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Teacher issues


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My DD daughter, almost 14, has one teacher who is especially hard on her. She says some really cruel things to her. I have tried to tell my daughter that that is just the way her teacher is and to learn to deal with it. But observing the class myself, this teacher either praises constantly or ignores the other girls. My daughter seems to be the only one she singles out for these comments. " I've seen 9yr olds do that better than you ", " do you even want to be here because you aren't even trying" . Pulling aside the same dancer each time to demonstrate to only my daughter and asking her in front of the other students , why can't you do it exactly like said girl, you just aren't even trying. My daughter has other teachers who are strict and corrective but don't rely on insulting comments to motivate. I know she has to learn to deal with this teacher but I am at a loss about how to have her deal with it. She is getting to the point of considering quitting. This teacher also teaches at several other ballet schools in our area. This lady seems to have no problem correcting with encouragement her favored students.

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Is it possible for you to speak to this teacher and simply speak to how your dancer is motivated and how she is defeated? Having 3 children, they all were motivated by different things. Snide remarks would have defeated all of them. You can be hard without being defeating. This type conversation may have her understand that what she is doing has a reverse effect. Progress is the goal so she should want to see progress and understand what will help that along.

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I had my daughter speak to the directors, with my support, about this issue. One said that this was unacceptable and the other kind of chuckled and said she just needs to get used to this kind of teacher if she wants progress in ballet because every school has at least one of them. I have tried talking to this teacher about an injury that my daughter had at the beginning of the school year and was dismissed and told she should just suck it up and take a Tylenol and not be such a baby. Even though she went to a local sports medicine orthopaedic doctor that told her to rest for several weeks. She has since recovered. So I am having a hard time getting up the nerve to speak to her again about anything. I wonder if it's just us that she doesn't like because she seems pleasant and helpful to other dancers and their parents. I know it's normal to have favorites but I don't think there is any need to be unpleasant.

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This is the kind of thing that makes me angry. As a dance mom AND dance teacher, I can sometimes see it from both perspectives, so I hope you don't mind if I get on my soapbox for a moment.


Any teacher who plays favorites and mocks students is not really a teacher. They may "give a class" but I do not consider them a teacher. A teacher is someone who strives to help each and EVERY student learn or improve. There's no need to bully/mock a child or compare them to others to accomplish this... if they know how to TEACH. Someone who "gives a class" is simply repeating what their teacher told them to do (hence the same correction everytime even if it doesn't work) and usually with little understanding of how the correction should be applied. This is not your daughter's fault and she certainly should not be made to feel like she has done anything wrong, based on what you shared.


My favorite teacher in the world once told me that he believed students learned in one of three ways - visually (using shapes to describe the movement, like circular, vertical path, etc.), anatomically (identifying the bones/muscle groups being used) or emotionally (describing quality of movement, like sharp/quick, light/soft, etc). He said his job as the teacher was to figure out how each student learned best and then to give them a correction tailored to help them. I'd watch in awe as he helped three different dancers struggling with the same problem, but with three completely different corrections. THAT is what a teacher does!


So, if you're DD must take class from this person, my suggestion is for your DD to give her teacher's words the weight they deserve - which is nothing. If there is a lesson for her to learn, it's the difficult one of learning that sometimes adults behave like children. My experience is that "teachers" who resort to these tactics do it out of frustration because they don't know how to help the student so somehow it must be student's fault because it can't be theirs.


It's super hard to block that kind of negativity and not every kid can do it. Your DD certainly shouldn't have to either, so it may make sense to explore other class options, if they're available to your DD. In the meantime, if you can help her understand that there is a difference between a teacher and someone who "gives a class", then perhaps she can learn to appreciate the corrections from her other teachers and give less weight to this person.


Sorry for the long post but "teachers" like this are one of my pet peeves and it breaks my heart for kids like your DD. Teachers may be tough, demanding and even push students outside their comfort zones, but they are always supposed to build them up, not break them down. (Climbing down from soap box now.)

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Juliaaiden, I am so sorry to hear this. I have encouraged my children to stick it out with a negative teacher at school given that they may have to work with such a person. But on the flip side, I have had my dd drop a dance class and not take from a particular teacher at her ballet studio when it became obvious that said teacher was unstable. Dd stuck it out for over a year and the situation kept getting worse, so in hindsight I wish we had done something sooner. Fortunately said teacher only teaches one optional class at my dd current level, so we didn't have to change studios. Go with your mother instinct; our dancers have enough challenges without adding irrational teaching to the mix. I will add, think of the many incredibly wonderful dance teachers your dd must have experienced prior to this one, and find another like them - there is no need to stay with the one bad apple.

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Dancingninja- wow! Thanks for sharing your perspective. We have very thoughtful teachers at our school and have been warned that there really mean teachers out there. We saw a teacher curse out a precompetitive dancer at yagp, yet this teacher will often win best teacher awards there.


Juliaaiden, what is your kid going to learn from this person? Is she getting anything positive out of those classes?

