What if schools focused on improving relationships rather than test scores?

By Maureen Downey for ajc.com

University of Georgia education professor Peter Smagorinsky wrote a piece last year about a promising young teacher who chose to leave education. She has now returned to the classroom but in a different Georgia district.

In this column, Smagorinsky explains how her new district, with a focus on enhancing relationships rather than test scores, has revitalized her enthusiasm for teaching.

By Peter Smagorinsky

A year ago I wrote a Get Schooled essay about an outstanding early-career high school English teacher in Georgia who had become so frustrated with testing and scripted curricula that she decided to leave the profession. She had been a participant in a study I am doing of the career development of teachers, with interviews each semester since 2010, when she was still at UGA education major.

I’m happy to say she contacted me in the spring with the news that working in the private sector for a year had produced a yearning to be back in the classroom. Her job had been quite pleasant, and she had appreciated the way her day began at 9 and ended at 5, and did not involve late afternoons and evenings filling out forms, tutoring, grading papers, planning classes, recovering from exhaustion, and consuming her life until she started over again the next day.

It was a nice respite from what had become a grind in the classroom. But, ultimately, to her it was unchallenging, a bit boring, and unfulfilling. It was time to get back to the kids.

Read more here.

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