What a loaded question. In all things. Right? From our hair products to our relationships, and everything in between, we walk through life with expectations needing to be fulfilled. In my personal life I have found conflicts arise when expectations are not clearly stated because it causes confusion. It brings strain to the situation. It results in everyone feeling unheard and dismissed. Typically, it ends in a mess. I was recently being interviewed for a ballet teaching position and was presented with the question, “What do you expect from 3-5 year olds within ballet class?”. I considered it for a moment. Which way did I want to answer? It was an enormously broad question. No specification regarding technique or certain elements of ballet class. It was simply “what do you expect?”. Based on the information I had about the school, I chose to go with my expectations concerning their personal responsibility as students within ballet class and how I choose to go about helping them meet those expectations. I have no idea if my answer was what they were looking for, but I did land the job; so I suppose it was adequate. However, the interview highlighted to me how many facets there are to expectations when it comes to teaching ballet. Categorizing Expectations Due to the vast number of items occurring within any given ballet class, it can help to break things down into more manageable sizes. Below are three categories I have chosen to hone in on when approaching expectations as a ballet teacher. No doubt there are more, but this has proven to be a good starting place for me. Obviously, answers depend on ages, levels, class dynamics (and sometimes studio policies), but it is important that we clearly communicate our expectations to our students (and often times, their parents) to ensure everyone is on the same page and moving forward together.
- Self Regulation—How do you expect your students to enter/exit the room? Handle themselves between exercises? Move from one place in the studio to another? Ask questions? Give feedback? Deal with other students? Manage injuries/sickness/other such situations? Can they bring a water bottle into the studio? What about wearing warm ups? What is your expectation concerning arriving late?
- Technique—How do you expect your students to apply themselves in learning and implementing your technical corrections? Will you allow discussions concerning other methods? Do you expect all students to approach all steps in one unified way or will you allow for differing approaches depending on the individual’s strengths/weaknesses/preferences/etc? Is technique your main focus or are you opening the class time up to a more recreational feel?
- Artistry—Do you expect artistry to develop? If so, what is your role within that expectation vs the role of your students? Will you allow an open dialogue concerning this issue within class or do you prefer it to be kept for conversations outside of class time? How much individuality do you encourage within your ballet class?