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Simulations for Current and Aspiring K-12 Leaders

The ELS simulation library is an online software product that includes a wide array of simulated experiences. Our simulations are engaging and create a collaborative environment where current and aspiring school leaders can improve their critical thinking and judgment skills. The simulations can be facilitated in a small or large group professional development session or can be used asynchronously. ELS simulations are also a valuable tool for educational leadership programs for higher education institutions. 

If you want an effective way to build your principal pipeline while retaining and growing your current school leaders, ELS software simulations can help.

Simulation Library

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Small School Budget Crisis
~45 minutes

This simulation involves a new Superintendent taking over a small school district that happens to be the primary employer in the community. When a budget shortfall is discovered, the Superintendent must decide which resources to involve in the resolution while balancing transparency and strategy among key constituencies. Decide which conditions warrant more persistence versus flexibility while keeping the focus on students.

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Middle School Turnaround (Implementing Change)
~45 minutes

This simulation involves a new school leader taking over a failing middle school with an entrenched staff and little community support. As you seek to get a handle on the school’s finances, finger-pointing abounds. You will have to determine the best path to building accountability, commitment, and trust in turning this school around.

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New Teacher Evaluation
~45 minutes

This simulation involves an early-career (second year) elementary school teacher. The simulation begins following the school leader’s observation of the teacher teaching a literacy lesson. The teacher teaches directly from the teachers’ manual and the lesson has no higher-level skills or thinking embedded within it. At the same time, there has just been a new teacher evaluation rubric implemented in the district that is based on four performance levels. The school leader must meet with the teacher and coach improvement to instructional practice while also helping the teacher understand that the new rubric, though no longer saying her performance is “satisfactory,” the new rubric does not mean she is “unsatisfactory.”

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Academic Goal Setting
~45 minutes

This simulation is based around a veteran social studies teacher in a middle school. The teacher has set goals that are not aligned with the new school goals or the Common Core standards. As the school leader, you must decide what steps you will take to try and move this teacher toward alignment with the school goals, and outside his comfort zone.

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Middle School Budget Challenge
~45 minutes

This simulation involves a middle school principal responding to a request from the superintendent for a 15% budget cut in two weeks. The principal must determine the process for arriving at the cuts, who to involve in the process, and how to drive alignment around priorities. Of course, there are many conflicting perspectives to be managed, as well as a rumor mill working overtime. How will various stakeholder groups be managed to arrive at an optimal result?

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Special Education
~45 minutes

As the new Principal of an elementary school, just before the school year begins, anxious parents of a kindergartner present you with a challenge: to meet the needs of their chronically ill child. In this simulation, you will seek to ensure student safety and security while promoting independence and appropriately utilizing school district resources. Your understanding of the issues and way of communicating with staff and parents will impact the success of your initiatives.

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Administrator: First Week On The Job
~45 minutes

In this simulation, your role is an Administrator in the first week on the job. You will be faced with the need to manage various stakeholder groups, working to gain the trust and confidence of community members and district employees. You’ll have to balance strategic direction with the shifting demands of daily issues. And you’ll need to determine when to delegate and when to take ownership, and anticipating the broader impact of your actions.

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Girls Basketball Coach
~45 minutes

A parent at the high school where you are the school leader goes to a school board meeting to complain about the way the girls’ basketball coach is treating the players on the team. You must decide how you address the parent’s concern and the alleged behavior of the winningest coach in school history.

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Disruptive Teacher
~45 minutes

This simulation is based around a collaborative teaching team. 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 the way the disruptive teacher is behaving. The school leader ultimately ends up at a team meeting and witnesses behavior that is inappropriate and over-the-top. The simulation goals relate to school culture and climate, conflict management, and responding to teacher concerns.

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Student in Crisis
~45 minutes

Suicide is a tough reality among our teens and, as such, an inevitable tragedy for our schools. This simulation focuses on supporting the school leader as he/she navigates a loss due to suicide. From the first moment of notification, through the nuances of sharing the news with your students, staff, and community, and into the days and weeks after the tragedy, this simulation helps define what considerations to make when crafting decisions that will impact your community on every level.

