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  1. #1
    Just Starting! bellabelly's Avatar
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    No good deed goes unpunished....

    So how do you define "student poaching" and what are your thoughts on the subject?

    In my dance community, I am proudly one of the most vocal and liberal teachers in support of students being "free agents" and being able to study with who they want. No twisted arms, no guilt or diva trips, no bullying, no trash-talking. (Without getting off track into other areas, there are obviously some commitments that must be made when a student is a member of a dance troupe, yada, yada....)

    But even given my openness about students learning from various multiple teachers, I still find it appalling that during my recent fight with cancer involving surgery, chemo, radiation, my students were approached by another teacher (without me in the loop at all), I GUESS, trying to recruit them. And yes, the teacher involved ABSOLUTEY knew who the girls were currently studying with. And no, the teacher in question does not and has never reciprocated the "student as free agent" philosophy I espouse.

    I DID have teaching peers offer to teach my classes for me at my studio - without compensation - during the worst of my treatment. This was beyond nice and very appreciated. And I was blessed with a thousand kindnesses and real, tangible support from my dance community through it all.

    I don't have to tell any other instructor out there how much energy goes into attracting/keeping students. I also shouldn't HAVE to tell anyone how miserable and isolating the experience of cancer treatment can be - without any additional stresses.

    All pragmatic business considerations aside, since I don't view students as chattel, does the concept of poaching apply? And if not, why am I bothered by this!!!? It just feels underhanded and slimy.

    Does this strike anyone else as exploitive, opportunistic, unethical and low?


  2. #2
    Advanced BHUZzer Rosette's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    First, your "student freedom" philosophy is absolutely right, yep.

    It's hard to know just what happened between your students and the other teacher (you say you're guessing that she was trying to recruit them) and you'll probably never know. And if she's not the "student as a free agent" type, then I would guess she might be a kind of teacher you'd be likely to feel distrustful/suspicious of (because you know she's territorial and possessive, right?).

    It's absolutely AWFUL to be sidelined with illness and feel that what we have built, gathered, created, etc may be slipping away while others who are in good health are moving on with their lives. OF COURSE you're going to be susceptible to feeling EXTREMELY bothered. Of course.

    But really, the best thing to do is what you've been doing all along. Take the high road. And remember, any of your students who try studying with a possessive, controlling teacher are going to know it's not right because they learned that already before she got ahold of them. They learned it from YOU.

    Hoping all will be well for you,
    Rosette


  3. #3
    Mega BHUZzer mahsati's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    This is a hard situation, but students are all individual people who choose their instructors, so I don't think that poaching applies. Having said that, however - I do tend to think that it is inappropriate for teachers to specifically try to recruit another teacher's students, but I don't see any problem with letting them know that the classes are available and inviting them to drop by. It would all depend on how it was handled. Without knowing more about the specific situation, I would say that it is usually ok for a teacher to let them know about his/her classes. You mentioned that it was without you in the loop, but if students are truly free agents, then you wouldn't need to be in the loop. (Still, I agree with the feeling - I'd feel pretty weird about it if someone was telling my students about his/her awesome classes without my knowledge...even though I'd happily tell my students the same things!)

    It sounds like you are in a tough spot. Going through treatment like that is bound to bring your emotions close to the surface for both good and ill. It's great that so many in your community have come forward to support you and I am sure your students are as well. If this other teacher is someone you have had a decent relationship with, maybe it would help to talk to her to get an idea of what their goal was in talking with your students. The other teacher could have had positive or negative motives, but either way it might help you feel better about it if you discuss it.

    I hope that the situation improves and that you continue to feel better and better. (hug)


  4. #4
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. anala's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    Does this strike anyone else as exploitive, opportunistic, unethical and low?

    There is a special place in hell for such folks...and that hell is waking up every morning and having to look at the despicable scum that you are in the mirror every morning. This will get out, it always does, and she will be seen for the vulture that she is. I cant imagine being an innocent student and being approached by this sort of woman. Makes me want to bathe in bleach just thinking about it.

    Edited to ad... From your description, it sounds as though she made a methodical attempt to find and recruit - using your illness as a reason they should move, yes?
    Last edited by anala; 12-15-2009 at 01:36 PM.


  5. #5
    Advanced BHUZzer maurazebra's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    Suggest you contact the other teacher and ask her for her version of what happened.


