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How to use a time capsule to set life goals

Place2Be have recently launched their 2021 Schools Time Capsule project, which aims to bring students together to collectively reflect on their experiences of the pandemic.

In what has been a tumultuous year for many, using a time capsule can be a fun way for students to process their experiences and realise that they are part of a key moment in history. Many students will have gained new skills as a result of the pandemic: for example, adapting to home schooling will have led many students to become more resilient and boosted their self-motivation.

We believe it’s vital to give students time and space to reflect on their skills, life experiences and future goals – which is why we embed this in our school programmes through regular coaching sessions. Below, we discuss the benefits of including goal setting in students’ time capsules, and give you some ideas for how to introduce this activity to your classroom.

Why is goal setting so important for students?

The last year has been an extremely challenging one for students, resulting in many students feeling more anxious about their future. A recent survey found that 41% of young people believe their future goals now seem "impossible to achieve" as a result of the pandemic, rising to 50% of young people from poorer backgrounds (Censuswide, 2021).

Given the impact of the pandemic on young people’s aspirations, encouraging students to regularly think about how they can achieve their future goals is more important than ever.

Goal setting is vital to young people's development and their long-term success. By encouraging students to set themselves regular goals, they become engaged in forward-thinking, target setting and self-motivation. All these skills are crucial for student success during their time at school and beyond.

Why a time capsule?

Creating a time capsule can be a fantastic opportunity to inspire students to think about their aspirations, and consider how their existing skills and experiences link to their future goals.

It may be useful to get students to reflect on the skills they’ve gained, or what they’ve learned from the past year, before starting their goal setting task. Encouraging students to identify their existing skills and strengths can hugely boost their confidence, inspiring them to set more ambitious goals!

By turning goal setting into a fun, memorable activity, students are more likely to engage with the task and think more creatively about their futures.

How can I include goal setting in a time capsule?

By asking students to include their future goals in a time capsule, we’re not trying to get them to decide on their concrete life plans – after all, the last year has demonstrated that these plans can often change unexpectedly! Rather, the aim is to get students used to goal setting and empower them to have bold aspirations for their future.

It’s important to encourage students to break their future goals down into smaller steps. By doing so, goals become much more realistic and achievable, meaning that students are more motivated to try and reach their goals.

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get started with goal setting, why not use our free goal setting worksheet?

The power of sharing goals

We recommend setting aside a specific time for students to work on their time capsules together, such as in tutor time or during a PSHE lesson. Three reasons why we believe it’s important for students to share their goals with one another are:

  1. Gathering support from others: Hearing their classmates’ ambitions may inspire students in setting their own goals, and help them to recognise where they can support one another. For example, if two students find out that they are hoping to study the same A Levels, they may be more likely to share resources and tips with one another, helping them both to reach their goals.

  2. Keeping accountable: Encouraging students to share their goals with someone else holds them accountable to achieving them. You could try putting students in pairs and asking them to share their goals with one another, and to provide feedback on their plans to reach these goals.

  3. Building relationships: Listening to your students talk about their hopes and aspirations can help you to better understand how you can support your students to reach their goals. Similarly, students will see you as a figure who is genuinely interested in helping them to realise their aspirations, encouraging them to think about how they can use their wider school environment to achieve their ambitions.

Looking for more ideas for how to include goal setting in your classroom? Check out our free resources for teachers to embed students’ personal development within your curriculum.


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