For years, in classrooms across the country, a handful of teachers have taught some decision-making skills to their students. The Alliance for Decision Education is working to spread that work to every U.S. school, so that all students benefit from learning the powerful and life-long skills necessary to make improved decisions.
Toward that end, the Alliance launched a Teacher Fellowship program three years ago aimed at building a community of teachers who are committed to learning about Decision Education and sharing it with their students.
This month, the Alliance launched its largest Fellowship program, including 48 teachers ranging from New York to Hawaii to Puerto Rico. From August 2-5, 32 of them converged in Philadelphia for an Orientation where they shared ideas, energy, and excitement about how they hope Decision Education will reshape their work and their students’ lives. “I already envision so many different possibilities for the upcoming school year. I can’t wait to turn them into a concrete action plan as we continue our learning journey,” said Yishan Lee, an earth science teacher in Queens County, NY.
Through the Fellowship, teachers will work with Alliance staff to build their knowledge of Decision Education so they can then weave these techniques into unit and lesson plans, and help students improve their decision-making skills.
While this is the third year for the program, it is the first time teachers have been able to meet in person. And it made a difference. “We had the opportunity to build organic relationships,” said Nicole Campbell, a music teacher at Church Farm School in Philadelphia.
“Developing strong relationships with other educators is one of the keys to improvement as a teacher. It gives you someone to bounce ideas off, reflect with, and is a low-pressure way to get feedback from the people you most trust,” said Abby Sheffer, one of the Alliance Education Managers who organized the Orientation.
Megan Roberts, Alliance Director of Education, said she was energized to see how quickly the teachers connected to form a mutually supportive community. “Their collaboration, trust in one another and willingness to shift their instructional thinking is inspiring. It gives me great confidence that as a group, they will serve as leaders in integrating decision education into their classrooms, as well as helping us to systematize models that work for teachers nationally.”
The Orientation featured first-year fellows, and second-year fellows who are doing a deeper dive into Decision Education. The three days featured learning sessions like “Getting to Know the Alliance” and “Knowing Ourselves as Decision Makers.” And after each day of learning, teachers had the opportunity to bond—whether socializing or being mesmerized at the Museum of Illusions.
Alliance Executive Director Joe Sweeney, Ed.D., welcomed and thanked every teacher for their time and commitment to this work. Sweeney noted that once you start paying attention to decision-making, you realize that it is involved in everything that you do. And that decision opportunities matter over time, especially for students.
“There are a lot of impactful decisions and cumulative decisions that stack up in a person’s life. The growth of agency, I believe, comes from exercising decision-making, and getting feedback from the world and from trusted adults and peers,” Sweeney said. That’s why it’s imperative, he said, that the early adopters of DE—including the teachers at the Orientation—become the champions of the movement moving forward.
“Probably more important now than it’s been any time in the past is how do we prepare young people for life? What are the skills, dispositions, and knowledge that they need to contribute to the best life possible for those they love and care about, and for their communities? I am putting my shoulder behind this effort because I think it is the best hope for what can be great about education.”