rate a teacher

RioDancerCO

New member
I think if the rating is designed to be positive or negative, then all that you have collectively said is absolutely true. Something that might be helpful though would be quantitative questions. For example, does the teacher focus the class primarily on choreography or drilling? This is a question that someone new to belly dance could still answer. It's not telling you whether the teacher is 'good' or not, but it would certainly give you a better idea if she is teaching what you want to learn or in a style that might work for you... When I am looking for instruction, I prefer combos to choreography. I look for instruction in zills and other 'accessories' like veil and sword. Drilling and individual correction is very important to me. I find it important to know that my instructor is able to impart some information on the cultural background behind movements and music. Now, I don't necessarily think the primary teacher has to be knowledgeable about EVERYTHING, but I do think she (or he) should be willing to make the effort to bring in someone who can teach students in areas where they might be weak. And finally, a personal pet peeve of mine~ I think it's a very bad idea for a teacher to force beginning students to perform (like a student show) if they don't feel ready. I have seen (and experienced!) this over and over again. I feel like it sets people up to have more stage fright to deal with. I love giving my students the opportunity to perform, but I purposefully make the routines something that can be performed by one person or all. Then they can decide 5 minutes before we go on that they aren't up to it and it's okay. So far I haven't had a single person balk at performing because they had the option to bow out and didn't feel trapped...
 
There are always problems when rating, what is great for one is dross for others! Example, I attended a very quiet class where you were invited only, a very spiritual class, half dancing and half meditation, a wonderful class, but would someone who wants to just dance rate it well, example 2, a class with a large attendance, but the teacher knew nothing about belly dance. I was appalled! This Very young teacher should not be teaching (horrendous warm up, no techniques, no idea about the style that's she thinks she was teaching), when chatting to some of her students later I found that they had been attending for years and still only knew 4-5 moves, not even a 3/4 shimmie. But her students loved her! They would give her a great rating! Needless to say I never returned to her class. So you see ratings just don't work, only trial and error, attending classes to find the one right for you would work.
There that's my opinion, and as I said that's only an opinion and you cant rate that!
 

Mosaic

Super Moderator
As others have said, ratings are too subjective. My first teacher was recommended, she has been dancing for 20+ years and teaching for about 10. She was a really nice lady, and I thought she was great! Then I took a 2nd class with a different teacher - dancing for 15 years teaching for 4, WOW she sure opened my eyes, I was kind of relieved when my first teacher discontinued classes in my area due to classes being non viable. That particular teachers technique was terrible, her warmup/down practically none existent. She is a good dancer but not a good teacher, but having said that, she has about 60 to 80 students, thus my perception of her teaching ability is just that, mine. My second teacher - Is great, yet I know a couple of girls who don't like her teaching method & one girl left in a huff because she was gently corrected a couple of times - so she would definitely give this teacher a bad rating, my third teacher to my mind and her 50 to 60 students is the 'real deal' - teachers 2 & 3 teach differently, but at this time exactly what I feel is right for me.

Also I believe there is that begiining with no knowledge time, so a teacher may not be very good, but you are inspired, but find that you need more, find that teacher who will take you to another level, and leave the previous teacher with gratefulness as she/he has helped you begin your journey! I still see my first teacher at rakkasas etc and love to have a long chat with her, she is a really nice person. I just 'outgrew' her teaching style:)

I think it comes down to attending a class asking questions that are important to you, if you don't leave the class feeling inspired or happy, then try someone else. When I first began, I didn't have a clue as to what was good and wasn't.
~Mosaic
 

Moon

New member
I'm not in favour of a rating system. Imagine, some other teacher who dislikes competition might give a bad rating so more people will come to her class, stuff like that.

I'm afraid the best way is still to ask here if someone has experience with a particular teacher. Would be nice though if you could just click the name and immediately read what style the person teaches + links to youtube videos if they exist. However I think such info should be on the website of the teacher, or you could just ask the teacher for it through e-mail.
 

shiradotnet

New member
Voice of experience...

