Ballroom Dance > What Makes A Good Teacher?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by SDsalsaguy, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    Oh yea and as a sidenote, maybe she was teaching you what she was supposed to teach you. I am assuming (I know I know knat out of you and me right?) that you were thinking her weaknesses were in technique..? At most studios the instructors must wait until (I know you hate to hear this) you pay for a certain program to teach you more than the basics. It may have been a missunderstanding on your part and you may have lost a great instructor..but it's not too late to come to her and explain yourself. Don't think I'm coming down on you, I may have made the same choice. :D
  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Welcome to the Dance Forums, msc!
    (and thanks for your involvement)

    I can understand a student who wants to seek out the very best instructor possible. Keep in mind however that "top instructors" have weaknesses too including:
    1) Difficulty scheduling a lesson because they are booked.
    2) Top competitors are not alway good teachers.
    3) Their goals for you may be skewed by their own financial goals.

    Also keep in mind that a lesser recognized teacher today may be a top competitor tomorrow. Also, there are some incredible teachers who teach better than they dance.
  3. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    True true.
  4. msc

    msc New Member

    I'm afraid not MissAlyssa, but I do appreciate your point. In fact, many warned me that this instructor was more known for Latin than Standard, that I should perhaps look elsewhere. She was actually incredible adept at connection and maintenance of the frame (usually a difficult issue, even for top competitors,) but as I said there were other issues of concern for me. Still, she was always very pleasant, thus my reservations. Worse yet, she has taught for some 15-20 years or so, so she is probably set in her ways. Thus I can't imagine any scenario under which I would consider further Standard lessons with this woman, however genial she might be. Anyway, the other teacher has a large case of Standard trophies, so I feel fairly justified in my previous concerns.

    This brings up a point, though. I'm essentially paying for a service. If I decide the provider is not up to snuff, why can't I simply say so, and move on? This happens in the business world every day. Still, I suppose the problem is one always tries to be on friendly terms with an instructor, and one doesn't wish to hurt their feelings, and there's the rub. It must be said, I have made the mistake of staying with an instructor for that very reason, and I will not make that mistake again.

    I'm only all too aware of point #3. If I sense that, I'm gone. Period.
  5. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    This brings up a point, though. I'm essentially paying for a service. If I decide the provider is not up to snuff, why can't I simply say so, and move on?

    Then why didn't you just do that.. :?:
  6. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    In the long-term it is essential to get a variety of instruction. In the short-term it is important to get consistent instruction from a single teacher. It sounds like you have had the benefit of both, agreed?
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the additions/input MissAlyssa.

    Just having returned from another research jaunt to Europe, where I got to watch and interview several more of the best dancers and coaches in the world, I have come to the following conclusion, as an addition to everything mentioned so far: a lack of ego!
    :arrow: As long as an instructor still has too much ego investment in themselves, their dancing, or even their teaching, then the focus is misplaced – it should be on the students and their dancing.
  8. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    -Open - not afraid to discuss your dancing with you - no B/S
    -Has a personalty
    -Know how to dance - makes me look at them if they are on the floor
    -Corrects me on the spot - doesn't "come back to it later"
    -Tells me when I'm doing something wrong - I pay for it!
    -Tells me when I'm doing it right - a pat on the back never hurts - I pay for that too!
    -Can come down to my level
    -Doesn't foget that they were here once

    I also teach (WCS), so this thread is well read by me!
  9. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    [/b]Tells me when I'm doing something wrong - I pay for it!
    -Tells me when I'm doing it right - a pat on the back never hurts - I pay for that too!

    those made me laugh. very good points!
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    The same thing happened to me. I had several teachers at the time. One was a young gentleman with about 5 years teaching experience and no competitive training. The other, my current coach, has 15 years teaching experience and significant competitive experience, plus fairly impressive dance credentials.

    When the "junior" instructor started correcting me for doing things my more experienced coach was teaching me, I had to do a serious reality check. What did really want, as a student? And, based on their resumes and my gut instincts, who could I trust? For obvious reasons, I discontinued lessons with the "junior" instructor. He was actually very good, given his level of experience, and there was plenty he could have taught me. But he was relatively immature, and I felt that, at that point in my dance "career", his input was detrimental to me.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh, and here's my input on what makes a good teacher. Among many other things, a good teacher needs to have a balance between healthy financial self-interest, and respect for students.

    I have a very good teacher, who attracts and retains students because he's good, not because he pressures students to buy anything. He has a no-pressure policy, and still his students come back.

