Friday, February 22, 2013

Proactive, Not Reactive

Contributed by: Joni Moss, a Military Student at USD

Missing two weeks of school is difficult for anyone. Missing two weeks of school is, unfortunately, typical of military students. I found myself facing a three week training deployment, that fortunately fell over spring break, so I am only really missing two weeks of classes. This can be very stressful to deal with, or it can be very simple and matter-of-fact depending on how you react and how your teachers react. I set myself up for success by informing my teachers as soon as I could and formulating a plan of attack for this gap in class time.

The first step to deal with a deployment during school is obviously to let your teachers know. Once they are aware, it is up to you to make this as easy on them as you can by being prepared for classes, willing to do a little extra work, and committing yourself to a positive outcome. I talked to my teachers the first week of classes and then looked at my syllibi to design a sort of make-shift, personal schedule of assignments to get what I could done early. In a couple of my classes this was easy. I just read all the novels early. While I couldn’t get the homework done until assigned, I could have the reading done so that when the assignment came out I could do it immediately and move on. This also helped in getting ready so that I had fewer books to take on the deployment and less stress while gone. I was fully prepared so that when the assignments came, I could manage them quickly and efficiently.

The other side of this equation is the teachers’ response. What I found was that you have to be a little patient with them. They do not have every single assignment written out the first day of class, unfortunately. So, while they knew what was going on, they couldn’t allow me to work ahead very far. They were all very open to adjusting due dates for assignments if that was what needed to happen. I could have waited until I got back and then made up the previous two weeks of school, but I am a little more proactive. One of my teachers was like me. He agreed to write a special test for me that didn’t include lecture notes, so that I could take it on time while I was gone. That was great, until I found out the work load for while I was gone would make keeping up with the class difficult. This teacher, bless his heart, agreed to write the special test, just for me, before I left. The first day of the unit for everyone else, was my test day. Obviously, I had to work very hard to get ahead and cover all the material for the next two weeks. I worked my tail off and could relax on the deployment and focus on my job as a Guardsman rather than my job as a student.

Just like in the military, it takes more than one person to make a mission successful. In my situation, I had to work with my teachers to finish the courses with less time in class and get the same amount out of them as my fellow classmates. The key is to take the problem head on, do your job, and others will follow and help you. This is not something one person can do on their own; it requires cooperation from both sides to be successful. Showing the initiative to hold up my end of the requirements encouraged my teachers that I was willing to do what I needed to complete the assignments. This made them happy to help me out in any way that they could as well.

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