Frank put his head down on the desk nine minutes ago. He’s always tired at school. With good reason. He needs more sleep, isn’t a morning person, is a teenager, and so on.
Earlier today, my administrator stopped by. I wonder what he would make of class going on while Frank had his head down. He’s a fair guy, and probably would have asked me. He might even have expected me to have a good answer. I think I do.
I have long been told that twenty minutes is the optimum time for a nap that restores us and I believe it.
Ours is an hour-long class and most of that time students read and write on their own. I lecture to the group as little as possible because that doesn’t fit my model of how learning happens best for readers and writers.
In a perfect world, I would give Frank twenty minutes to nap, wake him gently and return him to reading or writing. It’s not a perfect world. I can afford only about ten minutes, but when I get up after ten minutes I’m just angry. Fifteen minutes is the best I can do for Frank and more than my administrators would probably prefer. Oh well.
It’s thirteen minutes since Frank put his head down. In two more I will set this piece of writing on his desk and gently rouse him. He’s a good guy and will probably read it. He may smile at me renaming him Frank and my bet is that he’ll get some of my message.
I hope he notices that I respect his sleepiness and don’t take it as an attack on me. I hope he feels that my gently waking him is no attack on him.
We can spare fifteen minutes from the class for him to take care of himself, right? Of course we can. He’ll be a better learner for the rest and will know more about me for the experience. Who knows, he might even know more about himself after reading this and that might be enough to get him writing again.