Ever wonder what your dance teacher is thinking before class, during class, after class, at a competition, or in the middle of the night when she can’t sleep? Turns out, she’s probably thinking about you — your success, your growth, your career, and how she can help you succeed.
Yesterday, choreographer Lauren Adams wrote an open letter to her students that quickly went viral within the dance community. Read it here — then go give your own dance teacher a hug.
A Letter to My Students:
It is not my job to make you happy.
If I contribute to your happiness in some way, that is beautiful, but it is not my primary goal. It is not my job to compliment you, but I will, if and when you do the work. It is not my job to read your mind, so please don’t tell me about some personality trait that I should know about that somehow prevents you from being a polite student. Your shyness or introversion has no bearing on how you treat someone with respect. You can always do so quietly. Do not use the excuse that you’re scared of a teacher. Say: “Thank You” at the end of class. Always. It is the very least you can do, and trust me—over time you won’t be so scared of that teacher if you talk to them like they are human.
Let me tell you though what IS in my job description.
It is my job to hold you to a high standard. Just as it is my job to hold myself to a high standard. And it is my job to deliver you back to yourself after our time together as a more resilient, more thoughtful, more gracious, more precise, more open-minded, and more expansive version of you. I hope you leave my classroom with more information, more conviction, and more bravery. I will challenge you. And I hope you will challenge me, but not in the way that makes me lose respect for you. Do the work. Show up prepared. Show up over-prepared, with insights and with questions. And if I don’t have the answers, it is my job to admit that, and to research where you can find them.
I have some ideas…Bring me a piece of music if you love it, I probably will too. Tell me about a book you read, or a show you saw, or the time you spent in nature daydreaming about movement. Ask me what I love about dance or music or art? And tell me the same. I don’t care so much about what you’re good at, but I’m interested… Who and what do you love?
If you listen to me when I speak, which is one aspect of YOUR job, you know that I am wildly imperfect, I am impatient, I am emotional to a fault (some might say), but you also know that I care. I care about you understanding the depth of your potential. I hope you care about that too. I hope that you realize that anything worth wishing for takes endurance and it takes guts, and I hope that makes your pulse quicken.
I am a work in progress, and I’ve made A LOT of mistakes in my 20 years of teaching. Sometimes my brand of honesty, while I must admit is freeing to me, can also be a little too close for comfort for some. But keep in mind that my honest opinion is only that, an opinion. And please, by all means, stand strong before me if my words don’t ring true. You are allowed to disagree with me.
I don’t always have the answers and I don’t always know what’s best. I know that I am not the best teacher for every child who wants to dance. I know that I am just one human being striving to be good enough to guide those who want to grow. And growing can be painful. But remember, as a teacher, it is not my job to make you happy. It is my job to help you (and sometimes just let you)…GROW.
Want more inspiration from Adams? Follow her on Instagram @laurenadamschoreography!