Self-advocacy & the missing work trap: why so many zeroes?

So your teacher posted a grade report and you have no idea what those missing assignments are?

Problem or no problem? Well, you have no idea what that work was, anyway, so there’s nothing you can do. Problem solved.

A couple things are going on here:

  1. The teacher is using code for the assignments
  2. The key to the code is in code
  3. The items your teacher posted have nothing to do with the homework assignments your teacher gave you and you can’t figure out which is what.
  4. You’d rather just not deal with it.

In my experience, it’s often a combination of all four, but number four is the one we need to worry about the most. We’re not going to change teachers, and you’ve got 7 teachers posting grades in 7 different ways. Sorry, it’s up to you.

The all-too frequent student response is, “oh well.”

“Oh, well, it’s too late to do anything about that one.”

When you first decided not to do it, it just seemed as if you would get around to it later. Now that it’s passed and gone, no more worries, because there’s nothing you can do.

That’s classic procrastination, an avoidance (or coping) strategy that relieves stress or worry by deferring  the problem to the future, or, in this case, to the past.

Actually, it’s worse than procrastination, for procrastination is delay, whereas here we’ve gone past delay into abandonment.

“Oh well…”

To give up entirely is emotionally easier than addressing the problem. “Oh well…” is easier than, “ok, let’s get to work.” Besides, by this time you are entirely lost. The missing work is old, whatever was going on in class doesn’t make sense any more, and neither does what you’re doing now.

Welcome to later

I’m guessing that by now the missing work lists aren’t new. You’ve seen them for the past few weeks (or more), and it always seemed easier to deal with later. Welcome to later.

So what could you have done?


Aside from all the emotional pieces related to putting off work, a fundamental part of student success is what we at the A+ Club call “student advocacy.”

When things click for a student, it’s when they are active in their own academic process. Things aren’t just happening to them. Instead, they are in control, especially over such things as grade reports: the missing work really is the teacher’s mistake and the grades are high, anyway.

We’re always amazed by how our A+ Club service delivers self-advocacy to students. It’s as if they just weren’t present in school before, but once they started talking to us, they realized that it’s about them and not about their parents or teachers or coaches, and they come to own their school experience. It’s beautiful to see, and we wish it upon all students everywhere.

It comes down to this:

  • Your grades are yours and not the teacher’s
    • (You don’t set teacher pay, and you’re not going to fire your teacher)
    • Your teacher gets paid no matter what grade you get
  • What you put in to school is what you get out
    • school happens whether you are part of it or not
    • when you avoid and delay, school owns you and not the other way around.
  • You truly want to succeed, so it’s just a matter of acting on that goal every day
  • Above all, it’s about you and not anyone else.

When you are in charge, when you are asking the questions, challenging the work, and following up on the little things like missing work — when you are the one doing it and not your teachers or your parents, then you are in charge.

That’s the ultimate state of being a student: self-advocacy.

I hope you can get there!

– Michael