A teacher’s message has gone viral after he allowed his student to sleep in class for the most compassionate reason.
Teachers spend time planning lessons and attempting to engage students in their learning. Isn’t it the least a child can do to stay awake in class?
Monte Syrie, a high school English teacher, has a different perspective. He explained in a Twitter thread why he didn’t take it personally when his student Meg fell asleep — and why he didn’t wake her up.
Screenshots courtesy of MonteSyrie/Twitter.
Because of her nap, Meg missed an in-class essay, but she turned it in that night. “I didn’t beat her up about it. Didn’t have to,” he wrote. “In a different room, Meg may have been written up for sleeping in class and given a zero for missing and essay, but she wasn’t in a different room; she was in my room.”
Syrie stated that we must sometimes “trust our instincts, even if they go against the grain.”
Meg is a hardworking student who has a lot on her plate. She attends a zero-hour class before the regular school day and works on the farm before that. She is a track athlete. And she’s a teen, with all the social, academic, and life pressures that entail.
Syrie is a sophomore English teacher in Cheney, Washington. Monte Syrie provided the image.
She is not alone. Teens report higher levels of stress than adults during the school year, and many students report feeling exhausted trying to keep up with it all.
“I think too often the biggest thing that people forget about high school students is that they are kids,” Syrie says. “They’re kids — kids who are having to grow up way too fast and are having way too much pressure put on them, in and out of school … even for our best and brightest, that pressure gets to be too much.”
Syrie’s compassionate story touched people because we’ve all been in a situation where we needed a little grace.
Syrie’s tweets continued, demonstrating how teachers can be kind and understanding to their students. He mentioned, “I can’t offer Meg a math class later in the day. I cannot feed her horses … I cannot run 6 race-pace 300s for her. I cannot spirit away her teen trouble. But I can give her a break.”
Syrie claims he makes an effort to be responsive to all of his students. “Because I firmly believe that one size fits all is madness, I adjust to each student, trusting my instincts, trusting what I know,” he says. “Regardless of our responsibilities, life is hard, and we all need some grace now and then.”
Syrie says he’s received a few negative comments, but the overwhelming response from both students and teachers has been positive.
Syrie has a message for those who believe that allowing students to sleep in class does not prepare them for the “real world.”
Some may wonder if allowing a student to sleep in class without consequence is a good idea. Syrie has an answer:
“We are not working in factories, stamping out standardized products,” he says. “We are helping young humans — unique individuals — learn about themselves and their worlds. As such, when our young humans face the inevitable pressures of growing up, we need to respond with empathy.”
“And if that does not prepare them for the ‘real world’ as some may suggest, then maybe the world needs to change. I want to live in a world where there’s empathy. That’s the world I want to live in.”