Podcast: The 4-Day School Week with Dr. Claudia Singkornrat on Teachers in America

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Photo: High school science teacher Dr. Claudia Singkornrat

Welcome back to Teachers in America, a podcast from HMH, where we connect with educators across the country to bring you teaching tips and inspiration.

Many school districts are considering a shorter school week. But what would that look like for teachers and students? Today we are talking to Dr. Claudia Singkornrat, a Florida science teacher at Pompano Beach High School, the only school in Broward County Public Schools that offers a 4-day school week. In today’s episode, Dr. Singkornrat will give insight on her school’s 4-day schedule and how it impacts student learning. 

A full transcript of the episode appears below; it has been edited for clarity.

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Jennifer Corujo: Welcome to Teachers in America, where we celebrate teachers and their lasting impact on students' learning journeys and lives. I'm Jenn Corujo and I'm a content producer at HMH.

Across the country, more schools are making the switch to a 4-day school week. But 20 years ago, my school, Pompano Beach High, was already operating on this now-trending schedule. I decided to contact my former high school science teacher, Dr. Claudia Singkornrat, to get her insight on the 4-day school week. In this episode with host Noelle Morris, Dr. Singkornrat will share how she navigates the longer school hours and how the shorter schedule impacts students’ learning. Now, let's get to the episode!

Noelle Morris: Well, welcome Dr. Singkornrat. We’re so excited to have you on Teachers in America. I’m Noelle Morris, the host. I’ve heard great things about you from our producer, Jenn, and so let’s get the conversation started with a topic that’s actually being discussed across the country right now. Your school is a 4-day school week. Tell us about that and what that means for your schedule, and then I’ll ask some follow-up questions. But definitely curious about how it works for you.

Dr. Claudia Singkornrat: Gladly. So our school day is pretty long and Monday through Thursdays, we go from 7:00 in the morning and the students end at 3:30. The teachers end at 4:10, with half an hour lunch in there. Fridays, neither the students nor the teachers have to come to school. But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening in the school.

We many times have some enrichment going on. We have tutoring going on. We have all kinds of activities going on. If a teacher also would like to go and plan at the school rather than at home, that works too. The classes in themselves are also pretty long. Mine is almost two hours long. I teach four blocks a day. We are on A/B block and they are 116 minutes long, which is almost two hours.

A shorter school week means longer classes. Claudia's Anatomy and Psychology and AP Biology classes are 116 minutes long and students are on an A/B block schedule.

Noelle: Right. Explain more about that enrichment day. If I heard what you’re saying, you and your students are on four days a week. And Friday doesn’t mean that the school is closed. It’s open for all of those things that might generally happen after school or opportunities for students for enrichment, tutoring, or teacher planning.

Claudia: It actually is extra. We have clubs and everything going on every day too. So, the day becomes pretty long, especially for our sports kids. Many times they don’t get home until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. But I think in other sports there is that. But for example, when I will run my AP Biology extra sessions, I do that in a Friday morning many times to get the kids in that need to. We have several of the cheerleading things going on. We have debate tournaments going on. Also any other practices, tutoring for the kids that are not doing really well. We give them extra Friday sessions. There are volunteer opportunities and such. And as I said, it’s not required, but a lot of us will do it.

Noelle: That’s the teacher way, for all of us, right?

Claudia: That’s right, we know.

Noelle: It’s one of those things. I want to ask this question and then we’re going to talk about how it’s impacted learning, and you’ve already alluded to the long day. Was it a choice? Did y’all get a choice? Was it going to be Friday not in brick and mortar, or were there other options?

Claudia: No, we were tagging along another school that had started this, and the other school started it because that would be our parent school. I’m in a full magnet school and at the parent school, a lot of kids, because of their socioeconomic class being low and going to work, they started the day and they tried it as an experiment and they wanted the Friday, Saturday, Sunday so that they could work.

That school has given this up long ago because it didn’t work for them. And that schedule just stuck with us. And actually, everybody at the school that I’m at loves it.

Noelle: And what are you noticing about the impact on student learning?

