This article is part of a series introducing new Middle School teachers. In April: an interview with Math-in-English teacher Sylvie Thomas-Droz.
For George Speckman, being a teacher means being passionate about learning and exploring. He has spent the last ten years pursuing his passion for nature by spending a lot of time in the outdoors, hiking and camping with his wife and three children: “I love redwood trees and the whole intricate ecosystem that they help to shape.”
For him, science is all about connecting the dots and that is why he decided to pursue a formal training in interdisciplinary studies at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. “There are so many subdisciplines in science with a lot of crossover: physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, and geology, for which I have a particular affinity,” he admits.
Before joining EB in September 2019, George Speckman had taught middle school and high school science. He first worked at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco where he taught physics in summer school, followed by a science teaching position at Saint Monica School, also in the city.
He finds that teaching teenagers is both rewarding and challenging. “They are at an interesting stage of their development where you can begin to have sophisticated conversations,'' says Speckman who teaches science to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at EB. “It’s great to be able to have an impact on their development and see them evolve over time,” he adds.
Also, EB kids are different. George Speckman notices that his students are not afraid of new concepts and new vocabulary related to science, a likely outcome of their bilingualism. “They are not trained to conform and they ask a lot of questions to make sure they understand,” says Speckman, who appreciates the interactive nature of his relationship with students. The challenge? “Channel their enthusiasm!”
Students are most engaged when they can see a connection with the lesson and what impacts them in their personal lives. Back in the fall, Speckman quickly decided to reshuffle his program to talk about climate change, which was front and center due to the Global Climate Strike movement, in which many students participated.
In the years to come, George looks forward to developing cross-disciplinary projects with other middle school teachers. He also wants to take students on science-related field trips off campus, because “there are so many great options right around us!”. Finally, he wants to encourage parents with science-related expertise to reach out to share their knowledge and passion for the field.
Read our most recent interview with new Middle School teacher David Pruess, Social Studies teacher in the Middle School International Track.