I have a little experience with ratings that might be helpful to this discussion.

On my web site, I have a section on DVD's and videos which includes over 100 opinion polls for commercial videos. For each such video, visitors can rate it on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is "nothing good about it at all" and 5 is "absolutely fantastic".

I have noticed the following:

  • I found one teacher's web site where she had a very prominent link right on her home page leading to her video. The link urged students to follow it and cast a favorable vote for her video. Now, I've seen her video and I happen to think she did an excellent job with it, so I don't mind the stampede of favorable ratings, but I still felt kind of, uh, unhappy to see that she was campaigning in this way.
  • Another teacher sent me email complaining because there had been a lot of negative 1 & 2 ratings cast against her videos. She claimed that there were people in her city who didn't like her, people who were voting multiple times just to undermine her. As it happens, I own copies of her videos, and I wouldn't give those particular videos more than 1 or 2 stars myself, either. There are issues with dreadful production quality (loud buzzing noise from a poor microphone that's horribly distracting), misleading marketing claims (claiming a 40-minute video is actually an hour long), etc. So I wasn't at all surprised that the bulk of voters were giving it 2 stars for "disappointing, but had some value". But interestingly, after I received the angry email about mean people voting against her just to be malicious, suddenly there was a stampede of 5-star ratings. How fascinating that all of a sudden the community of shira.net users abruptly decided that her videos were stellar enough to receiv "absolutely fantastic" ratings....

So, I think any attempt to institute a rating system will trigger people trying to stack the deck. Some will put a lot of energy into making their local rival look as bad as possible, and others will urge all their students to go home, jump online right away, and vote high praise to them. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to think of a way to solve this.

I do wish there was a way we could warn students to look out for bad teachers. I just can't think of a practical one.
 

Shashi

New member
Rating Teachers

I have been bellydancing for eight years and have now studied with three teachers. I started out with ATS and immediately fell in love with bellydancing. For the first two or three years, I loved dance so much and had never had any other teachers or dance experience that I put up with a teacher who was rude, arrogant, overly critical, took pleasure in making fun of students in front of the whole class and treating adults like children. I started simultaneously studying with another teacher after three years, who helped me to see how this first teacher was ruining my dance experience as well as increasing my low self-esteem. I finally quit after five years and now feel that I probably wasted a lot of those first five years. I am more aware now of teachers, not only their skills or qualifications, but whether they support and encourage their students. My second teacher is nice, but alot of her focus is still on her self. She does not make a lot of effort to give students individual attention, even if they are hard working and dedicated. My third teacher does pay alot of attention to her students, but she has alot of emotional baggage which she tends to bring to class and I feel that interferes with her teaching. Maybe I expect too much and I know teachers are only human. But as an intermediate dancer who has hung in there, I do expect a certain amount of service for my dollars. Intermediate classes are much more expensive. I don't know that beginners would be able to rate a teacher, as I didn't and I started learning bellydance at 48. I am also a highly educated professional business woman and I wasn't able to evaluate at first. The only thing I know to do at this point is to read about instructors, talk to people who have studied with so and so and at some point possibly try them. At least at this point in my life I can evaluate them better. I do regret feeling like I would have been much further along if I would have started with a quality teacher.
 

Jane

New member
The only thing I know to do at this point is to read about instructors, talk to people who have studied with so and so and at some point possibly try them. At least at this point in my life I can evaluate them better. I do regret feeling like I would have been much further along if I would have started with a quality teacher.
You are spot on with your post! I wish I had started with a different teacher too, but there was only one in town. I also wouldn't have know what to look for as a beginner. Talking to people who have had experience with a teacher and trying them yourself are the only ways to find out if they are a good fit.
 

