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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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teaching



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

Teacher Lisa Conselatore isn't holding back.

A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 87% of public schools say the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted students' socio-emotional development. Respondents have also said there has been a significant increase in student misconduct.

However, a teacher with 24 years of experience in the U.S. and abroad believes we are misplacing blame for this rise in misconduct. In a viral TikTok video with over 480,000 views, Lisa Conselatore claims that the big problem isn’t the pandemic but modern parenting.


“The problem is cultural," Conselatore says. "We have raised children to think that they are absolutely the most important person in any room. They are so special that whatever they want to do, or whatever they think, or whatever they say is the most important thing in that moment.”

@lisaconselatore

#tiredteacher #enough #raisingkids #timetolisten #supportteachers #culturetalk #culturecheck #teachersoftiktok #teachersontiktok #teaching2023belike

“I know your children are special to you. I know that my children are special to me,” she continues. “But none of them are the most special person ever in the room at any time. They're not. Nobody is because we live in a society and we all have to get along and we all have to respect one another and part of respecting one another is recognizing when you have a contribution to make and when you need to sit there and open your ears. … We don't have that down. We've missed it.”

In the video, Conselatore lays some pretty big blame on America’s parents, but she also offers some simple solutions to improve the situation.

“Teach them when to listen, taking a turn to speak. Speak when it's appropriate. When you have something to say and. It's your turn,” she says. “Let's reevaluate our family cultures, our community cultures, and our larger society cultures. Because of this is not working, not working.”


This article originally appeared on 11.7.23

Education

Someone criticized a middle school teacher's behavior. Her comeback was an A+.

When a person commented, "your a teacher act like it," Amy Allen hilariously took the advice to heart.

A rude commenter got a lesson from Ms. Allen.

Being a teacher isn't easy. Teaching middle school students is especially not easy. Teaching middle school students who spent several of their formative years going through a global pandemic in the age of smartphones, social media and a youth mental health crisis is downright heroic.

If you haven't spent time in a middle school classroom, you may not fully grasp the intensity of it on every level, from the awkwardness to the body odor to the delightful hilarity that tweens bring to the table. When you connect with your students, it can be incredibly rewarding, and when you don't…well, we all read "Lord of the Flies," right?

Skilled teachers bring out the best in young people, and that can be done in many different ways. For Amy Allen, it's by making her middle school classroom a fun, welcoming place to learn and by bonding with her students.


"I love teaching middle schoolers because they are awkward, and I’m awkward, so we get along," Allen tells Upworthy.

She plays games with students, gets rambunctious with them and creates opportunities for them to expend some of that intense pre-and-early-teen energy in healthy ways. For instance, she shared a video of a game of "grudgeball," an active trivia game that makes reviewing for a quiz or test fun and competitive, and you can see how high-energy her classroom is:

@_queenoftheclassroom

If this looks like fun to you, pick up my grudgeball template (🔗 in bio) #qotc #grudgeball #10outof10recommend @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️

"I think for teachers, we always want to create moments for our students that are beyond the standard reading, writing, memorizing, quiz, 'traditional learning,'" Allen says. "Games are a great way to incorporate fun in the classroom."

Allen clearly enjoyed the game as much as her students—"I love the chaos!" she says— and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Fun keeps teachers sane, too. But one person took issue with her classroom behavior and commented, "your a teacher act like it." (Not my typo—that's exactly what the person wrote, only with no period.)

Allen addressed the comment in another video in the most perfect way possible—by acting exactly like a teacher.

Watch:

@_queenoftheclassroom

Replying to @كل الكلبات تريد مني Come see me if you have any further questions. #qotc #iteachmiddleschool #weDEFINITELYdonthavefuninhere @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ @Amy Allen ☀️ #Inverted

There are two solid ways to handle a rude comment without making things worse—you can ignore it or you can craft a response that makes the person look like a fool without being cruel or rude yourself. Allen's grammar lesson response was A+ work, right down to the "Come see me if you have any further questions" caption.

In fact, the person apparently went back and deleted their comment after the comeback video went viral, which makes it all the more hilarious. The video currently has more than 4 million views on TikTok and over 18 million views on YouTube.

"What’s funny is I left my correction on the board accidentally, and the next day, students asked me what that was all about," Allen says. "When I explained it, they thought it was cool because 'why would anyone go after Ms. Allen'? At that point, the video had maybe 10,000 views. I never imagined the video would go viral."

Two days later, as the video was creeping toward a million views, she upped the stakes. "Some of my students are my ultimate hype people, and they were tracking it harder than I was," she says. "I made a 'deal' with my fifth period if it reached 1 million during their class, they could sit wherever they wanted the entire week. During lunch, I checked, and it reached 1 million. So when they came back from recess, I announced it, and it was like I was a rockstar. They screamed and cheered for me. It was an incredible moment for me."

The irony, of course, is that Allen was acting like a teacher in her grudgeball video—an engaged teacher with engaged students who are actively participating in the learning process. Just because it doesn't look like serious study doesn't mean it's not learning, and for some kids, this kind of activity might be far more effective at helping them remember things they've learned (in this case, vocabulary words) than less energetic ways of reviewing.

Allen has her thumb on the pulse of her students and goes out of her way to meet them where they are. Last year, for instance, she created a "mental health day" for her students. "I could tell they were getting burnt out from all the state tests, regular homework, and personal life extracurricular activities that many of my students participate in," she says. "We went to my school library for 'fireside reading,' solved a murder mystery, built blanket forts, watched the World Cup, colored, and completed sudokus. Is it part of the curriculum? No. Is it worth spending one class period doing something mentally rewarding for students? Absolutely."

Teaching middle school requires a lot of different skills, but perhaps the most important one is to connect with students, partly because it's far easier to teach someone actually wants to be in your classroom and partly because effective teaching is about so much more than just academics. A teacher might be the most caring, stable, trustworthy adult in some students' lives. What looks like silly fun and games in a classroom can actually help students feel safe and welcomed and valued, knowing that a teacher cares enough to try to make learning as enjoyable as possible. Plus, shared laughter in a classroom helps build a community of engaged learners, which is exactly what a classroom should be.

Keep up the awesome work, Ms. Allen, both in the classroom and in the comment section.

You can follow Amy Allen on TikTok and YouTube.