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MEWDancer

What to do? Teacher issue.

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MEWDancer

My dd dances at a large school.  Her class is small and close knit, they all genuinely like each other and there is little to no girl drama.  The other day their once a week, non-ballet teacher started class by saying they are so mean to each other and talk about each other and all the teachers notice but she was the only one brave enough to say anything.  That this was their only warning or she would pull their piece from the spring performance.  They were all shocked.  We carpool with 1/4 of the class, they were all baffled by where this was coming from.  I see their interactions with each other, they are not “mean gossips”.  They seemed to shake it off pretty easily though.  As an adult, looking at the bigger picture, I am wondering if this needs to be brought up to their ballet teacher, who is also a head of the school?  The things that are concerning to me are 1.) Where did this accusation come from? 2.) Is it true that “all of the teachers” feel this?  and if so, why?  These girls certainly don’t want to be thought of this way, especially since it is not true.  They are at a level where they take ballet very seriously, and most of their free time is spent at the studio, most want to become dancers, and I think it is in their best interest to clear this up.

Another thing to note, this teacher has always been the “fun” teacher.  Their four day a week teacher, who is a school head, can be intimidating.

They are still young, but at an age where they need to start handling  things on their own and I am not sure if I should speak up.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome.

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5uptown

I think it sounds reasonable to ask the ballet teacher/head of school what is going on, particularly since there was an announcement of a threatened repercussion regarding the end-of-year performance. Perhaps there is a problem that your daughter is unaware of, but this does sound like a strange way to address it even if there is a problem. I would start by just asking for a phone or face-to-face meeting, staying non-confrontational-- just to let her know what your daughter reported to you and how confusing that was for your daughter and for you. And perhaps to ask for some clarification. 

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Eligus

remind us how old your DD is? 

I know you said the class/level is serious and committed, but also somewhat young enough for you to consider getting involved, but my thoughts on your involvement would depend on how mature (age-wise and emotion-wise) your DD is.  I, too, would hesitate on inserting myself into or in any way "escalating" this situation, so I appreciate the fact that you are asking the question here on BT4D. 

Depending on your DD's age and maturity level, I might consider advising your DD to talk to the teacher privately in a non-confrontational manner, and one-on-one to get the teacher's perspective and try to understand what the comment really meant and to whom it was addressed (sometimes things spoken to the whole class, even a small one, is addressed at certain individuals and not the group as a whole).  I would hesitate speculating about the teacher's motivation or meaning with any of the other dancers you carpool with, at least until your DD understands more about the teacher's perspective. 

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MEWDancer

She is 14.  Age of class is 14-15.  Should she speak to the teacher who said it or the teacher who is a school Principal?  She tends to be a bit shy with adults.  The other interesting thing to note is that the level below them, which is much larger, and actually does act this way, was scolded by the Principal for the very behavior this other teacher claimed was being observed in my Dd’s class.  And I wonder if the teacher who addressed my daughter’s group had her levels confused (she teaches both).

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Eligus

Well... IMO only, 14 is a good age to start discussing with dancers how to handle issues with adults/authority on their own (but with your thoughts and guidance).  And I would encourage the one on one with the teacher who made the statement, not with anyone else.

When my DD had an issue she needed to discuss with teachers at this age, I asked for a meeting (so it wasn't during class time) and I went with her (for moral support and another set of ears), but had her make a list of questions before hand and ask the questions/have the discussion herself.  Obviously, this was a slightly more serious issue than what you described here, but the underlying idea is the same.... 

You could see this as a potential opportunity to provide guidance to your DD on how to handle herself when she hears something she disagrees with or is confused by from authority figures.  A calm "I heard you say this in class the other day, and I wanted to ask you more about what you meant" kind of a talk.  I see it more about seeking clarification of a correction, rather than a straight up confrontational, "you're wrong, how can you think this?" sort of comment... 

