Simulations are a “Game Changer” for the Principal Preparation Program at Orange County Public Schools
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As the Principal at Orange County Public Schools, Stephanie Jackson oversees their aspiring leaders and teacher leader programs. During this program, they use simulations to expose educators to confrontational situations and see how they would navigate them as school leaders. Before using simulations, the program was set up in a way that would take too much time and effort. No videos or real-world examples were happening in their principal preparation programs, and they did not have the “manpower” to create their scripts and scenarios for the program. “We had to generate discussion questions, and create our multiple choice questions, for over 30 scenarios. Simulations allowed us to apply our focus and give us flexibility in our program, saving us time, effort, and costs.”

Orange County Public Schools has found it challenging to develop aspiring leaders through traditional training methods. The school system needed a way to provide practice opportunities with realistic scenarios to develop the skills necessary for effective leadership, leading to a need for more confidence and preparedness in their aspiring leaders. They implemented simulations to allow their teachers just starting their journey as leaders to gain needed experience as school leaders. Simulations allowed them to help identify their administrative candidates and see what value they would bring to the school. The simulations provided a safe and realistic environment for aspiring leaders to practice and refine their leadership skills, enabling them to develop the confidence and competence necessary to be successful school leaders.

Using SchoolSims Simulations, Orange County Public Schools was able to identify and address the pain points that had previously hindered the development of their aspiring school leaders. The simulations allowed participants to gain hands-on experience in a risk-free environment, allowing them to practice leadership skills such as communication, problem-solving, and decision-making.

The “Ambassador Experience” at Orange County Public Schools allows teachers to step in as school leaders. The simulations allowed them to step into the shoes of a school administrator and let them experience what it was like to lead a school. They would have these experiences once a month and use them to measure candidates and their qualifications as it relates to being an assistant principal. 

For example, the Disruptive Teacher simulation, a fan favorite amongst participants at Orange County, places users in the role of a school leader where there is one teacher on the team, newer to the school but a mid-career teacher, who is “not a team player.” The simulation begins with another teacher on the team coming to the school leader and expressing concern over how the disruptive teacher behaves. The school leader ultimately ends up at a team meeting and witnesses inappropriate and over-the-top behavior. This is just one example of the many scenarios that Orange County aspiring leaders got to experience through the simulations that generated a fun learning environment and engaging and critical conversations. 

The SchoolSims Simulations also enabled Orange County Public Schools to tailor the learning experience to the unique needs of each aspiring leader. Participants could select scenarios aligned with their growth areas, allowing them to target their skill development effectively. Additionally, Orange County Public Schools provided participants with mentors and coaches to help them learn from the experiences that their mentors had already been through and coach them through solutions to the problems they faced during the simulations. The results of Orange County Public Schools’ use of SchoolSims Simulations have been remarkable. The school system has seen a significant improvement in the performance of aspiring school leaders, with many of them becoming highly successful school leaders.

Orange County Public Schools has reported a noticeable improvement in the confidence and preparedness of their aspiring leaders, leading to an increase in overall organizational effectiveness. Orange County Public Schools has successfully utilized SchoolSims simulations to develop aspiring school leaders. The simulations have enabled the school system to address pain points related to leadership development and have helped aspiring leaders gain the confidence and competence necessary for success. The results have been impressive, with Orange County Public Schools reporting significant improvements in their aspiring leaders’ program performance and an increase in overall organizational effectiveness.

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