Simulations and the ‘Missing Middle’ in Ed Leadership Preparation Programs

October 21, 2021

In this discussion, we will discuss how simulations have benefited educational leadership preparation programs at major higher education institutions around the country and how the same tools can be used for principal preparation programs in districts. You will hear firsthand how simulations have changed Dr. Dexter's perspectives on traditional teaching methods. Dr. Sara Dexter will speak about her personal experience and what she considers to be the 'missing middle.'

This webinar will address these questions:

  • What is the level of use of sims in educational leadership preparation programs at the national level in the U.S.?
  • What does program-wide usage of sims look like across an educational leadership preparation program?
  • Do sims build leadership self-efficacy through practice?  
  • What further research is needed to determine how, when, and where to use this instructional practice?

You can download Dr. Dexter’s slide deck here.

SchoolSims Live Demonstration



Sara Dexter is an associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia, with expertise in the leadership of technology and its use in the preparation of school leaders, and adult learning and development. She has been awarded over $6M dollars in external federal funding to support her research in these areas, and her findings has been published in leading educational technology and educational leadership journals. She has served as an Associate Director of the University Council of Educational Administration, and is currently the Program Coordinator of the Administration & Supervision program at UVA.

SchoolSims participants are afforded opportunities to work through authentic school-based issues and practice decision-making to improve learning and retention. By expanding their experience portfolio, aspiring and sitting teachers build resilience and extend capacity to prepare them for real-life challenges.

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SchoolSims provides a powerful and affordable way to deliver highly effective teacher training. Current and aspiring teachers are offered a chance to experience real-life scenarios that depict true events but in a simulated setting. Since there aren’t always right or wrong answers when it comes to human behavior, experimentation is encouraged within the simulation as there is no way to fail. Participants practice critical thinking and are encouraged to discuss the reasons behind their choices which allows for peer-to-peer learning.