Teachers: how do you feel when a student has a breakthrough with another teacher?

Didn’t get any corrections in ballet class the other day.
Some praise, no corrections.
I think the reason for the no corrections is that the night before this class I had gone to another ballet class at another studio with another teacher, and received a TON of important corrections and had tried really hard to use them in class and remember them and bring them to Smirnoff’s class and keep on using them.
Didn’t tell Smirnoff of course.
Made me wonder, Gentle Reader:
If you are a teacher -of anything, not just ballet- and a student returns to you after studying with another teacher, and they’re suddenly better at whatever it is you’ve been trying to teach them all this time, how do you feel about that?
Are you kind of sad and frustrated?
Like, why was that other person able to inspire understanding in your student in a way that you apparently couldn’t or maybe hadn’t yet?
Or are you just glad your student has finally learned?

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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26 Responses to Teachers: how do you feel when a student has a breakthrough with another teacher?

  1. BK says:

    In addition to floating in and out of ballet classes every 10 years or so, I coach a sport at the NCAA Division I level. So I’ll say this — at times I suggest to a player to find a coach in our particular sport that may be able to help them more than me. (Not of another team, but someone they can see individually.) I understand my limitations from a teaching standpoint, and while I’d like to think they are few they are certainly there. Almost 100% of the time it works out great for the player, who picks up some things that weren’t clicking before. It helps the team which in turn makes me feel (and sort of makes me look) better. There’s a little bit of a shot to my ego, yes, but winning is an instant cure ;)

  2. Toni Jenkins says:

    Sometimes it depends how much time I’ve put into the student – if its a lot of commitment on my part I can be a bit childish when someone else manages to do what I have failed at. But usually its a huge epic WIN cos they finally got it, and the roadblock is removed.

  3. kitteacat says:

    Maybe it’s not a different teacher per se, but a different perspective. When we train a horse, it’s often useful to give him a few days off when learning a difficult concept. Usually, he comes back to work after those days able to do whatever was being asked. So, from a teacher’s perspective, maybe it’s the learning that’s important, not how you get there 😊

  4. Megan says:

    Depends on the teacher, and on how the student handles it. In general, most (good) teachers are able to step back and see the value in hearing a correction or instruction put another way, in a fresh environment, from someone new, etc etc. It may sting a little at first, but it’s easy to put aside if the results are there. If the student is throwing it in your face (not that you would ever do that to Smirnoff), that’s obviously quite a bit harder to deal with. If everyone’s just humble and on the same page about the positive aspects of getting instruction from another source, while still being respectful, I don’t think anyone could reasonably have a problem. Sure, some still do. But that’s rather immature of them. :P

  5. Diane says:

    What an interesting question!
    Yes, this has happened a few times, and mostly the student has returned and has told me that so-and-so told them to do XYZ, which I had been telling them again and again for ages… and they finally realised it was true! I usually smile and say how great that is. If I know the student well enough, then I mention how nice it is to see that other teachers say similar things…. ;)

    There are times when a student has had an “aha” moment with another teacher, and that is great, too. I am generally happy that they finally were able to understand what was being said; and it really DOES sometimes help a student to have a different perspective.

    Also, there are students who have given me cues (probably unconscious) that they do not relish corrections, so I do not give them many, as corrections seem to confuse them or throw them off or hurt their egos or something. (these are all adults) I try to gently suggest things, but perhaps they are better off with another teacher who has a different style? (I mean of teaching, not of ballet!)
    I do not know. It is interesting.

    -d-

  6. Nadine says:

    I’m a teacher, and this happens ALL THE TIME. An outside perspective or a new turn of phrase can suddenly cause the pieces to fall into place. When it happens, I feel RELIEF. :)

  7. physicsjenn says:

    We had a substitute teacher last night and while I love my normal teacher to pieces, I’m thinking of going to the new teacher’s class occasionally, too, because I felt like she stressed different things that helped me. That said, it seems like all the teachers are friends at my studio.

