Forum: Ask a Teacher

Deflated By Unmotivated Student
By ellabrit
On Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:44 AM
Edited by ellabrit (300332) on 2018-01-16 11:45:39

I am a competitive dance teacher (I am not the studio owner), the majority of my students are between the ages of 8-16 years old. I have been teaching dance for three years now. For the most part I get along just fine with the ebb and flow of will power and moods among my students. Recently I have grown extremely flustered with one of my students and I feel as though I need help navigating the situation.

Here is one example: last night we were in the competitive tap class - this student has been tapping for about 4-5 years. She is only ten years old but she has extreme difficulty in keeping time. She speeds up in her small group which throws the dance itself completely off balance as there are only 4 of them, and it trips up the dancers around her as well. I broke down the steps into the absolute basics, taught them each count as per single step - counted it out with them while they danced it, had the students count it out while they danced it without me. Everything was great, she had completely slowed down things were moving along fine.

But as we progressed onto other things she started to lose focus and even with corrections wouldn't listen and reverted back to old ways. I don't want to get upset with my students, it is so important to me that they stay passionate with their craft. I find myself getting so frustrated when I can tell that she understands the concept but won't adhere to my advice long enough to really make a positive impact. I have struggled with her previously as it seems as though she just doesn't care to listen or follow my advice. But I feel like my bag of tricks is empty.

Do I just let her dance at her own pace? Is there something I'm missing that I could be doing? I feel like it is so unfair to the rest of her group if she's just off in her own world.

Her mom has been extremely grateful for my patience and efforts but are those efforts wasted if I'm not correcting the problem? This student is doing a competitive solo as well this year - she is also extremely challenged in this. I don't have the authority to say she shouldn't be doing a solo but I feel as though at this point we are setting her up for failure.

Sometimes I doubt my ways of critiquing students. I want to be the most effective in my educating practices.

Please help!

5 Replies to Deflated By Unmotivated Student

re: Deflated By Unmotivated Student
By jms9t2
On Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:27 PM
I feel like I know where you're coming from in having to really dig deep into your bag of tricks for certain students. Some are so much tougher than others! It sounds like you've tried a lot of good approaches. This tactic can be unpleasant but effective: restart the music each time "anyone" (if it happens to be the same person every time:) is off count, or whatever goal you feel is appropriate.
I would also be sure she understands it is not your "advice" but the instruction and choreography for the piece. You are right that it is unfair for the rest of the class, especially since she understands the concept. Could you have another teacher come in to critique the dance? You know how kids take feedback from another teacher, even when it's the same thing you've been saying all along!
I hope you will get more comments because I'd love to hear what other teachers' approaches to this situation. Good luck!
re: Deflated By Unmotivated Student
By ellabrit
On Thu Jan 18, 2018 09:18 AM
Thank you for your reply!!! It's so useful to hear other people's perspectives.
re: Deflated By Unmotivated Student (karma: 1)
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Jan 22, 2018 09:49 PM
This tactic can be unpleasant but effective: restart the music each time "anyone" (if it happens to be the same person every time:) is off count, or whatever goal you feel is appropriate.


My sons classes do that a lot. They call it the "Stop Go Game". Whatever the thing that the teacher designates - turns, pointed toes, sharp hands, whatever. It's amply explained what it is that she's looking for, and then she just turns on the music. She'll stop it if she catches someone not doing whatever the thing was, and they'll all reset, and start again. And she's not easy going about it, I've seen classes they were lucky to make it all the way through the dance once. But you know what? It creates a situation where they're either going to all band together and get through it, or they're gonna call out the one screwing it up. Cause your kids that are doing it, and really want to do well? They're not stupid. They know she isn't pulling her weight. And they're either gonna pull her through, or their gonna snap on her. And she's going to respond to them a whole lot differently then she will you.
re: Deflated By Unmotivated Student
By Winter17
On Fri Feb 23, 2018 07:02 AM
Another thought is that some students are a bit more attention deficit through no fault of their own. These students sometimes respond more to a reward system because especially at a young age as they don't see long term rewards. Maybe try okay if everyone gets this sequence right exactly four times in a row you get - (a treat,sticker, whatever you think would work). Usually if they concentrate enough to get it 4 times they will remember it after.
re: Deflated By Unmotivated Student
By WantJazz
On Thu May 31, 2018 08:30 AM
I would recommend to discuss the issue with the SO as soon as possible. This may not be an issue with your teaching, but rather with the student's abilities to keep up. This is an extremely touchy subject that can get span out of proportion. As a SO I tell all my instructors that I need to know about cases like this ASAP, so I can properly review and address it, and help the Instructor to focus on their job, instead of things that may be outside of their control.
My story

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