Spinning plates on a wobbly Monday

I’ve always correlated teaching to the art of plate spinning and this morning I was in awe of Miss Mani in action as she kept each of her Year 3s (mainly 7-year olds) spinning… virtually!

As a professional spinner, she strived to keep all the children engaged and successful.  She patiently continued on through technical issues beyond her control, calmly waited as children manipulated mics, and connected with and supported everyone through their activities. All while not spinning out of control herself – what a pro! How fortunate we are to have a school full of amazing teachers just like Miss Mani!  And how amazing our students and parent/carers are too – what patience they display when things get a little wobbly. What superheroes!

In plate spinning, the goal is to spin each plate and keep them spinning so that none of them fall. You are always on your toes and constantly looking for the plate that might fall so you can prevent it from doing just that.

A teacher’s job is actually so much more than spinning plates because our plates have names, faces, backgrounds and individual characters, gifts and dreams. In all the busyness, we have to pause and be observant, notice and wonder what’s happening to each plate and keep everything in our classroom moving in a rhythm that is beneficial for all our children.

We’re not perfect, and at times it’s emotionally because when a plate falls, we take it to heart.  Fortunately, we have the superpowers to catch them before they break, to console them, to acknowledge their struggle and set them off again with a self-believe that the have the ability to spin again. 

It’s rather exhausting mentally, physically – especially as we have to do it all as calmly as we can – while keeping our own plate spinning.  But here’s the secret… the more we acknowledge each other’s perspective and offer help, the more our own plates get an extra spin.  As a teacher it’s super rewarding when we see a plate become more stable and self-reliant, and when one starts whizzing at top speed after one of those light-bulb moments when everything clicks. And oh, the joy when as a team we help spin each other’s plates.     

In these challenging times of virtual teaching, let’s all remember the plate spinning analogy.  By taking time to notice and to be curious, we have the power to take action so that teachers, children and parent’s plates are all in balance and spinning happily. 

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