Claudia: Okay. There are pros and cons, needless to say. I’m going to go with the pros first. Number one, having this Friday works for the teachers and the students to be able to step back, which allows for more creative work. I can have time without having to rush, without having students come at me, to really plan something and come up with innovative ideas where I really can sit and think.

Also, as I told you, the days are very long at our school. So for students to study after they did already all their academics, sometimes it’s very difficult, and I think that may be true in general.

Noelle: Mm-Hmm.

Claudia: But especially if their day is long. So, for them having the time to be able to say, okay, I’m going to do this Friday or Saturday makes it much easier in that sense.

And I find that they can work better. A lot of students will tell me that. I already mentioned the enrichment, so that there is more independent learning. There are more activities. And I think one thing that we should also think about is that, in the long run, because we are running at a teacher shortage, it does attract teachers because it is very acceptable in that sense. I have to tell you, the extra time that I put on in the afternoon is well worth it for me to have this extra day off.

Noelle: Wow. Yeah.

Claudia: But it’s not really off.

Noelle: Whatever you define off as. But I love what you’re talking about, the innovative nature, the ability to be creative . . . do more collaborative without the rush. Because when we’re rushing, collaboration is often the first to go. Have y’all done any data or analytics around how many students do come to the school on Friday and how many teachers?

Claudia: It varies, but I want to say if you look throughout, spread throughout the year and with student government and stuff, at any Friday you will see a good 20% are doing something for school on that Friday. Many times it’s more. Once the AP exams come closer, you’re going to have more people. Also, we have end-of-course exams, so that will make a difference. Sometimes when we do big charity events, like for Thanksgiving, you will see more.

Noelle: And more collaboration with the community. How are families? How have they made the adjustment?

Claudia: That goes maybe a little bit also with the cons. When you have that kind of schedule, Fridays can be a problem if you have teenagers at home and the parents are working and stuff. Even though I think it works okay for many of our teenagers, but there is no bus service.

So, when the kids want to go, if they’re not driving, which many are not, getting to school may be an issue. It’s not necessarily the best for equality if you are a magnet school, because we get kids from all over. If you are a neighborhood school, it may not be a bad idea because also again, they can get there. Remember also free and reduced lunches need to be somehow provided, and they would be, but the students have to make it to school.

Noelle: Thank you for that insight. I’m sure listeners will appreciate that. Now, how are you managing your instructional time? So, 160 minutes times four, even though it equates to similarly in an A/B schedule across five days, what adjustments did you make? How are you managing now?

I’m going to love if you would share one of your thoughts when you first started this. Because I’m going to be honest, Claudia, I would go home probably exhausted. Like I might sleep in my car for a little bit before I even make it into my house.

Claudia: Spoken like a true teacher. So yes, the classes are long, and I have to say you cannot pack the same five days into four days because there is going to be a point where in class the kids are going to be fatigued. You cannot just add on an extra hour of lecturing when you have them fatigued.

The day in that sense is hard on the teachers, but it’s also hard on the kids. You have to figure things out, and I feel that you have to be a lot more active. Which nowadays for me is very important anyway, because there is so much input into their mind that they easily tune you out. So you cannot lecture all the time.

I think in a long class, number one, you can’t. Number two, again, with them having overstimulation, it’s a problem. I try to maybe do a little power lecture 15, maximum 20 minutes. Even with my AP kids, I find that after that I would lose them. And then you add activities, group discussions, application questions, activities where they’re using hands-on. I’m trying to incorporate as much movement as I can, and as much active thinking, so that they’re not sitting back and taking it in like social media or movies. They’re actually participating. I find sometimes that can be an issue. And with the long blocks, especially the last block, I have an AP bio class that is just the nicest class.

And the kids are tired and they’re trying to participate. So, I really have to get them to move around everything so that they can get themselves to do this and not feel that mental fatigue. A lot of activities, a lot of change of pace is, I think, extremely important. And then I do the crazy thing, which my school allows me to, I take every single one of my classes for a 7-minute walk.

