What is ALT/space?
ALT/space is the online presence of the Teaching Artist Journal, a peer reviewed print quarterly (also available online). The TAJ is the journal of record for the field and serves as a voice, forum and resource for teaching artists and all those working at the intersection of art and learning. ALT/space online is a growing community of teaching artist practice where we speak specifically and concretely about what it is we do and the circumstances that impact our teaching. Every quarter, four to six ALT/space posts are included in the associated print section of the TAJ.
What do I write about? How do I choose my post topics?
Everybody does it a little differently. Some contributors have a planned list of post topics and stick to it. Others brainstorm with me, which I am always glad to do. Still others decide what to write based on what is the most important to them to think or talk about when their deadline rolls around. Sometimes something unexpected comes up and you just have to write about it and send it in right away, even if it’s between deadlines. That’s great, too.
Whatever you do, please know that, although you are committed to a certain number of posts, this is about your practice and the topics are yours to choose. Ultimately, what you write needs to be true to what it is you do as a teaching artist. This is the beauty of ALT/space – if it’s about what you do as a TA, and as long as it is written from a personal perspective, then its fair game. You can choose your own personal ‘zoom lens’ to focus in closely or zoom out to the big picture to describe your practice. You can write specifically about classroom moments, or about situations outside the classroom which influence when and where you work. It’s up to you.
What is the expected post length? What about photos?
Our goal and ideal for best online reading is 500-700 words plus awesome pictures. Of course, some posts require more words and that’s okay. And, sometimes a good image is hard to come by. It is assumed that when you send me an image you have the necessary permissions. If you don’t have those, some good workarounds might be to take pictures from above or to focus in on hands making or provide images of student artwork. Depending on the quality of the photo, it is sometimes possible to crop out identifying faces and still have the photo work.
What is my deadline?
Please let me know when you will be submitting your posts. You have nine months to complete your six post commitment and you get to choose what dates work best for you. Over this time, things will probably come up that may interfere with one of your self-selected deadlines. Given the nature of our work, this is completely expected and understood. My only request is that you let me know if and when your submission plans change so that I can change my own work flow and the ALT/space posting schedule accordingly.
What happens to my post once I submit it?
After I receive a post, I am generally able to return the first edit within one week, usually sooner. The whole process usually doesn’t last more than a couple rounds and is relatively pain free. 😉
What happens after my story is posted?
Once I put up a post I then let our Facebook and Twitter followers know. It is also really helpful if you are able to let your own fan/supporter base know as well. This is good for you (your post will be read) and also for ALT/space in general (potentially increasing readership of ALT/space which benefits all of us). Please consider promoting your own (and, if you like others’) posts on your website, Twitter feed or Facebook page. If you belong to LinkedIn or any other professional network, please consider promoting your work through those portals as well.
What else do I need to know?
Thank you for helping create a community of teaching artist practice where we can talk clearly, specifically, and honestly about what we do and how we do it. As ALT/space continues to add new contributors and new stories it is clear that there is so much to be gained from this approach, both at the individual level and for TA practice as a whole.
Have fun! I hope this writing process is as beneficial to you (personally and/or professionally) as it has been for me. I know for sure that I gain new insights about both the particulars and the broad context of my own teaching artist work every time a story draft shows up in my in box. I’m excited to read your stories and look forward to working with you!
malke (dot) rosenfeld (at) earthlink (dot) net