As I’ve mentioned before, student teaching is a very important step in your career. So you’ll want to prepare well for your first day of student teaching, and set good goals. Knowing what you need to achieve and accomplishing all your objectives will help make your student teaching experience a good one! And a good (or dare we say "great") student teaching experience will start your career off right.
Goals related to how and what you’ll teach are the most important. You’ll need to decide what you should accomplish as an instructor. Many of your teaching goals depend on the needs of your students, who you will get to know in the first few weeks. While making their acquaintance, think about what they need from you, as a group and as individuals. Give your students target learning objectives, and milestones you can help them reach during your student teaching period.
And as you set these teaching goals, remember to be realistic. Most student teaching experiences only last four months, so you’ll want to think in terms of what your students can achieve during that time. How much can your students improve in a given skill within the time you’ll work with them? What milestones can they reach in half a school year? Choose a destination you know your students can reach, and then help them get there.
Other teaching goals may be more personal and not depend as much on student needs or abilities. Think about the types of materials you want to create and the kinds of lessons you want to deliver. You may set a goal of making engaging electronic materials using PowerPoint, Prezi, smartboards, and so on. Or perhaps you want to write your own spelling quizzes instead of using pre-packaged ones. Maybe you want to build a library of resources for your classroom, or come up with some new learning games your students can play. Think of the things you want to do creatively to really make your class your own and “wow” your students.
Educational and Professional Goals
The official and most measurable goals of your student teaching are completing your teacher education and launching your career.
Quite a few of your educational goals will be set by your school. In fact, most teacher education programs have an official student teacher guide that outlines the educational goals of student teaching. Goals set by your school tend to be broad. You may see objectives like maintaining order and focus in your classroom (as seen on Nicholls State University’s student teaching goal page). You may also see objectives like taking on more responsibilities as your student teaching progresses (see the St. Olaf College website for an example of this).
These broad educational goals leave a lot of room for educational objectives of your choosing. Maybe there’s an educational theory from your textbooks that you want to understand better. Student teaching is a great place to see how educational theories are applied. Or perhaps you want to learn the very best ways to format lesson plans, or get a clearer idea of the relationship between classroom teaching and testing. Think of the things you still need or want to learn before you begin your teaching career in earnest. Then set those learning objectives as student teaching goals.
Some professional goals will overlap with your educational goals. For instance, creating a teaching portfolio is both a learning experience and a necessary step toward getting your license. Other professional goals are less directly related to teacher education.
One important goal of student teaching should be to decide on and define your personal teaching style, if you haven’t already. Knowing your teaching style is important for teaching job interviews and for long term career success.
You should probably also resolve to make professional contacts during your student teaching. A student teacher who makes a lot of ties with their school and school district is very likely to get hired right out of college.
While you should set goals to be the best teacher you can be, your student teaching experience isn’t really about you. It’s about what you can do for your students and your school. Take a student-centered approach to your student teaching, and your educational and professional goals will fall into place. By the end of the experience, the goals you set will help you to keep excelling and serving your students well for the rest of your career.