That time is very well spent because when my kids come back, they are so much fresher and because they like the walks and they’re happy with me, they got their social time in. I can observe how the dynamics are going. I can do one-on-ones with the kids that need it. So when they come back, refreshed and with goodwill, it makes it much better.

Noelle: I’m really now curious about the 7-minute walk, but I want to ask you a question, because you mentioned student fatigue, like end-of-day fatigue. Does that mean your A/B schedule, is it fixed times or does sometimes those afternoons come in the morning or is it always afternoon?

Claudia: In my district, the same classes every day on a blue day and the same classes on a gold day. My fourth period is always going to be my fourth period. I would love to see what you’re saying, because I see such a difference in my second period and my fourth period for the same class, obviously.

Noelle: Let’s unpack this 7-minute walk, because the fact that you figured out this brain break, this need for a mindfulness moment with high school students. How did you set up those expectations? And are we all walking together? Tell us more about that.

Claudia breaks up her block schedule with a seven-minute walk, which serves as an opportunity to build connections.

Claudia: Yes. I have to tell you, I’ve been doing this walk for maybe now 15 years. Every time before they go out of the classroom, shush in the hallway, do not talk. And they make fun of me because of my shush. They all try. Oh, she said shush. I sent them out there. Going down because there’s not too many classes, they’re a little bit louder.

It’s a group that is a loosely formed group, and I like that because it gives me an idea to observe the group dynamics. If I see that a group is working well together, I will use it in a classroom. If I see the kid that is being left behind or that feels a little bit left out, I will see what I put them into.

How can I get them more involved so that they don’t feel awkward in class? Because you’ve got to have everybody feeling comfortable in class. I will target different students and I will walk with them. “Oh, you didn’t do well on the test. When do you want to do the retake? What new learning strategy are you going to try? Let’s do this. Or are you distressed?”

I was a chiropractor before. We’ll probably talk about that later. For me, I’m hoping that they take this health skill to work, that they’re not just sitting around but moving around. And the goodwill, the lack of discipline issues because of something so simple is amazing.

Noelle: Oh, I love that. I hope that our listeners peeked in, even if you don’t have a 4-day school week, that just seems to be that you’ve incorporated into almost a formative assessment of getting to know and building this culture within your classroom, outside of the classroom.

You mentioned lectures, you mentioned labs. We have not specifically said what subject you teach, so I hope everybody has inferred sciences is Claudia’s discipline. But Dr. Singkornrat, let’s tell everybody what you teach every day. What are your four classes?

Claudia: I teach AP biology on one day, and anatomy and physiology on the other day. It worked out really well because it makes it easy. Anatomy and physiology gets repetitive after a while, but those are the two classes I teach. I kind of like that I teach two classes, because even after all this time, I will always try to reinvent the wheel in a way, just to keep it fresh. That’s why I like my Fridays, because then I can say, oh, let’s do this activity. Let’s try that activity.

Noelle: I love this. So, you were a chiropractor before, which is probably also why you are about the movement, staying stretched. You know how the ergonomics of your classroom, I would love to see your classroom, see if your desk and chairs looked like mine, or are you more thinking about the ergonomics behind the learning. Tell us how you went from being a chiropractor to coming into the classroom.

Claudia: I practiced for 10 years, but to be honest, especially the business part of chiropractic, I found it to be very stressful and I didn’t really enjoy it. And I realized that every time somebody said, would you give a guest lecture? Oh, I was there, I was doing the guest lecture.

I had taught while I was waiting to get my license in Florida. I taught a semester at a massage school, and I loved it. So, I decided I’m going to make the switch, and I switched into this. It actually worked out as a really great switch for me because I absolutely love teaching. I love my kids, but it also gives me a lot of real-world experience that I can bring to class, which is a lot of fun.

Noelle: Do you run any of these mindfulness and stretching with your fellow faculty? I would totally have you at a faculty meeting leading some of this.

