Keeping a fresh eye and celebrating success- that’s my take away message from my Upstream Arts classes as fall session comes to a close. This fall has been a bit different for me than previous sessions because I’ve been doing more jumping around to different classes than staying on the same class week to week. This is all due to my artistic schedule outside of Upstream Arts that doesn’t always sync up with consistency. That being said, I’ve become to notice the value of a fresh pair of eyes in the classroom.

After several weeks with our Upstream Arts staff, students become comfortable and free themselves up to participate and make bigger choices as the sessions go on. This is a great asset to the communities we serve as routine and structure creates enough predictability to make anxious participants calm. We also learn where some people struggle and are apprehensive to participate.

About half way through our fall session, I started teaching in classes that I wasn’t regularly in week to week. What I noticed was that a new teaching artist coming into a class whose participants have gotten comfortable, awakens a sense of renewal, of starting fresh. Students become alert as they learn how to work with a new presence in the room. The comments I have consistently been receiving are generally about students who were reluctant to participate, stepping up and taking a risk and surprising all of the regular staff. Now, I’d like to think it’s because of my brilliant teaching that I was able to get them to do what they’ve never done before. But I’ve also seen it in the classes I’ve regularly been teaching each week. A fresh new teaching artist comes into the room and transforms the energy of the group. It is a good reminder that we all need to press that reset button sometimes, see the people with whom you’re working with fresh new eyes, and drop assumptions about their participation. Expect them do what you’ve grown to accept they won’t do. The success we’ve been able to celebrate in class is worth it!

Post by Lindsey Cacich, Upstream Arts Teaching Artist