    I contrast this to previous teachers I had, who weren't nearly as good, and who sometimes resorted to high-pressure sales techniques. I understand the need to make a living, and think dance teachers deserve a good living as much as (or more than) anyone else. But the feelings of the students must also be considered. In my view, if the teacher is good, high pressure is unnecessary.

    Hmm. Teachers and others out there, what do you think?
  12. dancergal

    dancergal New Member

    I began learning WCS in a group class with two dance pros. They are wonderful people and great instuctors for beginning and intermediate WCS (they also teach country, chacha, hustle, waltz). I still go to their WCS classes regularly. We began take a few privates with one of them to help with our dance. Just recently we have been taking a few privates from another Pro from another city, just to have a different point of view, not because we aren't happy with our first Pro. Some instructors just have a different way of teaching. Our second Pro pointed out things that we were doing wrong, that our first Pro never mentioned. Don't know why he never mentioned these things or maybe it's just his way of teaching. I'm just glad they are available to help us in our dance.
  13. Holiday

    Holiday New Member

    What do you do when you notice that your teacher selectively favors the better students over the other students?

    A friend of mine invited me to a ballroom class she attends that is sponsored by her apartment complex. The teacher really teaches some nifty stuff but we both noticed that she heavily favors the students she knows that are good over those who are more or less struggling.

    My friend is one of the better students but it frustrates her to see when the teacher wants the class to try a move, she selects the first group of students by name (meaning those she preceives as the better students.) and have them do it as the rest of the class watches on. And then she snowballs everybody in which means those who are better gets a half dozen cracks at it while those who are struggling get one or two at best. And that's not right.

    My friend is a very fair person as she is a sensitive one and after one hour of watching, I can totally see where she's coming from.

    I told her I really enjoyed what I learned in that class last night because the teacher was really swift in her pace. (She was teaching some sort of cha-cha twinkle silver level step to a basic class, woohoo!) And even if the class wasn't complimentary, it would have been a bargain compared to the pace and cost of those other basic dance classes I've tried in the past.

    If my friend quits, I'll probably quit with her as well... But I want to know whether I should ask the teacher about changing the rotation at the risk that she might give me the evil eye being the newcomer and alienate me as a student or something?
  14. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I think that it would be fine to go to the instructor and tell her how much you enjoy the class but that you just want to bring a dynamic to her attention that you know has been upsetting some other participants. Hopefully she'll appreciate this for the constructive feedback it's meant to be.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Please don't quit. Talk to the teacher first. She may not realize what she's doing, or other things may come into play here.

    For example, she may be trying to be sensitive to the newcomers who are struggling, therefore not drawing attention to them. A totally different spin, but also possible. Or she may know the other students well, and use them as examples, because she knows that they will demonstrate the moves effectively.

    There could be any number of explanations for her misbehavior, so before you quit, have a conversation with her. That will give her a chance to clean up her act, and may salvage these classes for you.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I'm not sure why teachers withhold info when we're messing up, but I've had many tell me that I get distracted by unimportant things. I'm an extremely visual learner, so when I look at me and the teacher in the mirror, I see a million differences, and start asking about them all. But if, for example, the teacher is trying to focus on footwork, and I'm asking perfectly valid questions about leglines, I'm off on an irrelevant tangent, even though my thought was correct.

    Maybe that's what's going on with you :?: Maybe you're thinking good stuff, and asking good questions, but it's not time to address them yet. :?: :?:
  17. dancer at heart

    dancer at heart New Member

    I was fortunate to start my dancing exerience with a good instructor that I connect really well with. I'm at a point where I want to work on styling (other than spinning, this is my weakest area since I'm kind of shy) but I do not really like the styling that my instructor teaches. If I were to take styling classes with another, would that conflict with what I am learning with my main instructor? Do people get offended if their students try to work in stuff that they learned from others?
  18. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Some do. :(
    But in my eyes this is very unprofessional. But some times they get a little too worried where our money goes. It is business. :(

    Some admire a nice little trick, and use it in their school later. :wink:

    The best must be to try different teachers, and see what they are capable off. Then chose the materials you like, and what works for you, and use this material to make your own style. Don’t be an exact clone of your teacher. :shock: :D
  19. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    By the way, if you don’t try different teachers, how can you evaluate the one you got?
  20. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    You don't have to "switch" teachers usually. I'm not sure where you take lessons but in some cases you can just request to have a few lessons with a different instructor (or a few). You find this frequently in franchises where in a lot of cases each student or couple is to have at 2 teachers. This gives the students the chance to learn a few different ways and gives the teachers more scheduling flexibility 8)

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