I started my blog, ArtSmart: a teaching artist’s adventure when I was a junior in college as part of an independent study project called “Arts Education, Values and Policy in the United States.” Under the guidance of my professor, I responded to articles, news stories, arts education policy and wrote spotlight posts on organizations whose missions aligned with the kind of work that excited me. When the semester ended, the blog lay dormant for a while, and I brought it back to life when I graduated from college. I was finally doing the work that I had talked about for years, and I was inspired to share my discoveries: all of the victories, struggles, challenges, and life lessons that I experience through my journey as a teaching artist. Though there is little pattern or predictability about my blogging frequency, I keep it going. I’ve let go of the “you have to write every week!” grindstone, because then it isn’t fun anymore. As this blog traveled with me all over the country, and now to grad school, I’m finding more reasons to keep it alive.
It keeps me writing– As I dive into my first year as a grad student in the Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities MFA program at UT Austin, I am already grateful that I’ve kept ArtSmart going over the past two years that I haven’t been in school. Blogging forces me to organize my thoughts, make deliberate choices about the language I use, and deepen my own understanding of my teaching. Over time I’ve become more concise, thoughtful and purposeful about how I process my work. The more articulate I can be in how I write about my practice, the deeper my artistry becomes.
It increases my self-awareness and self-reflection– I am already a highly reflective person to begin with (I started my first journal when I was five years old), and blogging is a great outlet for the reflections I want to share publicly about my teaching artistry.
It invites the sharing of stories– There is no formula for how to be a teaching artist. When there is no cut and dry path for you to take, it can be overwhelming. Most of us learned by doing. We can support the next wave of aspiring teaching artists by sharing each of our journeys and discoveries. We’re teaching artists; let’s tell our stories so someone can learn from them.
It generates dialogue about teaching artistry– No one becomes a teaching artist because it’s easy. The more I can unpack the challenges, celebrate the victories, and share the ah-ha moments, the more opportunities there are to connect with other teaching artists. It’s important to make these processes transparent, so that we can engage the teaching artist community in conversations about the work that we love and how to do it better.