Teacher's Response To Student Who Fell Asleep In Class Praised — 'I Can Give Her A Break'

Instead of punishing the clearly exhausted student, the teacher demonstrated how she should be treated with empathy.

Sleeping student, teacher wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock / @montesyrie / Instagram 

According to a national survey conducted by Yale University, the most common emotion that high school students report experiencing is tiredness — 58% to be exact.

Who can blame them? We would all likely feel tired if we were required to wake up at the crack of dawn, sit at a desk for seven hours taking in eight different classes' material, after-school sports followed by two to three hours of homework.


Exhaustion can hit students at random times, even vital ones like during class. After one exhausted student dozed off in her English class, her teacher’s response went viral for all the right reasons.

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The teacher allowed the student to sleep in his class, understanding her desperate need for a moment’s rest.

Monte Syrie, a high school ELA teacher and the author of “Better: A Teacher’s Journey,”  was praised for his empathy and compassion for the sleeping student in his class.


He shared the story in a series of tweets on his Twitter account and demonstrated exactly how other teachers should handle a student who dozes off in their class.

Referring to the student as “Meg,” Syrie reveals that he noticed that she had fallen asleep during one of his lessons.


“Meg fell asleep in class yesterday. I let her,” he wrote. “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.”

Syrie recognizes that Meg did not “use her time wisely” in class nor did she turn in her essay on time, but he knew not to beat her up” about it. She wound up submitting her essay the following night at 9 PM.

“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,” Syrie acknowledges. “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.”

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He encourages other teachers to have grace for their likely over-exhausted students as he had.

“In a different room, Meg may have been written up for sleeping in class and given a zero for a missing essay,” Syrie wrote. “But she wasn't in a different room; she was in my room. My room.” 

“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 300s for her. I cannot spirit away her teen trouble,” he continues. 

“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.” 

Syrie points out that there is no need to inflict unnecessary punishment on students who are clearly trying to do their best. Although Meg fell asleep in class and her essay was turned in late, she still got it done and proudly told her teacher the next morning when she ran into him at the grocery store the next morning.


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“She was getting some breakfast before her 7:10 math class. She'd been up since 5:00 doing chores,” Syrie shared. 

He hopes that his fellow colleagues will take away a significant lesson from his story and cut their students some slack. It will all come around in the end. 


Other Twitter users praised the empathetic teacher. 

“You could have written this about my 17-year-old daughter. Teachers like you are such a blessing to our children,” one user commented. “You are a treasure. Thank you for giving a kid a break,” another user wrote. 

“Meg is blessed beyond measure to have you as her teacher, mentor, caregiver, and friend,” a third user pointed out. 

If the world had more teachers like Syrie, perhaps more students would enjoy going to class!


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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.