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Author Topic: Etiquette questions  (Read 774 times)
drj
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« on: April 28, 2010, 12:49:48 PM »

My etiquette question, aimed primarily at the teachers among us: is it acceptable for a new student to stop a lesson that the student thinks is not going well, pay for the whole lesson, say thank you, and leave?

Face it: I'm a newbie, not a world champion, nor even a hugely experienced dancer. But I am experienced in teaching and learning, and I am accustomed to excellent teaching. I know when a lesson works, when it's wonky-but-salvageable, and when it's better to just call it a day.

Second etiquette question: how do I most tactfully get out? "Thank you, but we are too different in our approaches, and it would be best for me to stop now," rather than, "You hamfisted Nazi, get your hands off me," or wtte? (OK, I'd never say the latter). And how much time must I put in before I can reasonably pull the red cord? Many people think you have to "give it a bit of time" but in partner dance, which relies so much on connection, how much time is a bit?

Background: I recently took a lesson from a different teacher from my regular instructor, in a different studio, in a different city. I knew within 1 minute that I was in for a rocky experience, within three minutes that I was totally screwed -- this instructor was basically doing exactly the opposite of what I have been taught, and not only was there no meeting of the minds, less than 10 minutes into the lesson, I was resisting him mentally and physically; both destructive and painful. However, I stuck out the rest of the hour, mostly kept a smile on my face, paid the fee. Then spent the next few days recovering.

Any and all input appreciated. TIA.
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ancora imparo
elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 01:11:02 PM »

Very interesting question - fortunately I've never had that experience.  It all goes to show that its very important to ask around before you anti-up.  Not only may be lesson be poor it could (as in your sad case) be harmful.

As I see it, if you are paying for the lesson - you can quit any moment you choose.  Obviously you should be sure that you can not get anything out of it.  What you could also do is to switch the emphasis onto something else, however, loosely linked to actual partner dancing: ask questions about choreography, the teachers training experience etc.  Of course if thats all useless you may be better off going to a cafe with YouTube and watching a dance video during your hour Grin
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
drj
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 05:58:26 PM »


As I see it, if you are paying for the lesson - you can quit any moment you choose.  Obviously you should be sure that you can not get anything out of it.  What you could also do is to switch the emphasis onto something else, however, loosely linked to actual partner dancing: ask questions about choreography, the teachers training experience etc.  Of course if thats all useless you may be better off going to a cafe with YouTube and watching a dance video during your hour Grin

I did try some of this, but it didn't work. I am not saying I got nothing out of it, but it sure wasn't what I wanted to get: it's now crystal clear to me what I DON'T want. I doubt that's what he meant to teach, though.

So I can bail? Without being rude or feeling guilty?
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ancora imparo
samina
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 08:51:02 PM »

hmmm. haven't had that experience in a dance lesson, but certainly have had it in dating, lolz. am trying to feel my way into how i might respond, personally. realistically.

i can imagine trying to redirect things a few times, to see if we hit an avenue that might be productive. i can imagine a bit of "well, that goes against my current instruction." "hmm... that too. what about xyz?" i can imagine being vocal about my puzzling it out, trying to honestly find a way to make it a productive experience. i mean, generally speaking, i have an attitude that i can learn something from pretty much everyone.

but...if it really did feel wrong, damaging, and unproductive to continue...i would have vocalized enough that my suddenly saying "y'know, this just doesn't feel right. don't take it personally... i'm just finding it confusing against the backdrop of what i've been learning, and before i get more frustrated i think it would be more productive if we just end it now. here is your fee, and thank you so much for your time and willingness to try to help me sort things out!" <big smile> <pay> <leave>

that's, realistically speaking, how i imagine i would handle it. thanks for the chance to think it through... in case i do find myself in your shoes!  Smiley
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TangoDancer
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2010, 02:47:45 AM »

Sam put things in a very nice way, and, of course, this is what one should want to do/say if/when one must bail. To mention that the teachings are simply not what you have been taught, and therefore... confusing, is probably very necessary. 1- it establishes that you are not just rebelling against something new, or him personally, but that 2- you have had adequate instruction, and know something about what you are doing. Often, teachers neglect that a student is not new to dance... just new to them.

Secondly, it is noteworthy to know that the teacher doesn't know you either, and has absolutely no idea what you need. Again, many teachers wish to come across as being all-knowing, etc in their craft, but forget that their craft is servicing the individual... not teachign dance. In this, they teach newcomers what they know rather than what the student wants/needs.

Lastly, of course, dance is intimate... intimate in that it deals with persons on a personal level. Sometimes, 2 persons hit it off immediately. Sometimes, it takes a while to 'gel', and sometimes, we know immediately that there could be a learning experience here, but there is never to be the type of connection that we intimately need.

My etiquette question, aimed primarily at the teachers among us: is it acceptable for a new student to stop a lesson that the student thinks is not going well, pay for the whole lesson, say thank you, and leave?

In a word, yes.

Face it: I'm a newbie, not a world champion, nor even a hugely experienced dancer. But I am experienced in teaching and learning, and I am accustomed to excellent teaching. I know when a lesson works, when it's wonky-but-salvageable, and when it's better to just call it a day.

