8 Reasons Current & Aspiring Leaders Say Professional Development is Better with SchoolSims

August 30, 2021

By Nick Kovalcik

Over the years, we have taken valuable feedback from our clients and used it to tell others why simulations are the right choice for your organization’s professional development program. School leaders sift through past experiences when confronted with challenging situations, searching for relevant instances to draw knowledge. If learning from your mistakes is the best way to experience growth, how do we provide these learning experiences to current and aspiring leaders? SchoolSims provides software simulations for current and aspiring school leaders and current and aspiring teachers. The goal of a simulation is to manufacture experiences that would not otherwise be available until a real-life situation occurs. The simulation allows you to practice and improve your decision-making skills and judgment. A simulation also allows you to fail in a safe space because of course, we all learn best by making mistakes and experiencing the consequences of our decisions. A simulation has 6-8 decision points, with there never being a perfect choice because that is not real life. The simulations include videos with actors, incoming emails, incoming phone calls, discussions with parents, superintendents, and other school stakeholders. The simulation content is developed with K-12 districts and colleges/universities from around the country. Here, we go over 8 reasons current and aspiring leaders say professional development is better with SchoolSims.


(1) Real-life experiences

Every one of our simulations has a backstory. Each simulation narrative is inspired by the real-life experiences of instructors and leaders who have experience with scenarios inside of SchoolSims and TeacherSims. We take their experiences and turn them into a story for others to share and work through. The goal is to build the experience portfolio of current and aspiring school leaders and teachers. Building experience allows for improved decision-making and judgment when faced with a difficult situation in real life. However, some individuals think to themselves, “I have had the same experience, but what might I have done differently, so I do not repeat the same mistakes?” Because we use genuine narratives from real people, our approach differs from that of our competitors. In addition, when playing through a simulation, you can make choices that you may not make in real-life in order to experience different consequences and learn from them.


(2) Ability to fail in a safe environment

Why are our simulations built for participants to fail? Many simulation participants gain experience without facing the real-life negative impact of a wrong decision by making mistakes or realizing that there is no perfect answer to a complex problem in most cases. Experiencing failure is an excellent way to grow as a leader. The good news is that with simulations, you can fail without suffering any negative consequences, unlike in real life, and you also receive relevant feedback at the end of a simulation to reflect on the implications of your decisions. You can play a simulation 100 times, each time taking a different path. If a situation like this ever develops at your school, you will know how to handle it properly while reducing your risk. It may not be the same situation, but you will be better prepared to handle any challenge by practicing. 


(3) Opportunities to engage in challenging topics

The SchoolSims Simulation Library has a wide array of topics (Problems of Practice) for you to experience. Our clients select the simulation they use based on the time of the year, in order to prepare for tasks such as budgeting, eval;uating teachers, and more. Some issues are tough to approach, and conversing about them might be difficult, so we create simulations that help prepare you for these types of discussions Below is a list of topics you can choose from:


  • Equity-focused Simulations
  • Social-Emotional Issue Simulations
  • Difficult Conversation Focused Simulations
  • Instructional & Operations Leadership Simulations
  • Student Safety & Security Simulations
  • Simulations for Current Teachers
  • Simulations for Aspiring Teachers


(4) Alignment with professional standards

SchoolSims are designed to align with professional standards. Because simulations immerse participants in school-based scenarios like those that occur in real life, they provide an opportunity to practice evaluating context and applying the appropriate measures in a risk-free environment. Below is a list of professional standards that we align with:


  • PSEL
  • NELP
  • CAEP 
  • InTASC
  • CPS Standards


(5) Engaging and thought-provoking

SchoolSims allow for in-depth discussions among current and/or aspiring school leaders as they dig deeper into challenges and uncover potential systemic opportunities in their facilities while gathering feedback from their peers. Initiating meaningful debate about current challenges allows people to seek advice and share lessons in order to grow.


(6) Collaboration opportunities with peers when used synchronously

SchoolSims are an excellent way for current and aspiring leaders and teachers to have hands-on experience with and collaborate on a specific subject simulation while looking for ways to improve student academic performance. Because the participants will have standard reference points, personalities, and backgrounds, this shared experience provided more exciting debate and continued contact. The simulations offer a collaborative opportunity for leaders to:


  • Exercise judgment and improve decision making
  • Experience consequences and build resilience
  • Get feedback for reflecting and learning
  • Engage in peer-to-peer discussion


(7) Self-learning opportunities when used asynchronously

While you may have previously conducted in-person, facilitated sessions, giving existing or aspiring leaders asynchronous access to play simulations has shown to be an effective leadership training method. We know this because some of our clients use our library completely asynchronously, based on the demographics of their organizations. Participants can play the simulations wherever they are asynchronously, and this anywhere and anytime access allows for additional growth, on the participant’s time, and the opportunity for future discussion and collaboration with teammates, a mentor/coach, or supervisors.


(8) Interviewing process tool

Our simulations are also an excellent tool to test your candidates during the hiring process. Simulations can demonstrate a candidate’s ability to make decisions as well as their judgment. Organizations ranked candidates in the interviewing process based on the feedback report they received at the end of our simulations. This is something that many of our clients have implemented, resulting in new hires settling in quickly with the organization.


Thank you for taking the time to read our latest blog post. Do you want to learn more about how SchoolSims might benefit your organization? Please fill out the form below, and we will gladly answer any questions you may have!