Many things can make or break an engaging classroom experience. These can range from a student’s interest in a subject, how much the teacher is engaged in the material he or she is teaching, or, most importantly, how strong the connection between the student and the teacher.
Oswego High School’s very own Consumer Education and Business Law teacher, Sarah Carlson, seems to have mastered the art of creating this classroom setting I have described above.
It may seem that, as high schoolers, all teachers are some evil entity that is out to patronize students. In retrospect, this could be further from the truth and is just an ignorant stereotype. Mrs. Carlson, from the accounts I have collected, shatters this stereotype into a million little pieces and sets those pieces afire in a blaze of glory.
Carlson found out early on after college after she took a few jobs as a substitute teacher, that the passion for teaching in her was stronger than she expected.
“I loved it,” Carlson said of her first teaching experience. “Then, I worked in my field in marketing for about a year and a half; then I realized that I really wanted to go back to teaching.”
Carlson knew right from the moment she started to teach that this was the best fit for her, over her original major in marketing.
Although it is fascinating how Carlson became a teacher in the first place, it is even more fascinating how, through being a substitute teacher for special education classes, Carlson was able to create this early desire to connect with students.
“At the time, it was special-education that really interested me,” Carlson said. “I loved I loved making connections with kids, and that’s what drove me to pursue my master’s in education.”
After the first spark of connection, Carlson was able to connect with her students while subbing, it was a smooth sail towards a full-time teaching position here at OHS. However, this smooth sail didn’t occur without a few bumps in the road.
“I thought I wanted to [teach] junior high, so I applied for a job for Traugber and didn’t get it,” Carlson said. “Luckily, then a job opened up , and I knew Mr. Borrowman, and so he put in a good word for me to help me get an interview for a teaching job.”
Mrs. Carlson taught Consumer Education and Business Law when she was hired in 2009, and she has continued teaching these classes for 10 years. Her love for high school students and teaching her subjects is off the charts with intensity, especially at OHS.
“I love high school students,” Carlson said. “I’m fascinated by the law, so I love the subject that I teach. Consumer Education also feels very useful [for] teaching kids skills they are going to use in real life.”
Not only has Carlson’s love for teaching made her happy, but she has also affected the lives of many of her past and current students in a positive way.
Ryan Dunham, senior at OHS and current Business Law student of Carlson, describes her teaching style in short and sweet, but ultimately positive terminology.
“[Her teaching is] very loose, fun, [and] sometimes fast-paced, but in a good way,” Dunham said.
Sometimes, all a teacher needs to be in order to be successful is fun, loose, and fast-paced to keep the students engaged. From this account, it seems like Carlson has hit a home run with her design of teaching.
In fact, with a teaching style so memorable, past students of hers can remember her classes with positive experiences. Chris Diaz, senior at OHS, and junior student of Carlson’s Consumer Education class remembers a specific activity that Carlson would do to connect to the students directly.
“She gave us each a post-it note, [and] you could either write a question about anything, a comment about anything, concern about anything, and kudos, which means giving a compliment to someone,” Diaz said.
With these little breaks in the teaching to get to know the students a little more, Carlson is able to break the invisible wall between the teacher and the student, creating a connection that is very hard to obtain.
While Carlson’s way of teaching may not seem like much, but it not only has affected her own life in a positive way, but it has affected the lives of many past and current students in a positive way. Through hard work and the stress of changing her career focus and being rejected by Traughber, Carlson was able to find the job she loved, teaching at OHS. Here’s hoping for many more years where Carlson will bring her effective teaching to the students of OHS.