Preparing and planning for life after school
Finishing school is a huge achievement and marks a real rite of passage – moving into adulthood. It’s an exciting time with plenty of new opportunities for young people. To get the most from these opportunities they need to be confident about what they want from life when they leave school and a plan about how to get there.
It can be difficult amongst all this choice and opportunity for a student to pin point exactly what they want to do. Luckily, there are some things that as a teacher you can do to help them clarify what they want from life and how to go about preparing and planning for it.
Here are a few tips that might help:
Help them develop a personal vision
A personal vision is the future someone imagines for themself and it can look anyway they want it to.
A student’s vision is the destination they want to get to. Their vision could be holistic and consider things like how they will fill their day (work or study); where and with whom they want to live; their role/s in community; spirituality or faith and relationships. Or it could focus on just one of these elements.
Consider what they’re good at
It can be tough to identify what you want from life at a young age. Sometimes young people have difficulty identifying their vision. As their teacher you know them pretty well; if they are struggling with this, draw on your knowledge and experience of who they are and what they might want.
Think about their strengths, what they’re good at and what they enjoy. Building something around these is often a great place to start. Consider asking other teachers, their family members or friends what they see as the student’s strengths; often they will have a different perspective.
The trick though is to start something; they can (and probably will) change their mind, and that’s ok too. They are still learning who they are and making choices and changing them is all part of it.
Write their vision down
Encourage and support them to write it down. There is something incredibly powerful about having your vision written down; simply putting it on paper demonstrates a commitment to it. It also acts as a great reference point if you find they are veering away from what they have identified they want.
Capturing their vision also allows them to share it with others. If you, their parents, friends and others don’t know what they want from life you can’t really help them get there.
Having their vision written down allows your student to take it with them for their Senior Education and Training (SET) planning meeting. Reflecting their vision in their SET Plan will help ensure their final years at school are helping them get where they really want to be.
Help them act on their vision
A vision is only useful if you do something with it. Helping your student understand the importance of converting their vision into a plan of action is crucial.
If their vision is their desired destination; their plan is the map on how they will get there and their goals are important markers along the way.
Without a plan of how to achieve it, their vision is just a wish. It is important to help them make these connections and their vision purposeful.
Develop a plan
For a plan to be a good map it needs to clearly identify the steps they, you and others will take to get them where they want to be after school.
Write down their plan, make it specific. The SET Plan template is a great tool and used well really helps the student, their parents and you as their teacher guide their final years at school.
Everyone having a copy of the Plan will ensure they can effectively support the student to get where they want to be.
If your student is considering seeking financial assistance through My Future: My Life they will need to have a very clear plan with specific goals for life after school to accompany their application.
Ask for help
Asking for help to put the plan into action is important and so encourage the student and their parents to identify who else they know (or don’t know yet) who might be able to help with their goals.
You’ll be surprised how willing people are to help, particularly when a young person has a clear picture of what they want and has a plan about how to get there.
There will be things your student wants that you as their teacher simply aren’t the right person to help with. When thinking about asking for help, consider who might be best to help with different parts of their plan, don’t just consider people they (or you) already know.
The sooner a student captures their vision the sooner they can start developing their plan and putting it into practice.
If a young person has barriers in their life, starting early is even more important to ensure their plan considers how these barriers can be overcome. An earlier start, particularly for students with a disability means more options can be considered or even developed.
Being clear about their vision will mean that when they develop their SET Plan in year 10 you can help them ensure it really reflects what they want. It will be their plan designed around the future they imagine and want for themself.
Dream big, have high expectations
Don’t be too conservative. Encourage your students to stretch themselves, to go past the easy. At times we make compensations based on a perceived risk, often when a student has a disability we assume there are things they can’t or won’t be able to do. Young people learn, grow and develop based on the experiences they have and the opportunities they are exposed to.
Stretch your thinking, encourage and support them to aim past what is easily achievable; don’t make it so far out that they’ll never have a chance of achieving it, but don’t underestimate their capacity or desire to have a life like others their age.
People regardless of circumstance will generally live up or down to the expectation placed upon them. Be your student’s champion, have high expectation of them and importantly of anyone else who has influence over their vision.
It’s their life, help them make it a challenge, encourage and support them to take some risks; they might just surprise you and others with what they are capable of.
Keep the vision
Sometimes your students won’t be able to be the keeper of their own dreams and may need to rely on others to do that for them. Help them to protect their vision, make this a conscious decision.
We only get one shot at life, help ensure your students vision for their life is safeguarded.