Future Possible Selves

When presented with the idea of future possible selves, students have the opportunity to identify who they want to be. They are then able to state the strengths that they have that will help them become that future possible self. Let students know that the purpose of today’s lesson is to think about their futures.

  • Objective: To choose a future possible (academic and/or career) self and to state the strengths that will help them become the future possible self
  • Standards: Applicable Common Core Standards
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Preparation: Review the entire lesson, including the learning object Future Possible Selves. Please note that the selection of images includes a blank one for use by students who do not find a relevant picture among the selected pictures.
  • Materials: Future Possible Selves learning object (see below), “Eyes on the Stars” animation, student copies of the Student Response Prompts, computer, speakers, Internet connection, projector or Smart Board

Warm-Up: Pair Share

5-Minute Face-to-Face Activity


High School Students Taking Part In Group Discussion
  1. Begin by pairing students up by asking them to turn to a neighbor. Explain that the first partner is the interviewer. The second is the interviewee.
  2. The interviewer will ask the interviewee, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The interviewee answers (e.g., a pilot, doctor, or basketball player). The interviewer then asks the interviewee to name three strengths or assets (skills, abilities, or attributes) they have that will help them achieve their goal(s).
  3. Next, ask the students to reverse roles. The interviewer becomes the interviewee, and the interviewee becomes the interviewer. The students should repeat the exercise above.


5-Minute Face-to-Face Activity


Invite students to summarize and share out what they learned about their partner. Students should ask their partners for permission to share out. Specifically, in sharing out, they should state their partner’s career or other goal, and they should state the strengths their partner will use toward achieving it. Sharing out should be done by as many of the students as possible. The next activity should accommodate students who do not participate in this debrief.


Activity: Visualizing Future Selves

17-Minute Digital Learning Object And Face-to-Face Discussion


Explain to students that they are going to think about a future possible self by examining 32 pictures in this learning object. Each of the 32 pictures represents a future possible self. Students should make sure to read the captions underneath each picture. Before they begin, you should mention to students that there is also a silhouette that they can choose, in case none of the pictures resonate with them. Students should stop on the picture that most closely represents a future possible self and consider why they chose that specific picture. Click the player button to begin.
Download a printable version of the interactivity.
After the students have been given ample opportunity, you can encourage them to share out with the rest of the class. You may want to choose from among the following questions to ask the students:

  • Which person did you select, and why?
  • What are some challenges you think the person faced to achieve his/her goals?
  • What strengths did the person use to overcome the challenges?
  • How do you think you are like the person you chose?
  • How did the person you chose grow over the years?

Activity: “Eyes On The Stars” With Carl McNair

13-Minute Animated Video And Discussion


  1. Introduce the animated clip “Eyes on the Stars”. Carl McNair came to StoryCorps to remember his brother, physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.
  2. The students can view this animated clip individually, in small groups, or a whole group as a guided activity using available technologies. There is also a printable version of “Eyes on the Stars” available for students to read.
  3. After the students have viewed the clip, explain to them that they should complete the Student Response Prompts.
  4. Once students have completed the prompts, facilitate a discussion by asking the following questions:
    • What strengths or assets did Ronald McNair use to achieve his dream, and how were the strengths evidenced?
    • Ronald McNair experienced the characters on TV show Star Trek as role models for who he might become. Assume that there are role models, people just like you, who perfectly represent a future possible self you want to become. Where might you look for these role models?
    • How, if at all, are you like Ronald McNair?


5-Minute Face-to-Face Activity


Ask each student to consider his or her future possible self, and then lead a class discussion about next steps. You may want to use the following questions as prompts for a short discussion:

  • What strengths or assets will you need to acquire to become your future possible self?
  • What are some ways that you can work to acquire these strengths or assets?
  • Who are some people that can/will support you along the way?

Each week, the StoryCorps podcast shares these unscripted conversations, revealing the wisdom, courage, and poetry in the words of people you might not notice walking down the street.