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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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A teacher's message has gone viral after he let his student sleep in class — for the kindest reason.

Teachers spend time preparing lesson plans and trying to engage students in learning. The least a kid can do is stay awake in class, right?


But high school English teacher Monte Syrie sees things differently. In a Twitter thread, he explained why he didn't take it personally when his student Meg fell asleep — and why he didn't wake her up.

Screenshots via MonteSyrie/Twitter.

Meg's nap meant she 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 pointed out that sometimes we have to "trust our instincts, even if it goes against the grain."

Meg is a good student with a lot on her plate. She takes a zero-hour class before the normal school day and does farm chores before that. She runs track. And she's a teenager, with all of the social, academic, and life pressures that go along with it.

Syrie teaches sophomore English in Cheney, Washington. Photo via Monte Syrie.

And she's not alone. During the school year, teens report higher levels of stress than adults, 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 kidskids 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 resonated with people because we've all been in a position of needing a little grace.

Syrie's tweets continued, exemplifying how teachers can show kindness and understanding to students. He pointed out, "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 says he tries to be that 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 had a few negative comments, but overwhelmingly the response has been positive from both students and teachers.

[rebelmouse-image 19397573 dam="1" original_size="665x141" caption="Screenshot via Alexa Shaw/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Alexa Shaw/Twitter.

[rebelmouse-image 19397574 dam="1" original_size="648x96" caption="Screenshot via Maria Riverso/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Maria Riverso/Twitter.

[rebelmouse-image 19397575 dam="1" original_size="661x119" caption="Screenshot via Mrs. Chow/Twitter." expand=1]Screenshot via Mrs. Chow/Twitter.

Syrie has words for those who say that allowing a student to sleep in class doesn't prepare them for the "real world."

Some may question whether letting a student sleep in class without consequence is a good idea. Syrie has a response:

"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."

You can read more about the way Syrie is rethinking education on his website.


This article originally appeared on 06.01.18

Joy

Teacher shares the beautiful reason a 6th grader rubbed his necklace when talking to people

“It hung on a leather string around his neck. You could tell it was really worn or used.”

A child holding hands together in a position of prayer

Middle schoolers aren't exactly known for their kindness and thoughtfulness, at least in popular culture. The standard image of tweens is a toxic combo of selfishness, hubris and insecurity that leads to all manner of foolishness.

But as someone who's taught in middle schoolclassrooms and raised three kids through that stage, I can attest this age group gets an unnecessarily bad rap. Sure, middle schoolers can be moody and awkward and immature, but they can also be thoughtful and kind and justice-minded. They are beginning to hone their perception of life's big issues and figure out their place in the world. They usually care more than they appear to and are often more compassionate than we give them credit for.

At this age, we can also see the evidence of a loving upbringing in a kid's character. Such was the case with one of Matt Eicheldinger's students, a sixth grader who always rubbed his necklace with his fingers when he talked to people. When Eicheldinger asked the student why he did it, his answer spoke volumes.


In an Instagram video, Eicheldinger shared that the student was from another country, he was friendly and personable and he always wore a green square necklace, which he would rub whenever he was talking to someone.

One day, Eicheldinger asked the student if he would tell him about the necklace. The sixth grader said it was made of folded paper containing prayers for him from his loved ones—prayers for peace, love and kindness. If you're guessing he rubbed the necklace because he was thinking of those who were praying for him, you'd be half right. The full reason is a beautiful example of compassionate selflessness.

Watch Eicheldinger explain:

It would have been sweet enough if the kid were just drawing on his family's prayers for strength or confidence, but the fact that he was wishing for others to have the good things he himself had experienced is so heartwarming.

"My grandma used to make us those to wear too… it is called a tahveez … thank you for sharing!" wrote commenter eduwaseem. "Brings back memories of my childhood! I don’t wear one anymore but I did as a kid. Never thought to rub it while talking to others though. What a sweet kid to do that! Melts my heart!"

"Sooo beautiful!! I once had a student who made the sign of the cross every time when heard a siren," shared mel_13_mel. "She told me that she would stop whatever she was doing and say a prayer that everyone would be alright, including the emergency workers who might be witness to something really difficult. That always stuck with me. Such a kind, generous and simple thing for an 8-year-old to do."

"Well I wasn’t prepared to tear up this fine Monday morning. What a sweetheart of a young man, 💙" wrote kendrasmom724.

"I am an elementary school teacher. I teach in an area where the majority of the families are immigrants," wrote fullmoonshenanigans. "They have some of the most heart-wrenching, courageous,, & beautiful stories. I’ve always wondered, how can I share these stories with the rest of the world? How can I share so that people can have a better understanding of what immigrants go through, and why? How can I teach these people to have empathy & compassion towards all living beings?"

One way to teach empathy and compassion is through modeling those qualities, and this student gives us a wonderful example of what being a compassionate role model looks like. Kids may learn a lot from us, but as this story shows, we have a lot we can learn from them, too.

Pop Culture

Former pre-K teacher hilariously warns parents to watch what they say around young ears

Little kids will tell all of your business, even when you tell them not to.

@atxhills/TikTok

A former pre-K teacher hilariously recalls things his students said to him.

