Letter from Relay GSE's Co-Founder & President
Nearly one year ago, Relay GSE opened its doors, welcoming novice teachers to our two-year graduate program in New York and our one-year alternative certification program in New Jersey. We’ve made wonderful progress in our inaugural year, helping teachers to develop the skills, knowledge, and mindset to lead their K-12 students to demonstrable learning gains.
At the same time, we’re working purposefully to grow and improve our practice, ensuring that many more children have the effective teachers they need to continue on the path to college and success beyond. Although we initially started with programs serving elementary and middle school teachers, we’ve recently been approved by the State of New York to operate programs serving high school math, science, English, and social studies teachers.
As we head into our second year, and in light of some inaccuracies that have circulated about Relay GSE on a few web blogs, I wanted to emphasize four important points about our institution of higher education:
- Relay GSE Student Body: From the outset, Relay GSE – and Teacher U at Hunter College before it – intended to serve diverse teachers from charter and district public schools. Relay GSE has always been and remains eager to recruit, admit, and enroll district school teachers. We anticipate that a third of graduate students in the cohort we’ll welcome next month, Relay GSE’s Class of 2014, will be teachers from DOE schools across New York City. In time, at least half of our graduate students – and hopefully more – will be district school teachers.
- Relay GSE Instructional Model: At Relay GSE, novice teachers learn both content pedagogy unique to their specific subject and grade level and general pedagogy knowledge – including strategies to engage students, skills to plan units and lessons, a framework to model and teach strong character, and much more. Relay GSE’s teacher education program is hybrid – 60% of instruction is delivered in-person at weeknight and weekend sessions and 40% is delivered online through our innovative learning management system. We want graduate students to get focused, individualized coaching and graduate-level coursework that they can learn from and complete when it’s maximally convenient.
- Relay GSE Teacher Evaluation System: I am proud that Relay GSE has created a program that requires more out of our graduate students than simply completing the curriculum and moving through material. To that end, Relay GSE’s graduation requirements are comprehensive, taking into account K-12 student outcomes as measured by reading growth or standards mastery, success on Relay GSE’s 60 teacher training modules, rubric-based classroom observations conducted by Relay GSE faculty members, and overall performance on the capstone Master’s Defense project. Relay GSE’s program is proficiency-based, meaning graduate students move through the program — and earn credit toward graduation — at a pace and in a way that ensures each graduate student masters the material. Relay GSE’s graduation requirements were recently included in a new report by ConnCAN, 50CAN, and Public Impact, "Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: A Look ‘Under the Hood’ of Teacher Evaluation in 10 Sites."
- Relay GSE Higher Education & Accreditation Status: As an independent institution of higher education – the first to be newly-licensed by New York State in more than 80 years – Relay GSE operates an Alternative Teacher Preparation program leading to a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and teaching certification. In addition to its charter from New York State, Relay GSE has also earned programmatic accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is a candidate for regional institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Now, more than ever, we know that all children, and particularly those from low-income communities, need and deserve multiple effective teachers in a row to have any shot at college and success in life. Relay GSE, the teachers we serve, and the districts, charter schools, and organizations with whom we partner are working urgently to ensure that more students have access to and can benefit from a “relay” of great teachers. We take our role and responsibility in this work very seriously, and will continue to build and grow a path-breaking institution of higher education that will help prepare the next generation of great teachers.
Co-Founder & President