Tag: parent

Confessions of a Teaching Artist Parent By Justin Daniel

When I received the news that twins were on the way, my thoughts went from “Oh my god, that’s amazing!” to “Oh my god, how do you take care of twins??!”, with every other thought in between.  After six months of twin daddy hood behind me, I can confidently say it is a joy to raise two amazing little humans, and as I continue to figure out the balance between raising children and maintaining a career as a teaching artist, I thought I would share with you some takeaways I’ve picked up along the way.

I AM TIRED… all the time! And to be specific, I am more tired than teaching five movement workshops in a row to incredulous 6th graders after taking two trains, a bus, with a walk. Honestly, I did that for an entire school year, and that doesn’t even begin to compare to the exhaustion I feel after a full day with infants! But somehow I find a way to give my all to my infants AND to my students. Who knew?

I am lucky to have the FLEXIBILITY OF TIME. Because the organizations I work for are so incredibly parent friendly, I have been able to find a great balance between my work life and home life. For the first three months, I taught very little in order to stay at home, but as I slowly eased my way back into my teaching I’ve been able to control the amount of hours I’m away from home and the general days I work. This makes childcare easier to book, and allows me to find the right balance for my family.

I am a NYC SCHOOL SLEUTH! I have always been interested in the inner workings of the DOE, but now that my kids will be part of it in just a few short years, I’m keenly aware of the inner workings of the schools I visit. I feel like a teaching artist detective, figuring out what makes a positive school culture, student engagement, and how parents are best involved.

PARENTING MAKES ME A BETTER TEACHING ARTIST, and vice versa. Even though my kids are still in the infant stage, I am becoming more attuned to how to engage their innate creativity, how to best use non-verbal communication, and tuning in to their subtle (and not so subtle) cues. I find myself using these same techniques in the classroom, and I’m constantly bringing my experience into the nursery as well. That being said, if you ever see me rocking back in forth for no particular reason, please tell me!

Teaching Artists are an INSTANT SUPPORT SYSTEM. I often find myself reaching out to my colleagues for parenting advice and to swap stories. It is an invaluable resource, and truly makes me feel like I’m part of a community, even when I’m on my own.

It’s much HARDER TO ACCEPT WORK as a parent. When I receive an offer for work, I have to weigh a slew of pros and cons to determine whether it’s a YES. Obviously, the financial reward needs to meet my childcare costs, but even then, is it worth spending time away from the babies? Sometimes, the answer is a definite yes, but sometimes even if it makes sense financially, it doesn’t make sense as a new parent. And I haven’t even begun to figure out the balance of new artistic pursuits beyond my teaching artistry!

Teaching Artistry is an extremely rewarding career for me, and I’m finding this even more true as a parent.  It’s not without its challenges, but I’m always inspired by the many teaching artist parents who consistently make it work.

For anyone expecting, or expecting to be expecting, here are some online resources I’ve found useful as a new parent!

p.s. If you have any tips for other teaching artist parents, please share them in the comments below!

Mommy Poppins – Great resources and articles!
www.mommypoppins.com

NYC Dads Group – While most blogs tend to skew female, here is an awesome resources for dads of all walks of life.  And they schedule great meetups!
http://citydadsgroup.com/nyc/

A Child Grows (parenting blog with an emphasis on my home Borough of Brooklyn.
http://achildgrows.com/

Park Slope Parents (even if you don’t live anywhere close to this parental enclave, there’s great advice here!)
www.parkslopeparents.com

Baby Bargains Book (thanks to fellow teaching artist Jamie Kalama-Wood for this recommendation.  Great deals can be found in this book!)
Link to Amazon