About Elementary Education



Elementary Education Department



Our vision is to prepare ethical and social justice oriented teachers who create relevant, rigorous, transformative educational experiences, attuned to students’ academic, cultural, linguistic, social, and emotional needs.

Guiding Principles

As a program, we are committed to: preparing a diverse community of teachers, across factors including race, culture, class, language, gender and sexual orientation; serving a diverse range of communities, including underserved and under-resourced schools; and offering equity and social justice oriented perspectives. Four key principles drive these commitments, as follows:

1. Teaching as a Political Act

We believe that teaching is a political act.  Our program engages candidates to develop an educational philosophy, grounded in theory and the socio-political context of schooling, towards challenging social and educational injustice.

2. Teaching as Praxis

We believe that teaching should be informed by both theory and research.  Our program develops candidates’ abilities to 1) reflect deep content knowledge of the disciplines, 2) make student centered pedagogical choices informed by theory 3) leverage cultural wealth toward student empowerment, and 4) engage alongside teachers, students, and communities to co-create dynamic changes within curriculum and neighborhoods.

3. Teaching as a Reflective Practice

We believe that teachers must be reflective and collaborative.  Our program offers candidates continuous, collegial and dynamic learning opportunities.  Candidates develop an orientation of reflection and inquiry.

 4. Teaching as a Complex Activity

Teaching is a complex challenging profession.  Our program develops candidates’ academic, political, social and emotional orientations for resilience.

Characteristics of our Graduates

Student Centered

They foster caring relationships with students, students’ families, and communities from a cultural wealth perspective.  They are aware of the social and political dimensions of schooling and how context affects marginalized communities.  They are attentive to the social and emotional dimensions of teaching and learning.  They teach to the whole child.

Reflective and Caring

Graduates reflect on the ethical dimensions of teaching and learning given the political and social consequences of their pedagogical decisions on the life chances of their students. They assume a caring stance that is growth-oriented and supports their own and their students' resilience. 

Pedagogically Sophisticated

They know and use a range of instructional strategies and classroom organizational structures chosen to match their instructional goals.  They can provide theoretical, research-based rationale for their decisions.

Knowledgeable of the Subject-Matter Content

They know and understand the importance of solid mastery of the content they will teach.  They strategically engage in continuous learning of that content and its relation to development and learning standards.

Knowledge of Assessment

They engage in ongoing cycles of inquiry fluidly using formative and summative assessments to guide instruction that is sensitive to context and individual learning needs.


Consider donating to the Elementary Education Department by clicking on the link- Giving to Elementary Education. This will take you to the university's donation page. Please designate under 'alternate purpose' that you would like your donation to go to our department.