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Teacher Trouble


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Okay, I admit that as a parent I just have some of those grouchy days when I feel impatient with every mistake my children make. So, I'm trying very hard to be understanding of when my teacher is grouchy and impatient with me!


I'm the only adult in our studio and find it very difficult to handle it when she yells at us. I feel a little caught in the middle because I'm not used to being talked to in this way. Normally I wouldn't stand it but I don't want to be a bad example to the other kids. The corrections she makes are ones that I need, I do have a hard time remembering combinations and I do need to work on that. I don't have a problem with the fact that she is correcting me. It's more the "manner" in which she does it. Sometimes she admits that she's grouchy but that hardly seems like a license to be rude. And, it usually happens at this time of the year which is very busy for her because of the upcoming recital.


Anybody out there have a similar experience and how did you handle a situation like this?


By the way, this is not the first time it has happened. But I don't think just letting it go is working for me anymore. :)

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  • Dance_Scholar_London


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Im in a VERY similar situation (so in advance I apologise for venting in reponse). My teacher always yells at us, or she just makes this face like you are sooo clutsy she's gonna loose her mind. At the past, I just tried my hardest, and shook it off (you might try this). Lately though, she gives me seldom corrections (adhe usually focuses on this one girl, a natural born dancer), and when she does, it's like i'm such a dissapointment for doing things wrongly.

SOmetimes i feel like talking back, or telling her:" I really love this ballet thing you know, but your shouting that I suck isn't helping". But I never do, she scares me so. I just try to apply others corrections, and to dance for myself, because it's getting increasingly hard to dance for someone who doesn't believe in you (i.e: she says balance, but expects me to fall, so I fall). Focusing solely on my body makes it less awful (try this also), and I feel like I do things better. I don't know how much longer I can take, though.

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Personally, I think yelling is just not on, especially from a teacher. Yes, a firm, EXCUSE ME WOULD YOU PLEASE PAY ATTENTION, but not yelling, that doesn't help anyone including the person doing the shouting. To be a good teacher is a gift, if everyone is getting a step wrong, it may not be just be because the students aren't listening or not trying enough, but rather that it hasn't been explained in the right way by the teacher.

Yes, there are times in ballet class when you get chitter chatterers, and hey we all go through stressful times, but if that was always our excuse then we would always be in a fight with someone or other.

One thing would be to notice the events that lead up to this yelling? Is it because no one in the class has understood a step? is it because some of the other students ignore her when she corrects, or maybe they don't understand? When you have pin pointed the cause, then you can start to practice deflection. If for example, you see your teacher start to frown when you do a step and you think 'she's gonna yell at us" after doing the step, ,put your hand up and ask her " I didn't really understand what you meant by that?: or " I got stuck at this point can you help me please?, before she actually gets a chance to yell.

She is a human being as well as a ballet teacher and needs some emotional feedback, and I think a lot of ballet teachers don't get that. People just turn up for class do the class say 'yes, yes' when given corrections, and don't really understand, that's frustrating for her.

Other tips would be to talk to her after class about improvement and what you can do. Ask her for some simple exercises for example on strengthening something or other, just try and get some sort of rapport with her, and that will in turn help you and help her.



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Wow guys, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one in this situation!


Our classes are for all adults - and our teacher is not much older than some of us, and much younger than a lot of us. We are all there for one simple reason - we love to dance!


Most of us are also grad students or even teachers/professors. Yes we have brains, but dancing requires a different type of brain, and a different type of coordination. Like all things, it takes time to learn!


But because we are all adults, the yelling seems ridiculous! There are times when we all feel like talking back... (I admit it, I even once said there was no need to snap at me!), and sometimes even feel like walking out - she has said at different times 'what are you stupid' and the like, at the top of her lungs. There are some that seem to get the worst of it, and the rest of us don't know what to do... there's only one person that seems to get away with putting her in her place without it all being twisted around, made the student's fault, and then the student must suffer either more biting sarcastic corrections for a few months or just being ignored. :offtopic:


This doesn't happen every class or every week, but is more likely to happen during rehearsals... and yes, it does happen in class sometimes too.


