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.
The Advanced Certificate in Special Education is a 21-credit-hour program. Most students complete the program over the course of one year (three terms) of part-time study (more than four credits but fewer than nine credits per term).
See the AY19-20 Teaching Exceptional Learners 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.
Scope and Sequence
The scope and sequence of the program is designed to ensure that students develop specialized skills and knowledge in a logical and meaningful way. For this reason, most coursework is taught in weekly sessions by the full-time Relay faculty member who is the student’s advisor. Weekly sessions build on prior knowledge and establish the foundation for increasing rigor and complexity across the year. Additional sessions may be taught on Saturdays by adjunct instructors.
Effective teachers of exceptional learners have the ability to assess and address an individual student with precision and intentionality. To provide sufficient practice in this skill, students will provide one-on-one intervention to a student for the entirety of the program. Teachers' work with their PK–12 students will directly relate to courses in the scope and sequence. Faculty will observe teachers during their one-on-one interventions in order to provide formative feedback and evaluate progress.
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.
Special Education Capstone
As a final assessment, all students will reflect on the one-on-one work they have done in the intervention intensive and advocate for a specific revision to their student’s educational program. This written analysis and reflection, combined with a presentation to both peers and faculty, is an opportunity to synthesize the learning the student has done across the year.