“A Year 13 boy came in today and his eyes lit up seeing Education as a career option. He hadn’t considered it prior to doing FutureSelves and it all suddenly fitted for him. Now he’s going off to do the research.”
Wendy Keir, full time Careers Counsellor and Head of the Careers Department at Lynfield College, Auckland says the student is one of many at the College who has benefited from using the FutureSelves (FS) career tool. Students can use it as part of one to one career counselling, as did the Year 13 student, or as part of career development activities in class.
FS is a computer programme that prompts students to answer questions about their interests, values, skills and their dreams. A print out presents them with the information and options for future careers.
“Students gain a lot of information about themselves and what is possible in their future beyond school” Wendy says. “They can put in place what they need at secondary age so they can become what ever they want to be in the future.”
FS offers many other benefits to students and staff Wendy says. At the end of year 10 students have more self-awareness. They know many of their positive attributes and are motivated to find others. The programme also identifies information useful in CV creation such as basic skills and interests.
FS is one of a range of tools Wendy recommends to students, but she likes the tool’s holistic approach. It is also a speedy way for career counsellors to get information from the students.
“As I answered the questions, I felt I was being asked to think about things in life that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. This really helped with planning my career pathway, seeing the connections” (Year 13 new migrant student)
In 2008 Wendy organized 14, Year 10 Form Teachers and senior managers to train in FS. The staff are now into their third year of using the tool for their Year 10 career development. Approximately 320 students complete the programme.
“We can give the Year 10 students a lot of worthwhile information about themselves. Without FutureSelves it would be impossible to achieve for several hundred students. It is a sustainable resource.”
This year Lynfield College Year 11’s will also complete FS. This will give staff and students the opportunity to see how the students have developed and changed.
The College has worked out a time effective process for using FS within the constraints of the school timetable.
After trialling it through the pastoral system, which allowed for only 15 minutes they got the students to complete their Learning and Career Plan workbooks during Health Education. The smaller group of health teachers is now trained and they take FS during Term 2.
The programme begins with one period in the computer room to do the FS questionnaire. Then the Learning and Career Plans (LCP’s) are completed. The students get a lot of information about themselves, which is very important for their course selection in August.
FutureSelves helps students see the connection between what could be there and serve them in the future. It connects them with what they need to work on. ‘Oh I need to know my maths’, ‘I need to be literate’, ‘I need to know about the world’.
She often uses (student willing) the FS program with students who are needy for reasons such as a family situation, or being disengaged from school.
“With those students it is always rewarding to see the outcomes”.
Wendy says managing ?FS through the Health Education curriculum is more cost effective and sustainable. As part of the Curriculum students learn about decision-making.
“The process they go through researching for their future is a perfect example of a real life scenario for each individual.”
The next challenge is to continue the form teachers? awareness of FS. They are in charge of their form group; they write students? reports and oversee reports written by the course teachers.
“If the students are willing we also encourage family, parents and caregivers to come on board with their career research. It’s great if their family can access the information at home. That way the student has many avenues of support.”
This year she is informing families by newsletter that career planning and research is happening. The principal is also encouraging families to be involved with their career research.
Wendy thinks the students at this age, in year 10, often don’t think beyond today.
“By the time they have finished the whole process of FutureSelves, they have something in print that is all about them. They can see it in front of their eyes, on the screen or in their planning book.”
As a very quiet student said when asked about her ideas… “I don’t have any ‘hopes’ in life. I don’t know what to say.” After completing the questionnaire………… “Now that I have this FutureSelves document, I can see I have something to start with.”