Kids say the darnedest things. And usually, those things are the stories you don't want them sharing. It's the Murphy's law of having young children—as soon as you tell them a story stays in the house, EVERYONE will know about it. One former preschool teacher in Texas is hilariously chronicling tales from his former students on TikTok. So far, there are 69 videos, but given how popular they are, that number will continue to grow.


Mr. Hills, aka atxhills on TikTok, started the series last year, and I'm sure even he could not have anticipated just how successful it would be. What makes these videos funny is always Hills' reaction to the truly off-the-wall stuff his students say to him.

I was able to talk to Mr. Hills on the phone, and it was a hilarious and enlightening.

When I talked to Hills, he explained that he was a preschool teacher for 18 years. On the encouragement of his sister and later, his wife, he wrote down all of the wild things his students said to him in notebooks (he has about 5). Initially, he planned on making one video, then five. He definitely didn't think he'd be making 69 and counting. But the stories were just too funny to stop sharing.

In another video, he reveals that during a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose" a female student told him he has a head like a "naked cat." (Hills is bald, and his lack of hair comes up in several videos.)
@atxhills #prekteacher #preschoolteacher #teachersoftiktok #fyp #foryoupage #raidernation ♬ original sound - Mr. Hills

As the videos progress, Hills starts to talk about certain students with more frequency—some of the stuff they talk about is a bit adult in nature. I asked Hills and he confirmed that many of his students were children of color and lived in lower income neighborhoods. Hills was the only Black male teacher, and as a result was often tasked with teaching some of the most difficult little ones. He did have several co-teachers who were usually older women. The Mrs. Martinez you hear him refer to in the videos is real, and has declined making a guest appearance on TikTok.

"I asked, can I get students who listen?" Hills said. He explained that his two years with the children who feature most prominently were two of the "most difficult" because most of them would just do their own thing.

In particular, there is one little boy named Gavin (Hills uses his middle name at the request of his mom who follows along and asked so she could keep track of the stories) who has a lot of videos made about him. And after a couple, you can understand why. Again, we don't know much about his home life, but from Hills' videos, you learn a lot about Gavin. For example, he has a gang called the "Knee High Killers," among other things.

@atxhills #gavinedition #atxhills #fyp #fypシ #foryoupage #prekteacher #10MillionAdoptions #teachersoftiktok ♬ About Damn Time - Lizzo

Another fan favorite is Bradley, a second grader Hills supervised in an after-school program. Bradley is white but he has a Black stepdad and, as a result, has some interesting takes on things. Hills is still in touch with him via TikTok, and Bradley (who is now 18) loves hearing his stories told. He even shares them with his friends.

@atxhills Reply to @johnny.amigon #AmazonVirtualTryOn #prekteacher #MakeASplash #raidernation #fyp #fypシ #foryou #teacher ♬ original sound - Mr. Hills

Hills told me that he left teaching a few years ago to become a trained behavioral teacher and now works a couple of days at a new preschool. He also works with teens. Yes, he's been taking notes for both and plans to share those videos as well.

While he never anticipated these videos taking off the way they did, he's enjoying riding the wave and making videos while people are still interested.

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

A group of high school graduates surprised their former kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarten is one of the most formative experiences in a child's life. Not only do they learn there how to navigate the tricky world of friendships and the seeds of independence, they also start their education journey. All of that is made extra special if they have a teacher who really loves them. When you're a kindergarten teacher, you know that you have the power to make a serious impact, and that shouldn't be taken lightly. A retired kindergarten teacher is warming hearts on TikTok as people learn just how great that impact is.

In the video, shared by user Kim Hamilton (the daughter of said teacher), the woman, who is identified in the comments as Mrs. Pearson, is sitting on her porch when a girl in a cap and gown shows up at the gate. "Congratulations!" Mrs. Pearson calls out, waving. Soon, she realizes that the young girl isn't alone.



"What's happening?" she asks her daughter, who can be heard chuckling behind the camera.

"They're your kindergarteners," Hamilton replies, as kids in caps and gowns start filing through the gate.

"Did you know this was happening?!" Pearson asks, the shock and joy clearly evident on her face.

"Oh my gosh, I love you all! Look at you!" she exclaims as she runs over to the kids.

Hamilton explains to her that these kids, clearly high school graduates, are the last group of kindergarten students Pearson taught before retiring. As each one of them comes into the gate, the joy on Pearson's face grows exponentially. It's clear that these kids were her babies, and even though now they're all grown up and going off to college, they'll always have that special place in her heart.

"Oh my god, you're all just gorgeous!" she says, giving each one a hug.

The kids are just as happy to see their beloved Mrs. Pearson as she is to see them. They eagerly shuffle together to pose for a picture as she just stops and looks at them, taking it all in. Presumably, she hasn't seen them much in the approximately 12 years since she retired. Maybe they've seen each other around—as a kid, I loved running into my teachers outside of school. I still do. But the fact that these kids showed up to see her, to allow her to celebrate her integral role in their lives, that's really special. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Here are just a handful of the comments people left on Hamilton's video:

"Proof they never stop being our kids after they leave us."

"The love she showed and was shown, she must have been one heck of a teacher 💕"

"I started crying when your mom did."

"Love this! ❤ I teach kindergarten and only hope my students will remember me like this! She must have been extraordinary!"

"Literally teachers like HER are the reasons I still talk to my teachers from middle school, HS & college🥺 good teachers are so special"

Watch the video below and try not to cry.