Q: Dear Rhee,
Advice for dance teachers
I lost a teacher to a nearby school. She took about 20 percent of my enrollment with her and I am devastated personally and financially. The hardest part is that I let this teacher take over my most advanced classes. After 22 years of teaching, I thought it was time to step back and work less, and I encouraged her to take over the entire program. She is an excellent teacher, and I rarely came into the studio on her teaching days because I totally trusted her. Now I have no more advanced kids, and several other students who have been with me for a long time are confused about where they should go. What do I do? I probably need to step back in, take control, and start teaching again, but will I have any kids to teach? Help!
A: Dear Brokenhearted,
The mistake here wasn’t stepping back—my guess is that you deserved it after years of teaching. The mistake was when you turned total control over to the teacher. None of us should do that, and the reason why is clear in your letter. You shouldn’t have planned to take your days off on the same days when the teacher was teaching. Owners must get to know all their clients—not just the children who they might teach and their parents. Your absenteeism is what made the 20 percent transfer their loyalty to your teacher. They don’t feel a connection to you, but they do connect with the teacher who has been with them week after week. It is common sense that they would follow the teacher because they know her.
You don’t have to return to teaching all those classes, but you need to find a great teacher you can trust. Check in every few weeks and observe classes. Get to know your clientele by hanging out with the parents in the lobby.
You got a kick in the butt, for sure, but you will grow from the experience. Don’t badmouth or gossip about the teacher or the students who left. Instead, focus on your bright future. This is just one more in a lifetime of lessons learned. I know you will be OK. Good luck.