Claudia: Time-wise, that may be a little bit of an issue. We’ve done little groups, we had our group that were doing either some tai chi or some meditation here and there, but I also bring it into the classroom, especially with anatomy during the nervous system. It’s a little bit iffy in the last period because it would be easy to fall asleep. So, you do it just before you go for the walk. We started a little bit of exercise after school, but we’re busy with our students. It’s difficult to get that done.

Noelle: And how are the skills from being a chiropractor? What do you naturally elevate within your coursework that is just going to be special. Because if I was one of your students, I know I’m going to get this little bit of extra just because of your background.

Claudia: I am such a fan of the human body and how to maintain it. All the things that lead to healthy habits mentally and physically are important to me. I mean, in my Bio when I talk about how to eat healthier here, a lot of how can you bring the stress down? How can you study so you have less stress? How can you keep the body and mind going so that you can actually enjoy life and actually get the most out of it? I can bring in a lot of stories of patients that I had. The kids absolutely love that. I bring in some of the skills. We do blood pressure. I show them how to do some of the vision tests and color vision and astigmatism. They love all of that. There’s a lot of these little bit of hands-on, little fitness tests and all of that. That really makes a big difference.

Students in Claudia's AP Biology class get hands-on with science through experiments and labs, like dissections.

Noelle: Have you been able to keep in touch with any of your former students? Have they reported back to you taking some of your additional practices with them to their career or college?

Claudia: Because of another event, I got a lot of emails back from students lately. Some [said] “Oh my God, I ended up going into the healthcare profession because I like this.” I also hear the kids, when they exercise a lot, say, “See, I’m still doing it and I didn’t stop after high school.” And I find that very good. But the things that probably even excite me more is when I hear back that I helped them through a difficult or hard time when they felt maybe alone or when they didn’t know what to do or when I just talked to them because they needed it, and that they felt supported in that sense. Because I think a lot of our kids may not be getting enough of that nowadays.

Noelle: And is that something that is part of your 7-minute walk? Do you also have those conversations walking?

Claudia: Absolutely. If I have a distressed kid, I’m going to pull them a little bit aside. As I said, we can walk a little bit loosely. I just hold them back together before we go back into the school so we don’t make too much noise. They know they have to stay around. But I have enough time that I can pull them aside and we can talk.

I will also not mind stopping my class for a minute. If I see that a kid is very distressed, I take them out. We have a little hallway in the back and I will talk to them because there are things that are more important. And it shows the kids that you don’t leave people alone. That you help them when they need help, and that you do it nicely and seamlessly, and that you’re just there for the people around you.

Noelle: Oh, you’re already melting my heart.

Let’s talk about, similar to math and even reading and writing, we all have students that are intimidated by the discipline that we love and are passionate about. How do you recognize students that are intimidated by science, and what are some approaches that you do to break that down, to change the way that they’re thinking about learning science?

Claudia: I think the important thing is that you build a good rapport with your students so that they feel they can talk to you and that they want to talk to you. You will hear, “But I’m not good in science. I never did good in science tests. I’m not going to study science because I cannot handle this.”

I think there are a couple of techniques that work really well with that. Number one: Show them study techniques. Then allow them to use them and to try those techniques. Many times, I have 12th graders and I ask them, “So how are you studying this?” And they tell me, “I read the notes.” In 12th grade, nobody has really told them, “Yeah, there is this, this, this, all these other techniques. It would be so much better when you do this.” So, we go through some of those. But then also you need to allow them to fail and to remediate it so they don’t feel so helpless. Many times, tests are given and okay, you got a 72, that’s all you’re going to ever get. But if somebody wants to better themselves, I will give you a different test if you study, and let’s try something else so that they have the safety and then celebrate the success.

Show them that they’re growing. Show them that they can handle it. And show them when they come up with good ideas. When you have discussions in class or group work. But also always tie it in with things that they like. You need to know your students better and make sure that you know, if they like dancing and I brought it up in a video I had to do. This kid could not figure out why we needed ATP in the cell.

And so I brought in the dancing, and I said, “Do you get tired when you dance?” And then he put things together. Once you can bring it to their level and attach it to what they’re passionate about, that many times works tremendously well. You’ve got to see what your audience is and work with them in that sense, and never ever let them think that they can’t do it. Show them that little by little progress. It doesn’t have to be from an F to an A in a day.

