Forum: Irish / Irish - MAIDs

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Irish - MAIDs
emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 2)
By DCBorn Comments: 646, member since Fri Sep 10, 2004
On Fri Oct 08, 2004 11:51 AM

OK-luckily for my dd-I picked the right dance school and couldn't ask for better teachers. They are all compassionate,caring,kind people who truly care about children. However, I've talked to other moms whose dancers attend(have attended) schools where TCRG's yell,scream,insult,humiliate etc. the dancers on a regular basis. While I realize stern,strict behaviors may be "needed" in order to have an impact on a dancer-I have to wonder if such emotional/verbal abuse is truly necessary--even if a teacher is trying to mold a championship level dancer. I cannot understand why any parent would allow another adult to treat their child in such a manner. Academic school teachers don't even stoop that low(at least in the school system where I am employed). Parents are supposed to be their child's advocate, their voice, their protectors. Can someone help me understand? As a public high school teacher, I know even the toughest child responds more favorably to positive comments and kindness on the part of an adult who is supposed to be a role model. My son who played football for many years did not endure such verbal harassment--I was at many practices and witnessed how coaches dealt with the players. Dance is supposed to a fun,enjoyable activity. Sorry, I just don't get it! I hope in the future parents will be more proactive and stand up for their children.

35 Replies to emotional/verbal abuse

re: emotional/verbal abuse
By MilkMaid Comments: 293, member since Sun Sep 12, 2004
On Fri Oct 08, 2004 04:16 PM
While I haven't seen a lot of yelling at our school, I have seen bad behavior by teaching staff. One student was promised a chance to attend Oireachtas and even sent to buy a new dress. Got the new dress, but was told the teacher changed her mind and student is now NOT attending. Of course, it broke her heart. What was this teacher thinking?
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By FeisannePremium member Comments: 1733, member since Tue Aug 03, 2004
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 06:10 AM
Changed from an abusive tc to a school who are very laid back and actually 'respect' their pupils. It seemed that our old tc expected to be respected even tho' she screamed and shouted at the kids and at times made it very personal! Don't know why we put up with it for so long, if it had been happening at the kids school I'd have been up there like a shot and demanding to know what was going on.....Why did I put up with it from someone I was actually 'paying' to teach my kids? I have asked that question many times and still don't know the answer. Then one night after 18 months of being very unhappy, and myself taking a lot of 'c**p' from the tc, enough was suddenly enough, the kids voiced their opinion on the way home from a dance class and the next thing I knew we'd left.

Even when I rang old tc to say we were leaving she became very personal. I told her that had she been a school teacher I'd have made complaints before now, it didn't seem to bother what can you do? She now completely blanks me and my kids as does her mother. Thing is we're still really friendly with some of the parents and kids at the school, visit each others houses etc, and the other mums and kids never blank us, even tho' they know tc doesn't like them having any contact, so I'm happy about that as I would never allow anyone to tell me who I could and couldn't speak to and I'm glad at least they have their own mind on that one.
re: emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 2)
By IrishDancer34 Comments: 1003, member since Sun Oct 26, 2003
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 08:50 AM
I don't personally have any experience with teaching of that nature, and from what you guys are describing it sounds TERRIBLE!!

I was thinking at first it just might be misconceptions people form outside of the classroom, when they're not physically the student in the classroom, which is probably why people stay with teachers that seem that way; because it's not really that way.
Of course teachers have to yell, the music and hardshoes are loud! It doesn't have to be out of spitefulness! Of course they're going to single people out, why tell a whole studio full of dancers they're trebles are off, rather than just the couple two whose trebles really are off? Tell them all that and they'll all be trying to change their trebles--now all of the dancers in the studio have trebles that ARE off. Suddenly we've got a teacher who "yells" at two students about their (lack of) quality in their dancing...
As for insulting the dancers, that would be a far stretch. I suppose if everyone in the class was on a friendly basis, and there was an inside joke (like if someone had fallen at an event in a funny way), the teacher may joke around about it. To an outsider it would seem like the teacher was making fun of a dancer's mistakes long after the fact, but in reality, all the dancers (including the one who had fallen) would get a good laugh out of it.

