Problem Children and the Squeaky Wheel

This topic contains 10 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Profile photo of Janet Hanseth Janet Hanseth 5 years, 11 months ago.

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    Profile photo of Janet Hanseth
    Janet Hanseth

    Originally posted by Wendy on, if youve been teaching for any length of time, you have probably had the problem child in your class. They dont have enough self awareness to try to blend in with the rest of the class, are disruptive, dont play well with others, dont listen and apply critique, or they think the critique doesnt apply to them. br/Their behavior isnt *quite* bad enough to make an easy decision to disinvite them from class, but they sure are annoying. To you, and to the other students. br/Then there is the squeaky wheel. A good dancer, with a mostly good attitude, but she complains so much about the problem children, shes starting to become annoying herself. She is frustrated by dancing with the problem children, and says shes thinking about not coming to class any more because of it. br/So, heres the question. How much is responsibility goes to the teacher, or to the student in taking responsibility for the students experience? br/br/In my 14 years, Ive experienced PLENTY of problem children. As a student, and as a teacher. As a student, it never occurred to me to complain about it. I figured I was responsible for my own experience, and as such, I had to accept that people that annoyed me were not going to go away, so I had to learn to deal with them. And Id be DAMNED if I was going to let them drive me out of class. Upshot, Im still here, theyre not. br/Yet lately, Ive encountered a few students who are generally good students, but who, rather than taking control of their experience and distancing from the problem children, they are choosing instead to not come to class. br/br/My first response to this is that if you are going to let someone else chase you away, then maybe this dance form isnt for you. My second response is that we are all adults, and we are all responsible for our own experience. That means setting up boundaries with other students, including the problem children. br/br/But...I also question myself and wonder just how much I, as a teacher, should be involved in this kind of drama. But, life is full of problem children. They arent going to go away. If we eject one from class, another one will pop up to take their place. br/br/How much should we, as teachers, referee? How much are we there to be mediators, or therapists? br/br/Thoughts?



    Originally posted by Raven on, this is a great question. Im going through something similiar myself right now. I think there is a balance to this that can be tricky. br/br/I completely agree that as adults we are responsible for our own experiences and how we deal with adverse situations. However, Ive had to come to terms that it is not the case for everyone. There was a problem in my class recently. At the risk of having others think that her behavior was acceptable, (this was the "IOU" girl I posted about) I addressed the entire class and reminded them what the class policies are, about why were are here (in class) and what ATS is about - respect, sisterhood, trust, etc. I also explained this may not be the best fit for some dancers and that was ok. It opened up the lines of communication for some to talk to me after class, including the IOU think sometimes we do take the role as mediator and referee. But we can only do so much. We can lead by example, explain our goals but ultimately the decisions on how to act (or react) are down to the individuals. I believe many times students are looking to the instructor as a mentor, guide, therapist, and sometimes, parent. I think what happens within the class is part of my jurisdiction and Ive been lucky that it has been relatively drama-free. But when Ive had to address an issue, most of the students appreciate that I have taken the initiative and seem to have a genuine interest in the flow of the class. br/br/I think you are right that when one problem child goes another will eventually come in. So I think its fair to try to gauge the measure of the drama. If you are losing several students, it may be worth getting involved. The squeeky wheel can become problematic if they are dragging others into the negative mood. They can be just as troublesome as the problem childen because they are more apt to voicing their opinions to other students which in turn could drive them to quit but less likely to leave themselves. The fact that she is saying she may not come back is a request for intervention. I havent been teaching very long but I think I would be inclined to try to discuss the issues with both parties separately and see what happens.



    Originally posted by Wendy on, the squeaky wheel in this case is not the person thinking about leaving. Shes relaying info to me told to her in private. I have talked in the past with the person who I was told is thinking about leaving, and she hadnt expressed frustration with the problem children before. Yet the squeaky wheel is telling me this, while also telling me it was told to her in confidence, so its not like it would be easy to intervene, unless i out that the squeaky wheel told me. br/br/Besides, Ive had the conversation with the squeaky wheel about this in the past. And there are new problem children, and squeak is singing the same tune. br/br/And to clarify, if there is unacceptable behavior, I do address it. My problem is if one dancer says shes going to leave because she had a bad night of dancing with the problem children, whats going to be the next thing to make her want to leave? and its so easy for a person who is NOT in the teachers position to say whats the right thing to do. I guess mostly Im tired of hearing the complaining. And perhaps I dont have a lot of compassion for it because I survived the problem children, and I wish others would suck it up and give it some time, and believe that they can become their own agent for change. br/br/br/br/br/br/