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Any teacher who plays favorites and mocks students is not really a teacher. They may "give a class" but I do not consider them a teacher. A teacher is someone who strives to help each and EVERY student learn or improve.


Sorry for the long post but "teachers" like this are one of my pet peeves and it breaks my heart for kids like your DD. Teachers may be tough, demanding and even push students outside their comfort zones, but they are always supposed to build them up, not break them down.



THIS! Education = educating everyone.


This is a cover up for a teacher who doesn't really know what to say to help, what to expect, what is developmental, etc. . . RUN, quickly.

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Yes we had 'this' teacher at one point- years ago now. 13yo DS quit dance as a result of her emotional shennigans. Took him about a year to get back in a studio.


My personal opinion is that nothing is worth exposing our dancers/our children to these adults. I wish (in hindsight) that I wasnt swayed by the whole 'they have to toughen up if they want to make it' schtick.


I think that few people toughen up with criticism, particularly at a young age. There will be enough rejection and personal difficulty along the ballet way. They need adults who respect them, build their confidence, give them role models and bolster them for the difficulties ahead. As a parent, I didnt want DS to be 'learning' that it is ok to behave in that way, that you can hold onto a job while being rude and demeaning to others. Our children are learning more than just ballet from their teachers.


I agree with learningdance. run, dont walk.


PS those parents who leave the studios which support these damaging teachers are also giving a clear message to the ADs who defend them 'actually no. We don't accept this myth that you are selling'. Otherwise nothing will change.

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We have one of these teachers in our area as well, and DD had her when she was quite young. We left that school, and I would not allow DD to take class from her on a regular basis if I could help it. Those who are favored probably love the attention and the coaching, but it isn't worth the psychological harm. There are plenty of good teachers out there; no need to support that kind of "teacher".

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Yeah, my DD had the privilege of having fun with this teacher four times last week because of other teachers being out. This teacher has great information but she seems to lack the ability to know that not all dancers thrive when being insulted. The hardest part for us is that she doesn't do this to every student. We found out she has one from each of her classes that she does this to. It's like she has chosen several students to teach and encourage, one to harass and the others to ignore. And none of her other teachers behaves this way. Her other teachers are tough and corrective but encouraging. Several other parents have told me it must mean she sees potential in her but believes harassing her will make her perform the way she wants. My daughter definitely is one of those that thrives when the teacher is encouraging and then works very hard to gain that teacher's respect.

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yes our previous teacher could be a good teacher too. That wasn't the issue. The issue was the emotional manipulation of some of the kids. She would go through cycles and change her target. I am sure she thought she was doing a good job.


Anyways, juliaaidan, your situation is unique but this group is littered with discussions where parents have been told that this bad behaviour is 'part of ballet'. Many many of us here disagree strongly with that justification. I used to accept it until this teacher crossed an invisible line. I will never accept it again and neither will my DS. Luckily he knows the difference now between a good teacher with some eccentric manners and someone who is just plain old toxic.


Good luck with this one- it really isnt an easy situation!

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I really do not think that people on this board, whether members or moderators, are condoning bad behavior by teachers as "part of ballet". Yes, there are teachers who can be just plain toxic, and that is never acceptable.

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Oh dear! no I didn't mean that parents were ever told on this board that condoning bad behavior is 'part of ballet'. I meant that many of us have been told this in our own studios by other parents or by teachers. Never on this board. Sorry my wording wasn't clear.

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Whew! Thank you for clarifying that, Thyme! I was definitely confused, and really thought there had to be some mistake because we know your loyalty here. I think was just tired and not thinking straight last night. :dizzy:

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Well, just to be clear. . .. effective teachers, especially for pre pro kids, ARE tough and they are critical and they are honest. They will tell you, "Yep, I know that you are trying to make that correction but you just aren't doing it." They will also tell you if they think that you are not working hard and they will also ignore a bunch of emotional drama. This doesn't mean that they are insensitive but they will see through the emotional distraction that teens fall into sometimes and they will redirect. They will not tell you to ignore an injury.


Notice I am not using the subjective term "good" teacher. I am using the results-oriented term "effective" teacher. With "effective" teachers, an invested student progresses, fixes issues, gets better, looks different from year to year.


Instead of "You do that like a 9 year old." THE BIG DIFFERENCE is that the effective teacher knows a couple off things


a) if the correction will take time (If so, they will stay the course knowing that it's going to take 6 months to get there.)


b ) if certain out of class exercises need to be done to help (Try this stretch, pilates, etc)


c) if moderation of the exercise will help with reaching the more important technical goal (e.g. lower leg, do a single pirouette)


d) what muscles a dancer needs to activate to do the correction (e.g. use this muscle)


e) how to physically correct (e.g. "Here, put this foot like this." )


I'm sure the teachers can fill in many, many more examples. Teaching is not just telling someone something to fix, that it only diagnosing. Effective teachers know HOW to fix the issues, know what the student needs to do both short and long term.


In my experience most teachers are giving all that they have. Some just have better training, more natural ability, and more experience with pre pro kids.

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