Contributed by Brian Hemsworth | Adelson DECA, NV
It’s safe to say that all DECA advisors and students have, at some point, had to answer the question "What’s DECA?"
As I enter my third year as an advisor, I can think of more than a dozen ways I’ve answered this question since finding out about DECA myself. Gathering feedback from the questioner's face has helped me shape my new go-to answer.
Instead of answering with acronym alphabet soup (CTE, CTSO, ICDC, etc.), I find myself starting off with the DECA mission statement and then describing a role-play. Though there are countless ways to get involved and compete in DECA, the role-play sets itself apart as DECA’s bread and butter.
In addition to preparing your chapter’s emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe (see – I told you it was good), the role-play will help your students gain confidence when speaking to anyone. Convincing a 14-year-old 9th grader that later in the year they will be confident enough to speak to an adult stranger about the Promotional Mix is a tall task, but here’s how I go about it.
Quarter 1: Use Technology to Get Students Comfortable
During your school’s first quarter, let students (especially your new members) dip their toes into role-play waters using free technology such as ‘Flip’ (formerly FlipGrid). Use DECA’s extensive list of Classroom Resources, or DECA+, and browse to find a role-play that your 4th-year seniors can complete alongside a student new to DECA. I find that marketing role-plays work best. On a Friday in class or at a chapter meeting, give students time to research Performance Indicators, make notes or even script a response and practice speaking to a screen. Some will be ready to record before the class or meeting ends, while others will insist on filming over the weekend. Be sure to default Flip to hide responses unless students tell you it can be shown to all – students need to trust that no one will see their responses until they are ready to show them. The following week, ask experienced students or your chapter officers to volunteer their responses to be shown. Then, teach your chapter how to leave constructive feedback – last year my students gave each other hundreds of comments and thousands of views.
Quarter 2: Involve Your Community! – Find a Local Business Owner With a Problem
During quarter two, challenge yourself or your chapter officers to find a small business owner to guest speak to your students. During the visit, be sure to ask what current challenges he/she is facing. Afterward, do your best DECA role-play writer impression and create a meaningful DECA-style role-play from the visit. Here are examples from the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years.
Quarter 3: Involve Parents & Teachers in Your School Community to Judge a Mock-Competition
About two to four weeks before your association-level competition, plan a mock competition at your school site. If you have the support of administrators, holding the event during the school day will get the most participation, otherwise after school or on a weekend is best. Have your students compete in their desired Career Cluster and mimic as much as you can from the upcoming ‘real thing’. Use your school’s email list or PTO to recruit judges. Training is minimal – teach judges to look for performance indicators and be sure to pick a winner!
No matter where you are in your school calendar, it’s not too late to start! Get students comfortable with role-plays, create your own that involves a local businesses, and invite school community members to serve as judges at a mock competition before competition. My students and I hope to see you at #DECAICDC!
Brian Hemsworth teaches Business Principles, Entrepreneurship, and Personal Finance at the Adelson School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s a National Board Certified teacher in Adolescent Mathematics and has a Master’s Degree in Special Education. During the 2021-2022 school year, nearly half of Adelson DECA’s students qualified for ICDC. He relies on the support and guidance of Nevada DECA Directors and fellow advisors and attributes the chronological guide presented in the article as the reason for the chapter’s success.