I have no idea how to handle this, having tried to in the past and having it all become twisted around. She talks about her training and how her teacher was very strict/yelling and that they were all afraid of him, and I think that has affected her teaching. But we are all adults, doing this for fun, and having the fun sapped out of it.... :sweating:


I do, however, vent with my buddies afterwards, and have found a nice glass of wine or the like to be very soothing... :shrug:

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If you have the possibility to take class with another teacher, do it! There is no point that a teacher yells at you - it does not matter if you are a kid or an adult student. At the end, the STUDENTS are paying the salary of the teacher. I had a similar experience with a studio in London and I was always upset after class. I am not taking any more classes with this particular teacher and I am really glad that I did change. If a teacher cannot handle that the students might make mistakes or do not pay full attention, they better look for a new job :offtopic:

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Guest kristinene

That sounds terrible! All of the stories! I'm in a bit of a different situation. I take classes at two different studios. At studio 1 the teacher is fantastic - she gets the kids to laugh and pay attention with respect - not easy to do. She really helps build up the girls' egos, which I think is truly critical with preteens and teens, and definitely helps the few adults in the class! She is also very experienced. At my other studio (studio 2) my teacher is my age, exactly. She has been a principle dancer with a company, and has a lot of ballet experience, but not as much teaching experience as my other instructor. This shows in the way classes are run. Even though the girls like her they are intimidated by her in a way that the girls at the studio 1 are not intimidated by the teacher. I think this stems from the fact that she is sometimes very stern and dissapointed when the girls don't work as hard as she wants them to (and, honestly, many times some of the students are daydreaming or just lazy). She never yells. In this case I don't feel it is detrimental, but I know the girls are afraid to ask questions - so I ask a lot of questions hoping to clear up issues in advance. My situation is different, I don't feel attacked, in fact often she looks at me with expressions of 'oh what are we going to do with these little girls'. I should also mention that in my advanced class, where all the students are serious, this doesn't happen. And, one more thing, she has recently taken over the teaching at the school from an older women who was wonderfully sweet, but the girls just ran amuk - she had no control. The girls are readjusting to the discipline, and the ones who want to be there are happier than ever while the ones who did not want to be there are dropping out.


My point is the comparison between the two schools. At studio 1 the girls ask questions and feel good about themselves, even when they mess up a combination. They also all work hard trying to please the instructor. It is positive reinforcement. At studio 2, even though no where near the things the rest of you have described, the instructor uses more negative reinforcement, and it is much less effective at getting the desired results - hard work! In the situations you have described I have trouble imagining why anyone would submit themselves to some of the situations - why go to class? Especially as an adult - clearly you aren't there because mom is making you take dance. We dance simply for the love and joy of dancing, and I think instructors would respond to that.


If these situations are unbearable I think that something should be said. And I doubt a 14 year old will feel comfortable having this conversation. One of the greatest things about being an adult dancer to me is the confidence I have in myself - not that I'm doing everything right, just a stronger self image than I had as a teenager. If I were in the situation that you describe I would speak with the teacher. It could improve the situation not only for you and other adults, but also for all the other students a teacher has. As long as it is done constructively, avoiding the obvious pitfalls of attacking someone or accusing them (even is what they are accused of is the truth), I would hope that any teacher that wants to improve their skills would listen to a fellow adult. As a graduate student I'm constantly getting advice from my advisor, but also from fellow graduate students. Sometimes it is hard to take corrections from peers, but I would think a dancer would be very experienced in that area!


Back to studio 2 - I have no intention of bringing this up with my teacher. This may sound hypocritical, but I think that my teacher knows what is going on and is working to change the relationship between herself and the girls. She has started asking them often if they have questions, and explaining how important it is that if they don't understand something that they ask. Anytime a question is asked she is extremely interested in clearing up the matter. And, as I said, she never yells and when she is stern she has every right to be.


Take this advice in the spirit it was meant, spinbug - simply a suggestion. I hope that you are able to work this out in whatever way is right for you.

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If you have the possibility to take class with another teacher, do it! There is no point that a teacher yells at you - it does not matter if you are a kid or an adult student. At the end, the STUDENTS are paying the salary of the teacher.



Wow, I totally agree. My teacher has expressed frustration, it just comes out in her voice sometimes when she would see that we were unable to do even the easiest steps (proper chasse), but that was in the very beginning of working with her and can you blame her really? :offtopic: However, I would NEVER tolerate being yelled AT (in terms of "what are you, stupid?" or anything like that).


This is a recreational activity for most of us on this particular part of the board and personally I would probably not only change classes but let it be known to the management why I was changing. Very bad for business, and keep in mind that open adult classes are a real revenue-generator in a lot of places. I'm sure the management (assuming this is not an ultra-small school - where management = teacher) would not be too happy to hear about it.

