Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Alone Box

In a corner of our classroom, next to the door to our playground, is a cubby. On top of the cubby is the teacher shelf, where we keep our stereo, class clipboard, and a constant rotation of "in progress" tools and projects. Inside the cubby is our alone box.
The alone box is all white, with a few handmade pillows and a soft knit blanket. Its a small, quiet place for the children in our class to center themselves away from the noise and chaos of a classroom. There are only 2 "rules" for the alone box: only one child at a time, and no one can bother you while you're inside. For some of our students the alone box is a refuge from others, a relief from an argument with a friend or from a particularly rambunctious activity. For others, its a safe place from themselves, an area where they can rage or cry or scream until they're ready to rejoin the wider world.
As a child myself, I spent much of my time in a variety of "alone boxes". The car on our camping trips, screaming and kicking at the windows or the closet in my grandparents room, sobbing into my grandfather's wool trousers. And my mother was always there, waiting patiently outside, often in tears herself, for the waves of my sorrow or anger to subside.
As a teenager, I had my own set of silent refuges. The RISD art museum, home to a large wooden Buddha who I poured my heart out to on a near daily basis. A special spot by the river where the only noise was waves and passing traffic.
Unfortunately, as an adult, I'm too big to fit into our alone box. That special cathartic space is physically off limits to me, but the safe place it provides is still something I need to process our classroom, my students, and my own life. This blog will provide that space: a place for raging, a place for sobbing, a place for celebrating all of the things that test me and invigorate me about being an adult in a child's world, about holding their small hands in my own and letting us walk together.

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