Teaching Open Communication

It’s a common thought at this point in history that we may be getting actively worse at open communication. We are so used to text and email that many people have anxiety about speaking on the phone or speaking face to face, especially if the conversation is conflictive in nature. I’m definitely guilty of being conflict- averse as a general people-pleaser. However, recognizing this in myself, I do try to face problems head on and (while being all too apologetic, I’m sure) not avoid a tough conversation just because it would be easier. In the South we like to keep things smooth and polite, but that doesn’t always yield the best results or relationships for either party.

In our membership agreement and at the end of every teacher letter given at the beginning of the year we say, “Open communication is imperative to success in the classroom for the teacher, dancer and parent,” and we always encourage parents (and dancers!) to discuss any concerns directly with their teachers. For young dancers ages 3-6 it makes sense for the parent to do the majority of the talking, but as early as 7 we start to encourage dancers themselves to be able to voice what is wrong and use their words to explain their feelings or their frustrations. If the teacher doesn’t know there is an issue, we can’t fix it! Conversely, if the dancer or parent can accurately identify the problem then we can use that opportunity to both fix the problem as well as teach a lesson. princesstea6

For example, if a dancer can approach their teacher and say, “I was embarrassed when you called me out in front of the class,” then the teacher can both mentally note to make those corrections more privately moving forward as well as explain to the dancer that making corrections just means we believe you can do it right! Then and there the problem is resolved, as well as a better bond formed between teacher and student. However, if the dancer goes home and tells mom that she was embarrassed and mom has to e-mail her distress, the situation becomes much harder to fix, a teachable moment is lost, and the relationship is strained moving forward.

It takes a lot to trust education of your child to anyone, and we are so glad that you trust us. We try to always keep our lines of communication open, and we hope that you can do the same as both parents and dancers. Turns out the conflictive conversation is almost never as bad as you anticipate it will be, and if both parties can learn to communicate effectively we will create a safe space to continue teaching not only dance, but life lessons. Interested in joining us? We close Fall registration 9/28. Check out our Fall schedule here.

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