Have you ever fallen asleep in class before?
Though it’s probably hard for some of us to remember all the way back to high school or college, life is definitely different when you’re a teenager or young adult. Once we enter the working world, we actually often end up a lot less busy than we were when we were kids. Between the pressures of getting good grades, balancing your home life, getting ready for higher education, doing extracurriculars, participating in sports and managing your own raging hormones, it’s not hard to see how some teens could get exhausted.
Most of the time, though, our teachers aren’t particularly understanding about it.
That’s why one story about a high school English teacher is going viral once again.
The man in question is Monte Syrie, a teacher at Cheney High School in Cheney, Washington. Like any other English teacher, Syrie tries to keep his kids engaged with well-thought-out lesson plans, exciting reading material and creative assignments. Still, he also understands that his English class is not the center of all of his students’ lives—it’s actually just one aspect of it. With that in mind, he tries to approach each situation differently depending on each students’ needs.
That was exactly what happened with Syrie and one of his students, Meg.
As it turns out, Syrie has a special activity that he often does in class to determine how his students are feeling.
The activity is called “Smile or Frown,” and it has his students report whether they’re sending a smile or frown to the rest of the class today. In either case, the student to explain which one best sums them up, with a story along with it to explain what’s going on in their lives to make them feel the way they do. When he did it one day, one of his students, Meg, explained all the stress she was under at home, with her sports and with the various other parts of her life. That’s why when she fell asleep in class one day, he didn’t wake her up—he just let her rest.
After choosing to do so, he also decided to tweet about it.
The thread explained what had happened and why—and the positive message went viral.
For those without Twitter, the main part of Syrie’s thread read:
“Meg fell asleep in class yesterday. I let her. I didn’t take it personally. She has zero-hour math, farm-girl chores, state-qualifying 4X400 fatigue, adolescent angst, and various other things to deal with. My class is only a part of her life, not her life. No, she did not use her time wisely in class yesterday. She didn’t get her essay turned in. She knew that. I knew that, but I didn’t beat her up about it. Didn’t have to. She emailed it to me last night at 9:00PM. On her own.”
The thread went on to explain that although sleeping in class is often considered “outside the boundaries” of a responsible or attentive teacher, Syrie says that he’s sympathetic to that claim. Still, he says, teachers should try to “trust [their] instincts” more rather than simply following a rulebook and applying it equally to all students in all situations. At the end of it all, he summed up why he made his choice:
“In a different room, Meg may have been written up for sleeping in class and given a zero for a missing essay, but she wasn’t in a different room; she was in my room. My room . . . I can’t control the world outside . . . but I can give her a break. She was not being rude or disrespectful yesterday when she nodded off. She was tired.”
Though this story first broke in May of 2018, it is making the rounds again for its ongoing impact on teachers, parents and students.
While this particular interaction has gotten plenty of positive responses on Twitter all on its own, it’s not the end of Syrie’s advocacy for students. He also runs his own personal blog called Project 180, which has the goal of changing the way teachers and educators work with kids. On the blog, he writes inspirational posts and testimonial about the work he and his students do in the classroom.
Above all, his message is that we should pay more attention to the kids in our classrooms—and their feelings are important when it comes to effective learning.
Did you ever have a teacher like this while you were in high school?
Although it’s something of a stereotype, many of us had an English or Journalism teacher (or someone else) who paid more attention to our feelings than the other teachers did. Someone who encouraged our own interests and pushed us to be better all the time… and how much better would school have been if all the teachers acted that way? Although our education system isn’t perfect, this story reminds us that there are always people like Syrie in the system giving it their all. What do you think of what he did? Would you like it if your kids had Syrie as a teacher? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for being such an understanding teacher, Monte!
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