As we turn the page to a fresh new year, we’re eager to see how seeds we planted in 2023 will bloom in 2024. One thing we’re most proud of from 2023? Developing our R.E.A.L.® Trainer program.
R.E.A.L.® Trainers are teachers or leaders who have experience using R.E.A.L.® in their classrooms. They join R.E.A.L.® to facilitate Certification Sessions for Humanities Teachers: day-and-a-half long, virtual workshops that bring together teachers and school leaders across the country to learn the R.E.A.L.® method and prepare to integrate it into their classrooms.
“One of the most fulfilling parts of the R.E.A.L.® Trainer program has been the way it has grown to embody a professional learning community in the true sense of the term,” says Emily Gromoll, Program Director and Architect of the R.E.A.L.® Trainer program. “Our trainers are thoughtful, skilled professional educators who take both an on-the-ground and a bird’s-eye view of what transformative learning looks like. They think deeply about how students and adults learn in different ways and use their own reflection cycles to grow as facilitators. And the way they connect with other educators over the joys and challenges of teaching discussion skills to students makes this nationwide community of R.E.A.L® teachers feel tight-knit.”
To dive deeper into Emily’s comments, here are three key reasons we’re so proud of the Trainer program.
1. R.E.A.L.® Trainers make PD authentic
R.E.A.L.® was originally developed by Founder Liza Garonzik in her classroom for her students, and Liza’s voice remains present in the trainings through a few videos. But R.E.A.L.® has been used — and, importantly, adapted! — by hundreds of teachers across the country in the last decade. Having teachers who have gone through the PD process serve as Trainers is, for lack of a better term, real. There is immediate trust and an ability to get tactical fast when teachers are talking to each other about teaching.
2. The R.E.A.L.® Trainer Program provides an “extracurricular” leadership opportunity to best-in-class faculty members at R.E.A.L.® Network Schools
Trainers build leadership and facilitation skills at a pace they cannot achieve in their home school communities – simply because there aren’t enough leadership roles to go around on campus! When they train for R.E.A.L.®, Trainers have a unique opportunity to learn about adult learners. Trainers learn about themselves – and how to balance their own story with the mission of the organization they are representing. In partnership with Program Director Emily, Trainers learn the critical leadership skill of preparing, performing, debriefing – and, unlike simply presenting at a conference, doing it again! These are all skills they take back with them to the Schools they serve in their full-time capacity.
3. The R.E.A.L. ® Trainer program gets more eyes on our PD experience – which means more feedback, more reflection, and more iteration.
We are able to evolve faster because we have more perspectives on the experience and can recognize and solve for patterns faster. Is there an FAQ that keeps coming up? Let’s change that section to proactively address it. Do participants seem confused about instructions for this exercise? Let’s re-write them. And the list goes on!
If we truly believe in the power of our work – and we do! – then it’s our responsibility to design our program to scale. We cannot have a single person’s calendar be the rate-limiting-step in whether teachers get the training they need to teach human communication skills in their classroom.
The R.E.A.L.® Trainer program is a highlight of 2023 for us. So, without further ado, click here to meet our inaugural class of Trainers!