Cal Poly Can

4. Cal Poly Can Podcast - Dr. Kevin Taylor

November 17, 2020 Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics Season 1 Episode 4
Cal Poly Can
4. Cal Poly Can Podcast - Dr. Kevin Taylor
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Cal Poly Can podcast is produced by the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations, Kathryn Dilworth, interviews faculty, students, alumni, and friends whose stories and work inspire and uplift. Collaboration and sharing are the themes of this podcast as we examine the power of mutual service and support for solving problems and answering important questions. 

This quarter, our podcast is focused on the theme of EDUCATION. Education is the core of the Cal Poly mission, and our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. Each show this quarter will take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country.

This episode features Dr. Kevin Taylor, Professor and Director of the  School of Education at Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics.

If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series, please get in touch with us on our website or by email

Support the show

Hello out there, we are so happy to welcome our Cal Poly community to the Cal Poly can podcast. This podcast features you, our community members on and off campus. We are celebrating the remarkable work you're doing, and giving you the opportunity to give a shout out to those whose help and support is crucial to your success. I'm your host, Katherine Dilworth, your assistant dean of Advancement and External Relations in the College of Science and Mathematics. Welcome, and enjoy the conversation. This quarter, our podcast is focused on the theme of education and education is the core of the Cal Poly mission. And our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. And each show this quarter, we'll take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country. Now, let's get straight to the conversation. Hello, everybody. Welcome to the fourth episode of the new Cal Poly can podcast from the College of Science and Math. And we are again featuring education as a theme for this series. And I want today to welcome Professor Kevin Taylor, who is the Director of the School of Education in the College of Science and Math. So welcome, Kevin, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for having me on the podcast, Kevin. It's, it's great to be with you. Well, you know, I have been talking with different people from the Cal Poly community about education. And this certainly is a really important topic for us right now. And I wondered if you might take a minute to tell everyone about what you do in the School of Education that's about teacher training, but also the research that comes out of your school? Yes, thank you. We are engaged in research around best practice in educator preparation. So we're looking at cutting edge ways to train teachers for the public schools. But we also have programs that focus on training school leaders, principals and vice principals, and education professionals for higher education for community colleges FCS us and UCS within the state of California, many of our graduates do leave the state. So it's not just in California, but California tends to be focused, because we are a CSU. So a focus is on best practice principles. And within that individual faculty have different foco. A really common focus at the moment is social justice, education, and preparing culturally competent teachers and educational professionals with a focus really on helping our graduate graduates in credential completers, to train their students and help their students develop the capacity to look at issues from different cultural perspectives. And help them to achieve a greater awareness of issues of social justice within a society. You know, this is so interesting. And of course, I mean, anyone listening can kind of say, ah, of course, I mean, if we really integrate this into the way that we're teaching our young students, then that can really have an impact. And are you talking about kind of specific programming that is being developed? Or is this really about figuring out a way to teach all of the normal courses but in a way that's kind of building this competency? Yes, it's really talking about going across the board so that we are training teachers of chemistry teachers of maths teachers have agricultural education, to train to teach teachers that To teach their students, so we call them credential candidates so that people don't get confused, like I just did as they're speaking, because we our students become teachers. So are they students or teachers, they're pre service teachers, rather than in service teachers, or to us, often teacher candidates. So we want our teacher candidates in their math and science, teacher preparation programs, to be focused on being able to deliver that content in ways that help their students appreciate how that content is layered within the cultural the different cultural contexts so that they can illustrate how women in science have been very successful in the past and how aspects of our culture sometimes have young women and girls not see themselves a part of or not see themselves as having potential within the scientific community, we need to we need to break that down, we need to blow that apart, because it's simply not true. It's a stereotype. And there's research in stereotyping that shows that there is this limiting effect of these, these, these pre judgments of these stereotypes around the performance of different groups within society, within different content areas. And so part of becoming a culturally competent teacher is being able to deliver your content in a way that that content is accessible to everyone in your classroom. And whether you come from a very financially privileged community, or whether you come from a lower socio economic status, you can see a path for yourself in math, or in science or, or in the arts or in literature. Because the content is being delivered in a way that is accessible to everyone within our culture, be it sexual orientation, be it race, be it social economic status, or sex or gender. It we need to deliver this content in a way that children and young adults can see their potential within that content, and, and get past some