Q: One of my teachers heard from students that another faculty member is making them do unsafe exercises during warm-ups, and she often singles out the same students to the point of making them feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to wrongly accuse any of my faculty, but I do want to listen to the concerns of my staff. What can I do?
A: Although this report about another teacher is relayed through a student, it is information that you should take seriously. The safety of your students requires your utmost attention, and you need to correct any practices that could endanger their physical and emotional health.
In order to avoid singling out a specific teacher, gather all staff members for an in-studio training session. Demonstrate and discuss guidelines for proper warm-ups and your expectations for how a student’s footwork, technique and alignment will be corrected in class. Bring in a certified fitness trainer who specializes in strength and conditioning to demonstrate safe stretching and exercises, so that your entire faculty is aware of basic injury-prevention beyond what they already know through their dance training.
Check your insurance policy for the limits of your liability and remind your faculty that any teacher, as well as the studio owner, could be held liable in the event of injury or proof of negligence. For the teachers whom you hire as independent contractors, be certain they also have proper insurance coverage and that they list your studio as an additional insured to protect you in the event of a claim filed against them.
Regularly observe classes to gain a broader perspective of the overall experiences of your students, and within the first few months of the school year, have students fill out evaluations regarding their satisfaction with teachers, classes and your studio in general. If you gather this information early on, you can more confidently address any issues that may arise later.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.