Advice for Dance TeachersQ: Dear Rhee,
I have been teaching for 25 years, and I’ve owned my studio for four and a half years. I’ve become increasingly concerned that parents don’t seem to be aware of the importance of bringing their children to class on time. This year, tardiness is at an all-time high.
At the beginning of the studio year I sent out letters—“Tips on Having a Successful Year”—that highlighted the importance of attendance and being on time. But some parents are still bringing their children to class 15 minutes late each week. How do I reach them? Thank you so much. —Sandy
A: Dear Sandy,
I can understand your frustration. As more and more students come to class late, tardiness becomes the norm. This, in turn, influences parents who are making the effort to get their children to the studio on time.
First thing: start classes on time with whatever number of students are present. The class will be in full swing when late arrivals walk in. Parents will be encouraged to arrive on time once they realize you are not going to wait for their children.
Another option would be to enact a policy that requires students who arrive more than 10 minutes late to class to sit out and watch. Include information that explains how the barre or warm-up at the beginning of class prepares students’ bodies for the movement ahead. Allow students to make up these missed lessons at another time—hopefully that inconvenience will encourage more on-time arrivals.
If you feel strongly about changing the situation, you could close the classroom door five minutes after the start of class. Once the door is shut, students would not be allowed to enter. This strict policy could upset parents, so give them plenty of advance notice about when this policy would take effect. A good time to initiate this rule would be when you begin recital choreography. Explain that every minute of class time is necessary if all students are to learn their choreography and feel fully confident when they take the stage at the end of the season.
One final note: make sure all of your studio teachers—including you—start on time, every class. Often parents and students arrive late because the teacher begins class late. Set the example by always being ready to go on time. Good luck. —Rhee