    Originally posted by Erika on guess it really depends on the specific situation, but I feel that in an ATS class there are slightly different social dynamics than, say, in a classic bellydance class. An ATS group is like a small community and relies on trust and familiarity with the other dancers in order to work, while in a "common" bellydance class often enough every person comes to the lesson as a personal/individual activity. In an ATS group, the teacher has more responsability for the students experience, because often enough many women need to be helped to re-learn how to not be competitive, how to thrive on others success, how to truly enjoy team work and so on. Many feel that it is not their place to address or confront the problem child themselves, because it would be disrespectful to the teacher: Its the teacher that should at least try to correct the problem child. The squeaky wheel does make things worse at times, but I do understand her feelings of frustration and regret. She feels impotent in regards to a situation that really means a lot to her. The only thing she has left to do is complaining, so no wonder she does a lot of it. Ignoring the problem might lead the other students to feel that the teacher does not have enough power to keep the group safe. The problem child wont be solved with just one speech, but with constant effort, it can get better in time. I believe its useful to develop the attitude of a good dog trainer: patience, consistency, and a wise balance of praise and correction, a.k.a. the carrot and stick technique.



    Originally posted by Erika on, Ive been writing as you were repling and didnt read the second post till now. Sounds like she is squeaking a ton...



    Originally posted by Raven on, so its a squeaky wheel that keeps on squeaking. Well some people can never be satisfied. And some like to squeak because they are either looking for that elusive perfect situation or they like the attention that comes with it. In those cases there is nothing an instructor can really do, I would think. Some people like to be in the middle of controversy as well. So to this I would say that yes some people may need to take responsibility for their own reactions to things especially if its been addressed before. br/br/And if someone wants to leave bc shes had a bad night of dancing with problem children than there wouldnt be much an instructor can do. Sounds like their heart may not really be into it if they would leave so soon. Complaining for the sake of complaining is not productive but some people dont know that yet.



    Originally posted by Leslie on, I think you are very wise and patient. The teacher does play a different role than just dancer/learner. We do have to step in and settle the "noise" so that everyone can participate. It is difficult, but teachers are the ones who have to guide. My question throughout the original post was, what is the problem child doing, exactly? Directly and privately, talk to her. Find out what she wants. If you cant give her much, make a deal. Or no deal. Sometimes you might have to be authoritative, but by all means, know what you want before you make demands. br/br/I came from a demanding director, and I think she actually felt threatened by my input. She didnt quite know what she wanted, but she didnt want my good ideas, nor did she want to share leadership. So here I am, teaching and directing my own troupe. with a few of her former troupe mates coming to my classes. There are times when it is difficult to praise or show favoritism, and times that are awkward, but I am trying to be proactive rather than reactive. I am trying to be positive, and inquisitive, and immediate, and fair. Besides, there is the Rotary 4-way Test:br/1 Is it the TRUTH? br/2.Is it FAIR to all concerned? br/3.Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? br/4.Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?



    Originally posted by Wendy on I ended up having a talk with the Squeaky Wheel tonight, and the opportunity came up to talk about the squeaking. br/br/Honestly, I want to preface this by saying that the way I came up through the ranks was by steering clear of a lot of the drama that came up, focusing on my own dancing, and not complaining about the difficult people in class. I avoided the problem children. I was polite but didnt engage. When it came time in class to pick partners for an exercise, if I were next to one of them, Id turn away immediately. br/ I have a low tolerance for whining, and in this case, I think the people in question need to suck it up. I survived it, so can you. br/br/SW was saying she really wants to do this right, so I told her how I did it. Basically, I told her to show up, do what youre there to do, dont engage in bullshit, and dont complain. That in any endeavor you have in life, there will be problem children, so you might as well get used to it and learn how to deal with it, because they aint goin away. br/br/so, fwiw, there it is.



    Originally posted by Sandi on, heh. I was in TT2 yesterday and I brought this situation up as, some of the discussion went into the same territory. And that was basically my comment on how we got into the troupe. All of us had to move through/past/around/above the problem children to get where we are. Some people allow themselves to be effected by others moreso than other people. br/br/I also blurted out that I wished there was a "student training" class available. We, as teachers, have to go to teachers training, why not students? Carolena like the idea and asked if I wanted to head that up. 😀 If anything, itll be fun to brainstorm on!



    Originally posted by Wendy on the role playing possibilities alone are fun to ponder.



    Originally posted by Sandi on know, I thought of that too! That would be fun-ny! ;D

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