5 Reasons Why Aspiring School Leaders Should Utilize Simulations

May 1, 2023

By Nick Kovalcik & Danielle Miller

Aspiring school leaders constantly search for ways to develop their skills and knowledge. While traditional training and professional development forms can be helpful, simulations offer a unique and engaging way to learn and practice real-life scenarios. Here are five reasons why aspiring school leaders should utilize simulations:

1. Gain Hands-on Experience

Simulations provide aspiring school leaders with hands-on experience in a safe and controlled environment. They can practice handling difficult situations, such as managing a crisis, dealing with a disruptive student, or handling a conflict between staff members. By practicing these scenarios in a simulation, aspiring school leaders can gain confidence and experience that will be invaluable when facing these challenges in the real world.

Erin Murray from the University of Connecticut discusses how simulations help her students make difficult decisions in a safe space and gain hands-on experience.


2. Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Simulations require aspiring school leaders to think critically and make decisions based on the information presented to them. They must analyze the situation, consider different options, and choose the best action. These critical thinking skills are essential for effective leadership, and simulations offer a unique opportunity to develop and hone them.

Ashley Ireland, Ed.D., from Loyola Marymount University, discusses how SchoolSims Simulation builds critical thinking skills and makes students comfortable with nuance.


3. Experiment With Different Approaches

Simulations allow aspiring school leaders to experiment with different approaches to common problems. They can try different leadership styles, communication techniques, and problem-solving strategies to determine which works best for them. This experimentation is valuable because it allows aspiring school leaders to find their leadership style and approach that resonates with them.

Dr. Ginger Watson Discusses the Power of Experiencing a Simulation More Than Once


4. Receive Immediate Feedback

In a simulation, aspiring school leaders receive immediate feedback on their actions and decisions. This feedback can help them identify areas to improve and adjust their approach. It also allows them to see the consequences of their choices in a safe and controlled environment, which can be a powerful learning experience.

Simulations provide immediate feedback and a chance for reflection and robust conversation. “Dr. Cox found that he measured the effectiveness of the simulations in his classroom by having group discussions and writing reflection papers after completing a simulation. “When conversations start happening within the classroom, that is how I know my students are obtaining and understanding the situations.” The students would walk away from the class having a different perspective and forward-thinking more as a leader than a student.” 

– Dr. Dale Cox, Educational Leadership, Utah Valley University

5. Collaborate With Others

Simulations allow aspiring school leaders to collaborate with others and learn from their peers. They can work together to solve problems and share ideas and strategies. This collaboration can help them build relationships and develop teamwork skills essential for effective leadership.

Amy Serafini, Ed.D From Auburn University Learns From Students Using Simulations


In conclusion, simulations are an effective and engaging way for aspiring school leaders to develop their skills and knowledge. Aspiring school leaders can become more effective and confident leaders by gaining hands-on experience, developing critical thinking skills, experimenting with different approaches, receiving immediate feedback, and collaborating with others.

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