"I think the important thing is that you build a good rapport with your students so that they feel they can talk to you and that they want to talk to you."

Noelle: Oh, just those micro goals. What’s another real-world practice or a way that you bring the real world into your classroom?

Claudia: I have gotten several guest speakers. I used to go to a university here in Florida and gotten into biotechnology so that I could show them, but I could also borrow the equipment of the university and sometimes they would even send the speakers plus the technology. And, oh, did the kids feel wonderful because they were interacting with it.

I have had students that were in my class before that now are graduated in the health field and in the science field come back and talk to them because they can relate to that. I am working with another teacher to do 3D models, printing models of some of the processes and some of the concepts that we are dealing with. Because I like human body and health so much, I always get back to that and they can relate to that fairly well.

Noelle: The 3D printing has come up a couple of times in some of our episodes. Was that a big process? Was that just something that your school already was planning on getting, or was that an initiative you and some of your peers and fellow faculty put in a grant or put in a request for?

Claudia: We’re a technology school, but I understand there is a lot of the 3D printing companies that are even looking for schools because they want the kids to understand it so that they get excited about using that technology. But in that sense, we had it a little bit easier. But at the beginning they were just making models, and some of them were already pre-programmed in the machine. So, the teacher and I said, “No, let’s try to do something different.” And we had them design something and then some students took it further and made it even like movable models. That was, I think, where they then really saw it, because then they saw they can really do it different. It’s not just pressing some buttons and getting in a beautiful skull out, you know.

Claudia incorporates technology into her science lessons with 3D printing. Shown are student-created 3D printed models that demonstrate the concept of signal transduction in biology.

Noelle: Right.

Claudia: It’s coming up with idea, problem solving, because first two or three times it’s not going to work, and then figuring out how to do this.

Noelle: And as far as collaboration, it’s one of the top skills that we all need to have. In fact, the workplace is changing more and more. Even if you are virtual remote. You are collaborating. You’re problem solving with others. How are you bringing that and fostering collaboration and the thought of collaborating before isolating your thinking? How are you approaching that in your classroom?

Claudia: I do a lot of group work so that they can discuss together and figure out and do creative thinking. Sometimes they start on their own. Then they go into groups. I usually let them go into their own groups most of the time because I want them to be comfortable and I want them to be in the level.

Once in a while I will guide students, but most of the time I want them to form their own groups because then they’re more willing to talk and to brainstorm. That means you have to give them work where they have to find something out. At the beginning of the year, I may assign roles. More and more at the end, I try not to. Then I observe the groups, and if somebody is disengaged, then I will maybe talk to them and figure out what to do. Funny enough, and we know that with women in science many times, I will always have one group somewhere where the girls end up having to write everything. I go and I make sure that that is not the pattern and that this could be done differently, that everybody should be taking notes, not just the girls. I think also empowering them, don’t be shy. Your ideas are supposed to be there. I think another big thing that we really have to work on is the soft skills.

I find that maybe it’s because over the phone or so that the courtesy, the waiting for somebody to finish their sentence. All of those skills, how you work together and be also tolerant and patient and not think, my opinion is the only one and that’s it. But how you work together, even if you don’t necessarily agree, is extremely important.

And you can do that when you have this work as long as you’re walking around and, and you are just guiding them. I don’t allow even eye rolling in my classroom right from the beginning because I don’t want any judgment.

Noelle: I would’ve gotten in so much trouble, Claudia. I am an eye roller, but it’s more towards direction, like being given a directive that I’m just like, “Seriously?” You know, that’s where I eye roll.

But I’m curious about, I love the conversation about the soft skills.

One of the things I was just thinking about the other day, and so I would love to hear your thoughts on it, is building that confidence in spaces. All about innovation is workshopping, brainstorming, throwing things out there and you have to sometimes say the things and even if others like laugh at it at first or say that sounds ridiculous.

