Forum: Ask a Teacher

Ask a Teacher
Looking for advice ASAP
By Maddie_Williams Comments: 22, member since Thu Mar 30, 2017
On Thu Oct 26, 2017 03:45 PM

Hey all, I’m brand new to teaching and have just opened my own company. Tonight in my seniors class (13-15yrs) I noticed a horrible vibe between my dancers I asked them in a casual way what’s up but they all just said they had had bad days in school etc. Halfway through me teaching the last bit of a routine 3 of my 6 dancers disappeared one after another. I just left it in the moment as I had 3 students ready to learn, after the lesson had finished I went to find out what was going on with the 3 that walked out. I found them sitting on the bathroom floor chatting, I asked them what was going on and they refused to tell me but eventually they said that they didn’t like that the other 3 already knew each other before joining my company and have a strong friendship, they feel like they like these 3 other students individually but not when they are together. The 3 that walked off all have some form of mental health issues ie anxiety, depression, panic disorder, ocd low self esteem etc. I just don’t know how to deal with this, we have our first very small performance in 2 weeks time (only one more 1hr rehearsal) and I’ve never seen them all dance at the same time in these pieces yet for many different reasons such as not being able to come to class, having an off day with mental health and so on. It’s really frustrating everyone as we can’t properly see how the routines/formations look without everyone being fully cooperative. One dancer hasn’t been in class for 2 weeks and now she won’t be in the last one before the show and she sat out for the most part tonight... she doesn’t know any of the choreography at all but the way I set the formations (trying to give everyone a chance at being center stage)it’s really gonna mess everything up if she's not in it.

I have really great relationships with all my company members but they just don't seem to have great relationships between themselves which is a huge worry for me.

How would you deal with this? Would you leave it until after the performance to try and start building the team back up? How would you go about getting everyone to get on even if it's only for the duration of class each week?

All help & advice would be appreciated. X

4 Replies to Looking for advice ASAP

re: Looking for advice ASAP
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6852, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Thu Oct 26, 2017 06:15 PM
YIKES....

I just have to point out...THIS IS REALLY RUDE...

In what world is it ok for half the class to disappear and have a pow wow on the bathroom floor?

You really need to reign this in ASAP.

"Ladies.... I spent a great deal of time and energy planning this class. It is hurtful for y'all to just walk out. If you are old enough to have the PRIVILEGE of being a company member you need to behave like young adults, not small children."

I might also point out to them that they can only "get to know" the others if they actually spend time getting to know them!

I would suggest a team meeting to review the company responsibilities and basic dance class etiquette. Don't make it personal, but review the importance of working together, of establishing a stage presence that reflects a good chemistry which will only happen if they WORK at it.

I would NOT even entertain a conversation about "we don't like...." I doubt these girls would like it if the others said this about them. As to their "mental health issues"... don't let this be a crutch. This is a matter of good manners and basic kindness. How would ANY ONE of them feel if the others did this to them? Why is this even an issue to be addressed? You are a dance teacher, not a psychologist. If they need to develop mental health strategies, their mental health professionals can assist them.

Their mission, and they DID choose to accept it, is to learn the choreography, show up for ALL rehearsals, and practice WORKING and PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS!

I don't mean for this to sound simplistic. But if you don't set the tone, the kids are going to...and this is just nonsense. I know of NO professional or semi-professional company where the director has to manage "feelings". These kids are old enough to behave and if you insist, they will. If you give them attention for this crap they will continue to pull focus, which is NOT going to help your new company.

Good luck. Teenagers are a challenge. They are also a blessing, in that they have youth, energy, personality, skill, and they want you to like them.

I wish you all well.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Looking for advice ASAP
By Maddie_Williams Comments: 22, member since Thu Mar 30, 2017
On Fri Oct 27, 2017 03:42 AM
I think I’m being very lenient with them as I’ve suffered with mental illness my whole life and still do (even more so now I’ve started teaching) so I can totally understand what there feeling but I’ve never used it as an excuse for being disrespectful to anyone especially not my dance teacher! It's just not on really and I have told them that.