And it IS scary and intimidating to do this... particularly for a 14 yo.  But it is GREAT practice of a necessary and valuable skill the dancer (and human) will need throughout their life.  But -- then again -- it's also not a huge, major issue.  If she doesn't feel ready to address the teacher, there is no need to tilt at this particular windmill.  To me, it just seems like  a low grade, low risk  opportunity to learn some "adulting" skills. 

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dancemaven

My mother always told us kids (there were 6 of us):  “If the shoe fits, wear it.”  She meant that those of us to whom her warning did not apply, should recognize that and ignore it.  Those that did, should recognize their behavior and change it.

I would agree that more likely than not, this admonition given to the group at large was intended for certain members to hear and straighten up—without being called out by name.

On the other hand, I always thought our younger daughter’s school cohort was pretty friendly across clique lines.  It certainly seemed so to me when I drove field trip carpools, and chaperoned field trips, both local and overnight ones.  I was always so pleased to chaperone her class trips because the girls and boys would all chatter to everyone regardless of who was in the car.  I could not say that for our older daughter’s class.  Those field trip driving and chaperoning could be painful because some girls would whisper behind their hands and blatantly ignore others in the car.

We are several years past that time period now and yet there is a group of mothers’ of my younger daughter’s class that still get together monthly to chat and share.  We started this back when the kids were in third grade and continue even now, even as those kids have graduated college and are beginning to marry.   I tell you this because what I have learned over the years from these mothers (of girls mine did not really hang out with) is a number of their daughters DID feel left out and ostracized all those years.  I never saw it. But I only saw the vast difference between what went on in the field trips and carpool driving for those trips.  Not all the girls, of course, were friends; everyone always has groups, but I had been under the impression that everyone felt pretty comfortable and that clique lines were not verboten to cross.  Apparently, I missed a lot.  I’ve never heard that my DD was part of the snobbery, but . . . . :shrug:   I do know she could be exclusionary at her athletic endeavor when certain team mates drove her to distraction, so I don’t doubt for a second that she did not interact with some of her classmates in school, but I don’t think she was downright mean.  She would be more likely to ignore or walk away.

So, something like that may be going on in the dance cohort.  And some may be mean when they think they can get away with it.  There are those “angels” that know how to play to the adults and yet terrorize their peers.

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Eligus
35 minutes ago, dancemaven said:

Apparently, I missed a lot.  I’ve never heard that my DD was part of the snobbery, but . . . . :shrug:   I do know she could be exclusionary at her athletic endeavor when certain team mates drove her to distraction, so I don’t doubt for a second that she did not interact with some of her classmates in school, but I don’t think she was downright mean.  She would be more likely to ignore or walk away.

SAME!  I had a friend whose DD had a completely different perspective of my DD's behavior/actions, based on HER DD's perceptions.  I have to admit to being shocked at the perception.  And while I still don't agree with the perception as relayed to me, it was a growing experience for ALL of us, mom included.  I'm not saying that is exactly what is happening in your case, but exploring different people's perceptions of your behavior can be enlightening. 

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MEWDancer

I guess the reason I thought to mention it to the Principal was because of the way the teacher said “all of the teachers notice it...” and the threat to remove their piece, when I don’t actually think she has that power.  But maybe it is best to say nothing at this point.

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smilingcyclist
4 hours ago, dancemaven said:

We are several years past that time period now and yet there is a group of mothers’ of my younger daughter’s class that still get together monthly to chat and share.  We started this back when the kids were in third grade and continue even now, even as those kids have graduated college and are beginning to marry.   I tell you this because what I have learned over the years from these mothers (of girls mine did not really hang out with) is a number of their daughters DID feel left out and ostracized all those years.  I never saw it. But I only saw the vast difference between what went on in the field trips and carpool driving for those trips.  Not all the girls, of course, were friends; everyone always has groups, but I had been under the impression that everyone felt pretty comfortable and that clique lines were not verboten to cross.  Apparently, I missed a lot.  I’ve never heard that my DD was part of the snobbery, but . . . . :shrug:   I do know she could be exclusionary at her athletic endeavor when certain team mates drove her to distraction, so I don’t doubt for a second that she did not interact with some of her classmates in school, but I don’t think she was downright mean.  She would be more likely to ignore or walk away.