It seems that it's altogether possible that it could appear a teacher was behaving in a less than approvable way whilst that was really not the case. I've had several experiences of that nature, and for me at least, they make those lessons more memorable--including the dance steps that were learned during them. If a teacher can make a lesson stand out (in a positive way of course!), it's going to stick with the dancer.

As I said before, I've no experience with teachers who do these things out of truly malicious intent...surely they must exist somewhere, but I have been fortunate enough to not come into contact with them--they sound awful!!!
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By DarcysReelmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4545, member since Mon Sep 29, 2003
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 09:14 AM
Ugh-thats no fun! My TC yells when he's stressed out and when we're not paying attention(usually before the O...). Never any name calling or anything like that.

If I was in their position I would SWITCH and never look back. Dance teachers have NO RIGHT to treat their students that way-nor does anyone else.
re: emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 1)
By FeisannePremium member Comments: 1733, member since Tue Aug 03, 2004
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:04 PM
Edited by OMoB (102026) on 2004-10-09 12:03:01
At our old school we were allowed to sit in the class, it didn't deter the tc from verbally attacking the kids at all. I think because no-one had actually stood up to her and said that they disapproved she thought it was ok.

I remember at one feis when she bawled my child out, I took her to one side and asked her not to speak to my dd in such a way, she asked me why not because she'd seen me doing it. I was amazed, she actually thought that because I took my child to task on occasion, over other things as well as dancing, that it gave her 'carte blanche' to do the same!!!!! The guy who was taking door fees that day came up to me later and said that he was amazed I hadn't slapped her face for her, the way he'd witnessed her speaking to me. There are so many things I could cite in why we eventually left, too many too upsetting to recall. We moved and we are far happier thank goodness. Hope anyone in the same situation has the guts to stand up and say something, this is supposed to be a hobby after all. I decided to keep my mouth shut to keep the peace, I truly regret that now!
emotional/verbal abuse
By bre_2_3member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2239, member since Fri Jul 18, 2003
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 12:51 PM
i used to love my private lesson teacher, because the first year and a half or so, she was really nice, and constructive criticism was more common than the mean kind. but lately(she is pregnant, by the way...i don't know if this is the reason, but it's still not an excuse to be a complete jerk to me, right?) she's been singling me out in class, and even at the privat lesson i share with another girl, she's been nothing but mean. i don't even get the same amount of attention at privates as the other girl, and it's not fair to pay her $15 an hour to sit around more than half the time. for the first time, i came out of dance class crying last week. she also made another girl cry(she's about 12, i'm 16. i'm not immune to being mocked or made fun of) because she couldn't get the step she learned just a week before, to music. it's not nice. i don't want things to get more awkward, but i really want to either quit private lessons altogether or get a different teacher. i know it'll be very weird and tense, but i don't think i can take it anymore. another thing that bugged me: whenever i got a really good place at a feis(once, even 3 1sts in one day), she never really cared at all. the last time, all she said was, "i can't believe you still do jig." now it may seem like a little thing and it's really only her that's anywhere near abusive(my other teachers are very nice), but it's not making dance a very enjoyable time, and that's the point, isn't it? so yes, i see what you mean about the abuse thing, and im sorry if none of this rant made any sense, but i had to say it to someone other than my mom, who's heard it at least three times already.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By DarcysReelmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4545, member since Mon Sep 29, 2003
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 02:25 PM
bre_2_3-is your private lesson TC the same teacher u have with regular classes? If she isn't, talk to your regular teacher about her-she DEFINATELTY should not be making you cry! If someone said to me 'I cant believe you still do jig'-I would've either mouthed off or slapped them! You dont deserve to be in a situation like that...
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By DCBorn Comments: 646, member since Fri Sep 10, 2004
On Sat Oct 09, 2004 02:50 PM
The types of remarks/comments about which I posted are clearly insulting and humiliating to dancers--even young dancers. For some reason, there is a mentality among some people that you can "inspire" others to accomplish great things by belittling them to a point where they will get angry and try to "show" the other person they are wrong. I think if that was the method of teaching my dd was exposed to initially, she would have quit dance within the first month. I will say that the parents I've talked to about this issue tell me when the dancers first started, the dancers were taught by assistants-so it wasn't until the dancers progressed to higher levels and worked with the main teacher-when they were treated badly. There is a school in my town where the main teacher treats dancers badly-but I guess parents can ignore it since the school produces many top placers at the Oireachtas. Sad what people will tolerate in the name of "success". I just believe it's wrong to treat anyone in a nasty manner-except of course violent criminals!