dancingwithjuls

New member
Ratings and Surveys

<productive ranting> I think the point of the email that started the conversation is that the person had spent a good deal of time, effort, and money trying to find a teacher in her area who was worth the time, effort, and money, not that we want a "bash the teacher" forum. I can imagine that many of you have had similar situations in the past based on your posts. What is the point of spending money and time on a teacher that is not up your alley if you would have had someplace to research the teacher to begin with? Perhaps there could be a survey based rating system that touches on a variety of areas of interest to potential students. Such as:

On a 1-5 scale rate the following:
Timeliness (On time, Late, Absent)
Attitude & Behavior (Polite, Kind, Impolite, Rude, Insulting)
Knowledge of subject (Novice, Experienced, Well versed, Expert)
Student Performance Opportunities (Amount or Frequency)
Individual feedback (does the teacher give productive feedback in an appropriate fashion)
Cost (low, medium, high, omg)
Value of instruction (to YOU at the time...was it worth the money and time?)

The following are Check boxes:
Appearance:
Professional attire (clothes ... note that costumes are not required to teach in),
Clean (hair, makeup, etc),
Personal Hygiene (did the instructor smell bad...etc).
Comments

Structure:
Warm up,
Drills,
Choreography,
Technique,
Cool down,
Homework,
Handouts.
Comments

Prop Work:
Zills,
Spoons,
Veil,
Double Veil,
Isis wings,
Voi (Veil Poi),
Cane,
Sword(s),
Candles,
Candelabra,
Snake,
Other.
Comments

Lesson levels available:
Beginning
Intermediate
Advanced
Continuing/Professional coaching

Private Lessons Available (Y/N)

Then have a general comments section on the bottom.

This survey is not meant to be a 1-5 star teacher rating (like youtube) so much as a general survey of the observations of the teacher's past and present students. Certainly any survey or rating system is subjective in nature, and will only reflect the opinions of the people who fill out the survey. In any subjective method, there is room for abuse of the system, but by posting the full surveys with the names of the submitter removed, including the comment fields, anyone reviewing the posted information will have a reasonable idea which surveys are 'valid' and which ones aren't. Of course, it should be required that you be a registered member to post a survey and you may only review an instructor once, though you may edit your review at any time to allow for changes in opinion or comments, but not mis-weight the review method by excessively commenting on an individual instructor. I would also suggest requiring that while 'rebuttal comments' (by the instructor) may be permitted, it should also be a 'Terms of Use' requirement that instructors found to be soliciting positive reviews of themselves or negative reviews of others would have a notice placed on their page indicating that "The reviews of this instructor may not be accurate due to possible 'Terms of use' violations".

While yes, there may be some complaints from teachers, the fact of the matter is that your business as a teacher relies on word of mouth. Whether that is online or in person it is probably going to reflect what you portray. If you are worried about bad mouthing (or people being out to get you) perhaps you should consider why that is, and re-evaluate your teaching and public presentation skills. If you are expecting good things then this may be a way to boost your self esteem as an instructor and encourage you to continue using the teaching techniques that are working for you. Let's face it ladies, (and gentlemen), dancers talk and whether you are good, bad, or otherwise you're are not likely to be told to your face. There is a reason why it is called "Word of Mouth". I personally would want such feedback though I realize as a form of courtesy I am not likely to get it directly. Put another way, if I suck I want to know and if I am awesome I want to know. I know I can't please everyone (and I am certainly not going to try) but if I am consistently losing or gaining students because of A, B, or C, I want to know about it so I can adjust my teaching style appropriately. But...How am I supposed to know this if there is no way for students to get that information to me in a comfortable (or a mostly anonymous) manner? Furthermore, if a lot of people are saying the same thing or similar things there is (like it or not) probably some truth to it. <end productive ranting>

dancingwithjuls
 

Zanbaka

New member
What a great topic!

It seems like the issue of inexperience in dance ability and teaching know-how amongst bellydance instructors has been around since I took my very 1st class back in '95. At the time, information on classes in Seattle was difficult to find unless you were lucky enough to stumble upon a flyer, find a community ed class, or look in the phone book (which only had 2 out 15 Seattle instructors listed).

