Over the years as a middle school teacher, I've had my share of sleepy kids in class. It's not that unusual, especially among the boys, considering the amount of growth these kids go through when they hit puberty.
Sometimes it really impacts their grades and you have to get a parent involved. Usually we've discovered that our little Sleepy Heads have a television in their rooms and are staying up all night watching (usually inappropriate and very adult) television while the parents are blissfully snoozing away. Usually all it takes is the removal of the television from the room, and we see a much more alert and chipper kid in class. In some other cases, the problem is a computer in the room and the kid is up all night chatting or playing video games on line - sort of like Rip Van Winkle. Now, kids with computers in their rooms is another post for another day (can we say "online predators" anyone?), but it's still an issue, and, once again, once the parents figure out what's going on and remove the problem, we see a much better rested kid in class.
So, this brings me to a discussion that I had with my Fourth Period today. This is one of my smallest classes, and although there are quite a few of them that are, shall we say, a bit difficult in the personality department, they do have their moments.
Drama Boy, out of the blue, asked me if I'd every talked to a friend on the phone at night when I was a kid.
"Drama Boy, you need to remember that we didn't have our own phones back in the dark ages when I was a kid. We had phones attached to walls in the kitchen and everyone heard our conversations and there was no way I was allowed to use the phone after 8:00 pm."
This brought a chorus of "ohhhhhs" from the kids. They can't believe how tough life was for us in the old days.
"Oh yeah," he said, as if remembering that, yeah, teachers are old. "Well, I was texting this girl this morning around three, and..."
"Wait a minute," I interrupted him. "Three in the morning?"
"Yeah, three in the morning," he continued.
"You were on the phone texting a girl at three in the morning this morning?" I asked incredulously. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, and well my Dad caught me and busted me out on it," he said.
"Well, thank goodness," I responded. "I hope he took your phone away as well."
"Well, no, he didn't"
Of course the entire class is listening to this conversation and start putting in their two cents' worth.
"My mom took my phone away after my last progress report when my grades tanked and she found out I was up texting 'til two in the morning," said one of my girls.
"Yeah, I usually stay up texting at least until midnight," said another.
I was floored. I was hoping that Rip Van Winkle and Drama Boy were the exceptions to the rule, but the more I talked with this bunch, the more I found out that they aren't getting any sleep! They're too busy playing video games and texting all night long! Here they are, in the throes of puberty, when they need, oh, eight to ten hours of sleep a day and they're getting maybe, four? If they're lucky!
A few of the kids in this class admitted that they had set bedtimes and were usually in bed by eight or so, which is a good thing since we start school rather early (at 7:30). Interestingly enough, any guess on which group has the best grades?
Yeah, you got it, the ones getting to bed earlier are more successful academically.
So my big question is...where are the parents? Asleep? Do they not check the bills to see that their darling cherub is up at all hours of the night and day texting away? What's so hard with taking that phone away over night and giving it back in the morning?
There are times I just want to beat my head against a wall.