Your number one goal is to get the actual experience of being in the classroom.
All those books about theory and pedagogy are great, but most of what teachers need to know beyond the content can only be learned by doing. You need to find your way of interacting with the students, your way of maintaining a classroom community and discipline. What is your method for getting the class back on track after going off on a tangent? How strict are you? How do you handle apathetic, angry, or manipulative students? Student teaching is the time to test the waters. Your cooperating instructor is there to back you up and bail you out if you need help.
Your second goal is to determine your teaching style. How do you want to approach the material? How are you comfortable pacing the content? Depending on if there is a standardized test for your content, your school may determine the pacing for you or provide a pacing guide. How are you going to go about planning? Your school may have a set lesson plan (or learning plan –the currently in vogue term for lesson plan) format, or you might have to come up with one yourself. You might find you plan best using the backwards design technique, or you might realize that just doesn’t work for you. You will also need to determine what kind of a relationship you are going to have with your students. Is it a sit down and listen to me lecture type of environment or is it a give and take environment (I suggest the latter)?
Your final goal should be to beg, borrow and steal (mostly beg and borrow) as much as possible from your cooperating teacher and other teachers in the building. The more materials you have to work with the first year, the easier it will be for you. Many teachers (myself included) are happy to hand over their whole flash drive, or share a Google folder, full of time-tested lessons and materials. You may find later you have little time to sort through all the materials you’ve begged off other teachers, but that day when your department chair says all twelfth grade teachers must now teach a Shakespeare play (and you haven’t even read a Shakespeare play since freshman year of college), that folder titled Shakespeare you begged off Mrs. Jones during your student teaching will be priceless. Take what others are willing to give you and make it your own.
Also, take some time at the end of your
student teaching, as you’re phasing back out as the main instructor in the
classroom, to observe other teachers in the building, both in your content area
and other contents. Just being exposed to different personalities and teaching
styles will help you find your own.
I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!