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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Changing schools advice: how to tell instructors


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Well, today is the day that my DS and I will tell his studio and his previous instructors he is not going to return next year, instead he is going to go to a pre-professional/professional Ballet school, which the studio directors dislike with a passion. I think they feel like they lose good, focased students to this school. My DS is among 5 older boys at our studio, this studio is one of the few who have this many older boys, and I know she will not be happy in losing one of them.

 

My DS is 16 years old and I know that now is the time for him to move on to study ballet more intensively, but I also know our studio will not understand (they are very possessive of their students).

 

Any advice on how to approach them, or what worked without feeling being hurt or feeling guilty?

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I am not a parent----- but I have had to experience the same daunting task of telling my old teachers that I was moving on to Harid. I had found out prior to auditioning for Harid that my studio had never posted Harid's information because they didnt want to lose students to a residency..... I found out through a girl at a different studio about the audition and it was one of the best things that had happened to me! I remember the day clearly when I had to go in after the summer program and tell my teachers I was going away. I basically went in the office and they asked how my summer was and I told them "It was perfect and I'm going there for the year." One of my teachers was very excited and the other was basically accepting of it......kind of went back to her papers and didnt say much else. Now every time I go back to the studio they are so proud of everything that has happened since then and I know they'd be thrilled to have more students go to Harid or another residency. They have realized that they couldnt offer me what I needed for a career in ballet. Your son's teachers should hopefully take it as a compliment to their training and I hope for you that they turn out to be proud of your son moving on to bigger things! Merde~ :green:

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You shouldn't feel guilty, you are doing what is best for your son.

 

This is a hard thing to do (we have had to do the same), and it is sad when there are hard feelings, especially if the school has been a good fit up to this point.

 

When my daughter changed schools, I thanked the director for all she had done for my daughter.

 

I'm not sure there would be any benefit to explaining why you are leaving, unless you wish to do so.

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We have had to do this twice now. The first time was very difficult because dd had built a very close relationship with her teacher. She was also a big fish in a very small pond. I wrote the teacher a letter and my daughter did as well. We thanked her for everything and explained our reasons for moving on. We then sent a thankyou bouquet of flowers. We received a very nice note back encouraging dd to do well and make sure to come back and visit.

This last time, just this week, was not so nice. DD's teachers quit and the 4 aspiring ballerina's decided to go with them to join an apprentice company with a regional company. It will be a very select few girls hand chosen by dd's teachers. The studio she was at has not been very nice. Or should I say...one particular person at that studio. DD had planned on taking drop in classes for the rest of August with the two ballet teachers but was informed on Monday that they were not allowing drop in students for the month. :wub: There excuse was the inconsistency is difficult for the teachers. I even offered to pay up front like I did for July. They pointed out that even though I paid up front for July (only 2 weeks) dd didn't show up for the last week. I explained that she had been injured and had called immediatley when we found out that she wouldn't be able to dance. Evidently no one got that message. :dry: Now we are scrambling for classes for dd. The only classes available for her are 3 adult classes and the one technique and pointe class on Sundays with her regular teachers.

DD's teachers don't want her going to just any studio for class with just any teacher.

I sure wish I knew why studios treat these kids like this. Most times it is the parents decision to change schools yet the kids are the ones treated so horribly. DD worked hard at her last studio, I volunteered quite a bit, and we paid our tuition just like everyone else, but when we decided to do what we felt was best for our child, the school reacts like a spoiled kid.

It sure changed my opinion of this school. I wrote a very long letter expressing my opinion....no Chucky Taradriver :(:P ....and even requested a refund for the classes missed due to injury. We will see if they respond.

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I will give you the 'other side' perspective. I am a teacher who encourages her students to move on and beyond if they find I can no longer give them what they need to grow as a dancer (I *KNOW* I cannot give absolutely everything they need...I don't think any ONE teacher can).

 

One of the nicest things you can do is to tell the teacher(s) that you have had that you have really appreciated what they have given your student/child. Tell them that growth *has* happened because of the teacher's attention. And, as with most things in life, it is time to move on, it is time to grow with the good foundation that teacher has given your student. Honestly, you would never feel your DS could jump right in to a pre pro school if that good foundation wasn't there.

 

I think the hardest thing is when the leaving is abrupt and there is no closure, either for the student or the teacher. Even a 5 minute conversation about how far he has come, and how much farther he has to go will leave a good taste in everyone's mouth.

 

Don't feel guilty. Do it nicely, and move on. Life goes on...for you and for those teachers.

 

(I think the key here, as for most things is The Golden Rule. Speak to them nicely, treat them how you want to be treated and move on.)

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"I think the key here, as for most things is The Golden Rule. Speak to them nicely, treat them how you want to be treated and move on.)" b1

 

Corollary 1 to the Golden Rule: S/He who has the gold makes the rules.

 

You don't need to feel bad about no longer needing their "product." My dd and I occasionally see her former teachers (even the dragon lady who made her cry) and we are cordial (Chuckie's day off). I've thanked them both for giving her a good foundation, because they DID.

