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One high school teacher showed compassion to struggling students.

*Featured image contains photo by Yaroslav Shuraev

High school kids deal with a lot. In addition to managing a heavy learning load, many deal with before and after school activities, jobs, families, friends, and the typical issues teens face. So don’t they deserve a break, too? One high school teacher certainly thinks so, and now he’s going viral for it.

How One Teacher Is Leading With Compassion

man wearing glasses and a cap
Courtesy of Twitter/@MonteSyrie

One day at school, an English teacher named Monte Syrie realized one of his students, Meg, had fallen asleep while she was supposed to be crafting an essay.

Most teachers in that situation probably would have woken her up or given her a warning for that kind of behavior, but not Syrie. Syrie decided to let her sleep, and he explained why on Twitter.

“Meg fell asleep in class yesterday. I let her. I didn’t take it personally,” he wrote. “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.”

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The surprising admission didn’t stop there, however. In the next post, Syrie revealed Meg still did her essay.

“No, she did not use her time wisely in class yesterday. She didn’t get her essay turned in,” he continued. “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,” he added.

“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.”

How a Teacher Is Going Viral for All the Right Reasons

In the post, which was comprised of several overall tweets, Syrie also explained there isn’t much he can do to help his students during what is often the most difficult period of their lives, but what he can do is give them a break when he sees fit.

“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,” he continued.

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Syrie’s social media post was shared far and wide, and some news outlets also picked it up. In an interview with 12 News NBC, he explained it’s all about showing compassion. He also added that he knew about Meg’s home situation and track demands in the first place because he does an activity in class called “Smile or a Frown,” in which his students share a good or bad thing in their lives.

Now, he’s hoping other teachers also follow their instincts in similar situations and get to know their students daily.

“I don’t want tweets like this to go viral,” he added to the publication. “I want them to be so hum-drum because we’re so compassionate in education and understanding that if somebody does tweets like this are ‘oh I’m going to scroll right on by that.’”

Why Going Against the Grain Is Sometimes Important

Syrie’s story resonated with so many people because it exemplifies what can happen when a person leads with compassion and understanding rather than strict rules. It’s not just teens who can benefit from such a mindset either; there are times when we could all use a break.

This teacher knew what his student was going through and decided to give her a pass and have faith. It’s a great reminder in our lives to try and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before we judge or set specific expectations about how they should be.

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That’s why it’s essential to lead with compassion and understanding and to let certain things slide, like a friend who is late because she’s juggling a lot or a family member who sometimes gets wrapped up and forgets to return a phone call or a text.

Extending understanding and letting go when possible doesn’t just help to make others feel appreciated and understood; it also makes the world a tiny bit easier when that big old thing called life starts piling up.  

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