We do. That's why we built R.E.A.L.®
"We are tired of what we see as a false dichotomy between learning activities that promote belonging and those geared towards rigor. R.E.A.L. does both, bringing DEI best practices into Humanities classrooms. We know that in order for discussion to be truly rigorous, every voice must be fully heard and every student must be challenged to grow.
The good news? R.E.A.L. is high impact, and fast! After one semester, 98% of students feel confident speaking up in discussion; 94% say they are able to disagree out loud with a classmate; and 85% show a growth mindset towards discussion. In today's world, this feels like a miracle, but there is a method behind it!"
- Liza Garonzik, Founder, R.E.A.L. Discussion
R.E.A.L.® partners with independent schools and equips Humanities faculty with a framework that empowers all students to find their voice in academic discussions. Our methods are research-based, tech-lite, and time-tested: yet, recent social media movements highlighting students' experiences feeling unheard in our classrooms make our mission more urgent than ever.
We offer hybrid PD, classroom materials, and a practitioners' network - all of which have been designed by and for independent school educators.
We aren't looking to encroach on teacher autonomy and we generally hate buzzwords. However, we do believe deeply in DEI & CBL - and that the best of both combine to make discussion more equitable and more rigorous. Ultimately, we just want to help Gen-Z students access the deeply human experience of great discussion: the kind where every voice is heard and every student is challenged to grow.
Our sweet spot:
R.E.A.L. advances school-wide initiatives around DEI and inclusive pedagogy, but the magic happens in humanities classrooms, grades 7-10. R.E.A.L. "demystifies" skills students need to be successful in upper level, seminar-style courses.
Every teacher who has used R.E.A.L. reports it makes discussion "more equitable" and "more rigorous." 96% report a direct impact on analytical writing. As one says: "With R.E.A.L. I know I will hear every student - and she will be heard by her classmates - and that just never gets old."
The stats speak for themselves. After one semester: 98% of students say they are "confident speaking up" and 94% say they can disagree out loud with a peer. 96% can point to specific examples of their active listening. They even keep using R.E.A.L. even when it's not required!
"The R.E.A.L. seminar showed me ... that when you empower students with clear strategies to participate in productive discussion, the richer and more diverse the content and voices in the conversation become. We spend so much time striving for deep, organic discussion but don't quite know how to create it. REAL shows you how. As a facilitator, Liza … has a great balance between learning, processing, and applying these techniques with concrete examples. You can walk away from the course with strategies that can immediately impact your classroom.”
Brunswick School (Greenwich, CT)
“Our integration of REAL has shifted discussion away from a stream of individual comments and towards a collaborative intellectual adventure that our classroom community forges together. In the era of hot takes, it's helpful to ground students in the values of listening and asking… Overall, I'm grateful for the ways in which REAL gives me and my students a shared language and set of values about skills that enrich discussions. It also makes grading discussion easier and less ambiguous because I am able to give more specific and actionable feedback to students regarding their contributions to the class conversation."
The Hewitt School (New York, NY)
"The R.E.A.L. Discussion Online Course was perfect for helping me envision how an equitable discussion would look in my classroom (even this year in our hybrid model) and then breaking it down into concrete, teachable skills for my students. Many of my students are mystified when it comes to reflecting on what makes a good discussion - even the chatty ones! I love the way the language of the four R.E.A.L. skills makes it possible for all students to talk specifically about what they’re working on in discussion and how it helps move the conversation forward."
Shady Hill School (Cambridge, MA)
“R.E.A.L. ensures I will hear every student’s voice, and, maybe more importantly, that every student will be heard by her classmates. That is simple but that engagement never gets old. R.E.A.L. also ties directly into analytical writing, which students appreciate, and I love. It just makes their so much writing better! I’ve talked with all of our teachers about using it next year.”
Atlanta Classical Academy (Atlanta, GA)
“One night of DQ Prep and one discussion later, students are already reporting feeling better prepared for and more productive in conversation with their peers. We have a ways to go but it’s exciting to see them already feeling better about themselves. I’ll keep observing and will bring it to other teachers next week after my students and I finish Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time next week!”
Greenwich Country Day (Greenwich, CT)
“Even in a year that has been the most challenging of my 20+ year career, I am grateful for learning about R.E.A.L. this past summer with Liza Garonzik. Not only did it help me better consider the HOW with student-led discussion, but it also helped better reveal the WHY. In our current technological age and political climate, in which everyone is talking but no one seems to be listening, discussion skills are more and more vital. Is there a more important calling for our times? For our students? R.E.A.L. provides a tangible framework for the essential skills -- relating, excerpting, asking, and listening -- that matter in and far beyond my English class."
The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA)
"I started using R.E.A.L. this year after the fully asynchronous training last summer. I am impressed by how much better our discussions are now, even during a pandemic and with students both in-person and remote. R.E.A.L. makes students more engaged with the reading - comprehension scores have gone up! - and helps them feel more connected to each other. I could never go back to me basic book discussions of the past!
Pembroke Hill School (Kansas City, MO)
"At the Shady Hill School Teacher Training Center, we value R.E.A.L. discussions about real issues. We have invited Liza to lead workshops for apprentice teachers and courses for faculty members. Whether presenting in-person or online, Liza empowers teachers to amplify student voice and brings resources that prompt deep reflection. Today, she is sharing the R.E.A.L. model with students and teachers all over the world. Now, more than ever, we need to teach students how to listen and bring kindness, empathy, and respect to others even when they disagree. Liza models this in the PD she leads and curriculum she designs -- REAL-ly!"
Executive Director, Shady Hill Teacher Training Center