of these stereotypes that have been shown through research to limit the interest of certain groups within society and certain content areas that lead to certain professions. Well, you know, this is so interesting, because right now, you know, so many, so many areas of research, and so much discussion is centered around how do we kind of change people's minds around some of these content concepts. And what you're saying is, you know, this kind of the research that is informing this training, you know, both of those pieces happening in the School of Education is really mitigating kind of some of those stereotypes from being created in the first place, which is, which is just amazing to think that, that some of these challenges are being dealt with kind of on on both sides. And, you know, it strikes me that this is such a timely issue, it may be that we're just really focused on it as, as communities and as a country focused on these issues right now. But it strikes me that, you know, this field of particularly teacher training, it really has to be able to respond to these types of cultural shifts. And I know one one thing you in the school that you've really benefited from, are a collection of donors, graduates or former educators themselves who've made the quest to support the school and tell me a little bit about how a planned gift and that type of giving allows you to to respond and be nimble and be ready to, to make the adjustments that you need to in your training in order to prepare teachers to go out into a different experience maybe? Absolutely. Thank you, Catherine. Yes. In the first part of your setup for that question, you talked about something that I think's really important. The research and practice blended together, a lot of our research is focused on practice. And a lot of our research is embedded in our local community. And it was a really nice setup, because that's where some of those planned gifts really help us to have an impact. And as you're doing research on cutting edge practice, in teacher preparation, you really need to be out in the public schools, working with teachers, and bring in your students with you. And this works wonderfully within Cal Poly is learned by doing philosophy. But we've been able to use some of those funds that you alluded to, to do things like start the social justice education conference, that we've been running for a couple of years in Santa Maria. And it's, it's hard sometimes to take state dollars for Cal Poly and Cal Poly base funding, and spend it on running a conference for local teachers in our local school district. But that's really important for our in service teachers, and teacher candidates to really appreciate the importance of lifelong professional development, career long professional development, and to put them in a conference where they're working with local teachers. And to help raise the level of instruction, the practice in our local schools, so that we can create better placements for student teachers is a really important thing for us to do. So having funds from donors from planned gifts, that can help us to really create events like that, that will support our students in take over where the state funds really end. And help us get to the finish line to create these wonderful experiences is really, really important. And they really have a transformational effect in terms of supporting our students, but also helping us then to collect data while we're out there. And to, to be able to illustrate to, to others, the impact of these practices, so that we're blending, research and practice in a way that enriches our local community as well. So it is about being nimble as well, because we're able to be nimble and address the shortage of math teachers. And we have, in the past, use some of these funds that you're talking about to create scholarships for teachers, pre service teachers, teacher candidates in our math credentials, because there's a shortage of math teachers, and the having the capacity to use these funds to create events or to give scholarships, enhanced scholarships to support students going into areas where our communities desperately need these teachers is really important. And again, it's it's enabling us to to push funds into areas where we can't use those state funds to really make a difference and to help support the need in our local communities. Well, you know, it, it reminds me we, you know, so many parents and just grandparents that are, are really involved in education right now, like they have never been before and certainly appreciating teachers and, you know, two recent planned gifts that came to the to the school were actually planned gifts, people made to their discipline to their department and they added a piece to the School of Education even though they were not teachers themselves. recognizing how critical Stem math, you know, this student training in these early years in elementary school, middle school high school, are to being successful at Cal Poly, for example, you know, the programs here. So I've been really, really thrilled, you know that people have come up with this idea of, you know, I want to do something, for example, to support the math department, I want to make a bequest, but I also want to have some of that go to the School of Education to train teachers. So what do you think about about that, that must make you feel really good to have people need? Absolutely, absolutely. No, I think it's transformational. I know, it's transformational. And so you're right, a lot of people now, I happen to teach their own kids. And I bet, if there's listeners teaching there, and kids, it will resonate that that when you have kids engaged in doing in playing with something engaged in an activity where they don't realize they're learning, but you're doing it with a very, you're having them engaged in that activity with a very specific end in mind, in terms of inspiring them to acquire a piece of knowledge or learn an element of content. So some of the ways that we've used some of these unrestricted funds, is to, we bought little mini robots to teach math to have our teacher candidates learn to teach math with miniature robots. And it's really cool, because we're doing that also in special education. And so it's money that don't escape. Developing the capacity, and I teach candidates to teach math