Where are you from, and what do you teach?
I am from the UK and teach English to 11-18-year-olds. I have been teaching for 15 years.
What schools did you work in in the UK before you came to Shrewsbury and what did you learn there?
I only worked at one school (for ten years). It was Broadway Academy in Birmingham, and I learnt a LOT. I learnt how to manage a classroom, manage my time, how to lead a team and how to build meaningful relationships with pupils and peers. I was very happy there.
What moments have been most rewarding for you as a teacher?
There are many. Working alongside pupils when they have the ‘a-ha’ moment is a big one, but so is the general day to day teaching where progress is made, which results in a beautiful piece of work. I also enjoy working alongside my peers and seeing a project or a moment come to fruition.
What has most surprised you about living and working in Thailand?
How lovely life is. Our family are so lucky to live and work here. And the food; living in the UK I thought I knew what Thai food was but only when you live here do you try proper Thai food! I am obsessed with Khao man gai. I would eat it every day.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Everyone deserves a chance, whether that is someone who needs support with work or someone who has made a mistake and needs a second chance. I also learnt early on that every day needs to be a fresh start and we should allow that for ourselves and pupils.
What do you admire most about Shrewsbury’s approach to schooling?
I like that pupils are treated as individuals. As a former Head of English, my exam meetings were not focussed on the results of year groups but the stories of individuals and their successes. It is the same from EY1 to Year 13; I am a parent too, and so I see how well my child is catered for in the classroom and the support he is given.
What is the most important thing students learn at Shrewsbury?
To be themselves. As pupils move up through the school, I see how they flourish and grow; that starts in EY1. It’s brilliant to witness.
It is rare to have an Assistant Principal with a focus on Staff. Why does Shrewsbury have this role, and what does it add to the overall professional development of staff to have someone overseeing this?
Chris Seal, the Principal, recognises the importance of staff development and how far a school can grow if we support each other. Having an Assistant Principal in place to do this allows one person to direct their energy into ensuring all staff are up to date with CPD and fully trained to be the best teachers they can. This role also allows time for experimentation and showcasing the best of what we have to offer.
How do you see your role moving forward? What developments do you have in store?
My role aims to continue developing staff and promote the Shrewsbury Institute to other schools so that we become the central place for pedagogy and learning across the region. We have many significant initiatives that support teachers. One example is ‘Straight to teaching’, which has given several staff members the qualifications to teach at Shrewsbury while remaining at the school. We have many initiatives that build CPD through knowledge sharing such as ‘TeachMeet’ which is now bringing practitioners from other schools in Bangkok. We also regularly support staff with ‘Learning Lunches’ and Pastries and Pedagogy’ so they can gain new skills and diversify their classroom practices.
Who is your inspiration?
Teaching wise, a former colleague of mine who is a crazy science teacher; he was and is such an inspiration to his pupils and his colleagues even if he nearly blew up the school building on more than one occasion. Non-teaching wise I find inspiration in ordinary people who work and raise families at the same time; it’s a tricky balancing act, and I admire those who have lots of patience and support each other.
Who is your favourite author, and why?
That’s too tricky for an English teacher! It’s like asking me to choose a favourite meal or a favourite pupil.
What hobbies do you like doing outside of school hours?
I read. I read anything and everything. I love fiction and non-fiction equally. I also enjoy spending time with family and cooking up huge meals, and I always plan leftovers. Still, there’s rarely anything left with the boys in my family hoovering it all up.
Where was your most memorable holiday?
Visiting Nepal was breathtaking. The Romantic poets write about sublime feelings when it comes to majesty and awe of nature; trekking in Nepal gave me this feeling of being incredibly small and incredibly unimportant but at the same time superbly lucky to walk (the more accessible!) parts of the Himalayas.
If you weren’t a teacher, what profession would you like to attempt?
Something where I organise people! Perhaps an event or wedding planner. Or maybe something to do with food and feeding people.
What kinds of things do you not like to do?
Burpees. I will avoid them at all costs.
What is something you cannot live without?
Cadbury’s Chocolate and British crisps. I spend a fortune at Villa supermarket.