Relay coursework is based on four elements of effective teaching. Taken together, these four elements represent the set of knowledge, skills, and mindsets often found in teachers who lead their PK–12 students to profound growth and achievement. During their time at Relay, students will complete coursework focused on each of these elements, as well as coursework in which they learn how to measure their PK–12 students’ growth and achievement. Each course combines theory and practice related to these areas and culminates in performance assessments, providing students the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of content and to reflect on their PK–12 students’ growth and achievement. The four elements, as well as student growth and achievement, are each briefly described below:
Self and Other People
Teachers need to be aware of themselves as professionals and to reflect on their ability to reach their PK–12 students. Teachers must also be mindful of whom their PK–12 students are as individuals and of the communities that shape their PK–12 students’ lives. The self and other people coursework provides students with the knowledge and tools to make these connections to themselves, their PK–12 students, and their PK–12 students’ families. The coursework focuses on personal growth and reflection, understanding and working with families and communities, and modeling and teaching strong character.
In classroom culture coursework, students learn about the countless tangible and intangible details that combine to create an environment wherein PK–12 students are joyfully engaged, meaningfully on task, and feel ownership of their individual and collective successes. From classroom setup, to giving clear directions, to engaging PK–12 students in lessons, classroom culture coursework prepares teachers to lay the foundations for PK–12 students’ success.
Teaching cycle coursework addresses the knowledge and skills a teacher needs for instructional planning, instructional delivery, and assessment. Students plan for a year, a unit, and a lesson. They learn how to reach every student while delivering their lessons, as well as how to use assessment to confirm that every student has learned and to shape the learning that will come next.
In content methods coursework, students learn the best content-specific pedagogical practices and strategies for the subjects and/or grade levels that they teach. Additionally, Relay believes that all teachers are reading and writing teachers. To that end, all Relay students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to diagnose and address the reading and writing abilities of all PK–12 students, regardless of the content being taught. Furthermore, students learn how to work with PK–12 students who struggle with specific content or language acquisition or who have exceptional needs.
Student Growth and Achievement (SGA)
As part of SGA coursework, students will learn how to measure PK–12 students’ outcomes through the Relay Pathway to Student Achievement. To measure PK–12 students’ academic and character outcomes, students will learn how to determine the content they want to measure and solidify assessment plans aligned to that content. They will also learn how to set ambitious goals, measure student progress, and verify outcomes at the end of the academic year.
Student Growth and Achievement and Content Methods Courses
All students are enrolled in two types of courses: student growth and achievement and content methods.
Student Growth and Achievement Courses
Student growth and achievement courses represent the knowledge and skills all great teachers must have regardless of the grades or subjects that they teach. These classes encompass three of the four elements of effective teaching: Self and other people, classroom culture, and teaching cycle. In student growth and achievement courses, students also create and follow their pathways for student growth and achievement. Finally, some student growth and achievement courses provide the opportunity to select elective topics within a course. Elective modules within a course address a variety of teaching knowledge and skills, such as teacher-organization skills or launching restorative justice practices with PK–12 students. Students take student growth and achievement courses with Relay faculty members in a consistent section (e.g., always at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday nights) in both the fall and spring terms.
Content Methods Courses
Content methods coursework comprises the knowledge and skills necessary to teach a particular grade or subject. Content methods coursework is taught in grade- and/or subject-specific groups led by a faculty member with that particular area of teaching expertise and experience. Typically, these courses take place on Saturdays, though some weeknight and online options are available.
The Relay Master of Arts in Teaching program is a 36-credit-hour program. Most students complete the program over the course of two academic calendar years (six terms; summer, fall, and spring) of part-time study (enrolled in less than nine credits but at least four credits per term).
See the AY19–20 Master of Arts in Teaching Course Overview for a listing of courses by term and details about the topics and skills taught in each course. Please note that there may be some campus variation within courses and programs. The campus Dean’s Office will provide information about regional or programmatic variations to the course structure and syllabi.
As teachers, students work with their PK–12 students to build the academic skills and strength of character necessary for them to succeed in college and life. To do this work with integrity, each teacher must embody the same standards that they set for PK–12 students. For additional details, see “Professionalism” in the Student Handbook.
To see firsthand how students are progressing as teachers, faculty members will observe students’ classrooms several times over the course of the program. Faculty members’ expectations for these observations will become more complex as the students progress through their time at Relay. The scores earned in these in-person observations will factor into individual assessments within various courses throughout a student’s experience at Relay. For additional details, see “Classroom Observations” in the Student Handbook.
Current research suggests that there is no statistically significant association between having received a master’s degree in education and leading PK–12 students to academic achievement. By design, Relay hopes to change this statistic. Students at Relay must demonstrate that their PK–12 students have made meaningful and measurable academic gains. (Rivkin, S. G., Hanushek, E. A., & Kain, J. F. (2005). “Teachers, schools, and academic achievement.” Econometrica, 73(2), 417–458.)
As a final capstone assessment, all students will film an outstanding lesson, write a data narrative, and deliver an oral defense. For the video, students will showcase their best work in each of the four elements of effective teaching. For the data narrative, students will describe and analyze their PK–12 students’ academic achievement and character growth. For the oral defense, students will present and defend their PK–12 students’ growth and achievement data, as well as key learning from their Relay coursework, to Relay faculty members and guests.