Image of colourful random patterns.

Making Sense of the Patterns

Doing ‘not showing up’ in detail.

Before we get stuck into solving the problem of missing teaching sessions (both in person, and online), it helps to study it in more detail, keeping a very close eye on yourself. You can do this by either keeping a log for the next week, or thinking back over a short recent period of time and answering these questions. Again, make notes as you go.

Photograph of a woman looking through a magnifying glass. One eye is enlarged as a result.
Seeing I. Image by Marina Coric.
  • When do you usually miss teaching sessions?
  • When do you usually turn up / tune in?
  • Where does the problem usually occur?
  • Where does the problem usually not occur?
  • What else is always around when you miss class (or when you make it). For example: the people you are with, what you’re wearing, what you’re thinking.
  • What’s the first hint you get that you’re about to miss teaching?
  • How do you respond to this hint?
  • What happens next?
  • How do you know that you are going to engage with the teaching?
  • How do you know when you’ve got past a period of missing teaching?

Now it’s time to think about the answers you’ve got.

Time of day.

Do you notice that you are less likely to engage with early morning teaching? Are the dreaded 9am sessions those that you always miss? If so, you may be struggling with your sleep pattern.

Cartoon of an alarm clock. First panel reads "First day of semester", the clock shows 7:30am. Second panel reads "Two weeks into semester", the clock reads 8:88 and is looking very worn. Third panel reads "Two months into semester", the clock has been bashed, wires and exposed, and it clearly no longer works.
Alarm clock by Belal.

For more information on the benefits of sleep and developing a sleep schedule, check out our page on Why Sleep is Important.
For some tips on getting up go to Getting out of Bed

Specific days and practical obstacles.

Sometimes there are competing demands that make it difficult to engage with all teaching. Some examples are:

  • Financial pressures and needing to hold a full or part-time job
  • Caring for someone at home
  • A long-term illness and/or regular medical appointments
  • Travelling long distances and wanting to avoid peak fares.
Photograph of a bright yellow road sign in Iceland that reads "! OFAERT Impassable"
Obstacles ahead. Image by Alan Levine.

If anything like this applies to you it might be helpful to think about any particular days or sessions that are most affected. Often a weekend job results in Monday and Friday sessions being missed. Discussing these issues with your School Adviser should be helpful. They will be able to refer you on to other sources of help such as Kent Union Welfare Advice for financial assistance, and think creatively about ways you might be able to mitigate the impact of these issues on your studies.

Battling with low motivation.

If you are struggling with a period of depression, then you’ll know that everything becomes much harder, and missing teaching is a common result. If you recognise this, please take a look at our Managing Motivation section.

Missing teaching because of repetitive thoughts.

Often the clues that people get that they are going to miss teaching, are very specific thoughts. Often we get worried and our response is to avoid whatever it is that is causing the worry.

Image of four yellow balls each with a different facial expression painted on: worried, cheeky (sticking tongue out), happy (wide smile), and annoyed (downturned mouth, one frowning eye).
Rolling from one emotion to the next. Image by DragonWeer.

If you suspect that feelings of anxiety are leading you to avoid teaching, then take a look at the Anxiety at University section.

Fear of failure.

Sometimes those thoughts centre on fear that we’re going to fail, or that we’re never going to be good enough. We’ve seen this stop people from feeling able to submit work, and lead to general feelings of dejection. If this sounds like you take a look at the Fear of Failure section.

General chaos.

If there has been nothing specific that has really struck a chord with you so far, yet you are still missing a fair amount of teaching, it might be that you’re struggling with getting organised. A sign that this might be the case is when you find you miss teaching in the lead up to coursework deadlines.

Photograph of a messy desk. The computer is barely visible amongst papers and junk.
The Zen study space as a work in progress. Image by Ali West.

For some general advice about managing your time, have a look at the Structure and Time Management section

What do you mean, what am I wearing?

Wondering why I asked that question? Well, there is some evidence that suggests that the clothes you wear can impact on how well you perform on cognitive tests. It is a phenomenon that the researchers have coined Enclothed Cognition. Disclaimer alert: I have not run my own RCT on the effects of wearing PJs vs a business suit on the likelihood of attending teaching sessions. I am merely inviting you to be your own experimenter: change your the clothes you usually wear, and then make a note of what happens.

Skip the advice.

If you’d prefer to brush through this content, you can go straight to a section where I introduce you to some methods to help you find your own solutions.