emotional/verbal abuse
By bre_2_3member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2239, member since Fri Jul 18, 2003
On Sun Oct 10, 2004 02:59 PM
to rincedancer123: we have 4 TC's, one currently on maternity leave and coming back soon, i hope. my private teacher is one of them, so i think i'll just switch to one of the champ dancers or something. the thing with that is that i don't like the idea of being taught by someone younger than i am, no matter how much better they are, and there's only a few private teachers older than i am. i'm stubborn that way. but i don't know whether to suck it up for another 7 weeks or so(till oireachtas is over, then switch) or just switch ASAP...
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By dance46 Comments: 242, member since Fri Jul 16, 2004
On Sun Oct 10, 2004 08:21 PM
Wow!!! This is a great topic. I live in NY. We have some great schools with some incredible reps. They do produce some great dancers but I have heard them tell moms - we'll take one dd but the other has no talent. My dd's school is small as I have said before. Very few great dancers. No one gets yelled at but they all have fun. The few dancers who love to compete - do and do well. No one brags about winning and no one gets yelled at for not competing. Exactly like a school , would any parent tolerate their child being yelled at in a classroom. DCBORN, this is a fabulous comment and as moms we have to think about what we expose our kids to. My son is in football, he has had to do a few extra push-ups once in a while , thats okay , but yelling at a child for a sport including irish dance is unnecessary, in my humble , wordy opinion.
re: emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 3)
By MrsFinnigan Comments: 8044, member since Mon Aug 12, 2002
On Sat Oct 16, 2004 01:10 PM
Oh. Wow. Tough topic. Good topic. One that necessarily forces even the best and nicest teachers to examine their own consciences. I've had to deal with this from a couple of angles, actually.
There have been a couple of instances when a student would get frustrated over a difficult step and start into tears. I'd handled those cases the same way, and have radically different reactions from the parents. Both times, I'd have the class break for individual practice time, take the crying child aside and ask her to take a few deep breaths, then ask if she'd like to take a breather and try again later or keep working on it. In both cases, the child would calm down very quickly. One wanted to keep working. Her mother, who hadn't heard the conversation, swept in, without a word to me, and physically removed her daughter from the class. I never saw them again and still do not know why exactly she'd done that. The other felt she needed to just sit and watch the others work on the same step. So I let her. Her mother heard the whole conversation and agreed with how I handled the situation.
There is also yelling simply to be heard over the music and the hard shoes. Some sensitive souls need reassurance that it isn't personal, I just need to make myself heard over the music. There is also harmless joking, which happens often in my class, though I try to make sure it's at my own expense. I don't often single students out. Usually, if one or two have difficulty with something, I will take the entire class through drills to correct (or prevent, if they're doing something right all along) the problem. Or if they know and admit where their mistake was, I congratulate them for knowing that and say, "You know you're making progress if you don't need me to tell you what needs improvement. Now let's work on that a while." And I encourage them to regard their mistakes as a fleeting moment of accidental silliness or a common problem everyone has to deal with rather than something the teacher's going to throw a hissy fit over.
I do not deny that some teachers may be harsh. But it is possible for some parents to misunderstand even the best tactics of the most well-meaning teachers. There are also some additional factors, such as crop up if the teacher has a family member or any other particularly difficult student in class. (Though I can't think of anyone more difficult for a teacher to deal with in class than his or her own child. Teachers' kids generally try to get away with more, with the mistaken idea that being the teacher's kid automatically comes with extra privileges. Trust me. I'm dealing with that right now.)
Now, actual abuse is one thing, and should be reported as soon as possible. I'm not denying that happens, because it, tragically, has. But in the vast majority of cases where a teacher is accused (particularly accused in the relatively safe anonymity of cyberspace) of being abusive, I think it's important to have the full story before passing judgement on anyone involved. More often than not, these accusations are rooted in mere misunderstandings. Or perhaps nothing more harmful than a personality clash is involved. I do think that clashing personalities between parent, student, and teacher may be legitimate reasons for the student to look for a more suitable class. But that doesn't mean the teacher is abusive or a bad teacher. Different teaching styles and personalities work for different people. Good students plus good teachers do not always equal a perfectly harmonious learning relationship.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By GhillieGhal Comments: 211, member since Thu May 13, 2004
On Sat Oct 16, 2004 01:40 PM
ya, this is a geat topic! anyway, ya emotional/verbal abuse has been haappening at our school. but NOT by any of the students, teachers, parents, ect. it is coming from a rivel school in the same area. the TC at the school complains about our head TC and i think the only reason she's (other school's TC) is being like this is cause our school is farly small compared to others but is growing and we have been placing at mosly every feis. oh well our head TC told us not to get involved, but if we hear any thing...ect. to go and tell her.