It is good that you know these things, however, to that end, it is also good to ponder that; teaching one thing is different than teaching another... a completely different manner/style might be needed, you do know how to learn, and more importantly how you learn, but, much as a child does not question these methods in school, we should not allow our "adult" preconceived prejudices to block us from a possible learning opportuniy. I have had students tell me, "You need to teach me like this... [insert]..." My reply has always been, "Please, focus on the learning... not the teaching". Lastly, it is difficult when trying a new teacher because, especially if we are happy with a current one, we tend to enter into the new experience with all sorts of expectations. I'm sure you understand. Having said these things, if/when one has contemplated all of these things, and it seems that the lesson/s are not going/will not go well, by all means, offer the aforementioned empathies, and the expected compensation for the teacher's time, and quit. Dance is to be fun... period. And, in the end, you did learn something... what you do not like, or what you might really need.

Blessings, and good luck to you. Let me know how it goes.

[/quote]
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elisedance
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2010, 05:01:03 AM »

nicely put TD...   
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
drj
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2010, 09:27:05 AM »

Sam put things in a very nice way, and, of course, this is what one should want to do/say if/when one must bail. To mention that the teachings are simply not what you have been taught, and therefore... confusing, is probably very necessary. 1- it establishes that you are not just rebelling against something new, or him personally, but that 2- you have had adequate instruction, and know something about what you are doing. Often, teachers neglect that a student is not new to dance... just new to them.

Sam did indeed give splendid advice, and beautifully phrased. You're both right: I'm not rebelling against something new -- in fact, I thought I had gone to him in search of new information on something specific. What happened was quite different. And he could tell that I had had some instruction before, not only b/c I told him so, but as soon as he did the "diagnostic dance" with me.

Quote
Secondly, it is noteworthy to know that the teacher doesn't know you either, and has absolutely no idea what you need. Again, many teachers wish to come across as being all-knowing, etc in their craft, but forget that their craft is servicing the individual... not teaching dance. In this, they teach newcomers what they know rather than what the student wants/needs.

A telling observation, and spot on. However, when I explain quite clearly what I'm looking for, it does not seem unreasonable that a teacher should listen, and take it into consideration, at least.

Quote
Lastly, of course, dance is intimate... intimate in that it deals with persons on a personal level. Sometimes, 2 persons hit it off immediately. Sometimes, it takes a while to 'gel', and sometimes, we know immediately that there could be a learning experience here, but there is never to be the type of connection that we intimately need.

Point taken. Thanks.

Quote
My etiquette question, aimed primarily at the teachers among us: is it acceptable for a new student to stop a lesson that the student thinks is not going well, pay for the whole lesson, say thank you, and leave?

In a word, yes.

In a word, thanks! ;-)

Quote
Face it: I'm a newbie, not a world champion, nor even a hugely experienced dancer. But I am experienced in teaching and learning, and I am accustomed to excellent teaching. I know when a lesson works, when it's wonky-but-salvageable, and when it's better to just call it a day.

It is good that you know these things, however, to that end, it is also good to ponder that; teaching one thing is different than teaching another... a completely different manner/style might be needed, you do know how to learn, and more importantly how you learn, but, much as a child does not question these methods in school, we should not allow our "adult" preconceived prejudices to block us from a possible learning opportunity. I have had students tell me, "You need to teach me like this... [insert]..." My reply has always been, "Please, focus on the learning... not the teaching". Lastly, it is difficult when trying a new teacher because, especially if we are happy with a current one, we tend to enter into the new experience with all sorts of expectations. I'm sure you understand. Having said these things, if/when one has contemplated all of these things, and it seems that the lesson/s are not going/will not go well, by all means, offer the aforementioned empathies, and the expected compensation for the teacher's time, and quit. Dance is to be fun... period. And, in the end, you did learn something... what you do not like, or what you might really need.

Blessings, and good luck to you. Let me know how it goes.

I may have misspoken; I was not trying a new teacher for regular lessons, I was out of town and taking a lesson from a different (and yes, new) teacher. I have done this before, in several different cities, and gotten something from each lesson. I've been grateful to those teachers who were willing to take in a stranger for a one-off and to treat it as a real lesson, not just filling in an available schedule hour and getting some walking around money. I know better than to expect my instructor's level of expertise as a dancer and as a teacher from other folks, and I don't look for it. But I am not interested in harm.

Your advice is particularly welcome and important, as I may soon be adding a second teacher/coach to my learning. Thanks for the warning about entering with expectations. I realize it's difficult not to do that, but I will try to be an empty cup if/when I start to work with a new instructor. And give more attention to my learning than to his teaching -- and know that it's acceptable to say what Sam wrote.

Thanks again. I deeply appreciate the advice.

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ancora imparo
phoenix13
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 06:30:12 AM »

great topic.  I had never considered the possibility of leaving mid-lesson, although, honestly, sami's advice would have served me well a time or two.

I also think that TD's insights are very valuable, in terms of the thought process needed before a student gets to the point of leaving early with apologies and a polite thank you.
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Dona nobis pacem.
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