OK teachers, it’s that time of year when we’re in the post-holiday, dead of winter stretch where our students are beginning to drop like flies. While it’s an inevitable ritual we have all become accustomed to, what do we do when we’re on a deadline to finish choreography, clean for competitions and rehearse for spring performances? Let’s admit how frustrating it is to try and set numbers with absentees (and abundant lateness) every week where we can never get a clear visual of our work because the class is never at fully capacity?!
While it is the time for colds and sickness we are also dealing with bad weather and traffic (which is unavoidable,) kids having a million other activities they are involved with, family trips, school tests, school plays, etc. So, what is your protocol to making up those absences so that, #1 dancers don’t get too far behind and #2 you don’t have to keep going back every week to catch them up and fall behind on your own choreography setting?
In my travels I’ve seen many teachers and studio owners who either don’t really follow through on the absence/lateness policy they have in place or don’t even have a clear plan for making up absences. This made me think, "Well, how do dancers ever learn it is their responsibility then to make up the work?" While everyone gets seriously ill and should absolutely stay home to take care of themselves so as not to infect others, what are the ramifications if the absences/latenesses are a little too frequent? Isn’t it important to have a clear expectation in place about make-ups so that students really think about and decide when it is absolutely necessary to miss a class? Here are some things to think about when setting your “absences protocol” in place for your studio.
First, where are you going to write this expectation of class makeups? Will it be publically visible? In a newsletter? On the studio website? With a registration packet at the beginning of the year? In student contracts? Having this documented and read and agreed to by your parents and dancers is extremely important so all are aware with no confusion about your policy.
What is your policy? Think about how you would like to go about this? For all classes? Just company classes, etc.? Will that dancer be expected to take a makeup class in some other class of their level and choice? Will they be expected to schedule a private with the teacher to make up any missed choreography for that week?
When are absences considered too much? What is your policy for consistent absences (and lateness) for a particular class? Will they be removed from that number? If so, after how many absences or latenesses? Will you schedule a meeting with the parents before this decision is made as a warning to remind families of the policy?
What is your plan to deal with disgruntled parents who have a problem with your policy when you actually implement it with their child? How will you go about easing tensions and keeping their business but standing firm on the “what’s good for one is good for all” mindset you set forth in your absence/lateness expectations?
A difficult one to stay firm on, but having clear policies and consistent follow-through is definitely the way to go in order to ensure everyone understands the expectations of your studio and how one’s absence doesn’t just affect them but the faculty and their fellow dancers. We are all human, get sick, have life events, school priorities and need to miss a day here and there, BUT when it starts to become a little too frequent we need to maintain protocol and policy for the benefit of everyone who is at our studios!
See you in the dance studio healthy and well! ;)