every things good though, its not realy too bad, but it's still there...

re: emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 3)
By reelmom Comments: 229, member since Fri Aug 06, 2004
On Wed Oct 20, 2004 02:26 PM
I think the reason we tolerate the abusive behaviour is because of the pattern of behavior that goes along with it. The teacher is nice at first and we like her. Then an incident occurs. We justify it by saying that everyone has a bad day sometimes or has stress in their life that causes it. No one is perfect. It might not happen again. Sometimes the abuse is borderline and you even question if it really is that bad. You don't want to talk to anyone about it because if it really is abuse, what are you doing there and what kind of mother are you? And if it isn't, how could you say such a thing about our beloved teacher? No one else says anything so maybe it's just me?

So then after the incident or a period of incidents, the teacher is nice again and everything is okay. Why go through all the anguish of finding the right school and transferring when this just may be an isolated time period? The kids don't want to leave their friends, they LOVE dancing and there isn't another school less than an hour away.

When the abuse happens again, you try to figure out what you or your children are doing that can prevent it from happening again. Don't ask certain questions, always pay attention and don't talk during class, always pretend you know what she's talking about even if you don't, don't let her know you are tired/sick/haven't practiced, etc. After a year of so, you know how it works so you and the kids are fairly safe, but they are still witnessing the abuse of other kids who don't get it.

I know it must sound crazy, but it is SO hard to really see it especially when she is friendly and complementary a lot of times. And all the other parents seem like reasonable people and they aren't leaving or saying anything. It's funny how you get caught up in that cylce of trying to please the teacher in order to experience the nice/fun side.

The abuse I am talking about isn't the kind that you would misinterpret. This is done with glaring eyes, venomous words, accusations and threats. Asking a child if they practiced and when they honestly say yes screaming no you didn't. Screaming at them because they aren't doing it right when the teacher constantly forgets that she changed the step or that they weren't there when it was changed. Letting everyone else learn a new move/step except certain child/children who aren't deserving and yelling at them for trying or for not being good enough. Allowing questions from certain children, but yelling at others for asking anything. Hardly ever yelling at the favorites. Comparing children to the favorites and saying why can't you do it like so and so? Threatening to not allow them to go to a feis/oireachtas/class at all. But then on other days, no word is said when the children do the exact same thing they were yelled at for the last time.

