Staff Spotlight: Lloyd Hacker
Interview with ISB Teacher, Lloyd Hacker
We asked a selection of staff, new, long-standing and those who have been here for a few years, to answer a series of questions about their time at ISB and life here in Basel. It is a great privilege to have staff from so many different backgrounds and experiences. It is what makes us a diverse, international community.
Lloyd Hacker is one of our longest-standing members of the community. He started teaching at ISB in 1990.
Lloyd Hacker, Science Teacher
When did you first start teaching at ISB?
I’ve been here since August 1990. I was 29 at the time.
What subject(s) have you taught during your time at ISB?
I started my career at the ISB teaching General Science to all grades in the Senior School. The great thing about this was that I got to know all the students in the entire Senior School! A couple of years later, I taught IGCSE Co-ordinated Science (Chemistry, Physics and Biology) which had recently been introduced. Before the ISB transitioned to the IB Diploma, I taught an adapted Physics course in grade 11 and an adapted AP Chemistry course in the same grade for a short period of time. Eventually, the IB Diploma arrived and so I taught both HL and SL Chemistry. Finally, I taught MYP Sciences as that programme was introduced at the ISB.
What are some of the biggest differences from ISB when you started to ISB today?
The most obvious difference is student population. When I started there were only 60 students in the Senior School (Grades 6-11). The student population increased a little the following year when we introduced Grade 12.
When I started, the school rented a section of a Swiss school building for the Senior School, now of course, we have a large purpose-built campus for the Senior School (as well as other parts of the ISB).
If you could sum up your experience so far at ISB in three words what would they be?
Learning, challenging, growing
What tactics do you use to keep your teaching fresh?
This is an interesting question. I have never once felt bored with teaching. Each day is new; each student comes with new ideas, new experiences, new problems to solve and so on. So, I feel that I am continually learning from my students and thinking about the best way forward. This alone keeps me and, I hope, my teaching ‘fresh’.
There are so many helpful approaches available as a teacher, but I think what is most important is about getting as much feedback from the students as possible as well as providing feedback as quickly as possible within class time. Misunderstandings can be quickly addressed in most cases and skills can be improved early on.
In addition to this, I have always enjoyed learning new skills particularly those linked to IT. Anything from using a data logger or sensor in a different way, to creating webpages, teaching videos and some of the wonderful tools in Google Classroom. One of my favourites at the moment is Jamboard, a type of digital whiteboard which I find particularly helpful in supporting groups of students and quickly getting feedback to and from them. This has been particularly helpful during distance learning.
Can you share a favourite memory with us?
Of course, I have many, but one for some reason presents itself to me now. Many years ago, I had a student who presented me with a beautiful Finnish vase at graduation. I was quite surprised. However, the student went on to explain that this was a symbol for the replacement of all the laboratory glassware he had broken during the DP! It was just the occasion and timing. To me it was just so lighthearted and somehow fitting.
What would the students be surprised to find out about you?
I love wild remote places. (Perhaps that’s why I like the Science Department office).
As a student, I once went for a retreat for a few days in an austere Trappist monastery.
What is your favourite thing about living and working here?
Well I guess I could say it’s the Swiss chocolate and cheese, both of which I love! I suppose a lot of people could say that.
Actually, I do like the pragmatic approach of the Swiss. Also, I like the direct democratic system- I much prefer to be able to vote on specific issues than just for a party. I love the hills, the mountains and the extensive network of hiking paths too.