The Relay Teaching Residency (RTR) believes that great teachers are made, not born. The RTR provides the opportunity for aspiring teachers to learn what it means to be an effective teacher by internalizing the knowledge, skills, and mindsets required to improve student growth and achievement. The RTR is a partnership between Relay and select partner schools, districts, and networks, designed for recent college graduates and career changers who commit to learning the craft of teaching. Through strategic coaching, ample practice, and a curriculum built to match classroom experiences, Residents are prepared to join the most important profession in the world.
All Residents are enrolled in Relay’s Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program (see Master of Arts in Teaching Program Overview) and/or alternate-route certification program. In addition, Residents spend their first year working in a PK–12 school as an apprentice, gradually taking on more responsibility throughout the year as they acquire proficiency in planning and leading instruction. Every day, Residents spend consistent time in their Resident Advisor’s (RA) classroom to observe, learn, and co-teach. They also receive additional support from Relay in the form of training and instructional feedback. In the first year of the program, Relay training and classes will include a combination of core pedagogy, methods, and deliberate practice; altogether, Residents can expect to be in class approximately seven to eight times a month. Relay carefully monitors Residents’ growth over the course of the year to ensure they are on track in their development. If Residents are demonstrating proficiency in the skills required of successful novice teachers, Relay will support them in the application process for roles as full-time teachers of record for the following academic school year.
In the second year of the program, successful Residents transition into full-time teaching positions at partner schools. They remain enrolled in their master’s degree program and/or alternate-route certification program and continue to receive training and support from Relay faculty. Residents engage in the second year of the program focused on rigor, differentiation, character development, and student growth and achievement. At the end of the second year, Residents complete their master’s defense, presenting their student data, pedagogical development, and reflections to the Relay faculty.
Relay Teaching Residency features Relay’s traditional master’s program plus four distinct program pillars that serve to prepare Residents to be effective first-year teachers. The program pillars serve to create differentiated and targeted support as Residents acquire and integrate new knowledge and skills to hone their craft.
Practice is one of the most valuable things a teacher can do to prepare for excellence.
At Relay, we believe that practice helps teachers create muscle memory in concrete teaching techniques and build clarity and confidence in lesson delivery. Deliberate Practice (DP) — a focus on the concrete and specific teaching skills necessary to maximize impact in the classroom — is a cornerstone of the Resident training experience. Residents participate in weekly three-hour DP sessions to develop and hone their teaching skills. These DP sessions complement and support Relay’s master’s classes. For example, in conjunction with Relay classroom culture coursework, Residents practice responding to common classroom culture scenarios by applying techniques and strategies that they learn in their coursework. Residents review instructional videos, participate in short bursts of practice to isolate particular teaching techniques, and rehearse portions of upcoming lessons. Throughout DP, Relay faculty provide ample individual feedback to Residents, then ask Residents to apply that feedback to improve their practice. DP serves as a performance accelerator to help prepare Residents for full-time teaching.
Assessments and Gateways
Since Relay is a performance- and proficiency-based program, there are multiple performance assessments throughout the year to determine whether Residents are making adequate progress toward becoming full-time teachers. Generally, assessments include videos, observations, lesson plans, reflections, data trackers, and data-driven action plans. Assessments vary by content and are scored based on customized performance rubrics.
Gateway assessments serve as checkpoints to both identify and communicate whether Residents are on track to becoming full-time teachers. As such, proficiency levels determine Residents’ ability continue in the program with their cohort. Residents are evaluated by the Relay faculty and their school-based Resident Advisors on Gateway rubrics, with Relay faculty determining the final score for Residents. There are three possible responses to the gateways:
- If Residents are proficient, then they will move ahead.
- If Residents fail to pass a Gateway on their first attempt, then they will receive extra remediation on the technique and will be assessed again.
- Should Residents fail a Gateway multiple times, therefore failing to demonstrate readiness to take on further instructional responsibilities and move on with their cohort, they may be dismissed from the Relay Teaching Residency program.
Gateways topics include:
- Gateway 1: Mindsets and Professionalism: Residents will demonstrate key mindsets of high expectations, personal responsibility, intentionality, continually improving effectiveness, and respect and humility. In addition, they also must demonstrate proficiency in professionalism standards such as attendance, punctuality, preparation, follow-through, feedback, and engagement.
- Gateway 2: Classroom Culture: Residents will demonstrate proficiency in operating their classrooms by applying techniques to ensure positive engagement in the classroom while also responding appropriately to off-task behavior in order to keep students focused. Residents are assessed in the context of a simulation and/or observations from both Relay faculty and Resident Advisors.
- Gateway 3: Introducing New Material: Residents must demonstrate proficiency in introducing new material to ensure they are able to clearly plan and deliver content. Residents will be expected to plan and clearly deliver content while addressing a lesson’s key points and misconceptions.
- Gateway 4: Teaching a Full Lesson: Residents will be observed teaching a lesson in their schools to determine their readiness for increased teaching responsibilities in the spring and readiness to become a full-time teacher in the next school year. They will demonstrate proficiency in teaching a full block without assistance and ensure that PK–12 students are moving toward mastery.
- Gateway 5: Full-Time Teaching Placement: Residents must secure a full-time teaching placement in their area of licensure for the coming year.
For Relay Connecticut only, there are a total of six Gateways. The Connecticut Residency program provides an alternate route to certification that operates on a four-term schedule, and by necessity adds an additional Gateway to the program.
Resident Advisor (RA)
Each participant in the Relay Teaching Residency is hired by a partner school and placed with an RA whose classroom serves as a home base during the training year. RAs can be existing or potential instructional leaders or strong teachers who do not yet have leadership responsibilities. Relay will work with schools to select each RA, though roles and selection will vary by campus.