Building the confidence inside. “Alright, well you might say it’s ridiculous, but here’s why I’m throwing this out there or envisioning.” How do you teach that? Or how do you recognize learners who you know, you do not want them to hold themselves back? At the same time, how you’re building that tolerance to let things just be thrown out there to be heard?

Claudia: Taking those intellectual risks, I always tell them to do that, but it is not always easy. At the beginning, sometimes people will chuckle, but what I tend to do is then I tend to turn the comments around to where it made a lot of sense of what the person said and that the other people may not have seen it.

And I make this a learning experience., I say, well, you see, this wasn’t what you meant. But I am very good at laughing at myself when I make mistakes. I make it okay to make mistakes. If we didn’t make the mistake, we wouldn’t have the fun that we are having right now.

But also, this is what life takes. You cannot grow unless you make mistakes. Okay? I go into life is one big mistake after another. If you keep learning, you’re going to make mistakes. But building the tolerance and having people keep their opinions a little bit to themselves.

I’m very big in teaching them not to characterize people by one or two words, which we humans are very good at. That person is smart, that person is stupid, that person. . . And I show them that no person just has one characteristic and to respect that.

That openness is very important. Just two days ago, I tell my students I don’t do math in public because I will mess up all the math factors that I did.

And in that class, I had to do a lot of math and I had it even written down and I was messing it all up. And I turned around and we were having fun. They were chuckling. I turned around and said, “If this is the only thing that you knew about me, how would you feel?” And I told them not to answer it. So I told them, “You know, we all have different strengths, so look for the strength.” And then you just keep reinforcing that. I think the classroom environment is very important and it takes a while to set it up at the beginning so that you can then throw out ideas. And when they throw it out at me, I’m always going to turn it around to something.

Yeah, we can use this. Let’s go a little bit further there. And never, “No, this is not acceptable.” Because that’s where kids, I think, shut down. Make them feel heard. Make them feel important. Make them feel like I do have something valuable to contribute. That’s the feeling that you need to give to the kids.

Noelle: I know why Jenn still thinks about you, because our producer, Jenn, had you as a teacher.

Claudia: Oh, I’m aware.

Noelle: And she spoke so highly of you. Having that imprint on someone. You’re opening my heart even more and I think I have one of the biggest hearts out there. I am loving what you’re saying, which is why my other understanding from my notes is that you’ve just been announced the Broward County Teacher of the Year. How did that feel when you got the news? How did you get nominated? Because I can also see the teacher in you. Sometimes we have a hard time being praised or being recognized because we want collectively, everybody to have that. But I can tell you from this conversation, I can understand why someone would’ve nominated you. But tell us what’s going through your mind, because it’s just been recent.

Claudia was recognized at the 2024 Caliber Awards as Broward County Public Schools' Teacher of the Year.

Claudia: I will be quite honest about this, in my school, first the school decides and usually you get voted in by the rest of the staff, and it was not my first time I was teacher selected teacher of the year. I mean, 50 teachers, it’s going to happen here and there.

And then I got a whole afternoon to do my whole application for the county. So at 1:00 I had to start, and by 4:00 I had to have it ready with three letters of recommendation. So going through it fast, and then I didn’t think of it much more. And then Broward first said that I was a semi-finalist, and then that I was a finalist.

When they announced the finalist, they even came into, they visited each of the finalists. And you are right. I like being in front of my classroom, [but] the spotlight . . . I had a hard time, and to be honest with you, I felt a lot of imposter syndrome because I do what I think I should be doing. I don’t think I’m doing this above and beyond, which is so valuable in so many different ways that people do. They bring grants in, they do all these different projects, which I think they’re amazing. So why am I there? And then this spotlight here, video there, talk here, do this. That has been . . . it’s been a learning experience to get there.

But on the other hand, it has recharged me because I keep thinking again about what teaching is. And it is just giving me again this renewed energy to do more, and maybe I should reach out to more people. I do some workshops in school. They always ask me to do some of the professional development and classroom management. It’s giving me more ideas why this is a necessary thing to do. It’s definitely been an interesting journey.

