Ask The Experts: Dealing with Hostile Teachers

Q: How should I deal with a teacher who is hostile or defensive anytime I need to ask what’s happening in class or discuss a parent’s concern? How do you know when a teacher isn’t the right fit versus giving him or her another chance to follow your studio policies?

A: Building relationships with teachers and helping them feel like part of your team requires ongoing conversations that both offer praise and identify concerns. Create a culture of respect based on clear guidelines. It is important to put your expectations and methods of holding teachers accountable in writing with a contract or agreement. This way, teachers can expect communication regarding any issue that would interfere with the overall success of the studio or their classes.

In this document, identify the roles and responsibilities of the teachers, staff and management, regarding your studio policies and procedures, mission statement and code of ethics. Delineate the expectations you have for professionalism, such as ongoing evaluation and review of customer feedback. Consider adding an artistic direction clause that states all programs, methodology and conduct of the teacher are subject to evaluation from the director/owner.

If you already have a contract with clear guidelines and are still having issues, set a private meeting and give this teacher an opportunity to choose whether he or she is onboard with your employment terms. If this teacher generally has a negative attitude or difficult personality, the potential damage this may cause to studio morale must be considered. In that case, it may be the time to let this teacher go.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.