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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Substitute teachers


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Both my daughters have had this situation. The studio will list a teacher they like for a class on the printed schedule. Many weeks that teacher is not there and someone that is not inspiring teaches in the original teacher's place. They get up at 6 am, go to school all day, look forward to seeing the teacher they love and a good percentage of the time, it's like "false advertising". Instead of being at home doing homework and getting some sleep, they go to some long ballet class they dislike and then have to come home and study, shower, get to sleep after that.

In one case the sub was elderly person who seemed to get confused about what combinations she gave out. Don't get me wrong - I respect elders and am impressed this lady can get in a leotard and ballet slippers and teach at all. It's not me; it's the kids who are upset and disheartened when they hear their beloved, regular teacher is not teaching. I believe the teachers in the studio probably have some long connection to this person and they, too, feel a respect and want her to keep going with her passion. 

My other daughter loves her studio director and signed up for 2 classes a week with her but many weeks, the teacher she waits to see will have an older student in the school teach the class. I believe the director is trying to give these students experience teaching choreography and classes - or maybe there is some work study involved; I have no idea. In both cases, my girls would see the teacher teach a class either before or after their class, but then when they got in the studio - a sub would be teaching the hour they were taking. They wished they just stayed home and skipped class. I want to respect the teachers' decisions and I am sure they have their own private circumstances and responsibilities. I try to get the girls to go to many of the classes and only occasionally skip because it's just life that an entire curriculum is not going to be perfect. 

Also, many times, the girls get in a group text where they hear "someone else is teaching" and then try to decide as a group whether they are going to go or not. 

Some studios will also be somewhat secretive about who is teaching. Kids are human beings who are giving up their time and parents are spending the money and as they make the commitment, I believe we should know who is teaching the classes. Not just "purple level meets MWF" and the student is just expected to commit. I know it must be hard to run these studios but life is short and we don't want to waste a year and find out the main teacher you want to be with is not teaching any of the classes for your child's level. 

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So, it seems as though you've answered your own question! Find a school that fits your criteria, or have a conversation with both of your current school directors to see what can be done.

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At the 2 ballet schools that DD15 goes to, they are both very very organized about teachers and let us know ASAP by email or text blast if there will be a substitute. The sub is always well qualified from either the nearby college BFA program or another teacher for that level. But it's nice that they keep us informed for exactly the reasons you talk about above...some students connect better with some teachers and sometimes our kids time would be better spent resting or catching up on schoolwork. Plus there are different expectations that the kids have anticipating certain teachers throughout the day. If they have to cancel class for any reason (happens mostly when the Pilates teacher travels or if a qualified sub isn't available) they credit our account or offer a logical makeup class for a time that the level isn't already scheduled.

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The issue is unqualified subs and possibly poor choices for subs.  Unless it is excessive, then subs will sometimes happen.  I see this a bit differently.  If your child is in academic school, and a teacher is out, they will hire a sub.  Unless that is for an extended time, then you will not be notified.  Certainly some subs might not be as good as having the regular teacher there, but the schools responsibility to you is simply a qualified sub and not a sub your child, personally, finds inspiring.  

I get it.  You do want your money's worth and this is where your decision making is.  I just feel there is more to it than having a teacher scheduled to be the teacher for a certain level.  That can be a nightmare for a school as well.  

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My issue, too, would be more with inexperienced teachers than subs in general. At our school the students don’t choose their schedules, and therefore don’t choose their teachers. Going to class is also not an option. Students must have a valid excuse for missing class. If the quality of teaching was equivalent, then I wouldn’t have an issue with a sub. Our modern teacher had to go out of town and the students were given ballroom dancing for three weeks instead. It ended up being an interesting experience for all of the students.  I would definitely have an issue with an older student teaching class though. 

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