Teaching Kindness and Character: An Interview with Penny Austen

Teaching Kindness and Character: An Interview with Penny Austen

Penny Austen is the founder of ThinkGive, a SEL program that helps students build character, confidence, and connection. What follows is a conversation between Penny and R.E.A.L. ® founder Liza Garonzik. This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity. Liza: Penny, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re thrilled to have you, as…

Breaking it Down: The “L” in R.E.A.L., Part II: Listening to Facilitate and Listening for Feedback

Breaking it Down: The “L” in R.E.A.L., Part II: Listening to Facilitate and Listening for Feedback

R.E.A.L.® Discussion is a program that equips faculty to teach, measure, and celebrate discussion skills  – which students use in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on the court, and, even, at the grocery store (said one sixth grade girl) and on dates (shared a ninth grade boy)!  The system is based on the four R.E.A.L.®…

The “Extrovert Ideal” and the Problem with Typical Classrooms

The “Extrovert Ideal” and the Problem with Typical Classrooms

As Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, said in a now-famous TED Talk, “Our most important institutions – our schools and our workplaces – are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts’ need for lots of stimulation.” Indeed, in rejecting the lecture-based classes of…

3 Critical Listening Skills for Middle Schoolers

3 Critical Listening Skills for Middle Schoolers

Listening skills are critical for students of all ages. They matter for academics, friendship, and all relationships – and yet, most schools stop proactively teaching students how to listen after age eight! Even then: children are most often taught how to “listen-to-comply” rather than the art of true, deep listening.  At R.E.A.L.®, we know that…

Congratulations to the Winners of Our 2nd Annual Student Essay Contest!

Congratulations to the Winners of Our 2nd Annual Student Essay Contest!

We are delighted to announce the winners of The Second Annual R.E.A.L. ® Discussion National Essay Contest! We invited the thousands of students who have used R.E.A.L.® this year to submit an essay exploring the differences between communicating in-person and on-screen. We asked for predictions about how Gen-Z will communicate in 10 years, and we…

R.E.A.L.® Teacher Feature: Holly Silberman

R.E.A.L.® Teacher Feature: Holly Silberman

Thank you to Holly Silberman for sharing her REAL life with us! Holly is a middle school English teacher at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. Here are her thoughts on discussion, R.E.A.L.®, and learning. Name/Hometown: Holly Silberman/Doylestown, Pennsylvania Current School: William Penn Charter School, where I teach sixth and eighth grade English. Can you…

Starting with the Student: A Conversation with Emily Weinstein

Starting with the Student: A Conversation with Emily Weinstein

Dr. Emily Weinstein is a Principal Investigator at Harvard’s Project Zero, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the founding Co-Director of the Center for Digital Thriving at Harvard Graduate School of Education. What follows is a conversation between Emily and R.E.A.L. ® Founder Liza Garonzik. This conversation has been lightly edited…

Discussion as a Team Sport: Teaching Today’s Kids with a Skills-Based Approach

Discussion as a Team Sport: Teaching Today’s Kids with a Skills-Based Approach

Adults everywhere lament kids’ conversational skills (or lack thereof) – in schools, restaurants, around family dinner tables. The causes are debatable and myriad: blame iPads, TikTok, parents, politics, COVID – the list goes on!  Here’s what’s not up for debate: today’s students struggle to communicate…especially live, in-person, and across any kind of difference. As teachers…

Why Teachers Deserve Instructional Coaches: 5 Questions with Emily Gromoll

Why Teachers Deserve Instructional Coaches: 5 Questions with Emily Gromoll

Teachers don’t always get the feedback they want and need. At R.E.A.L.®, we’re trying to change that with our program that offers on-demand instructional coaching for the educators within our network.  We sat down with R.E.A.L.® Director of Program Emily Gromoll to chat about feedback: what it typically looks like for teachers, what it would…