  6. #6
    Advanced BHUZzer BELLA_BELLA's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    She was or she wasn't: If she was trying to get more students -- so what? You aren't going to lose any students you want to keep anyway, and if she wasn't trying to lure your students, you'll have fretted yourself for nothing ... and possibly created a situation that didn't really happen.

    Let it go, even though you probably want to bite her with big pointy fangs right now. There are far more important things in life to worry about and why waste your precious energy in negative energy that surrounds this (possible) situation.


  7. #7
    Advanced BHUZzer CalgaryBibi's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    Do you know for sure that this is what happened?

    Your story sounds so much like a situation I was recently involved in, it's spooky--except that I am the student who moved to a new teacher/troupe.

    I had been thinking of switching for some time when, last spring, our teacher informed us that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I agonized over whether or not to move, because I didn't want to hit my teacher with yet another blow at such a difficult and vulnerable time for her. (This probably sounds conceited, but my former teacher always took it very personally when other students left, so I figured the same would be true of my leaving, as I was one of her "senior" dancers.)

    When I approached my new instructor, she mentioned to me that my former instructor had accused her of poaching students in the past, and she was concerned that my former instructor would think this is what happened, when it was entirely my decision to approach this teacher/troupe. Now, another former student from my former teacher has decided to come over to my new teacher/troupe. Again, this is entirely her decision.

    It's hard as a student to know what to do under the circumstances. I did consider staying while my instructor was going through all the treatments, etc., but that would have meant staying another full year, as once I had committed to that troupe, I would have stayed out the season. Also, it would have been more difficult to switch mid-season. It wasn't an easy decision to make under the circumstances.

    It's likely that any students who have switched from studying with you also faced a difficult decision and certainly did not want to hurt you.

    As a student, though, I dislike the concept of "poaching", because that implies that a teacher somehow owns me, and that's simply not the case. So, I don't think the concept of poaching applies, but there may be a breach of professional ethics involved, if that instructor really was taking advantage of your situation to try to recruit your students. I hope that isn't what happened.

    And I hope you have a speedy recovery.


  8. #8
    Ultimate BHUZzer dunyah's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    Bellabelly, I don't know if it was student "poaching" or not, but I think you are feeling the lack of support from this person in contrast to the supportive people who rallied around you. Now you know who your real friends are. It hurts to have people like the clueless one around you, so just let her go and focus on the good people who did help out. I'm sorry you went through all that and I hope you enjoy great health and happy dancing from now on. May your student base build and build!


  9. #9
    Just Starting! bellabelly's Avatar
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    Re: No good deed goes unpunished....

    Thank you all for your responses. I appreciate the validation , the various perspectives, AND the encouragement to stay on the high road and stay focused on the positive.

    I appreciate the distinction a couple folks have made between actively mining another teacher's camp and merely alerting existing dancers in the community to additional learning opportunities. Hmm. I will retract the word "Poaching" as not the best OR most accurate word to describe the other teacher's actions. As stated before, I most certainly do NOT see or treat students as property -but I did consider her actions to be predatory - especially given some history AND the circumstances.

    The dance and teaching kept me propelled forward through so much of this horrible year. But this other unpleasant stuff is part of "the business" too. And YES, to whoever commented on the feeling of vulnerability one feels having their "normal" and [illusion of] certainty about the future stripped away. And a big giant YES to the fact I have far less patience and willingness these days to tolerate two-facedness (is that a word?) All that factored together, my perception of the situation is hopefully understandable.

    Not my intention to air the dirty laundry and try and convict her on this forum --there was however, enough information to support the supposition she knew she was doing something a little bit squirrely --

    Shalimah, what you described sounds terrible -- thank goodness that was NOT the case with my dancers. The last thing I would have wanted was to hold back my dancers while I was sick -or at any time - and I truly don't think any of them felt trapped or emotionally manipulated -- just not the way I ran things. In fact, at one point, as we were all working on a choreography to be performed at a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer fundraiser, a couple people seemed a little stressed - which SEVERELY stressed me out at that point in my treatment, and I asked them all to sign a fun contract, which essentially said "I'm here becuz I wanna be here, and I'm here to have fun." I specifically asked them NOT to participate for MY sake, but because they wanted to. I definitely didn't need any pressure or need to feel responsible for their happiness with everything I had going on. As far as I know, they are all doing exactly as they please. I am VERY blessed by the girls that have hung in there with me through all of it - they didn't have to, (and I don't have that kind of control over anyone anyway.)


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