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Washington high school teacher’s story about letting exhausted student sleep goes viral

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SPOKANE, Wash. – A Cheney High School teacher in Washington tweeted about letting his exhausted teen student sleep in his class. The post touched a lot of hearts and now the tweet has gone viral.

Monte Syrie, a long-time English teacher, wrote up a thread about his student who was struggling to stay awake last week.

“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 9:00 PM. On her own. I know we all somewhat subscribe to this notion that there’s a right way of doing things, and letting kids sleep in class falls outside the boundaries.

I get it, and I’m not suggesting that we make it a permanent part of repertoire/routine, but I am suggesting that we sometimes trust our instincts, even if it goes against the grain, maybe especially if it goes against the grain, for I am not always convinced the grain best considers kids.

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. And in my room there are lots of things I CAN do. I can’t control the world outside. I can’t offer Meg a math class later in the day. I cannot feed her horses (many horses) in the morning or evening. 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. She was tired. So I gave her a break. I can do that. And I want to believe, I have to believe — else my life is a lie, that it will come back in the end. And it did. Meg got her essay done.

In fact, serendipitously, she proudly told me so when I ran into her at the grocery store at 6:45 this morning. She was getting some breakfast before her 7:10 math class. She’d been up since 5:00 doing chores. #myroom #project180“

The Twitter thread struck a nerve on the Twitterverse, so to speak, and has been retweeted almost 700 times. It has more than 3,700 likes.

“A wonderful reminder that teaching is a human endeavor,” Jay Nickerson responded on Twitter.

“I read this the other day. It's so true. Sometimes, I wish I could get back to my first few years and apologize for some of my choices,” another teacher, Jess Miller Atkinson replied online. “When we know better, we do better.”

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