Trials, Travels and Treasures of Teaching Artistry
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Over the past month I've confronted the scheduling challenges that almost all Teaching Artists face.
I was lucky enough to be offered two paid TA positions - one as an assistant and one as a lead Teaching Artist. Before accepting, I spent a lot of time staring at my calendar, calculating travel times and trying to somehow fit together all the different shaped puzzle pieces of my working life: art making, teaching, TATIP, plus the other odd jobs I do to help pay the bills. With the help of CWP staff as well as flexibility from other employers, I managed to fit all the puzzle pieces together and accepted the two positions.
For the first eight weeks of my TATIP internship I had been working with a class in Washington Heights on Thursday mornings. Now that I had accepted a position in Staten Island on Thursday mornings, I would no longer be able to continue my internship in Washington Heights. I scoured my options on Google Maps. What if I took an express bus through Jersey instead of the ferry? What if I took a car service? But I couldn’t make it work (at least not for under $100 per trip).
I’m acutely aware of the importance of being a reliable presence for the students that we teach. I am also realizing that scheduling and rescheduling are a huge part of this profession. It is common for Teaching Artists to work for multiple organizations, which they fit in around their own art making. While at intellectual and emotional levels my teaching and my theatre making extend and nourish one another, at a logistical level they can get in each other’s way. I imagine it’s an almost impossible task for even the most organized person in the world to be an always reliable presence when their time is spread between so many different (and ever changing) commitments.
Something else of which I’m more and more aware is the amount of time Teaching Artists spend on public transport – from Washington Heights to Staten Island, from the Scarsdale to Sheepshead Bay. And I love it! I’m reading more than I have in years. I’m getting to know parts of the city that I would never otherwise visit and they are giving me many new perspectives on New York. Having to factor in travel time also provides pause to reflect and to breathe in a very hectic schedule.
I am completing my TATIP internship at a new school in Crown Heights as well as another internship in Park Slope, an assistantship on Staten Island, a Teaching Artist position in Sheepshead Bay, a full rehearsal schedule and two other jobs. While I do sometimes get confused about where I’m going each day, the learning, experience and perspective I gain from all the students, teachers, Teaching Artists and artists with whom I work make every day a treasure and a lot of fun!
-Krystalla Pearce, TATIP Trainee, Theatre Artist