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Teacher Training As ‘Part Theater, Part Sport’

For student teachers in their first year at Relay Graduate School of Education, Friday mornings are all about sweating the small stuff — down to the intonation of a single word.

Relay set out nearly a decade ago to prepare a new generation of teachers for the nitty-gritty of the classroom in the way, critics have long charged, traditional graduate schools of education do not.

A now famous 2006 report found that 62 percent of new teachers said they didn’t feel prepared for the reality of today’s classrooms. Its author, Arthur Levine, was then president of Teachers College, Columbia University and became a member of Relay’s board.

Focusing on that real-world preparation is what Relay’s leaders say is fueling its growing popularity. “There are a lot of teachers, schools and districts hungry for a really practical approach to teacher prep,” says the school’s dean, Mayme Hostetter.