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Teacher Loyalty Redux

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Because I think it bears repeating, and with a little caveat added to the end:

“To All Students,
Regarding “Loyalty” to Your Teacher
By Amanda Niehaus

with a few edits by me personally
(originally posted at Shira.net which is a fantastic resource for all things bellydance. Check it out!)

Dear students of this beautiful art form,

I am a teacher. I teach because I am passionate about this dance and I want others to share my passion.

I am not teaching because I require a fan club.
I am not teaching because I require devotees or because I need hero worship.

As your teacher, my job is to teach you; to inspire you to be your best. If I am a really good teacher, then I also will not be your only teacher.

I will encourage you to study with other teachers who have skills and experience I lack. Because I am not the end-all, be-all of bellydance knowledge.

You as a student owe me nothing. You may thank me after class, you may credit me on your first performance DVD, you may remember me when you are touring with Jillina, but you do not owe me anything. (You paid for your class. I taught you. We are even.)

I am an emotionally-mature adult. I do not require your “loyalty” or allegiance. You do not have to take my classes just because I offer them, or just because I was your first teacher. You will not be “cheating on me” by taking classes with another instructor.

You should be taking my class because you enjoy it and are learning something. If you are no longer enjoying it or learning from it, then I would be the first to encourage you to find another, or a different, teacher. I want you to love this dance as much as I do.

Your job is to learn and practice, not to worry about my ego. I will not be “mad” at you for moving to a new (style or place in your dance). You need to worry about YOU, and making yourself a better dancer. I will never resent you and I will only respect you for moving on…(if that is your desire)

Do what’s right for you. I’ll be fine, whether I’m dancing beside you or watching you from the audience. I promise.

Yours truly,
Your dance teacher”

In a dance which is so much about community, as ours is, it is respectful and thoughtful to check in with your teacher from time-to-time–not to seek approval, but simply as a show of gratitude for what she has shared with you. It is not required, and her love for you is not contingent on whether you do or not, but it is a kind gesture for someone who cared for you as much as your teacher has (and yes, she still does, whether you have been around five years or six months). If your teacher has moved you, nurtured you, encouraged you, even friended you, consider a little ‘thank you’ in the form of simple friendly communication now and then. Tell her what you’re up to. Ask how she’s been. Nothing earth-shaking is necessary. Very little goes a long way.

More reading on teacher loyalty:
Yoga Teacher Loyalty

Follow Shay:

Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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