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How one educator revived her enthusiasm for the classroom

Kathryn Kao

January 5, 2018

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After leaving her job in frustration a year ago, an early-career English teacher in Georgia has returned to the classroom—but in a different school district.

Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education in UGA’s College of Education, discusses her decision to return as well as the relationships that revitalized her enthusiasm for teaching in a blog post for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Smagorinsky, who researches the study of written and artistic compositions, has been following this teacher’s journey since she was an education major at UGA for a research study on the career development of educators in Georgia.

“Her new district provides quite a contrast [to her previous teaching position],” he wrote in the blog. “At the school’s orientation before classes began in the fall, her superintendent spoke about the importance of human relationships, above all else. Not test scores. Not real estate values tied to test scores. No, he spoke compassionately about how everything follows from developing and fostering productive relationships within the district.”

According to Smagorinsky, having the ability to focus on building relationships with students rather than on achieving high test scores was the main driving force that inspired the teacher’s return to the classroom.

“She loves the fact she has tons of latitude in what to teach, and how to teach it,” he added. “And she loves her students and the idea that her main task is to ground her instruction in the relationships she develops with them.”

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