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Thank you so much for all of your replies! It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one in this situation. Here's some more info to define what I'm dealing with. There is only one studio within an hours drive from my home so it is almost impossible that I could take three classes a week that far away. The teacher also already knows she's being harsh and warns us ahead of time so we can apparently be ready for it. In that case I wonder if any kind of communication from me would be dismissed as irrelevant since I had been "forwarned". I am like most of you, I dance because I love it so much. It feels good in my heart! Because I love it so much I want to become better and better at it. I don't mind good correction but truly, you can set me free with a few good words of encouragement and showing me where I'm improving. Another thing, she tends to ask if anyone has questions and then seems irritated if anyone asks anything. Once she told me after class that since I was in the advanced class I shouldn't ask so many questions. This makes no sense to me! Sometimes she demonstrates a combination but is very vague on the coreography for the arms. I'm the only one who asks because I don't like just guessing. Doesn't it make sense that the person with the nerve to ask the question is the one most interested in learning how to do it? If the class is too advanced for me I wish she would just move me down. I've asked her but she says it's okay where I am.


I am getting better in my technique and skill level, I think. Unfortunately, burnout can make your good technique look very boring and lifeless! What a price to pay!

CJ :offtopic:

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Well, DSL, and others, unfortunately there are not that many opportunities here, especially for adults... so.... What I have done is cut back my ballet classes (which makes me sad, but....), and see more performances. I also try to mix up classes, going to a class in London occassionally or a beginning class here or so. I did stop for a while, but I missed it so much that I was also unhappy in that situation... so... It sounds bad, but after a while, you get used to it! :offtopic:

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I am getting better in my technique and skill level, I think. Unfortunately, burnout can make your good technique look very boring and lifeless! What a price to pay!

CJ :offtopic:



You are so right, spinbug. The time that I stopped dancing for a while worked perfectly with some research overseas that I had to do, but it was also so clear that I was burntout and unhappy (in Sleeping Beauty! not a very happy wedding scene!). I have danced for over 20 years, and that was the first time *ever* that I was not looking forward to performing and that I had to be reminded to smile/act.... :sweating:

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I have to say I’ve never taken any class in any type of dance where I would say the teacher “yelled” at all, either at me, another student, or the class in general. And there is the issue of “yelling.” Does that mean speaking sternly, screaming at the top of one’s lungs, or something in between? Is it directed at an individual or the class in general?


If a teacher said something that startled me in some way, my first inclination would be to ask myself why he or she did that? I mean we all (including dance teachers) do what we think is best given the situation.


I do think teens can sometimes benefit from being “yelled” at, as most parents seem to know. So if class is populated by many teens, who are off track and the focus of attention is either the class in general or a specific teen, I probably would recognize it for what it was, an attempt to create focus for some people who shall we say are not focused at the time.


If a teacher did say something to me, as a real adult, that I found offensive, I would hope that I could respond with a witty retort. I might fail to do so the first time I saw that behavior, but if that was the teacher’s MO, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment the second time.


Best of all, as others have said, if you find a teacher offensive, just don’t go back. In fact, teachers of adults are highly dependent on their students liking them. Adult students tend to take class from teachers they like. They have the freedom to choose. And from the teacher’s perspective—no students, no job.

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Ooops I forgot one thing, as a follow-up to making witty retorts. I once had a Russian ballroom teacher who loved what I’ll call making cutting remarks to students (I wouldn’t call it yelling). He was a great teacher I have to say. One of the most well known and respected in the country, the teacher and coach of many national class dancers. I don’t remember the specifics, as this was quite a long time ago, but while making one of his cutting remarks, someone did make a witty response. This stern task master cracked up completely. He relished in the verbal back and forth that went on and the two of them kept a running act throughout the remainder of the class.


My sense was that this teacher just wanted to toughen up his students. I think he would say that dance isn’t a sissy sport (competitive ballroom considers itself a sport).

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Also, that's a good point that ami made. I'm really lucky (spoiled, really) to live where I do, there just happens to be at least two very good schools close to me and a handful more scattered around that you could at least dance at. It must be a much more difficult dilemma if you're not in such a situation. :offtopic:

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I'm friends with my teacher (although she's sixty and I'm 26), but she never says a lot in class ; she doesn't yell, and doesn't give many corrections (except during rehearsals where she can get really cranky, but I'm not doing the shows, so I'm not included in her sharp remarks ; anyway, I would love it if she yelled a bit more, because I really need to be corrected ; I had another teacher, who had never been a dancer, and she yelled a lot, and sometimes bad-mouthed us ; the trouble is that she was nasty : she meant what she said

I don't mind yelling (in my mind, it somehow goes with ballet and strieving for perfection) if it's done for you and not against you...

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