Noelle: And it’ll continue. But it sounds like you’re going to make the most of it. I’m sure your students have been ecstatic and obviously your former students are still thinking about you. What’s your advice for somebody. . .

We’re always needing more teachers. I mean, we have a teaching shortage. What’s your advice for someone who is in a career that might be considering teaching? What’s your advice for them and how would you get them to think about making the move?

Claudia: Yeah. I think these questions should be asked from somebody that changed careers. Because when you look at teaching from the outside, it looks very easy. You go in, you spend a couple of hours with your kids, and you go home, and you have nothing to do. Right? And you don’t necessarily think about all of that.

I think it is good that both sides are brought in. You can see I have a passion for this, and I will tell people it is an amazing, amazing career. You can’t get bored. You are always learning something new. You know that you’re making a difference, one way or the other. If you want to, there is so many ways you can make a difference.

And you keep fresh with the world. You keep up with the technology. You keep up with the news. You understand where the teenagers are coming from. So, very rewarding career. Having said that, the first year is going to be challenging because you have no idea how to deal with kids.

When I first started, I thought you teach. You deal with them like they are adults. No, you can’t, but you also cannot treat them like little kids. So, you’ve got to learn how to deal with them. You’ve got to learn how to deal with the parents and what to say, what not to say, and how you can make the classes interesting.

When you’re just 10 minutes ahead of the student that first year, how do you get there? I tell them that this is all made easier if you have some really good mentors around you. Go into some classrooms and look and ask. And there are always these teachers, because I think that is one of the characteristics of teachers is that we like to help each other.

There will always be the one that will give you some techniques that you can try, and then you slowly, make your own techniques. Again, I cannot stress enough how it’s important that they make the students feel seen, make the students feel respected, because then they can really start figuring out how to do this without having the experiences that could be very negative in the first year. So, it’s going to take a little time. But it is very satisfying, and it is very enlightening, and it’s a great career.

Noelle: Solid advice. Last question. Why teach science?

Claudia: Why teach science? I will tell you why I teach science. To learn how to critically think about information. Look at more than one side, use logic, and not just take the first comment that comes at you. To get into great careers, biotechnology, engineering, chemistry, environmental science, the medical field. Again, logic and critical thinking skills that make life so much better. To understand the world better. If you need to fix your sink or your toilet, do you understand a little bit about water flow and gravity, so you don’t end up with too many broken parts and water all over the place?

To get the part of thinking that is more analytical. At the same time, you’re going to be also creative, so that you can really think and apply information and not fall for every little scam that is out there as well.

Noelle: Well, you are definitely no scam. You are the true thing. I have adored this conversation. I have to admit. I’m like, “Now, you know, I need to go out into my pool and, do I float? What happens?” I don’t know if you’ve noticed this whole time, I’m watching you, and not that you were ever judging me, but I’m like . . .

Claudia: Oh no.

Noelle: Am I sitting up straight? And then I would do this and then I would slouch and I’m like, Ooh, ooh. Like, I need that, advice.

Claudia: I get that.

Noelle: But I have enjoyed this conversation. I know our listeners will take a lot from this, and I hope you have an amazing rest of the school year.

Claudia: Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed this tremendously. I never talk about what I love, so thank you. Thank you for the wonderful questions. It was amazing.

Noelle: You’re welcome.

Noelle: If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the Teachers in America podcast, please email us at shaped@hmhco.com. Be the first to hear new episodes of Teachers in America by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoy today's show, please rate, review, and share it with your network. You can find the transcript of this episode on our Shaped blog by visiting hmhco.com/shaped. The link is in the show notes. Teachers in America is produced by HMH. Until next time, your friend, Noelle.

The Teachers in America podcast is a production of HMH. Executive producers are Christine Condon and Tim Lee. Editorial direction is by Christine Condon. It is creatively directed, and audio engineered by Tim Lee. Our producer and editor is Jennifer Corujo. Production designers are Mio Frye and Thomas Velazquez. Shaped blog post editors for the podcast are Christine Condon, Jennifer Corujo, and Alicia Ivory.  

Thanks again for listening!


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