Ive got these 3 not taking part in the warm-up/cool down also which I got really annoyed about last night and I made sure they knew it, I’ve told them how important it is for their safety never mind the fact that it is just plain rude and disrespectful to me and their classmates. And even got a rule about no phones during class yet they seem to still have them on them at all times, I had one student pull her phone out on the dance floor last night whilst my back was turned, next week I’m bringing a box for everyone to put there phones in at the start of class i think.

I was heartbroken that they walked out, like it actually deeply hurt me and I’ve not slept properly because I just keep replaying it in my head.

Last night was our 8th week open (and already things are falling apart...well with the older ones anyway) I set all the rules in the very beginning on the first night and then again every time someone new joined, they’ve even got them on paper so it’s not that they don’t know the rules maybe I just need to reinforce them a lot more. It’s just hard as the show is in 2 weeks and I can’t even get them together for an extra class as I hire a room and it’s only available when I’ve got it booked for already. I really don’t want to have to cut into the last bit of rehearsal time as it’s so needed right now but equally I can’t leave it as it needs sorting! I’ve even allowed them all to come to class early for the last 2 weeks (free of charge) to rehearse together while I teach my younger class as I thought it might help them to have that extra time together but it’s really not worked either.

Oh my head hurts so much right now, I definitely think I need to try and make some time next week before class to sit them all down, I just don’t know where yet.

Thank you for your reply x
re: Looking for advice ASAP
By Maddie_Williams Comments: 22, member since Thu Mar 30, 2017
On Fri Oct 27, 2017 03:46 AM
I think I’m being very lenient with them as I’ve suffered with mental illness my whole life and still do (even more so now I’ve started teaching) so I can totally understand what there feeling but I’ve never used it as an excuse for being disrespectful to anyone especially not my dance teacher! It's just not on really and I have told them that.

Ive got these 3 not taking part in the warm-up/cool down also which I got really annoyed about last night and I made sure they knew it, I’ve told them how important it is for their safety never mind the fact that it is just plain rude and disrespectful to me and their classmates. And even got a rule about no phones during class yet they seem to still have them on them at all times, I had one student pull her phone out on the dance floor last night whilst my back was turned, next week I’m bringing a box for everyone to put there phones in at the start of class i think.

I was heartbroken that they walked out, like it actually deeply hurt me and I’ve not slept properly because I just keep replaying it in my head.

Last night was our 8th week open (and already things are falling apart...well with the older ones anyway) I set all the rules in the very beginning on the first night and then again every time someone new joined, they’ve even got them on paper so it’s not that they don’t know the rules maybe I just need to reinforce them a lot more. It’s just hard as the show is in 2 weeks and I can’t even get them together for an extra class as I hire a room and it’s only available when I’ve got it booked for already. I really don’t want to have to cut into the last bit of rehearsal time as it’s so needed right now but equally I can’t leave it as it needs sorting! I’ve even allowed them all to come to class early for the last 2 weeks (free of charge) to rehearse together while I teach my younger class as I thought it might help them to have that extra time together but it’s really not worked either.

Oh my head hurts so much right now, I definitely think I need to try and make some time next week before class to sit them all down, I just don’t know where yet.

Thank you for your reply x
re: Looking for advice ASAP
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34913, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Oct 29, 2017 06:23 PM
Postpone the performance. Or cancel it, or whatever. This is your business, and your career, and something you'd reasonably like to build, yes? And putting kids out that simply can't bother to come to class increases the odds of that happening HOW? Oh, right. It doesn't. You're about to let these six girls that are so selfish that they can't see past their own needs, tank your entire business for you. Man...it better be worth it.

And do NOT bring them in for "free" classes - and I put free in quotes because it's only free to them, you'd actually lose money, because you have to rent the room - because they can't be bothered to care about the originals. Your time, and your energy and your talent are worth more than zero dollars. Have some self respect, man.

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