10/15/2014 03:22 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

Open Letter to Online Students

Milos Jokic via Getty Images

You may be wondering why I am constantly emailing or texting you when you miss an assignment. There are many reasons why I do this, and it isn't because I like to nag. But first, I want to clear something up.

When you miss work, it doesn't make me mad.

If anything, it makes me sad. It makes sad because I feel like I am not doing my job well enough. It makes me sad because I worry that you won't be successful in completing the class. It makes me sad because I know you want this, and there must be something pretty big getting in your way -- and I can't fix that. (And believe me, if I could fix the things that stop my students from getting their work in -- things like work schedules, child care, caring for sick relatives, deployments, internet access, illness, divorce, domestic violence, and just stress in general -- I would do it in a heartbeat).

I have been teaching online since 1999, and it takes a very determined student to be successful. Only you are accountable for whether or not you get the work done. It takes a lot to be that much in charge of your well-being.

My experience has shown me that students who stop doing the work or who struggle to get things in on time run a great risk of not passing the class. So I will call, text, and email to try and get you back on track.

My supervisors also know that students who struggle with deadlines don't often pass the class. So they require me to do outreach. I am not trying to be a pest; I am just trying to keep my job the same way you all do things to keep your job.

But the biggest reason why I do this outreach (or pestering, if you will) is because I care. I want you to succeed in this class. I don't teach writing because I couldn't get another job. I teach writing because I believe that having solid writing skills leads to solid thinking skills which enables people to be better at life -- not just in their jobs but as parents, partners, and members of the community. When you can express yourself well, there is no limit to what you can achieve.