All posts by Tina Skiles

Late Work Policy—By Instructor Approval Only


Settle into a chair in the CTLE and begin brainstorming ideas for blog post

Voice frustration over writer’s block

Check faculty email

Type 3 sentences

Delete 3 sentences

Check faculty email (again)

Reread suggested prompt and finally settle in with a general idea

Share progress with colleagues only to find my ideas didn’t transfer

Revise blog post based on feedback from colleagues

Grab ice cream reward for last week’s blog and eat it straight from the carton

Publish blog post

Read blog post…decide I hate it…wrestle with how to remedy the situation…decide that maybe it’s not as bad as I think it is

Read blog post again…nope…still hate it.

Read blog post again….my God, this is the worst thing I have ever writtenhow many people have read this already?…I can’t leave this out in the open!!

Delete blog post


This whole process—procrastination, frustration, distraction, creation, submission— is similar to what some of my students go through when submitting their major writing assignments. Life happens, and before they know it, a paper is due. In a span of about 2 hours, they compose a frantic essay and submit it to Canvas—and then spend the next few hours (or days) stressing over just how bad it is.

But unlike me…they can’t just log back in, delete the submission, and start over.

They don’t get to experience the relief I felt when, upon clicking the aptly-named “trash” button, my subpar words disappeared. And maybe there’s a lesson for me here…

I’m not sure what it is yet, but it’s there. Maybe it’s a lesson in empathy…or expectations…and finding the balance between the two.

If I am going to be honest, I’m not 100% happy with this post either…but I do feel better about it than the one I submitted Friday afternoon; and I think I realize that this feeling is all my students want as well. They just want to feel ok about the work they submit, and maybe I could be more conscious of that fact and not deny them that feeling all in the name of a syllabus policy on late work.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing out the policy. It’s important to have expectations and standards and consequences. It’s even more important to learn how to accept expectations and standards and consequences, especially when we have no other excuse than procrastination and lack of planning.

Me? I’m imposing my own late penalty for this blog. So if anyone who posted during week 2 wants to lay claim to my ice cream for the week, it’s all yours. You earned it!



I wore compression socks to work today

My non-teaching job forces me out of bed at 4:30am to work stock crew at a retail store and requires me to be on my feet for long periods of time. In an effort to combat the leg fatigue and edema, I broke down and purchased compression socks—and not the really cool kind that lifters and runners and crossfitters wear. The ugly kind…the ones that are purely functional and “flesh”-toned, with subtle hints of jaundice.

They are glorious.

I’m pretty sure they solidify my status as “old,” and while I may be a few years shy of my AARP card, they are a reminder of the ever-growing age gap between me and my students. Every year, I get older, but my students stay roughly the same age. When I first started teaching at community colleges, I was 29, just 11 years older than my youngest students. Finding course content that connected with them was easy, mostly because they had experienced the same significant cultural moments that I had. I could pepper a class discussion with references to the O.J. Simpson trial or Brandi Chastain’s game-winning kick and subsequent disrobing; and my students responded with knowing head nods.

AP Photo/The San Francisco Examiner, Lacy Atkins, File

That isn’t the case today. I’m 15 years older; they’re still roughly 18-25.

Earlier this week when a class discussion on precise word choices afforded me the opportunity to quote Inigo Montoya, I suggested that it’s important to choose words wisely to avoid comments on their paper like “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” My students didn’t laugh. Instead, they just stared at me…blankly. Even when I humbly offered, “The Princess Bride?…anyone? No? Just me?”…nothing. And in that moment, I realized that another one of my “go-to” references needed to be updated.


Every semester, I’m faced with the reality that connecting with my students is much harder than it used to be. I am growing increasingly more aware of the fact that my students aren’t knowledgeable of the same events I am, nor do they relate to the world the same way I do.  As educators, we talk a lot about the importance of student engagement and its direct correlation to student success and retention, and so every semester, in an effort to close the growing age gap, I actively seek out new supplemental content that will help them make connections between their reality and the skills we ask them to master. Surprisingly, a majority of this new content comes from former students.

When a class asks me if I have heard about a recent event or seen a viral video or a social media post or a T.V. show, I carve out time to look it up. At worst, I find it obtuse or offensive; but even then, I am learning more about the interests of this generation of students, and that knowledge helps me connect to them in other ways. More often than not, though, it is something I can use during a future class discussion, and in those moments, they teach me, helping me understand their world—and mine—a little bit better.

I hope that I never lose the ability to make those connections with my students, that I never get to the place where my class never changes and I have become Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher Professor Binns, droning on incessantly and completely oblivious to my classroom of sleeping students. I hope that I never run out of new material…but if I do, I can always fall back on a cute kitten .gif. Everyone loves a cute kitten .gif.