Working Differently Days to return in the spring


Maddi Shinall

Nora Kohnhorst `25 (left) and Agatha Fusco `25 spend their time out of class studying in Burling Library.

Marcy Cassidy-Mapp, Staff Writer

This past summer, the Grinnell College Office of the Dean released a statement announcing that Working Differently Days are postponed until the spring semester of 2023. The decision to postpone them in the fall semester of 2022 resulted from Beronda Montgomery’s, dean of the College, review of feedback from several on-campus committees and survey data from psychology major Nameera Dawood `23.

In the spring semester of 2022, Working Differently Days were introduced by Elaine Marzluff, former interim dean of the College, and Anne Harris, president of the College. The stated goal was to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and to provide students with opportunities for self-guided learning by taking a physical pause during the semester.

“I did get feedback from both staff and students that there was an interest in understanding the intentionality around Working Differently Days. The feedback that I got was that many people wanted to see them continue,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery had several conversations with faculty, staff and students across the Student Government Association, Staff Council and Committee on Academic Standing when evaluating the status of Working Differently Days.

The Committee of Academic Standing specifically makes recommendations for the academic calendar, and they helped to choose the dates for this year’s Working Differently Days based on different factors including the dates’ relation to spring break and the specific day of the week.

Student feedback also came as a report from Nameera Dawood, who conducted a survey of the Grinnell College student body to indicate student trends on how they spent their Working Differently Days.

“Grinnell always has such an intense workload that the opportunity

to slow down or change pace allowed for a healthier balance in my academic schedule,” said Marina Busby `24. “ I just know the lack of those few Working Differently Days has already made looking ahead in the semester more stressful for myself.”

According to Montgomery, there were concerns among faculty regarding implementation and prior notice. Without ample notice, professors would not be able to adjust for newly canceled classes, offsetting syllabi and forcing certain classes to use their Working Differently Days as independent class periods.

The decision to postpone Working Differently Days this semester came from a desire to effectively address these concerns and make sure faculty were able to mutually benefit from the system, and the number of days was reduced from three to two in order to adjust for spring break.

“I had to ask whether I was going to recommend the implementation of them late in the summer as faculty were already preparing their syllabi,” Montgomery said. “I wanted to ask questions about whether their implementation was adequately considering the impact on staff and whether staff were able to fully engage in working differently days.”

In the spring semester of 2023, the Working Differently Days will be scheduled for Thursday, March 2 and Wednesday, April 26; the targets for fall 2023 are Sept. 27 and Nov. 7. Presently, Montgomery said she is unsure if these dates will be subject to change moving forward.