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How To Give Feedback To Your Pole Students

By on April 3, 2018

Call me crazy but I don’t think you should be rude to your students.

Yes, there are some students who drive you absolutely nuts and hopefully by now everyone has seen Daniel Rosen’s parody student “Susan” who is truly the pupil you love to hate. Daniel can be dismissive and throw all the shade he wants at Susan because (spoiler alert) she isn’t real.

Samantha Ingram, Lindsay Green – Ember, and Kelsey Waite from Prowess Pole Fitness in a 3 person Crescent.

 

One of my real life students told me about some feedback one of her pole teachers gave her. This teacher told her that she expected her inverts to be better for an intermediate level student and called what she was doing “mediocre.” While I’m sure the teacher was trying to be helpful and perhaps clarify a deficiency that may hinder further progress, it didn’t come out that way and my student was offended and upset. I’ve had my own run ins with a former coach who also thought “tough love” was the best way to motivate me. It wasn’t; hence “former” coach.

While adult students are still just that — students — who come to you to learn from your fountain  of knowledge, they also are adults who have other priorities that sometimes interfere with them being the best students. If your new baby keeps you up half the night, or your job sent you out of town on a trip you couldn’t turn down, or you simply fell asleep in your car waiting for class to start because you were so bone-tired from life (all things that have happened in the past month to my regular students) then you might not progress as fast as a child athlete or professional dancer with presumably less on their plate or a more single-minded focus.

Acro Picture of the Day: Bad Kitty® Brand Ambassador Sasja Lee doing acro with Mia Shanté. Photo by Pappy Stevens from Pole Gang.

 

You want your students to improve and despite life’s challenges, your students want to improve too. So how do you help them and provide constructive feedback without sounding like a dick? Glad you asked! Here are some tips:

  1. Sandwich technique: This is a classic corporate feedback method. Tell the student two things you like about what they did and one thing to improve or fix sandwiched in between. “Wow, you really got lost into that freestyle! Great job! Next time watch those microbends and your lines will get even better then they are now.”
  2. Make it personal: Maybe your student doesn’t care about pointed toes but really just wants to be strong. Focus primarily on giving tips to improve what they want to work on versus appearing to harp or nag about things they don’t care about.
  3. Make it funny and light: Chances are, you’ll have to correct the same issue several times before it clicks. I have one student who is so passionate about dancing that she often forgets (sometimes I think she purposefully ignores!) the choreography and just does her own thing. Since it literally happens every class, the phrase, “That’s beautiful but it’s not what we’re doing,” has become our own in-class joke.
  4. Remember you’re the teacher: Being the teacher comes with a certain set of unspoken expectations. People look up to you and may even seek your approval. Being rude or dismissive can really sting. Think twice before you snap at a student because you’ve had a bad day or they’re doing that thing that drives you nuts. No one wins in that situation!

It’s the golden rule for a reason, but here is an updated version for the modern era: Treat others how they want to be treated. Just because you had a drill sergeant coach doesn’t mean that is appropriate for all students.

Happy Teaching!

Pin-up girl sitting at school desk with apple and books by Hero Images on 500px.com

 

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Colleen Jolly
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Colleen Jolly

is AFAA and elevatED certified pole dance enthusiast and entrepreneur. She has been poling for six years, runs and owns the International Pole Convention (PoleCon), teaches pole and lyra in the DC metro area at FIT4Polers and MyBodyShop, and is a partner and instructor with 123Poling.com. She loves performing, regularly competes, and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two kitties.
Colleen Jolly
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