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Guest DelBocaVista

My 16 yo (then 15) daughter went through this last year. She was leaving her long time studio for a pre pro school. She was very close to this former teacher and wanted to tell her before the end of summer session that she would not be returning and why. My dd wanted to tell this teacher herself but wanted me there for moral support :o . My daughter mistakenly thought that this teacher would be happy for her since she had always been incredibly supportive to her. My dd explained where she was going and why very nicely and this teacher looked as if she had been slapped in the face. "Why would you want to go THERE, you will never be accepted THERE. those dancers have been together for years, you will spend your whole time there in the backround. If we did Cinderella HERE you'd be Cinderella, if they do it THERE you'll just be in the corps unnoticed." She went on like this for a while and my dd was holding back tears. I could not even speak I was so shocked! My daughter had a week left at this studio and I give her credit for going back and finishing the week after what happened. She told me she became the "invisible" dancer to this woman, no corrections, no attention at all. Then because of what this teacher said to her about the new school she was very, very nervous to start class there. The happy ending of this story is she is incredibly happy at the new school, the dancers welcomed her with open arms and she has had a wonderful year :party: . She also received the class award for her level! She was just as visible as anyone else in the end of year performance! My advice would be don't feel bad about leaving, you must do what is best for the dancer. Mine wishes she had made the switch many years ago. We thought we were doing the right thing by telling the teacher but now I wish we hadn't because of the stress it caused my daughter.

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I think the hardest thing is when the leaving is abrupt and there is no closure, either for the student or the teacher...

 

Don't feel guilty.  Do it nicely, and move on.  Life goes on...for you and for those teachers.

 

I agree; lack of closure can be difficult. As teachers, we hope to complete a 'cycle of work', but that doesn't always happen. :o

 

I never had a possessive teacher and I don't really understand that mentality. This year, though I've had trouble getting a few of them to 'leave the nest'...

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Although this subject has come up before, and will understandably come up again in the future, it's great to hear from teachers as well as parents.

 

DelBocaVista, congratulations to your daughter on all fronts. :)

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We have gone through this twice in the last two years. Once was due to an out of state move, and the other due to frustration with a school's lack of organization and excessive performance requirements.

 

In the first case, I told them about a month in advance as it would have affected 2 performances. The AD begged us to stay for Sleeping Beauty, which we did. I made special arrangements in regards to moving dates, etc., to accomodate this. I believe in standing by commitments if at all possible, so in this case, we did so. The other performace was the Spring recital, and we gave them enough notice so they had time to change the choreography and leave my son out. Even with us trying to be as considerate as possible there were still some hard feelings by the husband (the artistic director) because we were leaving. (He never spoke to me after I had told his wife we were moving.) DS was one of only two boys at the studio and I'm sure that this had a lot to do with it. But, I'm glad we gave early notice as it gave my son time to have closure with all his friends and the remainder of the faculty. (They gave him a going away party as well.)

 

The second studio was a little more traumatic as I think we were dealing with an ego issue: "How can you think THAT school is better than ours???" type of thing. And I was cornered about 3 times by the artistic director and basically brought to tears over whether or not I was doing the right thing by leaving. Luckily, there was a teacher there who we just adored and this teacher assured me that we were doing the right thing by switching, so it made things a lot easier for us knowing that.

 

I guess the moral of the story is that yes, changing CAN be traumatic, but as long as you take the high road and bow out gracefully, no one is justified in finding fault in your actions. :innocent: And any teacher or AD with integrity and class will wish you well and not take it personally.

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We're looking at doing this next year & I'm already dreading it. Mainly because it's not that we have a big problem with her current studio, we just want a school with a company. I've already been trying to figure out how to explain to her teacher that's it's not her, it's us. I think she provides a great school for kids who want to dance but are never going to be professional dancers and that's not a bad thing. I bellydance & I will never make a career out of it. But I love to do it & I'm fortuate enought to have a teacher who doesn't care if I ever earn a penny dancing but believes that my love of dance is enough. That's the kind of studio DD is at right now & for most of the girls there, that's great. They need a place where their love of dance is enough. But we want a little more & I'm hoping she can see that as a positive.

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Right now, we are in the process of telling our teachers goodbye and moving on. We are very lucky that they are supportive of this move, although they think she can still get good training here.

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  • 3 years later...

Dd and I are now in this boat, though we haven't yet given notice to her beloved current studio. Dd will moving from a very small, nurturing studio where she has learned good technique, and artistry, but which has no program established for students who want to aspire for a pro career. She has been accepted to a pre-pro school, and she'd like to move to this school in about 2 months, give or take. All of this came up rather suddenly as she was out auditioning for summer programs. I had actually planned to move her a year from now, but it has become clear that now is the time to make the move. I think the news will come as quite a shock to her teachers. I am as sure as I can be that her teachers will be supportive of our decision. They know what her aspirations are, and they also know that they don't have a full pre-pro program available.

 

My question is how much notice would it be appropriate to give her teachers? Is it like a job where the departing employee gives 2 weeks notice?

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No, it's not at all like a job in that you are paying them, not the other way around....

 

I think there is some excellent advice already on this thread, in the earlier posts, so I have nothing to add really- just remember that you are in the driver's seat here. A ballet school cannot be "everything to everyone", and the goal of the school should be the best interest of the child.

 

Good luck! :)

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Thanks Clara. So, it sounds like it's not considered rude to just tell them she's leaving (with nice notes from the two of us) on what will be her last day at the current studio.

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