2021 California Science Education Conference

Teacher of the Year (Upper Elementary): Claudia Razo

Claudia Razo

What made you decide to become a teacher?
The decision to become a teacher wasn't instinctual for me. I had wanted to become an animator or become involved in something that would allow for creativity and exploration. I later realized that teachers have a creative outlet I had never even thought about before. I knew I wanted to be creative and engaging in a way that I could bring happiness to others. Teaching is definitely a balance between function and fun. I love the moments when I can have functional fun with my students, they don't even know they are learning.

Why are you passionate about science education?
I enjoy the moments when students become aware of their surroundings. It's sometimes easy or inevitable to focus only on yourself and your own circumstances, but by doing that we miss opportunities to observe and wonder about everything else. When I teach science, my students become observant and start to wonder about their surroundings. They share things that they noticed after school hours that relate to what we talked about in class and actively seek out examples of connections to science in their daily lives. I believe if my students are more informed in science and how it affects all aspects of their life, they will become more likely to have an inclination to explore and improve on those same sciences.

What are some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of teaching?
My favorite rewards from teaching are "Aha" moments in the classroom and when students use previous lessons or their own lives to make connections to our learning. Something that will always be a challenge will be to have materials that stay relevant in the classroom. The prior year’s examples and supplemental material might not make sense to use the following year. I want to make sure that the information I use in my lessons make learning relatable and engaging.

How has your involvement in the K12 Alliance Early Implementers Initiative helped you improve as an educator?
I am more in tune with making meaningful lesson choices and look for ways to make my lessons more purposeful by creating cross curricular opportunities when I can.

What does this award mean to you?
I still cannot believe I am the recipient of the CASE upper elementary science teacher award, and can only think of all the amazing educators that are just as deserving. Teaching science in the classroom regularly is something natural and obvious. Science belongs in the classroom just as much as math and language arts. It's humbling and surreal to be given this award for teaching science, which is pretty much my favorite part of the day.

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