Do Not Lose Focus on Building Your Leadership Pipeline

May 14, 2020

By: Ken Spero Founder of SchoolSims

Given the urgent challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, districts may not believe it possible to continue to effectively focus on the critical objective of building a leadership pipeline.  Fortunately, by deploying online simulations, districts can provide both sitting and aspiring leaders with developmental opportunities to experience problems of practice in a collaborative and communication-rich manner.  Online, collaborative simulations provide organizations a chance to contextualize learning for their participants even when it is not possible to be together in person.

Professional development is often viewed as something that must be done on campus and in-person.

Several districts – mostly those in rural areas – have incorporated virtual learning into their programs.  While those districts made the move out of necessity, the success of those programs has inspired districts, big and small, urban and rural, to look at online professional development as an effective way to bring learning to their teams.  From personalized learning playlists to simulations, now is the time to truly embrace the world of online professional development – there is nothing to lose.

Current events have demonstrated a need for school leaders to be critical thinkers who are able to respond to unanticipated circumstances in a thoughtful way. Unprecedented situations underscore that leadership instruction is often not enough and that experience serves as the best catalyst to build “muscle memory” and enable mindful decision making.  Simulations provide a meaningful “learn-by-doing” opportunity as they require participants to exercise judgment in realistic scenarios. Students weather the consequences of their decisions so that they expand their experience portfolios from which they can draw upon in real life.

There are times when there is no good answer or when the best answer also has significant associated negatives. When it comes to dealing with context-driven issues, the challenge is to not just make people more comfortable with making decisions but to empower them to make the tough decisions and to solve the tough problems. Simulations provide a depth of learning through realistic feedback which helps to crystalize what has been experienced and to truly connect the dots.  Simulations extend learning to include feedback from the trade-offs that are made along the way so that participants can:

  • gain insight and understanding of the issues at play in the problem of practice
  • see the cause and effects that manifest in each scenario and/or in the broader context
  • obtain insight into how stakeholders, beyond the obvious ones, are affected by every decision

·      understand the impact of time and what drives student achievement.