The essay was due before winter break, but a surprisingly large number of students had not yet turned in the final summative assessment of the term. Why were so many students simply failing to complete a major assessment? As a teacher, I have not totally let go of the frustration that occurs when students simply don't try, but it's a reality that I have managed through flexible deadlines, emphasizing practice and improvement, and keeping my focus on what learning students can demonstrate rather than being derailed by artificial deadlines. In my 10 years as a classroom teacher, I've witnessed so many reasons why students will procrastinate, or even give up, rather than trying their best.
The sad reality of my most recent scenario was that many students never had any intention of attempting the essay. As a teacher who is trying to measure student learning and required to give a grade, it is extremely disheartening when some students refuse to even try. Most of my colleagues simply write these students off as failures. However, this type of student behavior should serve as a warning for all of us involved in the education system. We have a very real problem with students who simply do not see the point of even trying. We cannot afford to label these students as failures and move on. We must take a closer and more critical look at the entire system in order to find ways for each and every student to find value in the process of learning.