I was lucky enough to have a great experience with my 1st instructor, but I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to shop around for a suitable instructor before the "internet age" or to obtain enough information to even realize that you might be in a not-so-great class due to either the instructor's experience or the class focus not being a good match for you, the student. We're really lucky that we have so much information available now on the web.

On one hand, I have to agree that the rating system could definitely be abused on many levels. On the other hand, as a professional teaching my art/craft, I crave constructive feedback (both positive and negative) from my students about my classes and their needs as students. I do anonymous online class evaluations every quarter, and although I've had 1 or 2 submissions that were nastily unconstructive, the dozens of others are so helpful and I've become a better instructor as a result.

Maybe the issue is that bellydance is still making the transition from obscure, misunderstood dance genre into the mainstream. Do the guidelines of professional feedback not apply because a bellydance class is still a rare opportunity in some regions? Or, do we need feedback and rating systems now more than ever because of these awkward growing pains and certain areas being over-saturated with instructors where all may or may not have the required experience to teach?

I think that perhaps the best postive solution is for dancers/instructors to work together to empower potential students with information on how to choose a class that's right for them and how to recognize when they might be in a less optimum classroom situation. Education and information is key. On my website, my class faqs page has detailed info on my class structure and focus, as well as good questions to ask if a potential student is looking around for a quality class/instructor.

Instead of a rating system, I think it would be so incredibly contructive to have a 'stickied' forum topic with a compiled list from members of advice and questions for potential students to ask instructors. This would put responsibility in the student's court for doing their research as well as the instructors for providing the student with realistic information about their classes.
For example, let's say student A just wants to take a beginning class for fun and has no real aspiration (yet) to make bellydance a lifelong practice. She goes through the research routine, asks all the right questions and ends up settling for the only class with instructor a that fits into her schedule which is an intro class with a simple choreography that does an optional student recital at the end of the session. Dancer A might have a great time in this class and discover a new found love for bellydance, but it's also possible that the pressure of having to remember sequences of movements, the pressure of coming to class each week to not get lost in the chor., and pressure to perform might be very "un-fun". If student A did do her research and was aware going into the situation that this might not be the ideal class for her, she's probably less likely to complain and rant if unhappy and she'd also have the knowledge, that there are other classes out there that might be better suited to her, which don't work with with her current schedule. Besides preventing rants/complaints and writing bellydance off alltogether, Student A may eventually try a different class and dance the rest of her life.

Now, if instructor A gives student A incorrect information about her class and claims it's strictly fun and zero pressure and student A shows up the first day to class and leaves with a head spinning of choreography, pressure to buy costumes and dance at the student recital, I think she would have just cause to be irked and do some complaining. In a case like this, Student A might be so angry that she'd write off bellydance for good, which really hurts us all who teach and perform. Hopefully, since she'd done a little research and knew what her options were before this class, she'd try eventually try another class.

(Whew! That was a long post)

Best, ~Zanbaka
 

Granddad

New member
................

Instead of a rating system, I think it would be so incredibly contructive to have a 'stickied' forum topic with a compiled list from members of advice and questions for potential students to ask instructors. This would put responsibility in the student's court for doing their research as well as the instructors for providing the student with realistic information about their classes.
.....................

Best, ~Zanbaka
I agree entirely! Rating systems are a minefield and at some point are always open to abuse and subjectivity.

On my website teachers page I have the following statement "Please note that I'm not a bellydancer, I just publish the info, it's up to YOU to decide who you want to study with. Click here for tips." with a link to an article I wrote on the subject (in need of updating) plus a link to another article on the subject by Afra Al Kahira.

