Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, July 22, 2021

An Alternative Assignment from a Family Law Prof

From Jonathan Todres (Georgia State):

I have been thinking a lot about work/life balance, for both students and faculty. So, I decided to try something this semester in my seminar. I gave students an option: Instead of the last writing assignment, they could take a break. Their choice: (a) do the writing assignment; or (b) take a 72-hour break from work. Thankfully, everyone chose the break (full disclosure: if they hadn’t, I would have assigned it). Details are below in case you want to have your students try it.

My initial reflections: This was one of the better teaching decisions I’ve made in a long time. When I confirmed to the class that we would do this, their relief was visible (and I’m teaching on zoom). That moment alone highlighted how much this was needed. They had worked plenty hard already this semester; this was about thinking what it’s like to be in their shoes and prioritizing their wellbeing. To date, a couple students have already completed the “alternative assignment,” and their experiences have reinforced how important this was. Unplugging entirely from law school (or work) has become really hard. So, we (faculty) need to find more creative ways to support students’ efforts to create and sustain a healthy work/life balance. There’s much more to say; I’ll update this space after all students have completed the assignment. And subject to securing their permission, I might also share some of their reflections.

Read more about the assignment here.

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