So, something like that may be going on in the dance cohort.  And some may be mean when they think they can get away with it.  There are those “angels” that know how to play to the adults and yet terrorize their peers.

OMG yes!! All this! 

It may seem like things are lovely and mature from your perspective. But perhaps not.

Let's truly, truly hope that is that case and the teacher was having a bad day.

Hugs to you and your daughter!

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RaisingBallerina

I have seen these kind of "group corrections" to students over the years and I am NOT a fan.  They are so confusing and counterproductive.  If a student has unacceptable behavior, that student should receive clear instruction on how to behave (which does not need to occur in front of other students).  If only some students are participating in unwanted behavior but all students are punished, students lose respect for leadership and become demoralized.  If a student is engaging in unwanted behavior but doesn't realize it, and only this kind of group admonishment occurs, that student might remain in the dark, the class gets demoralized, and everyone is worse off.

We know kids may intentionally or unintentionally have undesirable behavior, but I have seen kids making every effort to do the right thing hear these confusing group admonishments and get just crushed.  I perceived this to be the teacher not having the courage to speak to students/parents individually, and not having the experience to express it at least as constructive criticism or show positive examples, and deciding group criticism is the easy way out.  

Class policies and specific examples of desired behavior should be expressed to the group.  Individual or small group infractions should be handled in an appropriately and privately, and innocents should not be punished or left to wonder what the heck is happening. 

I wonder if the "intimidating" teacher is intimidating because she tells it like it is, where the fun teacher is much less comfortable with discipline.  I will take straight talk any day!

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smilingcyclist

I know as a teacher there is no training on how to manage social issues or parent concerns. We learn through our mentors and feedback. I try my best to talk to students individually but sometimes it's not possible or it IS the group. 

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MEWDancer

RaisingBallerina, yes!  I agree with everything you just said!  I fully 100% believe this is not a group problem.  My DD avoids drama and mean girls like the plague and always has, I hear about the not nice people at school all the time, she has said numerous times she wishes she could be at dance and with her dance class all day instead of her school.  People who are mean and gossipy, in my opinion, will not be stopped by a group comment.  They probably wouldn’t even realize it was aimed at them.  Last year a different teacher gave the group a long and harsh lecture about their attitudes.  Only to find out later it was directed at a student who was suffering a severe lack of confidence, and not a bad attitude.  I am all for one on one discussion when an adult sees an issue with kids.  The only people affected by group punishments are the sensitive kids who are worriers who always try to do the right thing.

DD thought about this a lot over the weekend and has decided to do nothing for now.

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RaisingBallerina

smilingcyclist I may have sounded a little harsh because of past issues we have had that were very demoralizing and bewildering to my own DD and others.  These situations did not actually have to do with bullying, but other issues where clearly only a couple of people were involved but the entire group got chewed out.  Believe me, I would not wish on any teacher the plummeting of respect they suffered after one of these incidents.  You do hear a lot driving a carpool!  It may be unpleasant to take students aside and confront them directly, but trying to teach shellshocked students could be hard for weeks or months.

For anyone struggling with communicating with kids or teenagers, I highly recommend the "How to Talk so (Kids/Teens) Will Listen, How to Listen so (Kids/Teens) Will Talk' books.  One can be read in a couple of hours.   I don't know if it would have helped the teacher in MEWDancer's daughter's school, but it couldn't hurt.

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RaisingBallerina
12 hours ago, MEWDancer said:

The only people affected by group punishments are the sensitive kids who are worriers who always try to do the right thing.

So true, MEWDancer!   And a ballet studio can be quite full of sensitive kids...

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smilingcyclist

RaisingBallerina...YES! That is a GREAT book! I used their younger version when I first started teaching kindergarten. 

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