Any attempt by me to institute a rating system for teachers would probably split the local belly dance community into factions... and lets face it, factions are always a fact of life when you're dealing with people. I've no intention of fanning the flames and starting a war.
 

lizaj

New member
I agree.
Rating of teachers would be used by people who want belittle a teacher for personal reasons.
Teachers are rated ..by students..they go or they stay.
They mix with other students at haflas and realise they are perhaps not getting the depth and width of tuition they should.
They go to workshops and compare instruction.
I am surprised that some people have the wool pulled over their eyes by some teachers and believe they are representing this art form but maybe they don't care that much. We're having fun aren't bopping around and showing our bums in burley-fusion or whatever. oooo I am so sexee and I'm having fun. They got the teacher they deserve!
I think we maybe aught to stop thinking about our students as empty vessels- they are mostly quite capable of sussing out the crap themselves.
I've had refugees from another teacher - the pennies dropped!Dogma ,evasion, unhelpfulness and general loopiness got them to look elsewhere.;)
 

Eve

New member
I've got a couple of refugees. Bless 'em. However there are those who like the dogma and the crap because it means an easier ride.
 

Shashi

New member
Rate a teacher

I think what should be done is to educate new students on a forum such as this one as to what qualities one should look for in a teacher. Then they would have a benchmark to compare any potential teacher out there that they might be considering. The guide might also apply to workshops a beginner student might want to consider. By the time you are an intermediate student, I think for the most part you have already figured most of this out. However, many serious newbies to bellydance might come to a forum like this one and check out an article or guide as to what to look for or expect from your teacher. They could print out a guide and then rate their teacher according to how a good teacher would teach. This would make it totally impersonal and people would be able to decide for themselves whether they want to deal with someone or not. Something like what dancingwithjuls wrote. Is your teacher on time? Is she clean? Does she have professional looking costumes? Does she have a good attitude? Is she supportive and helpful to students? Does she give productive feedback? Does she regularly drill the basics? Does she try to provide performance opportunities to students who want to perform? Does she start with a warmup and end with a cool down? Is she conscious of doing moves safely? Is she a stickler for posture and technique? Does she focus on improv or choreo? Does she teach props and zills? Is she knowledgeable about the history of dance, music theory as well as technique? Does she continue to take workshops herself? Does she perform? Etc.
Something like this would be so helpful and I think it would have prompted me to have sought out another teacher much earlier in my beginning dance experience. I have seen many new dancers in the class I was in eventually lose their confidence and love of the dance due to the rudeness and ridicule of the teacher. Eventhough I loved the style of dance I was learning, after five years of rudeness and ridicule I decided to change teachers and move on. I made the right move eventhough technically the teacher I had did have had the technique and experience. However, she was ruining my self-esteem, confidence and my love of dancing. Although I miss the style I was learning (ATS), I am so much happier now. I am learning other styles of soloing and maybe some day will get back to ATS, but it just wasn't worth putting up with a nasty teacher. I have also seen other teachers, of whom it is all about them, they are the goddess, so again sometimes it comes down to attitude. I am paying hard earned dollars and spending much time practicing, I am looking for support and feedback and growth in my dancing. I no longer will put up with less than I should receive.
 

Cajenne

New member
rate a teacher?

... a survey might work. Questions could be simple and direct... did teacher show up on time, how many other students... how long did class last, were there handouts... what kind of music was used, what style is taught. what is the studio like... this would help me select a teacher.
Marya
Amen.

Some rating/ranking formats could be terribly abused, as has been stated, but a basic questionnaire requiring brief answers might work. Said questionnaire might in itself teach us newbies some basic things to look for in an instructor, in a class format.
 

jenc

New member
I have to say that a lot of the reasons why I would not recommend a particular teacher will never show up in a questionnaire
 

Granddad

New member
Amen.

Some rating/ranking formats could be terribly abused, as has been stated, but a basic questionnaire requiring brief answers might work. Said questionnaire might in itself teach us newbies some basic things to look for in an instructor, in a class format.
Here's the link to that article I mentioned back in early December.
Selecting a dance teacher.

It's not very detailed because around the area it was written for (Lincolnshire, UK) the choices are somewhat limited. If you're in a major city you may be spoiled for choice.

If any of our experts here would like to write a more comprehensive article I'd be happy to publish it! :)
 
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