and science. And we're buying equipment, these mini robots, to help train our teachers to do that. The robots really are not that expensive. And it's quite feasible for them to go out into schools and then have the PTA or the school site, come up with some funding to buy these robots so that they can apply what they're learning at Cal Poly out in the field. A lot of schools now have 3d printers, we're using some of these funds. Last year, we bought five 3d printers that we're currently having faculty experiment where then our plan is in the in the coming years to deploy these 3d printers, into classrooms, where we have teacher candidates who are going to go out to be elementary school instructors, because what we're finding is the best, the best elementary classrooms, where they're really developing a passion for math and science, are ones where teachers are using 3d printers in the elementary schools, which is crazy to people that I've never actually seen, as an adult, they've never seen a 3d printer, they've just heard about it on the news. But finding ways to creatively use these and have kids engaged in making things with a 3d printer to help them understand mathematical principles or principles of science is really cool. We've even worked with teachers who are using this to teach to teach language. And it's really inspiring to see some of the ways that teachers have crafted ways to incorporate 3d printing, but having then kids do that. They don't realize what they're learning. But it's fun. Yeah, but they're having fun with some really cool technology that then ultimately may pique their interest and steer them towards a career in in a stem discipline. Because we were able to do this. And one of my one of my hopes is that is is if we can get more of this funding is to create a lending library of technologies that our students can take out into the schools as they go into their student teaching. That they have lesson plans prepared. They can demonstrate There's new technology for some of our local schools and their teachers. And then we can partner with them in trying to get them some funds to then introduce these technologies on a more permanent basis. But with a lending library of technology, we can lend this stuff out to local teachers. And although we, although the equipment then is going into the local schools, it's creating an environment where we can better train math and science teachers, because we've been, we've got better placements for them now, because the teachers are using more cutting edge in inspirational practice. But also, if you think about it holistically, we're also creating more university students right there, because we're getting kids excited about learning. And there's plenty of research and plenty of practice shows that if you keep that excitement going about learning, they stick with the system longer, they go further with their education, and achieve more with their lives. And that principle of having kids learn while they're playing. While they're playing with something really cool, is probably something that more than a few parents out there are finding is a good way to keep their kids on task while they're engaged in learning at home and online. During the pandemic, well, I think you've just illustrated the impact of you know, of successful teachers, you know, what kind of impact and how this just builds on itself and creates generations of learners? Who then you know, feel that they can be successful in school and on to their careers? And, and I think that during this time, even though a lot of people may have kind of said, Oh, yes, of course, I agree with that they're really seeing it more. And I think what you're, you know, what you're talking about in school of education, of course, there's so much more than we can ever get into, but between the work that you're doing in social justice, research and implementation and training, and then also preparing these teachers to go out and, and teach the next generation is pretty powerful. And I think a lot of people can get excited about it. And your vision for lending library, I think, is a particularly exciting opportunity. So I encourage, you know, our listeners, there's, there's so many things, there's so many wonderful things to support at Cal Poly and beyond in our communities. But if you have an interest in supporting education, and teachers and all the research that goes behind the new ways that they are learning to teach and connect with students, and all of the ways that they're also learning to make sure that all students have the same opportunity to learn, you know, I would say, get in touch with Kevin because he's got a lot of great ideas. And we're so grateful to those who have who, you know, give their support, who have made these transformational requests and, and to give regularly, so I really encourage others to consider and so Kevin, any final words to our audience about the school or, or Cal Poly or just kind of our hopes for the future. Just to say, thank you to anyone listening, who has given, we will not let you down, we will continue to put your gift to good work. But to say that, really. I'm really inspired by our faculty, I feel so blessed to be working with the faculty that we have in the School of Education, they are inspirational. And they are really, they're making a difference. And the funds that we get from these kinds of gifts, I can see actually going to work in our local communities, making education more accessible for more of the people within California, and that's inspiring to me. And I, I, I want to do more of it. So if there are people that want to partner with me and with my faculty in the School of Ed to have an immediate impact in a local community then I'm ready and willing, well said, and I thank you for coming today and wish you tremendous success and your faculty and we're so grateful for everything the school does to support our students who are learning like you say to become teachers, and then they will be the teachers of tomorrow. So thank you so much. Thanks for listening today. Join us every two weeks for more interviews featuring the remarkable work you do to make the world a better place. If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series, please get in touch. Use the link in the description below. Or email me at

Introducing Dr. Kevin Taylor