One of my guiltiest T.V. pleasures this winter is the reality show Dance Moms. I’m completely captivated by the show’s enigmatic dance teacher protagonist, Abby Lee Miller. It’s hard to look away from some of her questionable teaching techniques. In a recent episode, “Miss Abby,” resorted to referring to an 11 year-old dancer as, “Hey you,” after the dancer’s mother had upset her. Regardless, one can’t argue with the short-term results of producing top-tier dancers.
Here are my:
Top Five Teacher Takeaways from Dance Moms
Be clear and communicate about your goals and what you have to offer
Abby’s objective as a teacher is really clear. She produces professional dancers, who can make a living and survive the business of dancing on Broadway. She is candid with the moms that this isn’t a soft-skills warm and cuddly studio. If they want that, they should go somewhere else. For the most part, teachers don’t have the luxury to tell their parents “where to go.” But, we do have the opportunity to be clear about the vision we hold for our students and communicate this with parents.
Don’t let fame go to your head
Despite their continued success in dance competitions, Abby is adamant about her students remaining humble. I’ve noticed how notoriety can turn some educators into self-absorbed monsters. They loose perspective that education and innovation are a community endeavor.
“Save the tears for your pillow”
I’ve talked before about the concept of not letting emotion interrupt professionalism. I’m not sure how well it applies to kids, but for adults/educators, she makes a good point.
“Everybody is replaceable”
This is the go-to quote for Abby whenever she is displeased with a student or visa versa. Everyone really is replaceable. There is always someone, smarter, less expensive to hire, faster, more creative, etc., waiting in the wing. Never think that you are so special that you can’t be (easily) replaced and forgotten.
Expect a lot from your parents
I would contest that the dance moms work twice as hard as Abby. If gluing sequins to costumes at rapid rates were the only way to save the world, these mothers would be the first ones I would call. Abby makes the clear correlation between student success and parent involvement.