I don't know if this helps explain it at all. All I can say is that it is really hard to see/admit when in the middle of it. Some of us may have had parents that we may have never admitted were abusive so maybe that explains some of the doubt about the abuse.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By DCBorn Comments: 646, member since Fri Sep 10, 2004
On Wed Oct 20, 2004 05:09 PM
I hope others in your situation read this and start thinking about making some changes. Life is too short to "put up" with such horrendous treatment. If there is another place to go, it might be worth the peace and tranquility--after all this is supposed to be our child's hobby, sport, extra-curricular whatever-but it does affect their level of self-esteem. If we allow our children to be treated by other adults in an inferior manner to how we treat them-what message does it send to them about your(our)respect for them as human beings? Maybe it's time to end the vicious cycle??? I really appreciate your candor and have a strong feeling your are not alone at all-in your school and at others in the same city,state and region. Just step back and think of what advice you'd give your child if a peer(friend or not) was treating them similarly and they were confused as to how to handle it--- I only raised this issue because I've heard testimonials from numerous moms-and they did switch schools, but admitted they were foolish to wait so long. Others are still in those schools, feeling like you do and wondering why it's so. I just shake my head and thank my lucky stars for what we have at our school.
Just to add to your comments...
By reelmom Comments: 229, member since Fri Aug 06, 2004
On Thu Oct 21, 2004 08:13 AM
For anyone who is in the situations mentioned above, my advice is to GET OUT no matter how hard it is. Your children are worth it. So are you!
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By dancing_spazmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 551, member since Sat Nov 13, 2004
On Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:22 PM
well there is a teacher names Breda and shes in her 50's i think, anyway, she was always a little harsh, but she wouldnt insult a dancer on personal things EVER. I havent seen her lately but she's as harsh as I've seen, Breda's daughter, Sinead is in her late 20's and she is a real great teacher, shes so fun. all the teachers yell over the music and harshoes, but really, its nothing personal! one time a student-teacher-helper-outer person thing misunderstood me, she thought i was seriously telling her to shut up, when i was really just joking, lol admit it, you know you've said shut up before in a total joking way. i started crying cause i felt really bad that i hurt rosemary and sinead took rosemary out of the room to talk to me and she saw me crying and hugged me, they're all so great, i love my teachers. they're really strict on not being insultive and stuff towards other people.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By IrishDancersMom Comments: 23, member since Sat Nov 06, 2004
On Fri Nov 19, 2004 05:29 AM
My daughter teachers-she has TCRG's-have never been anything but kind to the dancers. They are the greatest. The most they do is hugs for the dancers. The head teacher is very blunt and to the point(to us parents) but not mean. I would not want my daughter in an enviorment with verbal abuse. Life is too short to take this from a dance teacher.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By maureensiobhan Comments: 4731, member since Wed Dec 24, 2003
On Fri Nov 19, 2004 03:00 PM
I don't know if some teachers feel under some pressure to produce a champion, but there is still never any excuse for nastiness. The students surely feel nervous enough when time is getting closer to a major competition like an oireachtas, national, or world championship. They don't need such a teacher to add to it. I would definitely try to find another teacher.
When is it too much?
By srmaid Comments: 358, member since Thu Dec 02, 2004
On Thu Dec 02, 2004 01:55 PM
Lately we've been experiencing - hmm - I don't know what to call it. I'm not sure if its "O" stress or what but I find it inapproriate. Comments in front of the entire class along the line of: you look terrible, you shouldn't be going to the "O", made to apologize to the team in front of the class for messing up by saying "I'm sorry we can't go to the O, I messed up", TC informing the Class at large about the need to wear constricting foundation when dancing (my DD is the only one in the class with breasts beyond an A cup), not too hard for anyone to figure out who she was talking about.

