The institution and education unit create and articulate a research-based vision of teaching and learning that fosters coherence among, and is clearly represented in all educator preparation programs. This vision is consistent with preparing educators for California public schools and the effective implementation of California’s adopted standards and curricular frameworks.
Overview of Cal Poly and the School of Education: Founded in 1901 as a state vocational high school, Cal Poly has evolved into a comprehensive polytechnic university with an emphasis on experiential learning. The School of Education (SOE) embodies Cal Poly’s "learn-by-doing" approach to instruction.
Housed within the College of Science and Mathematics (CSM), the SOE closely links education, math, and science faculty with school educators on curriculum, instruction, and supervision; applied scholarship; and service to teachers, schools, and the profession. In addition to housing the SOE, the CSM also houses the Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) and the department of Liberal Studies, which provides subject matter preparation to undergraduates who aspire to teach in the elementary grades.
The SOE vision reflects a universitywide commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Our mission extends the University’s principles of inquiry, collaboration, equity, and pluralism into the expectations for practice and the preparation of education professionals. The SOE recently adopted new Schoolwide Learning Themes that provide a platform for continuous improvement and a common lens for anchoring dialogue, professional development, and inquiry and assessment projects across the SOE.
Research Base - Learn By Doing and Continuous Improvement: Experiences in the Cal Poly School of Education are deeply grounded in Learn by Doing; candidates collaborate with faculty and work alongside experts in the field to hone their teaching craft. Learn by Doing embeds Cal Poly’s innovative polytechnic approach to higher education with best practices and theories in education by building a Community of Practice that emphasizes continuous improvement and a culture of shared learning.
In order to build a successful Learn by Doing program, great care goes into thoughtfully structuring and intentionally articulating all aspects of the educator preparation, including: defining roles of faculty, coaches, and candidates; providing training and support in coaching strategies; developing thoughtful shared language around teaching practices; and designing scaffolded supports for candidates that are leveraged at each phase preparation. The SOE draws from research, best practices, and the shared values of our community members in order to intentionally document and communicate the principles and values of our Community of Practice, and to build meaningful connections between the Cal Poly campus and the field.
The Cal Poly School of Education further advances a shared vision of effective teaching and learning through the SOE Observation Tool, which articulates 17 Prioritized Skills at the center of effective teaching practice. The SOE worked across stakeholders from faculty, staff, and partner districts to design the SOE Observation Tool using research from the Danielson Framework, UDL, the TPEs, and HLPs. While future educators study the theories and best practices behind these Prioritized Skills in their coursework, the SOE offers workshops and professional development resources for Cooperating Teachers, school site administrators, and our surrounding community in order to norm our collective understanding of the SOE Observation tool, and to encourage common language. By developing shared expectations and norms grounded in the Observation Tool, we tighten the relationship between the School of Education and fieldwork sites, creating a more coherent experience for our Candidates. Fostering this shared vision of teaching and learning also serves to demystify effective teaching practice and reveals a transparent development path for Candidates as they uncover and honor their own craft as future educators.
The final linchpin in Cal Poly’s approach to educator preparation is building a community that embraces continuous improvement, along with the risk-taking that is inherent in that process. The SOE engages in continuous improvement by applying research based practices such as Improvement Science, Data Discussion Protocols, and comprehensive assessment planning. Learn by Doing and continuous improvement both require future educators, and the experts with whom they work, to be open to new ideas, implement innovative strategies, assess, and reflect on resulting successes and inevitable failures. Developing these practices requires vulnerability, willingness to change, and the ability to own missteps. By encouraging these habits, however, the SOE ensures that future educators will be prepared for advanced studies in education, action research, and a commitment to continuous growth that will improve their practice and the outcomes of their students throughout their careers.