Transforming School Leadership Using Simulations

September 8, 2022

By Nick Kovalcik & Danielle Miller

The goal of a school leader is frequently to make things easier for staff members and to promptly and effectively give a framework for problems involving kids, the team, or the school. To do this, some schools cultivate new abilities, such as curiosity and divergent thinking, to encourage fresh ideas and increased innovation. The leadership programs are unfamiliar with these kinds of talents. Roleplay, practical work experience, and immersive simulations are ways to improve these new talents.

It takes humility and the capacity to make errors to be a leader. Insecurity arises when a person lacks self-assurance, and this leads to issues. Agility, sensitivity, and humility are necessary for leaders. Leadership abilities like curiosity, critical thinking, and learning aptitude are crucial in today’s schools. In some circumstances, particularly in conventional institutions, unlearning and acquiring new habits are crucial. However, doing it can be challenging and takes practice. Everyday learning requires leadership, but learning takes practice in professional settings.

Although roleplaying on a large scale and continuously can be challenging, they are a crucial component of leadership development. It requires much preparation to make roleplaying realistic, and it is rarely possible to do it in the way that software owners desire. Learning is challenging when the demand on school administrators always to be correct and perform is added. Employees do not want to spend their workday sitting through long, complex, or heavy training programs. Large amounts of information are not retained by them, especially if a significant portion of it is not pertinent to their job. When they return to their units, even highly motivated and well-trained personnel occasionally struggle to put their new knowledge and skills into practice. Conventional training also frequently prioritizes knowledge acquisition above the application of skills.

Dr. Reginald Pierre-Jerome, the Leadership Coordinator at The School District of Broward County, explains just how important these real-life experiences are to leadership development.

“Newly appointed assistant principals are exposed to simulations at our monthly cohort sessions to get ‘real-life’ experience in school situations across the country. The simulations provide a safe space to practice decision-making and apply what is taught in instructional sessions to develop the skills to be an effective leader.”

Read more about Broward’s journey here.

Immersive simulations, which are simple to scale and can be of high quality, assist these problems by offering realistic scenarios. They are reliable and give room for practice and introspection. Even though there is not a live instructor there, they still offer just-in-time coaching and feedback in settings that are psychologically conducive to learning. In group settings, simulations allow users to learn from their peers and their experiences. Listening to peers’ experiences, in itself, is a powerful learning tool. The data that simulations provide is a significant point of distinction. Without data indicating their weaknesses and strengths, it is impossible to develop leaders and provide the appropriate support.

In its Leadership Lab, Lincoln Financial used immersive simulations with considerable success. 140 staff underwent immersive simulation training for critical conversations, coaching, and feedback in the first phase. Many participants commented on how realistic the simulations were and how they had the chance to enter and use critical thinking before choosing a choice. Following each simulation, there was just-in-time coaching with tools they could utilize and bring back to the team.

While many leadership programs use business simulations that focus on adjusting operational and financial levers to improve organizational performance, educational simulations provide scenarios for school leaders to help them deal with the daily challenges of leading a school. School leaders need these professional development options to build upon their leadership skills.

The key to changing ineffective leadership behaviors is preparing leaders with the mastery of crucial people skills through simulation and practice.

Dishman, Lydia. “This Is the Secret to Transform a Bad Boss into an Effective Leader.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 9 Aug. 2022, Accessed 8 Sept. 2022.