it all

dramascientist

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I would switch now. You are clearly feeling unchallenged and may end up losing your love for dance. Make sure you do your research on the next school though. People may advise you to talk to your teacher first, but my question is does she not know that she is giving you no feed back at all? She's taking your money but you are not by the sounds of it getting quality. Good luck

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I wouldn't call it normal - but it is not at all unusual for a teacher - or employer, etc. to have favorites.

 

Have you asked for a conference with the teacher?  It would be interesting to hear what she has to say.  You have nothing to lose in hearing what she says.  

 

However, if that doesn't help, and all too often people lapse back into habits - and you feel you are not getting what you are paying for - it's time to go.   

 

I have always thought that after the first 2-3 yrs with the same teacher it is a good idea to add other teachers  to one's schedule.  Another teacher has other insights, different ways of accomplishing the same goals, a new voice, a new pair of eyes.  

 

The important thing is not to let a teacher spoil your love of dancing.   She should be doing precisely the opposite.  A teacher should be correcting in the present and pointing the way forward for the future - setting goals, opening doors.

 

Whether you take an exam or not - you are entitled to a portion of her attention.  "Tuck your tail in" is not a correction - it is a statement.  it carries no information of how to do this correctly and how it affects the rest of your alignment.

 

Corrections that carry no positive information - are just words strung together.  

 

You have nothing to lose by trying other classes.  

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We changed schools recently and a can't believe the difference in my dd's.  They have their love of dancing back as they were nearly at quitting stage.  If a teacher doesn't have time for you then it's time to find one that does.  Never an easy decision though.

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I think if the teacher is in danger of ruining (or even destroying) your love of dance then you should definitely change teachers. I would suggest researching a number schools/teachers before switching. As dramascientist has mentioned, finding out where the visiting teacher teaches and speaking to her about joining her classes, etc is a good place to start.

 

I was in a similar-ish situation to yours a few years back and I regret I did not leave the school earlier than when I did. For me personally, I have a feeling I stopped being noticed by the teacher because she no longer actually saw me. I had been going to her classes for a few years and she had stopped noticing if I was improving or not. I think she didn't know what corrections to give me, or she had kind-of 'given up' on me improving. I have to admit that I found it soul-destroying. What made me finally leave was how the classes had suddenly changed in various ways so that they were no longer of any help to me at all.

 

When/if you decide to leave I would suggest you think about how you actually leave. It might sound naive but I actually thought that if I followed the correct procedure and gave a term's notice, etc all would be fine. However, I was make to feel very awkward and guilty that I was leaving the school. It felt like the teacher believed I would change my mind and I think it was a shock to her when I did not.

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Although my first instinct is that you should change teachers, before you take this step I would suggest that you honestly examine your behaviour in class in the widest sense to see whether there could be any reason for your teacher's apparent indifference to you. Children and teenagers are often quick to complain of favouritism but the 'favourites' often turn out to be students who are hard-working and have a positive attitude and a pleasant demeanour. Sometimes, of course, the 'favourites' are the ones who the teachers believe to be the most talented students. Having said all this, the relationship between a dance or instrumental teacher and a student is very important and if, for whatever reason, it is not working well from the point of view of one or both then it is better for the student to find another teacher.

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If you are coming out of every class feeling frustrated and demoralised, then possibly it is time to think about moving.

 

Perhaps if there is another local school, it could be worth having a trial lesson before the end of term, and then you will have the opportunity to move at the beginning of next term if you decide that you like that school/teacher better... :)

 

I can't help wondering though, whether your teacher's current attitude stems from the fact that you aren't doing the exam; did you talk it over with her? Maybe she thought you were ready to take it, and now she thinks you have lost interest?

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munchkin 16, I am sorry to hear that you are not happy with your ballet class.  It must be very hard.

 

Since a lot of people have already given good advice, I am going to say something slightly different.

 

I think at the moment you are making that transition from beginner to an accomplished advanced beginner, soon to move on to intermediate (I am still not used to this - old elementary) level dancer. At each stage, you have to adjust your learning strategy, so that you will become more "independent" as a dancer.

