Whether you have the most advanced students or those that are beginner, there is something to be said for instilling the concept that hard work reaps rewards. In a time when many children are rewarded just for showing up, it’s a difficult and tricky concept to instill; but an important one. This is why establishing this mindset from the beginning and setting the precedent that this is how you operate is crucial from the jump.
So how do we do it? How do we instill this idea when every inch of us wants to give each and every one of our students the world? Well, first it’s some tough love. Second, it’s reminding ourselves as well as students and parents that just because you love their kid and appreciate their business doesn’t mean they are going to get everything served to them on a silver platter. It’s just not a recipe for success; in any capacity. It’s enabling and setting up a behavior that has disaster written all over it. Think of it in parenting terms. We teach our children the same values and often say, “No,” so that they understand everything is not automatically theirs for the taking without hard work, dedication, commitment and the wherewithal to persevere. If we give our students everything they want when they want it, it becomes an expectation, an entitlement. We are not in the business of creating entitled kids. We are here to train dancers with good work ethic and solid foundation to be successful in life. This is where it begins. These are the tools they will take with them throughout their lives.
Reminding ourselves that it’s OK to select dancers who deserve solos vs. everyone doing one just because they want to, is important. Having a parent continually call the shots on rehearsal times because it suites their schedules is not appropriate. Laziness in dance class does not equate to receiving a scholarship because you’ve been at the studio for a long time and excessive absences does not mean you get to come in and critique other dancers or expect to be featured in a piece (or still in it at all for that matter.) What’s important is that dancers take this notion seriously and begin to understand every action, every behavior and every day in class has an equal response to that behavior. Hard work is either consistent or it’s not. If it is, it’s consistently rewarded, or it’s not.
While you may not be their favorite person at the time, bringing this to a student’s attention is also important. They are still learning and growing and if their outside influences subscribe to a different set of values, you need to make yours clear and give them a chance to get on board. While it may come across foreign to them or even taken as insult, remind them that it all comes from love and for wanting the best or them. While it may not happen until many years later, somewhere down the line the penny will drop and they will hopefully appreciate what you were trying to teach them. Hopefully they learn to pass it onto their own students and children one day as well. Food for thought!
See you in the dance studio,