When I go swimming at our neighbourhood YMCA, I sometimes get an entire lane to myself! On these days, when I’m ‘Alone in the Lane’, I seem to solve all the world’s problems – or at least, I’m able to solve some of my own! Having nothing and no-one else to focus on and with the constant rhythm of the water swooshing along, my brain is free to analyze a complex situation, bring rationality to an emotional issue, plan creatively for an upcoming workshop, or design a strategic approach to my next set of tasks. For me, being ‘Alone in the Lane’, whether through swimming, playing the piano or going for a walk, is a necessary part of my routine where I synthesize, focus and prepare myself for my next activities and interactions.
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain states that “solitude can be a catalyst for innovation” and encourages us all to find our “restorative niche”. Most of us have an introverted side that we need to feed, no matter how extroverted we are or how socially interactive our daily life may be.
As for our students, I believe fully in the importance and benefits of collaborative and peer learning. However, we need to also value the role of reflection and quiet time, particularly for those students who are closer to the pure introvert on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Do you give protected reading time to your students? Protected writing time? And time to reflect before responding to a question? Or attempting a task? For more ideas, check out this article on Things a Quiet Student wishes their Teachers Understood.
Hopefully the summer has given us all some solid ‘Alone in the Lane’ time. But how might you ensure this quiet time during the year, for both you and your students?