My DD makes excuses for the TCRG, saying she's just stressed because of the "O". And I'm willing to give some leeway in this case, but I also don't want my DD to get in the habit of tolerating demeaning remarks from anyone, let alone an adult whose supposed to be guiding them. It doesn't help that my DD is very stoic. What do you think - am I making mountains out of molehills?
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By reelmom Comments: 229, member since Fri Aug 06, 2004
On Mon Dec 06, 2004 09:08 AM
Srmaid, I can SO relate to what you are saying! I was right there, wondering if it's okay to make excuses, wondering if it would go away after the O, or the next major. Wondering if accepting this behavior would lead to my dd accepting the same from a future employer or husband. No one else complains or leaves, right? It makes you question if you are making too much of it. I don't think you are making mountains out of mole hills.

I think most teachers will say or do something they wish they hadn't at sometime in their career. They are only human. An apology should follow. Has your teacher apologized to the dancers for her behavior? And then, the behavior should never happen again. Has your teacher shown a pattern of this behavior? Do things get better, but then under stress it reappears?

Leaving a school is hard, but there are many kind and caring teachers out there who build confidence and self-esteem. Your daughter deserves to have one of them! Good luck with whatever you decide.
Thanks for replying reelMom
By srmaid Comments: 358, member since Thu Dec 02, 2004
On Mon Dec 06, 2004 09:24 AM
I was beginning to think that perhaps the lack of replies indicated I was making mountains out of molehills. This is definately a pattern, not an isolated incident. Unfortunately my daughter does not want to leave her friends. And it is very hard to discuss this with anyone as someone in Irish Dance would not understand the environment and think we were crazy from the very beginning (we may be). I am reluctant to discuss this with other mothers in the school. If we do end up leaving then I don't want to stir up a hornets nest before we go. Sometimes I lose our perspective when my affinity is too close to either participant or subject.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By DCBorn Comments: 646, member since Fri Sep 10, 2004
On Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:05 AM
Perhaps you should contact the teacher and ask for a "conference" of sorts. Try to present your concerns by explaining that your dancer may have interpreted certain comments in a manner that came across negatively-and that she/he may have misunderstood the reason for the comment. If you avoid putting the teacher on the defensive-more progress will be made. Sometimes people do "spout off" without realizing how a remark will be received. However, for continual "mean-spirited", critical remarks that will impact a child's self-esteem-a more direct, strong approach will be required. Hopefully this will be a great learning experience for everyone involved.
emotional/verbal abuse (karma: 1)
By bre_2_3member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2239, member since Fri Jul 18, 2003
On Mon Dec 06, 2004 02:08 PM
srmaid- i definitely think if it's ongoing, and more than just stress for like a 2 week period, it's a pattern to be recognized and perhaps leave. no mountains out of molehills, but mountains out of quite deserving mountains. but i identify with the pre-o stress factor, because the couple of weeks right before my teachers were MUCH harsher than usual. but the last practice pre-o was one of those pep rally kind of things, where it was all fun and "yay, you've worked so hard, we're so proud of you all," etc. so they made up for the harsh words the previous weeks.
re: emotional/verbal abuse
By reelmom Comments: 229, member since Fri Aug 06, 2004
On Mon Dec 06, 2004 04:02 PM
srmaid, I don't know your teacher's personality, but our teacher was not the type you could talk to about things like this. One time I tried to tell the teacher before class that my child was afraid of being yelled at and the teacher proceeded to immediately yell at my child. I only made it worse by telling.

Change is hard but sometimes you need to make the decision despite the wishes of the child. Most of the children in Irish dance are really nice and your child will meet knew friends. If you want to e-mail me off this site, my e-mail is I know several children who were mad at their mother on the drive to the new class or cried, but once there were fine and eventually happy about the change.
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