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kat23

evaluation advice

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kat23

My daughter received her evaluation last week and found out that she is being held back in her current level. Her marks were split evenly between "strong" and "satisfactory." The comments did not offer any reason for her retention, just one sentence that she was doing well in class. She was very discouraged because she really feels that she gives 100% in class--that's probably reflected in her "strongs" for applying corrections and focus. She also works with her theraband at home and regularly does the core and stretching exercises her teacher recommended to her. She is very willing to repeat the level, but she did mention at bedtime (when the truth always comes out) that she wonders if she's just not good enough because she's not sure how much harder she could have worked. She's 9 so this was her first experience with hard work not always getting you where you thought it would right away. Is it worth having a brief conference with the school to discuss some specific things she could do so that she's ready to move up next year? Or do we just let it go and hope that a year of growth and maturity will help her along?

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dancemaven

It might be helpful for you to simply discuss the school's philosophy so you have a better understanding how they approach their syllabus.

 

DD's home studio basically had a two-year/level syllabus. The first year, the dancers were exposed to the elements of the skills and expected to learn the 'broad-strokes'. The second year in the level, they were expected to refine and polish those elements. The class was staggered such that the dancer would first be in the 'younger' portion of the level and the next year, those same dancers would be the 'older' portion and expected to provide leadership. It was a mostly unwritten policy, but freely explained.

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learningdance

I have been reading a lot recently about what is called a "Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset" and we have been talking about it a lot with our kids. I cannot get the link to paste but basically when kids have a "fixed mindset" about their abilities, they respond to obstacles in certain ways (avoid challenge, give up, see effort as fruitless, ignore useful negative feedback). These are all things DD has trouble with. The only thing that would puzzle me in this situation is that there doesn't appear useful negative feedback. So maybe it's just a setback/obstacle to be persevered through.

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Blanche

Please pardon the context (cheerleading), but I think this is the idea learningdance is talking about in terms that do relate to ballet:

 

http://mindbodycheer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/mindset-1024x786.jpg

 

From what I have read, the teachers/studio can also have a fixed mindset, and this mentality can also have a negative effect on students' performance. I am not implying that your studio is like this, but there are certainly many out there who are. Teachers who believe that effort leads to achievement rather than basing their judgments on perceived talent alone foster a higher level of achievement among all students. They also encourage a "growth mindset" among students, even those who may have a more inherent tendency toward a "fixed mindset." I have one child who tends toward "fixed" and one who tends toward "growth"--it's definitely a challenge to encourage a growth mindset, especially in teens/preteens!

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kat23

Thanks, everyone, for your insights. At my daughter's school, students sometimes repeat levels, but it definitely doesn't appear to be built into the syllabus. Some move up after one year, and some don't. The fixed mindset/growth mindset is definitely something to keep in mind as I talk her through these situations. I think despite her moment of self-doubt, she's actually more growth-minded. Her initial reaction wasn't "Why didn't I move up?" it was "What did she say I needed to do?" While my instinct is to chalk it up to a real-life lesson, I also don't want to be ignoring something that may land her in the same spot next year. Perhaps the best time to bring it up, if at all, is after she has a few weeks of fall classes.

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lovemydancers

In my DD's childhood studio, most dancers spent roughly two years in each level much as dancemaven described - a foundational year, and a leadership year. That was not always the case, but generally it was. Promotion to the next level was not based on a strict set of criteria or how hard the dancer seemed to be working, but rather on sheer numbers - each level had a "typical" number of students, which allowed for sufficient attention to each student. One year my DD and another girl were registered to repeat the previous year's level and they would have been at the top of the class. When two students from the level above did not return, our girls were moved up; and two girls from the level below were moved into their places. It was all about balance of the levels, not necessarily whether they met a set of criteria.

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Momof3darlings

Another example and food for thought. At DDs first studio since we're talking about a 9 year old. There was a definite hold back/move on at that age. This also included when more dance was added to the schedule. The only real difference in the children promoted were those the teachers felt were ready for pointe because of both strength and ankle/foot structure. It's not the the other students were not equal in dance ability, but one more year without pointe was where the time was needed.

 

If she is able to speak with her teacher, that is the best thing.

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kat23

A very good point about my daughter speaking to her teacher instead of me--she's the one who needs to understand and apply the expectations. Students in the next level do go on to pointe, so that may be why she is staying back, though her age has never been mentioned one way or the other. Apparently last year a few girls who were then just a bit older than my daughter is now were moved up to the pointe level. When I mentioned the possible age issue to my daughter, she said that one of them told her that they tell you that you aren't old if you're not good enough. I think I have a better sense of how to approach this now, at least.

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daisychain

My younger children are ten, nine, and eight, so we are right at this age group ourselves. I think that I would want to be a part of any serious discussion with a teacher at this age. Younger children often are not able to remember and repeat everything they hear (in fact, people of any age have a problem with this, which is why it is suggested that patients always have a second set of listening ears at doctor's appointments). Having both parent and student there would be a great idea, I think. You could practice ahead of time the questions that you and your daughter think should be asked, so that she can do much of the asking, with you there to listen and follow up with additional questions as needed. If your child is not developmentally ready to lead the conversation (I don't think any of mine would be), feel free to take the lead and let her listen.

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DanceMumNYC

My niece (age 11) who is also in my care was asked to repeat her level. She feels humiliated because she will be with kids a year younger and her friends are all moving up. She feels she worked so hard and doesn't understand where she went "wrong." My concern is that next year she will not meet the age-appropriate training guidelines. At age 11, she will be in 3 classes per week instead of at least 4. The school isn't very receptive to meeting us to discuss their decision in her placement. Each student gets an evaluation at the end of year so we have an idea what she can work on. But it is not very detailed as to how they came to this decision, as in previous years she also received similar feedback on what to work on but was still promoted. We were told that all placements are final. Is this lack of communication and fewer than recommended classes reason enough to look for another school?

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loveballet

When one of DDs held back, I let my DD talk to the teacher. She is older. I think she was about 12. If she is younger I would ask my self. 

But I carefully guide her not to even mention about level placement. Just ask the teacher what she have to work on and any advice how to improve/fix the iusse. Issues was what I have expected, better use of turn-out muscles. So they want her to work on simpler combinations where she can focus on perfecting every move.

For DanceMum question about a age-appropriate training, you may want to ask about adding lower level (or same level) class is beneficial or not.  It is not in our experience, but I have seen other dancers were asked to take extra classes and/or more classes during the summer. It depends on a dancer- if school think it is too much or not recommended, they will tell you (at least in our school they will tell me). 

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DanceMumNYC

Thanks, this is not the type of school where additional classes can be added. Kids just take the classes designated to their group/section. Depending on level, there may only be one section. I will try asking on her behalf.  

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meatball77

At 11 it's probably pointe readiness.  Either she needs an additional year in a beginning pointe or needs an additional year before she's ready for pointe.  It's probably developmental and not related to how hard she works.

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DanceMumNYC

I told her not to worry because it was developmental too. It’s just confusing because the same school placed her at the level that gets pointe, among other non-technique classes (modern etc.), for their summer intensive. But for the year-round program she’s in a lower level. :unsure:

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