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Who are we?

Our Mission

We thought we’d take a minute to introduce In R.E.A.L Time…a place for conversation about the art, science, and impact of student-led discussion.

We — Katherine Burd and Liza Garonzik — founded In R.E.A.L Time in the spring of 2020 to be a place for conversation about the art, science, and impact of student-led discussion. If that mission feels meta, it’s also born of what we see as a concrete need: an exchange focused explicitly on discussion and stocked with a blend of expertise, research, human interest stories, interdisciplinary connections, and fun!

The name In R.E.A.L.® Time comes from two places:

It is a nod to the note-taking method used in R.E.A.L.®Discussion; in both middle and high school models, students facilitate breaks in the conversation for everyone to “re-cap and respond” to a peer’s idea. In those moments, students practice interrogating why, exactly, they agree, or disagree, or don’t really get, the point at hand. We will embrace this “re-cap and respond” pattern for our Footnotes and Off-the-Syllabus posts.

In R.E.A.L.® Time also signals our commitment to addressing topics as they unfold. Our world – and our classrooms – are evolving rapidly, and the conversation about discussion practice needs to keep pace; we can’t afford to wait for the next issue, editorial round, or conference presentation. To that end, we promise that citations will be recent, interviews will be fresh, and comments will be thoughtfully acknowledged – not just retweeted or retorted to — within days not weeks.

Our Structure

We stoke the conversation with posts that fall into five general categories:

  • Protagonistsmodeled after the endpages of Vanity Fair, this series will highlight the main characters of our mission: the teachers out there hustling to make their students feel known, heard, and challenged through student-led discussion.
  • In the R.E.A.L.® World: imagined as a classroom resource to help give students a “why?” for their classroom practice, ITRW posts will invite people outside of schools to weigh in on how discussion skills matter in their workplaces.
  • Beyond the Syllabus: these posts will offer a round-up of resources that are “practice-adjacent,” as Katherine often says. Look forward to recs for podcasts, fiction and non, and TED talks that offer delightful – if surprising – ways to rethink or enrich discussion practice.
  • Footnotesthese posts will summarize the newest research related to student-led discussion. Think of it as teacher-approved SparkNotes (with better citations) for papers published by top schools of education and the best think tanks.
  • Office Hoursthese articles will feature content written by an expert in education, sometimes in interview form. Our guests will focus on an issue or idea rooted in their professional research or practice. Expect a range of people, places, and topics.

If you would like to be featured, or to nominate someone else awesome to be featured, on In R.E.A.L.®Time, get in touch with editor Katherine Burd.

Our Story

We grew up in the same town, attended the same wonderful school a few years apart, and recently re-connected online — through meandering, enriching exchanges about practice and pedagogy on The Athena Project. Since then, we have had many lively conversations circling around the challenges and necessity of good student-led discussion. We have felt the value of having the perspective of another teacher outside our day-to-day routines and want to create that resource for others. 

We recognize that our respective paths have allowed us to experience and study incredible discussions across our years as learners and educators. Katherine attended Phillips Exeter Academy before studying English at Davidson College, secondary teaching at University of Pennsylvania, and literature at Georgetown University. Along the way, she taught at two boarding schools, served as a mentor for Penn’s Residency Masters in Teaching program, and directed fellowships for Humanities teachers at Athena. When she’s not editing In R.E.A.L.Time, she teaches middle and high school English at an independent school in NYC. 

Liza went to Deerfield Academy before studying history and literature at Harvard, teaching at the Shady Hill Teacher Training Course, and education entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania. Her years as a middle school Humanities and high school English teacher were enriched by summer fellowships at the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, Exeter Humanities Institute, and the Athena project. Currently, Liza works in advancement at an independent school in Atlanta, doing her best to secure resources to support the magic her former colleagues make happen every day.

We “get” the irony of two girls from such similar backgrounds setting out to ignite great discussion. The potential for an echo chamber is quite … real … indeed! So please, join the conversation and broaden our horizons as well as your own. Here’s to the good work – and conversation – ahead!

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