  8. jenniferc says:

    As an adult ballet student, I receive feedback from difference teachers differently–so even if two of my teachers say the same thing, if I feel good/bad/grumpy/relaxed, one correction will stick and the other will not. Sometimes different imagery or the way the correction is presented is the difference. So some of it is in the way the teacher presents–and most of the time, with a new teacher, I am more aware and listen more to what they say, too. Lots of different variables are involved, most of them that are not even in the control of the teacher! So teachers, do not be offended if another teacher helps your student get a breakthrough :) Like some of the others have said–just be happy for us!

  9. jenniferc says:

    As an adult ballet student, I receive feedback from difference teachers differently–so even if two of my teachers say the same thing, if I feel good/bad/grumpy/relaxed, one correction will stick and the other will not. Sometimes different imagery or the way the correction is presented is the difference. So some of it is in the way the teacher presents–and most of the time, with a new teacher, I am more aware and listen more to what they say, too. Lots of different variables are involved, most of them that are not even in the control of the teacher! So teachers, do not be offended if another teacher helps your student get a breakthrough :) Like some of the others have said–just be happy for us!

  10. abc says:

    Just have a little question myself:
    Do you think it´s inpolite to ask for corrections in ballet class? Sometimes I have the feeling the teacher isn´t correcting me because he doesn´t want to confuse the beginners in my class, although he knows that I´m more advanced and would need different corrections…

    • Diane says:

      I hope you do not mind my thoughts on this?
      I do appreciate it if a student asks for corrections. Usually there are reasons why I was not giving many, and sometimes it is a misunderstanding. :) So, yes, go ahead and ask; probably best before or after class, privately, of course. :)

  11. tyler says:

    just thinking of myself as a student…of anything…(and i have been a student of a lot of things including chemical engineering, piano, french, ballet, harp, guitar, art…) i love the idea of having multiple teachers with a common goal that are able to inspire and correct and guide me to fluency in what i want to learn. it’s really nice (but maybe more rare? i can’t say that i have one) to be able to find *ONE* teacher who can be your mentor. and for that mentor to have a mutual respect for you and want to guide you. maybe that mentor in a specialist in a particular style of some thing that you also want to specialize in and it makes sense to mainly learn from that person… or maybe you feel most comfortable with their teaching style and just like them as a person? but it still doesn’t seem disloyal to learn from multiple sources.

    i teach a seven year old kid piano now. if she were to learn something in her music class at school, or from another piano teacher, i would still feel accomplished in having gotten her to the point where she is so the things she learns elsewhere click better. i would also be proud of her for sticking with it and growing as a student… even if it was something i had tried to teach her but she just wasn’t getting it the way i demonstrated… even if it was something i completely overlooked and felt stupid for not having shared with her sooner… i would feel more contemplative if someone isn’t actively seeking knowledge on a subject from people other than me. i don’t want to teach someone to be limited the same way… or only think of a certain style of music or something… i don’t want that to sound overly negative toward myself either but i think that’s why i’m open to it.

  12. Lala says:

    I can’t bring up taking any class to my ballet teacher. She’s a great teacher and she is kind. But she doesn’t really like sharing her students. I’ve taken workshops in different styles and with different teachers at the same studio. When she finds out I’m taking a workshop, she sometimes says something not so nice about the teacher.

    Also one time she chased me down the hall while I was on my way to this workshop and she basically kept badgering me to show up to ballet class. My roommate was with me and witnessed the whole thing.

    I think because of this it’s hard for me to show up to her ballet class. I enjoy taking different styles of dance, but I don’t think she likes to share her students.

    • jenniferc says:

      lala, you don’t happen to live in SF do you? There’s a very popular teacher in SF who is extremely possessive, I got yelled at in the hallway coming out of class with another teacher…it was traumatic. I never went back to the teacher (the one who yelled) again.