 

When a teacher does not correct you personally, that does not mean she is not giving you any correction.  The ballet teacher's correction (or praise) given to one person during the class is correction for everyone in the class. This is how the ballet class is conducted.

 

Perhaps until now you got more personal attention because you were an absolute beginner. May be your teacher thinks it is time you start learning by applying corrections given to others, thinking more on your own.  This is an important process and skill to master if you are to keep dancing.

 

And there are certain point of development where you just have to keep working at it. At that stage, normally teachers will leave you alone to get on with it without much feed back unless what you are doing would cause injury.  It is a bit like growing plants...once you sow some seeds, you leave them alone (other than regular watering) until one day young shoots appears from the soil.  If you keep digging up every hour to see if the root is growing, they will never shoot.

 

Personally I doubt if any teacher would hold back their students progress - that means they are holding back their own success.

 

I think you are just facing a set of new challenges.  On to the next challenge, I would say. With or without your current teacher. Good luck!

Edited by mimi66
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Thank you so much for your help, you have all given me alot to think about. Firstly, term has now finished so talking to her probably isn't possible. I don't feel like she is particularly approachable. I have asked her in the past what I need to work on and said 'just keep doing what you are doing and work hard!' To be honest I dont think she's used to being asked that kind of question.

 

Dance sugar plum: you pretty much just summed up exactly how I'm feeling! I had forgotten about the notice thing, that might indeed make things awkward.

Pas de chat: associate classes aren't really possible, I think you have to be under 18 don't you? Although my covering teacher did used to teach associates I think.

 

I would move straight away to the covering teacher's studio but its too far away to be practical with school. The problem is that I only really have a term left at any school so I'm not sure I can switch for that short amount of time!

 

Aileen: absolutely you make an excellent point. I am not complaining (I hope) just stating that her attention is not fairly distrubuted. I would like to think I was always positive and hard working in class. I arrive early, most students are actually late and am always prepared. I make sure I know the excercises ect. The favourite complains during stretches, came with her hair down and says she doesnt want to get sweaty or does things half heartedly until she has the teachers attention. Honestly, I would never complain of a favourite if they had the positive attitude you describe.

 

Taxi4ballet: terms have finished I think, but I will research and see if anything is possible, even an adult class, although I was hoping to start working towards intermediate. I gave her my reasons for not doing the exam (too expensive and too much pressure atm) and she kept pushing it. Honestly it felt like she was chasing the money, do teachers make a profit from exams? I hope it doesn't seem like I lost interest, she did observe the other teacher's class before the exam so saw me working just as hard as the other girls, knowing the theory and actually dancing a lot of it alone as the other teacher made me do exercises solo!

 

I will look into other schools but I don't really know where to start....

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Mimi66: I have never looked at it that way, it does make a lot of sense as I think she is allowing me to start being more independent and I always try to apply other peoples corrections as well. I love the analogy and if I stay I will try to look at it that way, but I feel like when I do get personal attention, she is still seeing the dancer I was, not how far I have progressed which even I will admit was possibly faster than anyone expected, the girls I am moving up with had been in grade 6 a term before I moved up, yet we nearly took the exam together. I do not want to seem like I crave praise, but occasionally it is nice to be told if you actually improved something, but the silence makes me feel as though I am not making progress.

 

When she says 'tuck your tail in' she means to tuck my pelvis under so my bottom doesn't stick out. She has explained it before and I do try to do it, but I have a very curvy back, so if it slips it is a lot more noticeable! The comment is more of a reminder, but it is pretty much the only one I get all class.

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Munchkin16, I have noted your response to my comments. Am I correct in thinking that you are in your A level year? If so, then are you planning to go away to university or college? If yes, then realistically you may have only a few more months of lessons at your current school and would perhaps be better staying at the same school and researching options in your new town or city. I am assuming that you are not going to a dance or performing arts school after A levels and that ballet can be put on the 'back burner' for a bit. Correct me if I'm wrong about this.

