Ask Emma - favouritism in class
Q: How much correction should I expect my child to be given in class? I feel that more attention is being given to “the favourites” and everyone else is just filler. I can't think of a way I can raise this with the teacher without it having negative consequences for my child. How best should I deal with this?
If your child is telling you that they are feeling neglected in class and would like more attention and corrections to achieve their dance goals, then you certainly need to discuss this with the teacher. Ideally, all students are given equal amounts of the teacher’s attention during class. Of course, that’s the ideal.
In reality, a dance class is made up of students of varying degrees of talent, focus, work ethic and social skills and, whether they are aware of it or not, teachers often give some more attention or corrections than others.
Even so, good teachers are considerate, and make every effort to spread their attention evenly across the class. There are many ways that they do this –changing the class lines and groups regularly; working in democratic formations like circles; and picking students using randomising methods. When a correction is specific to one student, experienced teachers find ways to make it a lesson for the whole room, and so engage everyone.
To approach your child’s teacher about your concerns, start with the premise that they are trying their best and it may be an oversight. Ask for an appointment with the teacher to discuss your child’s progress and class performance and anything your child is having difficulty mastering. This way you will hear things from the teacher’s perspective, which could shed light on why your child is feeling overlooked. You can then move on to discuss your child’s concerns. You want to establish a mutual goal – that the class is enjoyable and a good learning environment.
Just as it is true that some teachers show favouritism, it is also true that some parents can be overly sensitive to it and may develop suspicions about favouritism in the class from chatting to other parents in the waiting room, or from their personal relationship with the teacher. Here it is good to ask yourself two things:
Is your child learning well and progressing/passing exams?
Is your child happy in the class?
If the answers are yes, then chances are that if your child is feeling neglected it may be for another reason, and this needs to be discussed with the teacher.
Of course you want your child to be learning and progressing. If you are convinced that they are not, and they are not enjoying the class, then it might be time to look at other schools and other teachers. Sometimes it is simply a question of personality type or group dynamics and for a combination of reasons your child might be happier and feel more included elsewhere.
So I suggest:
Ask for an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss their class performance.
Develop a strategy with the teacher to help your child feel as significant a member of the class as the other students.
If your child is still unhappy and is not progressing, it is time to research other options for their dance education.
Director since 1976 of Jody Marshall Dance Company, Perth, WA.
When I take one student as an example for a step or correction, I try to involve the other members of the class through watching and self-reflection. I want them to understand that they are all individuals but also part of a class together.
Then there is sometimes a case when a student might think they have been corrected more than others. But if I don’t pick these things up, the student might equally complain they haven’t been corrected enough. I let them know that I am correcting them over and over again because I want them to get the steps right so that they pass their exams and do well in their performances. It’s always a balancing act.