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ABC OF INQUIRY- JUGGLING  “Some scenes you juggle two balls, some scenes you juggle three balls, some scenes you juggle five balls. The key is always to speak in your own voice. Speak the truth.”   Vincent D’Onofrio


JUGGLING:  So many balls in the air…

Juggling is the finely tuned activity many teachers engage with everyday. Conflicting demands, political agendas, possibilities and ideas fill up the basket of things to be juggled. Teachers and learners are juggling the politics of the space they work and learn in, the demands of home and family, and community cultural and gender expectations that are both visible and implied. Teaching and learning is a political space, expressed in the curriculum of a school or nation that requires energy and constant juggling to make happen.

Sometimes teachers need help or reminders to see the hidden expectations that they juggle or that influence their juggling. They may be encouraged and supported to juggle their demands in a particular way and sometimes the processor way of juggling that has been chosen is punishing and doesn’t have a good fit for the space the teaching and learning is occurring in.

In order to be an effective juggler, teachers and learners need trusted spaces and communities of practice to help balance and keep moving the many balls they have in the air.

Here are some questions that might help you identify the balls you are juggling as a teacher and balls the members of your learning community might be juggling.

  • What is it I am being asked to manage today?
  • What are the things that will make the biggest difference to those I am responsible for?
  • How much energy do I have to give to other things?
  • What support networks can I call on?
  • Do I have to manage this on my own?
  • What are things I am being asked to manage that I feel I need support with?
  • Which of the ‘balls’ that I am juggling are the most important tome?
  • What ‘balls’ cannot be dropped?
  • What ‘balls’ have some bounce/resilience, and can be dropped for a short time?
  • What ‘balls’ are way too hot for me to pick up now or in the immediate future?
  • Do I expect all my learners to be equally skilled jugglers?
  • Now I have become such a skilled juggler can I run away and join a new circus?


*BCW will now use‘They,their — themself’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in all subsequent material generated on our website.

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