The RAs will fulfill several responsibilities to assist in the development of Residents, including:
- Modeling and Co-Teaching: Residents will spend at least one period each day observing instruction and assisting in the RAs’ classrooms. In addition to assigning the RA, partner schools may identify other great teachers for Residents to observe; Residents should observe strategically to see a diversity of strong teachers in action.
- Curriculum and Lesson Planning: The RAs will provide ongoing support by checking in with the Residents for 30–60 minutes each week. In part, this time should be spent sharing and reviewing lessons and materials for that week, as well as outlining how Residents will participate in upcoming lessons. Residents are expected to internalize the RAs’ weekly lesson plans, even when Residents are not responsible for teaching them. During Deliberate Practice (DP) sessions, Residents will use the RAs’ lesson plans for DP simulations to help Residents absorb instructional content and apply appropriate teaching strategies.
- Communication: The RAs will be the primary liaison between Relay and the school partners. As such, they will communicate about Residents’ progress and performance at school. Relay’s faculty will keep the RAs informed about Residents’ learning and upcoming Relay assessment requirements.
- Feedback and Gateway Scoring: The RAs should use weekly meetings as an opportunity to provide Residents with instructional and professional feedback. As the primary coaches at the school level, RAs should observe Residents in action and provide concrete action steps so Residents are consistently pushed to grow as teachers. RAs will also be asked to formally score Residents on the gateway rubrics to give a school perspective on their progress to date.
Gradual On-Ramp to Teaching
The Relay Teaching Residency will provide Residents a carefully designed and structured on-ramp into teaching. Residents will teach more and take on increased responsibilities in the classroom as their skills develop and the school year progresses. For example, after Residents have been introduced to and learned about basic classroom management and culture, they will be asked to take on the responsibility of managing transitions in the class or setting the tone in the first few minutes of class to hone their skills. Proficiency and readiness to take on more teaching opportunities are dependent on school assessment of performance and the Relay Gateways. By late spring, Residents should be ready to move into more consistent teaching of at least one period a day in order to build stamina and demonstrate readiness for full-time teaching the following year. In the final weeks of the year, it is recommended that Residents teach for at least one or two full weeks to acclimate to the schedule of a full-time teacher. If Residents show promise and proficiency, the partner schools may accelerate their on-ramp in coordination with Relay.
All programmatic supports are intended to work in concert with one another. Thus, Residents learn about a concept during core or content class and then will both observe their Resident Advisor using this concept and practice it during Deliberate Practice. Through the gradual on-ramp, Residents will take on additional teaching responsibilities, allowing them to put this concept into action and be evaluated for proficiency through the Gateway assessments.
Resident Job Description
Apprentice Teacher with Resident Advisor
Residents need to spend a portion of every day in their RAs’ classrooms as an observer, apprentice teacher, or co-teacher, depending on the gradual on-ramp. This will provide Residents with several important opportunities to:
- Develop relationships with a group of PK–12 students and their families
- Observe and learn from the RA, who will model strong teaching
- Instruct small groups to support all learners
- Assist with grading and feedback for all students
- Co-teach with the Resident Advisor
- Practice specific teaching techniques in a classroom setting and receive feedback
Gradual On-Ramp–Aligned Teaching
The metaphor of a gradual on-ramp implies that Residents should gradually take on increased ownership of whole-class instruction. Residents are encouraged to share their job description and teaching schedule with their RAs and Relay faculty advisors so appropriate support can be provided. Above all, Residents should proactively and positively communicate and self-advocate to ensure there are ample, appropriate teaching opportunities.
Residents will be fully present members of a school community; like everyone else in the building, they will pitch in to serve students and advance the school’s mission. Across a given week and a given year, this means providing structured support and maintaining flexibility with school-specific changes or unforeseen events to ensure PK–12 students meet their goals. Residents can provide the school with support as/by:
- Teaching intervention blocks by subject or ongoing phonics or guided-reading instruction
- Pulling students to pre-teach or remediate critical concepts, as appropriate
- Tutoring individual students
- Coordinating school activities like “brain breakfast” or a rewards program
- With strategic support, teaching “specials” classes such as research, computer science, gym, or art
- Leading clubs or extracurricular activities
- Teaching SAT/ACT prep
- In-house substitute teaching, which provides opportunities to practice instruction and build classroom culture
- Leading homerooms or small-group advisories
- Supervising during morning, lunch, dismissal, or after school
- Providing organizational support by organizing materials or assessments (though this should not be more than 10 percent of their jobs)
It is Relay’shope that Residents find great success with their current school partner and position. Residents are expected to complete their entire Residency year at one school to ensure consistency in the Residency experience and to build strong relationships with students. If a Resident is thinking of making a change to their program or position (e.g. major change, Residency/Traditional M.A.T. program change, change to a different school site, withdrawal, or taking a leave of absence), they should contact their faculty advisor right away, as this may have implications for programmatic completion and Relay tuition.
School and Network Partnerships
Relay deeply values alignment and collaboration with partner schools, organizations, and networks. Principals and supervisors support the Relay model and want all Residents to take advantage of the RTR’s high-quality training, M.A.T. degree, and certification support. Schools align extensively with Relay to ensure Residents feel the work at Relay supports their growth, development, and responsibilities at the school level. Relay operates in full partnership with placement schools; as such, there will be consistent, direct, and open two-way communication between schools and Relay faculty.
For information on a particular school, network, or organization’s partnership with Relay and implications for Residency status, consult the Director of Residency at the applicable Relay campus.