Texters and sleepers

Ms. Cornelius battles texters and sleepers in the classroom.

I know many of my colleagues don’t care if kids put their heads down in their classes, I guess thinking that at least the student can’t be a behavior problem if he’s asleep. I do not allow heads to be down, nor do I allow sleeping. If a student is sick, I send her to the nurse. Otherwise heads are up and eyelids are open. I think this policy not only greatly increases the chances of actually learning something, but I also frankly think it is disrespectful to the teacher to sleep in class.

In my day, the Pleistocene Era, sleeping in class wasn’t an option.

In my newspaper days, sleeping in editorial board meetings was reserved for the editor or the publisher. One day, the publisher fell asleep and started to sag to the left. Sitting to his right, I wondered if I should wake him before he fell off his chair. He woke himself just as he was about to topple. He sat upright. Then he fell asleep again, this time sagging in my direction. Should I poke him? Catch him before he went over? Again, he woke just before the tipping point.

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  1. When I was in high school, there was a kid who habitually fell asleep in his math class. so one day his teacher and one of the bigger guys in the class gently picked up the whole desk with this kid still in it and carried him down the hall to our chemistry classroom. Amazingly, the kids slept through the whole thing. We quietly giggled and watched him snore until the bell rang and he woke with a start, completely confused and embarrassed to be sitting in front of a class full of older students. I’m not sure if the kid learned his lesson, but it was certainly memorable for me!

  2. CharterMom says:

    Hmmmm! I remember one of my high school English teachers telling me that the one thing she wished I’d do was stay awake during her class. And this was back in the 70’s. In college I swore the profs knew whether they had a good lecture going or not by whether I stayed awake (ok,that is probably going a bit far but I do think I had a reputation for falling asleep). The thing was that most of that time when I appeared to be sleeping I was actually listening and remembering. I sometimes felt like I had a tape recorder in my head as I could often “hear” an answer to a test question (as opposed to those who could picture it on a page). Now one thing I do remember is that if a class switched from lecture to discussion I would generally pop up and participate so my teachers did have some indication that I was awake.

    While as an adult I can appreciate a teacher’s frustration at teaching a class of “sleeping” students, it’s not new and it may be that some of those “sleepers” are really just “listeners”. FYI — my high school age son and I have had this conversation several times recently as he seems have inherited my “listening while appearing to sleep” style. LOL

  3. Back in the day when there were real darkrooms, a kid in one of my classes fell asleep snoring. The rest of us decided to hide in the darkroom. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think we even changed the clock so the time showed it was after school. When the kid woke up, he yelped and ran out of the room and then came back in rather puzzled. The other kids then jumped out of the darkroom yelling,”surprise!”

    Needless to say that was the last time he ever feel asleep in class–or at least in my class.

    Now don’t even get me started on texting. Wish I had a solution for that one.