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How to Set Goals as a Student Teacher


As I’ve mentioned before, student teaching is a very important step in your career. So you’ll want to set good goals. Knowing what you need to achieve and reaching all your objectives will help you make your student teaching experience a good one, and allow you to start your career off right.

Teaching goals

Goals related to how and what you’ll teach are the most important goals. You’ll need to decide what you should accomplish as an instructor at your school. Many of your teaching goals will depend on the needs of your students. As you get to know your new pupils in your first few weeks, think about what they need from you, as a group and as individuals. Give your students target learning objectives, 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 timespan of your work with them? What milestones can they reach in half a school year? Choose a destination you know you students can reach, and then help them get there.

Other teaching goals may be more personal and not depend so much on student needs or ability. 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 involve 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, with objectives such as maintaining order and focus in your classroom (as seen on Nicholls State University’s student teaching goal page), or 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 want to learn and still need to learn before you begin your teaching career in earnest, and set those learning objectives as student teaching goals.

Some professional goals will overlap with your educational goals. Creating a teaching portfolio, for instance, is both a learning experience and a necessary step toward state teaching licensure. 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 school.


The takeaway

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.

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