Have you fired a student?

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
Larinda,

I am replying to an old post of yours but it makes me wonder as I am reading from the various pros; How frustrating is it when I/we just don't get it? (By I, I do mean me) I know you don't know me but I am sure you've had students like me. I sometimes feel for my instructor, I know she is getting paid but I would be so tired of telling me the same thing over and over. I understand it in my mind but the body is often not following my brain. What she is saying makes sense, she leads me, it makes sense; I try to lead, what happened??? I know I am progressing but I have honestly worried that one day she would tell me I am hopeless and fire me. So there is no misunderstanding, she has never given any indication of being frustrated with me, but if I were the instructor, I might have fired me by now. I am wondering, do instructors get frustrated with slow learners.
Sure we get frustrated with slow learners... but that is no a reason to fire a student. I once heard a teacher complain about a student... "yeah but he CAN'T dance!!" and our boss jumped on her and replied "YOU are the teacher, of course he can't dance until you teach him!!"

One of the best experiences I ever had was learning to play the guitar several years ago. My right hand could pick like a bluegrass champion. My left hand was as slow and stupid as a slug. No matter how many times he told me which cord to hit I just couldn't form my fingers fast enough... meanwhile my right hand was plucking and strumming away with all sorts of crazy hard rhythms! I could see his frustration, in addition to mine. My only solace was repeating to myself "I am doing the best I can right now." I was a very slow learner, but I eventually got to the point where I could play in front of people somewhat decently. So when I have a student that tries hard, really wants it, but just can't make their body do what they want, and it sounds like you, I just repeat to myself "They are doing the best they can right now."

Also, I started coaching a couple in my area. They each do pro-am with separate teachers and want to learn to better dance together. Her private teacher said he was amazed and could tell immediately that something had changed in her, right after the first lesson from me. He wanted to know what I was telling her. He asked to take a coaching from me, with her. And confided in me that he had sorta gotten to a point, with her, that made him think that was the best she was ever going to do. He said he was going to have reevaluate his teaching. This is a man that was one of the first pros I ever met 20 some years ago, and I have IMMENSE respect for him. Yet here he was telling me that he didn't know what to do with a simple silver student to get her to progress. I guess we all get to that point sometimes. And every so often it takes some outside info to spark some new life into a student or even a teacher. I hope when I get to a point in my teaching that I kinda give up inside on a student, that some spark shows up and motivates ME forward. Because to the teacher, the frustration isn't really about the student... it is about ourselves!!
 

llamasarefuzzy

Well-Known Member
One of the reasons I'm so torn up about this decision is I'm pretty sure the student isn't the only problem here. As part of the position of captain, I was assigned to co-teach the newcomer class with only 2 or 3 workshops on how to teach. So far, with the other students, its worked out pretty well, but I just don't feel qualified to deal with this student that is having so many problems.
On the other hand, there is a difference between doing your best and just being a slow learner, and a student who won't practice during practice unless someone is there holding his hand, and won't pay attention in lessons unless someone is speaking directly at him.
The problem is probably a little of both, which is why I hope talking to him about his class/practice habits as well as involving a new teacher will hopefully be at least somewhat helpful.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
I hate to admit it, but I do get frustrated with slow learners. Hopefully, I keep it contained so they don't feel my frustration. It's easier to be patient when I know they want it and are trying their hardest. I've never (and probably will never) fired someone just because they're slow learners.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
One of the reasons I'm so torn up about this decision is I'm pretty sure the student isn't the only problem here. As part of the position of captain, I was assigned to co-teach the newcomer class with only 2 or 3 workshops on how to teach. So far, with the other students, its worked out pretty well, but I just don't feel qualified to deal with this student that is having so many problems.
On the other hand, there is a difference between doing your best and just being a slow learner, and a student who won't practice during practice unless someone is there holding his hand, and won't pay attention in lessons unless someone is speaking directly at him.
The problem is probably a little of both, which is why I hope talking to him about his class/practice habits as well as involving a new teacher will hopefully be at least somewhat helpful.
Yeah, it kind of sounds like he's not keeping up his end of the bargain.
 

ajiboyet

Well-Known Member
Like so many people have said, even if someone is a slow learner, the teacher wants to see that they're putting in the effort. I was choreographing a routine for someone once. She constantly refused to point her feet, or challenge herself with new material. She would say something like "I can't do it, it's too hard." Hellorrrr. I wasn't born with dance technique. I learned it! Or she would stop people passing by (we were rehearsing in an open space) and chat (she was a very popular person).

