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What do you do if your student says nothing is missing, but you can see otherwise?

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

By Sean McCormick & Ethan Grasso

Especially during these confusing times, there is often a discrepancy between what students say they’ve turned in and what is shown on their school’s assignment tracking sites. This can lead to many discussions with students on if they’re telling the truth, if their teacher is the one at fault, or if it’s just a system error. All of this back and forth gets away from the real goal which is helping the student turn in what is missing!

An Example

I had an issue in which a student was missing over 5 assignments across two classes, however, when I asked him about it, he said he’d turned them in. I saw no evidence of this in either Aeries or Google Classroom, so I reached out to him again with screenshots and asked again. He now replied that he wasn’t even in the aforementioned classes.

I then asked the student to email their counselor and unenroll them from the class. He agreed on this course of action.

A couple of days passed, yet the system continued to show him being enrolled in those classes. Missing assignments kept adding up, and the student continued to deny that there was anything missing, and claimed he wasn’t in the classes I mentioned.

The First Key Is Communication

As with most issues, the best way to overcome this challenge is a face-to-face problem solving meeting. Assignment tracking systems are complicated, and although they are usually useful, it’s hard to always trust what they’re telling us. Texting is efficient, but lacks in-depth communication nuances that are best expressed through Zoom or in-person meetings. I think it’s important to be able to look someone in the eyes, and see what they’re seeing. For the example given above, that’s how this problem was solved. We set up a zoom meeting, and talked it through.

Getting Things Done In The Meeting

During a meeting such as this, it can be vital to send emails to counselors in order to make sure they’re aware of the situation. For a student living a busy life balancing family, extracurriculars, a social life and academics all at once, it’s easy to forget to hit send on that email holding the class switch request form. For a counselor managing hundreds of students, it’s easy to forget that a student put in a class switch request form.

The Second Key Is Preventing Future Incidents

Communication plays a role here, too. Weekly meetings are an essential part of keeping a whole team on the same page. This is why an appropriate phase out period during the executive function coaching process is so vital.

It is not enough to help the student get their grades back up and everything turned in. Once things are turned in and the grades are up, the crisis ends, and the hard work of consistency and habit development begins. This is why an executive function coach can be so helpful -- they will help to solidify good habits for a lifetime or success.

Someone once said, "Fall in love with the problem, not the solution." In the example above and so many others, as executive function coaches, parents, teachers, and support providers, we must remember to fall in love with the challenges our students face, and ask ourselves, how can I help them take ownership of these challenges? There is no magic solution; only patience, communication, and a consistent practicing of good habits over long periods of time.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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