Best Practices for Using SchoolSims

Q: What are SchoolSims?

A: School Sims are video-based, interactive simulations designed for aspiring, novice, and experienced school leaders and teachers. School Sims provides a safe learning environment where participants gain leadership experience without any real-world consequences. Experience is the best teacher!

Q: How can we use sims at our school?

A: Please see below for suggestions on how to use simulations for the different groups of leaders at your school.

ASPIRING LEADERS

Q: Why are SchoolSims the best tool for aspiring leaders (such as principal pipelines)?

A: Aspiring leaders need experience as leaders, and SchoolSims provides aspiring leaders relevant experiences that help them grasp the complexity of these leadership roles. One of the best ways to use SchoolSims with aspiring leaders is to establish monthly meetings for one hour each month. Invite a group of between 2 – 50 aspiring leaders to these monthly meetings and lead them through one simulation per month. The following is a schedule of recommended simulations for aspiring leaders:

● September – Academic Goal Setting
● October – Dress Code
● November – New Teacher Evaluation
● December – Special Education
● January – Girls’ Basketball Coach
● February – Disruptive Teacher
● March – Cultural Competency
● April – Cyberbullying
● May – End of School Year

PSEL SchoolSims Standards Alignment

NOVICE LEADERS

Q: Why are SchoolSims the best tool for novice leaders (such as assistant principals, early-career principals, etc.)?

A: Novice leaders need experience in the intricacies of school leadership, and SchoolSims can provide these experiences in a safe environment. For example, leadership development personnel could invite between 2 – 50 novice leaders to their monthly meetings and finish these meetings with a simulation that lasts approximately one hour. At each decision point, the facilitators could point out opportunities for novice leaders to reach out to a mentor principal to ask for advice on how to lead in that situation. When novice leaders experience the power of reaching out to a mentor, they will be less likely to feel as though they are the only school leader facing the difficult decisions before them. The following is a list of recommended simulations for each month:

● September – School Safety
● October – Student Support (Transgender)
● November – Middle School Turnaround
● December – Comprehensive Role of School Counselors
● January – Virtually Leading a School Counseling Program
● February – Recognizing and Reporting Abuse and Neglect
● March – Finding and Leveraging Voice (ELL)
● April – Community Partnerships – Digital Readiness
● May – Student in Crisis

SchoolSims NELP Standards Alignment

EXPERIENCED LEADERS

Q: Why are SchoolSims the best tool for experienced leaders?

A: Many district-level leaders find it challenging to provide relevant and engaging professional learning for their experienced leaders. One solution to that challenge is for a leadership director, assistant superintendent, or superintendent to facilitate one School Sim at the end of monthly admin meetings to build leadership capacity amongst their experienced leaders. SchoolSims provide natural pauses at each decision point, which are excellent opportunities for experienced leaders to discuss how their experiences shape their current decisions or how their implicit biases came into play during a decision point. The following is a list of recommended simulations for each month:

● September – Difficult Conversations – Race
● October – Equity: Exploring Beneath the Surface
● November – Navigating the Politics of Equity-Based Budgeting
● December – Stakeholder Management
● January – Managing Diversity in a Growing Community
● February – Emerging Challenges of Distributed Leadership
● March – Cultural Competency
● April – Difficult Conversations – Race
● May – Administrator: First Week on the Job

Use Simulations Across Educational Leadership Lifecycle

TEACHERS

Q: Why are SchoolSims the best tool for teachers?

A: Many teachers have a natural curiosity for what happens when the principal’s door is closed. Teachers who experience SchoolSims tend to come away with a broader perspective of what happens at the building-level, promoting a more positive culture and climate.

DIFFERENT WAYS TO USE SCHOOLSIMS

Q: Is it better to facilitate a School Sim synchronously or asynchronously?

A: Most facilitators prefer synchronously because of the natural back and forth communication between people in the same room. However, when SchoolSims are used asynchronously, the aspiring, novice, or experienced school leaders feel more freedom to repeat the simulation three or even four times to try new decisions and learn from decisions they may not ever choose in real life. When school leaders make decisions within a simulation in the same room as their peers, they tend to make decisions that won’t make them look foolish in front of their peers.

Q: Are SchoolSims better in person or via video conferencing like Zoom?

A: SchoolSims are better in person because of the natural back and forth communication between people in the same room. However, some facilitators of SchoolSims like Zoom better because Zoom offers polls (quick results at each decision point) and breakout rooms (less distraction than a room of people talking).

SchoolSims provides a risk-free environment through software simulations where participants have an opportunity to fail as they face difficult situations. Our simulations, which allow you to choose your own “adventure,” essentially accelerate time, allowing participants to decide on a course of action, implement it, and experience its consequences, all within the same exercise.

The inclusion of SchoolSims simulation software in your professional development program will result in a deeper experience catalogue for current and aspiring leaders, improved retention of K-12 leaders, and have a positive impact on teacher and student performance and the communities they serve.