Performance day, I ended up dancing about 8 spins (traveling spins) under her arm because of some last minute changes we made to the routine where we needed to cover some distance. I told her to do it. She complained, as usual. Time was running out. I decided to do it, after showing it to her several times and being unable to convince her to even attempt it once.

The crowd did go wild at my spins...they were a dance-ignorant crowd. But I made up my mind - this is so not the kind of DP I want. Unfortunately, I didn't have a choice. If I did...

ETA: She was an excellent follower, BTW.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I guess I have a slightly different take on this...and it isn't speaking to what anyone else has posted....in general, if you have a student you don't like/want/need/respect...whom you would like to kick to the curb....consider this, you may be doing them a favor...everyone deserves to be appreciated...people know when they aren't liked...you aren't the only game in town
 

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
I am saying that the human mind has an immense capacity to not see what it doesn't want to see... whether consciously or unconsciously.... and sometimes that is because, in part, it senses the truth and doesn't want that truth
ego defense mechanism... pain avoidance behavior.... humans are full of these techniques
 
Larinda,



I am replying to an old post of yours but it makes me wonder as I am reading from the various pros; How frustrating is it when I/we just don't get it? (By I, I do mean me) I know you don't know me but I am sure you've had students like me. I sometimes feel for my instructor, I know she is getting paid but I would be so tired of telling me the same thing over and over. I understand it in my mind but the body is often not following my brain. What she is saying makes sense, she leads me, it makes sense; I try to lead, what happened??? I know I am progressing but I have honestly worried that one day she would tell me I am hopeless and fire me. So there is no misunderstanding, she has never given any indication of being frustrated with me, but if I were the instructor, I might have fired me by now. I am wondering, do instructors get frustrated with slow learners.
I'm neither Larinda nor a dance teacher, but I'm actually a teacher (IRL) so I just wanted to chime in.

In my classes, I have my share of quick learners, learners who need different types of explanations, learners who need repetitive practice, and learners whose brains are on warp speed and they're about 5 steps ahead of everyone else.

I would say the mark of a great teacher (in school, dance, anything) is being able to adjust one's own teaching style to fit each student. And sure, sometimes it may be frustrating. Those who teach are usually proficient at their subjects, enough so that basic things are second nature. It can definitely be frustrating when students really struggle to "get" what seems to be so easy and basic to the teacher. I try to keep in my mind that in my subject, I have years and years of learning and practice behind me and my students are just developing, which helps stem the impatience I can feel sometimes.

Lastly, I love my quick learners, and I love seeing them achieve, but there's something even more satisfying when you see the student who really struggles finally master that one element. :)
 

ajiboyet

Well-Known Member
I would say the mark of a great teacher (in school, dance, anything) is being able to adjust one's own teaching style to fit each student.

.....

Lastly, I love my quick learners, and I love seeing them achieve, but there's something even more satisfying when you see the student who really struggles finally master that one element. :)
Those two points.

I am saying that the human mind has an immense capacity to not see what it doesn't want to see... whether consciously or unconsciously.... and sometimes that is because, in part, it senses the truth and doesn't want that truth
Couldn't have said it better.
 

toothlesstiger

Well-Known Member
I am saying that the human mind has an immense capacity to not see what it doesn't want to see... whether consciously or unconsciously.... and sometimes that is because, in part, it senses the truth and doesn't want that truth
Unconsciously or not, what I am getting at is whether you are suggesting the student is behaving this way with conscious intent.

I take it for granted that everyone unconsciously and heavily filters their perceptions. Unconsciously filtering is has both its useful and dysfunctional aspects, and I can forgive it, even if it bothers me. Consciously ignoring how you are being a jerk, however, is malicious, and merits my removal from contact with that person.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I think many people simply have learned how to rationalize whatever bad behavior they choose...whether student/teacher or otherwise...that is how they justify it...by defining it as something else...obviously I am not present to determine anyone's specific situation.....
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
I think it is often unconscious--the brain's defense mechanism, hearing what they want to hear and seeing what they want to see. I think all of us do it to some extent, although maybe not to the extreme of the type of people we're talking about here. How many times have you thought someone liked you or hated you and thought you had evidence to support that, but then found out the opposite was true? How often have you read a word wrong or misread the intent of someone's post because you were looking for what you expected to see? None of that was conscious or intentional.

Of course, there are also plenty of people who are deliberately obtuse because they don't give a crap what anyone thinks of them.
 

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