SHELLS (St Hilda’s Enhanced Lifelong Learning Strategy)

SHELLS (St Hilda’s Enhanced Lifelong Learning Strategy)

Friday 27 November

SHELLS is an acronym for the St Hilda's Enhanced Lifelong Learning Strategy. It is a model that offers the St Hilda’s learning community a common language and agreed understandings around components of teaching and learning.  By creating a shared vision on what we agree as important, we can better share strategies and skills and focus on enhancing the educational experience for our students.  

SHELLS was formed in direct consultation with current and past students, teachers, the School Executive, community members and the Western Australian Department of Education.  Any successful organisation has clear strategic foundations that identify how it operates, what it wants to achieve and the service it wants to deliver to its customers.  These foundations are clearly articulated, displayed and lived throughout the organisation. This is the same for teaching and learning in a school.   

What is it that makes great teaching and learning at St Hilda's?  To find this out we interviewed staff, students, community and school leadership.  We asked them about the core elements that they identified as important in a St Hilda’s educational experience. Past students, for example, identified the supportive nature of their peers and how this helped them to lift each other to achieve greater academic performance.  This was identified as ‘Peer Support’ and was included in the SHELLS model.  Our staff have now investigated how ‘Peer Support’ is nourished, how it is defined, what it looks like in the classroom and have shared examples of how it can be cultivated.  By developing strategies around the creation of Peer Support we can now ensure that it lives in every classroom and every year level, and is not a random occurrence. It becomes a key component and ‘flavour’ of a St Hilda’s teaching and learning experience.  

Early in 2020 staff were surveyed to identify which components of teaching and learning they believed were critical to a St Hilda's education.  Strategies such as feedback, structured group work, direct instruction, creating links to community etc. were named, defined, showcased and discussed to ensure agreed understanding and to maximise application.  In the same way we analysed the requirements of the WA curriculum adding capabilities such as critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, literacy and numeracy.   Again each of these were thoroughly defined and investigated to ensure that we developed a clear understanding of what they would look like when applied in a classroom setting. 

This process has created the SHELLS framework.  We are now systematically working with all staff to ensure that they embed those components into their practice.  The SHELLS framework ensures that each component is identified, understood and applied in practice.  Teachers can always work above and beyond the framework, but by having SHELLS as our agreed benchmark we can ensure that we deliver a quality, research-based, contemporary learning experience to our students.   

We look forward to sharing more about SHELLS next year.