At R.E.A.L.® we’re big believers in the power of conversation. Yet in 2022, our org-wide resolution was to listen more – and talk less. So what did we hear?
One message was loud and clear: R.E.A.L.® is about so much more than class discussion. A sixth grader told us it’s about “becoming a civilized being.” A ninth grader said REAL skills are “not just for school but jobs and relationships.” An Academic Dean said “It’s re-centering humanity in education!” An industry leader said it’s “everything ChatGPT is not.”
So in 2023, we are embracing the idea – your collective idea – that R.E.A.L.® is not only about teaching conversation skills in Humanities classrooms. It’s about building human-centered school cultures in a tech-centric world.
But, before we get too excited about 2023 – let’s reflect on 2022, beginning with wholehearted thanks.
- Thank you to the dozens of school leaders and hundreds of teachers in the R.E.A.L.® network. Change is never easy, but your vision, heart, and elbow grease have empowered your students and school communities to talk, trust, and listen to each other.
- Thank you, too, to association leaders, editors, and strategic partners. You helped us find our voice at conferences, in publications, on podcasts … and we are infinitely grateful.
And then there are programmatic highlights worth celebrating! In 2022 we:
- Said Hello to R.E.A.L.® Discussion Dashboards: this new tool offers mission-aligned data on class discussions. Instead of analyzing air-time (“how many times did you talk?”), R.E.A.L.® Dashboards empower teachers with meaningful metrics. Read our annual report to check out examples from a 10th grade English class.
- Said Good-bye to “One-and-Done!” PD: our PD now engages faculty all year round! This redesign began by training R.E.A.L® Trainers, who facilitated R.E.A.L.® Certification for new teachers last summer. That cohort of 130+ “Discussion Nerds” is now a thriving Professional Learning Community, engaging with Office Hours (Coaching), Study Seshes (Teacher Webinars), and Round Tables (Admin Webinars). Early feedback is in – and effusive: it feels like “teacher therapy;” it is “such a luxury to have someone supporting me – as Dept chair, I support everyone;” “it’s a chance to zoom out and reconnect with my why;” “there is so much laughter amidst deeply thoughtful points.”
- Raised external profile of R.E.A.L® : thanks to association partners, we hit the conference circuit hard this Fall. Our sessions were diverse – teaching listening skills … drafting discussion philosophies … engaging Gen-Z learners …facilitating for polarity management – but at all ten events, someone said it was “the best [session / PD / workshop] ever.” This is a testament to prescient event organizers – and we are proud to be out in the world offering ideas that stick.
- Built our internal team: behind the scenes, we’ve built a talented, mission-driven team! Emily Gromoll leads all-things-PD and comes to us as a former Department Chair and Instructional Coach; Molly Donovan heads up Comms after having served as Head of Communications at Carney Sandoe; Cotter Donnell directs School Partnerships with empathy and strategy given his previous role as an Associate Head; Oohaa Vennapusa takes care of ops with an efficiency she learned at Deloitte. Our intern program continues to thrive (and keeps us all grounded in Gen-Z life). Together, we are here to help and love nothing more than a great conversation – so please reach out.
Thank you for an incredible year. Here’s to 2023 – may it be full of real, and deeply human, conversations!
To read our full 2022 Annual Report, click here.
With gratitude and excitement,
Founder, R.E.A.L.® Discussion