Curriculum Highlights

Graduate students work together

Four Elements of Effective Instruction

At Relay, our curriculum focuses entirely on the educational theories and practices that improve student learning in the classroom. 

The Master of Arts in Teaching curriculum centers around four elements of instruction: building subject knowledge (Content), cultivating a fun and productive learning environment (Classroom Culture), developing personal connections with students and families (Self & Other People), and creating high-quality lessons (Teaching Cycle).


4 elements graphic

Program Structure and Assignments

We expect MAT candidates to set ambitious, attainable academic and character growth goals for students, track their progress towards those goals, and analyze student performance to inform instruction. Our program structure is designed to provide you with the opportunities for practice and individualized support needed to build these skills over time.  

The MAT curriculum is delivered 60% in-person and 40% online, and the majority of assignments consist of video submissions of your teaching in action and authentic classroom work samples (e.g., lesson plans).

Year 1: Positive Culture, Foundational Skills, and State Certification

In the first year, you’ll learn the basics of how to build relationships with students, families and colleagues; you’ll apply proven strategies for establishing a positive and productive classroom culture; you’ll learn teaching strategies specific to the grade levels and subject areas that you teach (e.g., high school biology); and you’ll develop skills in lesson planning and assessment design. You will also develop foundational knowledge and skills in data-driven instruction so that you can measure and track students' academic performance and character growth. In most states, you will need to pass certification exams by the time you complete the first year of the program in order to be eligible to begin the second year of the program.

“Relay is a hands-on program that aligns perfectly to teaching. I love attending Relay classes because I feel that they help me improve the way I teach, and my students benefit from it as a result.”

— Kai Lee, MAT

Year 2: Culturally Responsive Teaching, Advanced Skills, and Master’s Defense

In the second year, you’ll broaden your knowledge by focusing on unit planning and incorporating literacy across content areas. You will learn specific techniques to build rigorous and joyful classrooms — including principles for culturally responsive teaching that will enable you to create an inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds. Additionally, you will prepare for the Master's Defense, a capstone project in which you will analyze student performance and character growth and reflect on your own development as a teacher.

Educating All Students: Accommodations for Diverse Learners

Over the course of the two-year program, you will learn how to understand and intentionally respond to differences among the learners in your classroom. You will also develop skills to identify and implement accommodations that align with individual students’ needs. In particular, you will learn how to use Universal Design for Learning to accommodate learner variability during whole-group instruction.

Relay offers a Special Education Certification program for teachers who would like to further build their skills to support students with exceptional needs after completing the MAT program. Learn more about Special Education Certification.