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Could you ask if you stay what you should focus on to improve even though you are not doing the exam? My sense is to listen to your gut instinct and pursue the route which most feeds your passion as a dancer. It is hard for anyone but you to make that judgement but if you could get to a few other classes over the holidays it would give you a change to assess the pros and cons of staying or going. As a teacher myself I would much prefer a student to talk to me but I am also mindful that sometimes the set up can be too rigid to facilitate this kind of discussion.

 

Maybe your plans post next term could also be taken into consideration if you wish to continue dancing.

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Aileen: you are not wrong but I actually don't know what I'm doing next year, I'm still trying to explore every option and that may even be teaching ballet, although I will need to get my intermediate first. If necessary I will just stay and make the best of it, there is after all always something I can learn.

 

One reason for me wanting to move which I didn't make clear was the atmosphere in class. I have other issues I'm dealing with and this class actually ends up making me feel pretty down when I leave after going in positive. I want to find a more positive learning enviroment if at all possible becuase even though its just a term I think it would be more healthy as I come out each class wanting to quit.

 

Also, wherever I end up next year I do not intend to let ballet go, I think its important to have a passion and I hope to continue it wherever I am :)

 

Balleteacher: I would really like to take at least one class over Christmas but I don't know where still runs them. Do you have any suggestions?

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Perhaps if your teacher has been working hard with you to get you up to exam level she is just disappointed that you've chosen not to take it and perhaps frustrated feeling she's wasted her time. I do understand your reasons but maybe if you'd told her sooner than you didn't wish to work towards it she may have taken it better. So she might just be a bit annoyed at the moment, give it time and she'll probably get back to normal.

 

By the way no, teachers don't make a profit from exams, only perhaps if she was running exam coaching or holding it at her studio - then she might have made a little but probably not much as there are usually so few students at that level that its hard to make any money!

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I agree with aurora that the teacher is probably frustrated but it has to be said that teachers shouldn't teach for exams, the exam should just be an extra, the teaching, support and corrections should be the same whether you take an exam or not after all you are paying the same price as those who are doing the exams its just the don't get the ability to say they have x students taking level y exam there are many reasons for not wanting to take exams :)

 

i guess its human nature to let frustrations out on people and Dance teachers are human after all :) if its not working for you go elsewhere, there are plenty of dance schools out there and some really good teachers looking for hardworking students

 

Tx

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My DD swopped ballet schools at Easter before leaving for vocational school in the September.  She was not unhappy with the school but had no classes left at her level.  The new school was quite happy to take her, even though at that stage we did not know if it was for a term or longer (had not yet heard about DADAs) so do not worry about possibly only having a term ahead of you.  You are paying for the classes and if you are unhappy and talking to your teacher will not resolve anything, then you have nothing to lose by exploring your options.

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munchkin16,  have you found some drop-in class to go to during the Christmas holiday?

 

I remembered you mentioned Pineapple studio in another tread.  Why not try Ian's or Maggy's (I think) beginners class?  As you may not be used to classes where exercises are set each time (ie not RAD), you would probably get out more from slightly easier class.

 

Also Danceworks general classes may be less hectic than Pineapple's afternoon elementry classes. 

 

Taking different teachers' classes (from your usual) might be a refreshing experience  - and why not, drop-in classes are commitment free!

Edited by mimi66
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Don't know if it will be busy tomorrow but a good teacher and I believe she is popular. The dance level will probably be what I would call Intermediate/Advance standard. There could be a few ex professional dancers in the mix as well!!

But best to have a go and see how it goes for you.

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Mimi66: I'm in london tomorrow and with timings for other things I'm doing in London, I might go to Anna's elementary class at danceworks. Don't know if you think that is a good idea? Is the class really busy?

 

I have not had a chance to take her class yet, but I have heard a lot of good things about her.

 

It may be a bit busy now givnen school holiday has began, but should be less so than Pineapple elementary classes - although the studio would be smaller, too.

 

I am hoping others who has been to this particular class (or other Anna's class) would comment. But meanwhile, why not have a go? 

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