  13. Lala says:

    jennifer, I do happen to live in SF. I’m sorry you had to deal with that as well. I love dance always have and always will. I will still take her ballet class, because I do enjoy them. The time she chased me down the hall is the most recent experience. And that really rubbed me the wrong way. :(

    • jenniferc says:

      Lala, how did I know! When this teacher did that to me…it was the defining moment where I decided I was not a child nor a servant, tied to her class–and I would attend her class no longer. I informed her I was free to take any class, including the class I had just attended. I see her other students “sneaking around” in other classes, hoping not to get caught–I refuse to feel that way, as an adult! I’m glad you still get benefit from her classes. I knew I wouldn’t so I haven’t been back.

  14. Jess says:

    I had this tonight… I have recently joined a second ballet school and the school owner sat in my first class and complimented me all the way through before finally asking me to join other classes. When I mentioned that I attend another teacher’s class in the week (with a different teacher), she absolutely refused to entertain the thought of me dancing with her school until I agreed to quit. Bit sad about that :(

  15. Paulina says:

    My teacher encourages me to attend other teacher’s workshops or classes. But then, flamenco is not ballet. For the last five years, however, I attended few classes held by other teachers, because learning my current teacher’s very traditional style was a big, big problem. But recently I was feeling more confident, so I went to a new teacher’s class today. I thought I should finally leave my comfort zone, and that’s what I did today. Really, I felt like I had never done flamenco before…
    (wanting my comfort zone back). But it is a learning experience, so it is going to help in any case.

  16. I think part of having an aha! moment with a new teacher just comes down to the power of the outsider’s view.
    Like, when my husband tells me he likes my outfit, I’m happy. When a stranger tells me she likes my outfit, I’m Thrilled.
    It’s not fair at all. I value my husband’s opinion way way more than some stranger’s opinion, but still, when someone who doesn’t love me walks up and says something, I give it a lot of importance.
    So I’m thinking that being noticed and critiqued by a new teacher, a stranger, puts a student in a way more receptive frame of mind simply by way of being an outside opinion.
    Maybe teachers should start encouraging outside classes, like some sort of ballet class exchange program for the enrichment of all.

    • Paulina says:

      Yes, enrichment seems to be the word. Today’s class went better. I will not leave my regular teacher ever (as long as he can stand me), but I am going to attend the new teacher’s open class whenever I can.

  17. karma007 says:

    I have 4 teachers, at 2 different schools. One is my first, and from her I continue to learn grace and the ‘art’ of dance. I can always expect encouragement on a rough day. From another, like a mad game of “Simon Says” It’s a struggle to keep up, but I learn speed and balance. From a third I learn strength and discipline- The most demanding class by far. The 4th I’ll meet tomorrow night, and I’m excited. As an adult beginner sometimes it’s about getting classes in when you can, with whoever you can. I’m grateful to have so many people supporting me!

  18. Robin Karlin says:

    Latest comment ever. I don’t think anybody should feel bad–in fact, good instructors often tell their students that they should take from various instructors for new perspectives. Even different dance styles. I’ve taught young kids piano and ballet, and sometimes there’s just a different way of putting a correction, or different timing of a correction, or different emphasis of a correction, and it just clicks into the right place. Or, the issue is actually in a different place–I also ride, for example, and someone was telling me that I had weak legs and that’s why my toes and knees were out. A reasonable assumption, as that’s a very common source of that kind of problem. But strengthening didn’t do a damn thing. Then someone else told me to stop turning my hips out in the saddle (and boy is that hard for a ballet dancer!). Turns out (ha) that THAT was the root of the problem, and everything fell into place.

  19. oh3girls says:

    Ok so this posting is a year and a half old but here’s my take. I took ballet growing up and with three daughters who dance, I am inspired to restart ballet (if my knees and hips can handle it ;-)
    I also taught social ballroom dance for 20 years (I literally started helping with classes when I was 15) As long as the other teachers were well taught themselves and did things correctly, it was great. The problem was there were some local teachers (some were former students) who did unfortunate things like completely ignore the music and/or timing, not break down steps so people learned them incorrectly and plain old made up steps that did not work. Then our students would return and we would need to try to fix it (because they could never get it to work). Frustration! So short answer, as long as it’s a qualified, quality teacher, GREAT!!

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