Meet Walking Classroom Ambassador Kim Collazo. A STEM teacher, Kim uses the STEM Program with her fourth and fifth graders at Robbins Elementary in North Carolina. Mrs. Collazo has worked in education for 28 years, and 2019-2020 will be her fourth year with The Walking Classroom. Having first used the program in 2014 with her fifth grade class; Mrs. Collazo has used it with her STEM students for the past couple of years.
What are your memories of yourself when you were the age of your students?
I remember playing outside a lot and exploring the creek and cow pasture behind my house. I was always interested in science and set up various “laboratories” to perform my experiments!
What led you to become an educator?
My father was a lifelong science teacher. He had a big impact on my decision to become an educator. In college, courses in human development and psychology led me to pursue further education classes where I could connect everything I learned. And finally, I was placed with an awesome veteran teacher for my student teaching experience. That instilled in me an even greater love of working with young children.
Share your educational philosophy in one to three sentences.
Education is the stepping stone for many children to achieve their greatest potential in life. It is our calling as educators to provide relevant, challenging activities that promote curiosity and independence. Our classrooms should be filled with opportunities for our children to create rather than consume, share globally rather than just turn in, and develop a love of learning that will help them to be successful in this ever changing society.
What is your favorite content area/topic to teach? Why?
Science and engineering. I have always loved science. As humans, the more we understand the world around us, the better we will become at preserving and enhancing our own lives and the lives of every other living thing. In addition, science and engineering by nature are very hands-on subjects and that is how I feel we learn best.
What is your favorite podcast or Walking Classroom memory, and why?
My favorite Walking Classroom memory was when one of my fifth graders, whom I had a hard time connecting with inside the classroom, came jogging up shortly into our third or fourth walk and started walking beside me. She didn’t say a word, nor did she even look at me. From then on, she chose to walk beside me as we listened to the podcasts each week. It changed our relationship in immeasurable ways.
What is your best teaching memory?
There have been so many wonderful memories over 28 years. One of my favorites was when my fifth graders were studying erosion. We were working through it PBL style where each group had chosen an erosion issue they found on our campus. They documented the issue with digital photos and video, hypothesizing the causes.
Then, they had to develop a solution, prepare a digital presentation, and present it to several audiences, including our district school board. One of the groups successfully pressed the board to create a $25,000 line item in the district budget. The erosion problem, which had existed for many years, was fixed. Our campus was made much more beautiful thanks to the convincing research, factual information, and suggestions of our group of ten year olds. Their excitement to see the real difference they had made will forever remain one of the favorite experiences in my career.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Teaching is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Some days are awesome and some days are very difficult. Remember that you are not alone. Even the most veteran teachers go through this ebb and flow. Seek guidance and advice from others, and don’t feel guilty when you need to take some “sharpening the saw” time for yourself. You will be a better teacher by taking care of yourself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to read, share ideas with other educators on Twitter, and go for motorcycle rides with my husband, preferably to the beach!
Name something you’d like to cross off your bucket list.
One of the biggest things on my bucket list is to go out west and see the beautiful national parks we have right in our own country.