I've always had a problem with students who disappear
. I know this is a common occurrence, and I resist it probably because I was quite dedicated to school in my day, and quite unlikely to have something major derail me from school. I had enough money, no major health problems, no major tragedies. That's simply not the case with many people.
In the past, when a student disappears, or still attends but stops trying, I got flustered and frustrated, and wondered what I had done wrong. Or wondered what I could do to reach them. And I'm glad that I'm the kind of person who makes the extra effort. But I'm through with taking this on by myself.
I learned this in recently when I had a student contact me to let me know that he couldn't attend class because he was "a guest of the county" (ie -- in jail.) Just one day, then they set a court date. He asked me if I would write a letter for the judge stating he was enrolled in college and almost done with the term, and if they could delay jail time until after the term was over, that would be nice. I asked as few questions as possible (I seriously DON'T want to know!!!) and wrote the letter. He called me to thank me profusely for it, and said the judge agreed to the delay. Great!
Then he didn't show up for the final.
So, recognition that there is more to my students than their coursework. They have jobs and families and responsibilities (and criminal records, evidently! This is not the only time I've had a "guest of the county" in my classes). I can only do so much. I'm slowly finding that happy medium: Try to reach out, but know when it's time to let go.