Teachers and students are often at odds with each other, especially when it comes to sleeping in class. The teachers have a responsibility for their student’s success, yet all too often the students fail themselves with a lack of effort. But sometimes there are other circumstances at play that no authority figure could understand – except for one special teacher named Monte Syrie.
Syrie has been a high school English teacher for many years and he knows a thing or two about dealing with students. Turns out he also knows something about how to go viral on Twitter!
The Spokane, Washington native was taken aback at first when he spotted a sleeping student in his class. He identified her as “Meg,” and shared a bit of her backstory with the world via tweet.
“Meg fell asleep in class yesterday. I let her,” he began. “I didn’t take it personally. She has zero-hour math, farm-girl chores, state-qualifying 4×400 fatigue, adolescent angst and various other things to deal with. My class is only a part of her life, not her life.”
He didn’t take it personally at all but instead understood that at that point she needed a nap more than she needed to learn. It might affect her negatively in the long run, but that’s a lesson she has to learn for herself.
“She didn’t get her essay turned in. She knew that,” he continued. “I knew that, but I didn’t beat her up about it. Didn’t have to. She emailed it to me last night at 9:00 PM. On her own.”
While Meg got away with it this time, she will eventually have to learn that deadlines are important. College professors tend to be less lenient than this with both hard deadlines for essays and sleeping in class.
“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,” he wrote. “I can’t offer Meg a math class later in the day. I cannot feed her horses…I cannot run 6 race-pace 300’s for her. I cannot spirit away her teen trouble.”
“But I can give her a break. She was not being rude or disrespectful yesterday when she nodded off,” Syrie continued. “She was tired. So I gave her a break. I can do that.”
Treating students with empathy is something that every teacher tries to do. They also know that they need to ensure their students know the importance of schedules, organization and responsibility. While Meg is an outlier with her many chores and things to do, most students who fall asleep in class shouldn’t be given a break by default.
It’s a slippery slope from empathy to apathy, and we need teachers that care about their students and want them to succeed. Sometimes that involves discipline, and sometimes that involves giving a student the benefit of the doubt. The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong way to raise a teenager – you just have to do your best.
What do you think about Syrie’s emotional tweets?