New English teacher strives for student-centered classroom

September 10, 2021 — by Sanjoli Gupta and Kavya Patel
Photo by Sanjoli Gupta
Megan Laws working during Tutorial

New English teacher Megan Laws can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a teacher. In fact, she remembers setting up stuffed animals to prepare for her next “lesson” at just 3 years old. 

Fast forward to 2021, and she is now teaching both freshmen and sophomores here after seven years of teaching at Scotts Valley High School. Laws started UC Santa Cruz as a Kinesiology major, but soon realized she enjoyed proofreading her friends’ English essays more than her own coursework. She decided to switch her major to English and graduated with honors with a degree in Literature. 

During college, Laws also worked as an autism therapist, a job in which she pursued nontraditional teaching methods. Laws chose this job because of her passion for teaching and helping others. 

“My job was a bit challenging because the children I worked with struggled to regulate their emotions and sometimes took out their frustrations physically on me,” Laws said. “However, I saw a lot of growth in the children I worked with, and the milestones I saw the kids achieve made my job feel very worthwhile.” 

This experience made her realize that every individual has their own unique set of needs, which helped her become more understanding toward all her students. 

To help students feel more comfortable at Scotts Valley High, Laws had non-traditional seating with couches, chairs, bar stools and floor seating, which helped even the most “squirrelly students” be more productive. 

When I was in high school and college, my favorite place to get homework done was in coffee shops, so I try to bring that vibe to my classroom because it makes me happy,” she said.

At Saratoga, Laws has an organized, calm and colorful classroom, which helps her feel less stressed when she has a lot going on. 

Sophomore Andrea Gulesserian, who is in Law’s sixth-period class, finds the class engaging because Laws encourages students to share their opinions and learn how to work together.

“I really enjoyed the group stations where we investigated the teacher and her classroom because we got to learn more about Ms. Laws,” Gulesserian said.

Laws focuses on a student-centered teaching style because she believes students learn the best when they are actively involved in their learning. Students have several interactive projects and assignments throughout the year, allowing them to improve on their collaborative skills.

I keep teaching because of the joy that I get out of teaching students and getting to know them, helping them grow as learners and watching them discover their passions,” Laws said. “I try to share this joy with my students in the way I teach my subject.” 

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