This week we met up with Mrs Shelley Swift, our new Deputy Principal in the Secondary School. Originally from Cheltenham in England, Shelley has worked in education for the past 16 years and has held teaching and senior leadership roles in England, China and most recently Malaysia, where she was the Director of Teaching and Learning at Marlborough College Malaysia. Shelley recently completed her Master of Science in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology – an area of expertise she hopes to share with the BISP community.
What is your role as Deputy Principal and how do you anticipate parents will connect with you?
My role is primarily focused on leading Teaching and Learning through fostering growth at the student, teacher and organisational level. Now that we have re-opened for on-site learning, I am really looking forward to meeting our parent community. The upcoming parent-teacher consultations will also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with parents both within my role as Deputy Principal and teacher of Psychology and Theory of Knowledge (IB) but also as a parent myself. My two daughters, Olivia, in Year 6 and Eloise, in Year 1 have already been enjoying the kind welcome of BISP parents and staff alike.
What do you enjoy most about working in education?
I enjoy connecting with people to challenge their thinking, understand their needs and foster a belief in themselves to be their best. I love to learn too and working in education allows me to enjoy a lifelong journey of learning alongside my students and colleagues who I learn from every day. The School provides a hub to the community, for people to connect, and I enjoy contributing towards that greater holistic development.
What attracted you to BISP?
What stood out to me about BISP was its balanced, holistic educational ethos which values the importance of personal growth and intercultural understanding. Former colleagues had shared with me that BISP was a supportive, warm environment to work in and its staff and student profile reflected a truly international community. Having spent over 10 years teaching and leading the IB Diploma Programme, as well as leading international education, I was keen to remain within an IBO World School and in a school that demonstrated an appreciation of its cultural context.
What’s a professional skill, or area of interest, that you’re keen on developing at BISP?
With a specialism in Positive Psychology and Coaching, I hope to further enhance the capacity of the BISP community. I am fortunate to work with a strong team that demonstrates a breadth of skills and experience in coaching and commitment to the wellbeing of its students. One of my aspirations in my role is to expand the training and support systemically through Teams Coaching and increase opportunities to engage in advanced Positive Psychology Interventions. My Master’s research focused on the enabling effects of individual and group level attributes that enhance group learning. This is one example of expertise that I wish to share within the BISP community to foster learning and wellbeing.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Phuket is a beautiful island and I love to explore its many temples, beaches and restaurants with my family. I spend much of my time practising Muay Thai and enjoying Thai food. In addition, I love to learn and will often participate in courses such as language, cooking or art classes.
What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a number of roles that have allowed me to work within local, national and international multi-disciplinary teams. The success of these endeavours has been a product of the team and my contribution towards those teams is my systemic approach and belief in all individuals as significant contributors.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
My teenage self would have certainly benefited from something I often hear myself reminding my 11-year daughter to do: Treat yourself as you would treat a friend. Often my childhood fear of failure would prevent me from taking the natural risks involved in many forms of learning, whether trying out for the netball team or speaking up in a French lesson.
As a mother, a teacher and a coach, I have found low self-compassion as one of the most significant barriers to growth and learning. As such, fostering a supportive environment where a child or adult can build self-belief is an area of focus for me in supporting individual development.