Relay Teaching Residency: Chicago

Female graduate student in Relay class.


At Relay, we focus every aspect of the graduate school experience on what it takes to dramatically improve student learning in the classroom. We expect residents to ensure that their own students achieve at least one year of academic progress and character development in one year’s time.

To help them accomplish this goal, we organize residents' master’s coursework around four elements of effective instruction: content, classroom culture, self and other people, and the teaching cycle. During their two years at Relay, residents complete about 50 modules that span these four elements. These modules vary in length, and they spiral throughout the program to strengthen our residents’ understanding of and ability to apply each lesson.

Year One

In the first year, graduate students learn the basics of how to build relationships with students, families and colleagues, as well as fundamentals of classroom management, lesson planning and assessment design. They develop foundational knowledge and skills in data-driven instruction, so they can measure and track students' academic achievement and growth.

Year Two

In the second year, graduate students broaden their knowledge by focusing on unit planning and incorporating literacy across content areas. They also learn specific techniques that help them build rigorous and joyful classrooms — the kind of learning environments that encourage both academic achievement and character development. They also begin preparing for the Master's Defense, a capstone project in which they track how students in their P-12 classrooms grow throughout the year.


Throughout the two years, graduate students develop subject and grade level-specific specializations through content modules. Currently, Relay Chicago’s Teaching Residency includes a master’s curriculum with the following majors:

  • Middle Grades Mathematics (Grades 5-8)
  • Secondary Mathematics (Grades 9-12)
  • Middle Grades General Science (Grades 5-8)
  • Secondary Science—Biology (Grades 9-12)
  • Secondary Science—Chemistry (Grades 9-12)
  • Middle Grades Social Science (Grades 5-8)
  • Secondary Social Science—History (Grades 9-12)
  • Middle Grades/Language Arts (Grades 5-8)
  • Secondary English/Language Arts (Grades 9-12)
  • Elementary Education (Grades 1-6)
  • Special Education (Grades PK-Age 21)  

Additional Support for Residents

The Relay Teaching Residency builds upon the M.A.T. experience by providing residents access to this high-lever curriculum in addition to four elements proven to support aspiring educators.

Deliberate Practice

Practice is the most promising pathway to excellent teaching. Deliberate practice — that is, practice with a focus on the concrete and specific teaching skills that maximize impact in the classroom — is a cornerstone of the Residency experience. Residents participate in weekly practice sessions, each lasting three hours, to develop and refine their teaching skills. Residents are released from their teaching responsibilities and join Relay faculty and other Residents from the region for these sessions.

Gradual On-Ramp to Teaching

The Relay Teaching Residency provides residents with a carefully structured, gradual on-ramp to teaching as their skills and effectiveness increase during the first year. As they develop their skills and the school year progresses, Residents teach more often and take on more responsibilities in the classroom. By late spring, Residents should be ready to teach at least one period a day and demonstrate overall readiness for full-time teaching the following year. For Residents who show early promise, partner schools may accelerate the on-ramp.


Because Relay’s programs focus on performance, there are multiple performance assessments and several advancement “gateways” during the first year. These assessments help Relay faculty determine if the Resident is making adequate progress toward becoming a full-time teacher. Assessments include video reviews and observations, as well as reviews of lesson plans, reflections, data trackers and data-driven action plans. Gateways are broader benchmark assessments that determine a Resident’s ability to move to the next level in the program.

Support from Resident Advisors

Relay asks that each partner school provide each Resident with a Resident Advisor on campus. The Resident Advisor is a master teacher at the Resident’s campus who mentors and supports the Resident during the first year of the program. The Resident Advisor is meant to provide a window into teaching, and into the curriculum and culture of the partner school. In this role, the Resident Advisor fulfills several responsibilities to assist Residents’ development, including modeling and co-teaching, curriculum and lesson-planning and communication with Relay.