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End of School Year
~45 minutes

As a first-year principal of an elementary school wrapping up the school year, you are responsible for building and staffing a plan to improve academic achievement in the coming year. In this simulation, you will encounter stakeholders in the plan whose needs vary and must be considered fairly. As a tool for practicing school leadership and decision-making, you will first reflect on your own core values. Through the simulation, you will receive feedback on how your choices influence degrees of stress and buy-in at your school.

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Board Relations
~45 minutes

This simulation takes place in a suburban school district at the end of the school year. After the prom, two students trespass on the high school principal’s property. It turns out that one of the students is a board member’s child. The superintendent must navigate the relationship with the board member and board chair and also decide how to support or manage the principal’s reaction to the incident.

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Stakeholder Management
~45 minutes

This simulation involves a school leader at a struggling high school, seeking to build relationships and improve academic achievement while working with multiple stakeholder groups. Engaging with teachers and administrators, you’ll have the opportunity to confront behaviors that get in the way of academic achievement.

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Difficult Conversation: Race
~45 minutes

This simulation considers just how complex the issue of race is–in the classroom, in the community, and in the broader societal landscape. Playing the role of Principal at a suburban, racially and socioeconomically diverse high school, you will address sensitive issues such as conversations about race with students, and how teaching professionals and district staff can support those conversations.

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Teacher Blog
~45 minutes

You are a principal in a school district committed to expanding the use of technology. You must deal with issues that arise between increasing communication and protecting privacy. You have received a district mandate, and your staff has received training. Now, is time to promote use of technology among many reticent teachers, while reigning in one renegade without squashing enthusiasm.

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School Safety
~45 minutes

In the face of a potential threat to students, you will work with others to respond decisively, while balancing conflicting considerations. How you measure the situation and choose to act will bear different consequences. In the process of this simulation, aspects of your leadership style may be revealed.

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Cyberbullying
~45 minutes

In this simulation you are a middle school Principal responding to challenges associated with advancing technology. You must identify and successfully deal with challenges associated with cyberbullying and its impact on school learning environment, students, faculty / staff, parents and the community in general. You will become acquainted with and comfortable applying the growing body of law and court cases addressing cyberbullying and first amendment rights.

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Student Support (Transgender)
~45 minutes

As the principal of Fairlawn High School, you must address the needs of a family whose 16 year old student is transitioning gender. You will have the opportunity to become acquainted with current laws and accommodation requirements associated with transgender students. You will also be provided a tool to assist in identifying / prioritize risks and developing mitigation strategies to ensure all student needs are met.

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Difficult Conversations: Dress Code
~45 minutes

As the leader of an elementary school, concerns from staff have been raised regarding the clothing being worn by one of your teachers. In this simulation, you will need to decide how you address those concerns and balance those concerns with other issues that have arisen regarding the same teacher.

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Comprehensive Role of School Counselors
~45 minutes

As a new Assistant Principal at Thornbush Middle School, you are tasked with improving the student’s experience by enabling a stronger, more meaningful relationship between them and the school counselors. Your understaffed counselors at Thornbush spend a majority of their time completing administrative tasks and are justifiably defensive. Further, you’re faced with apathy and resistance from seasoned teachers and staff. To successfully engage counselors in activities aimed at preventing rather than responding to problems, you’ll need to identify root causes, redistribute administrative tasks and lead change efforts despite growing resistance.

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Playground Mishaps
~45 minutes

Dealing with difficult parents can be one of the most challenging responsibilities for a school administrator, especially when it involves making difficult decisions. Teachers can complicate these difficult situations when the decisions he or she makes jeopardizes a student’s safety. Administrators must be diplomatic in the decision-making process, thinking every decision through without being rash, to find a solution that is in the best interest of the student.

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Navigating the Politics of Equity-Based Budgeting
~45 minutes

In this simulation, you will play the role of superintendent in a traditionally well-regarded district that is experiencing significant population shifts with a host of changing needs. Your challenge is to work with a variety of stakeholders to develop and pass a budget that will provide funding in an equitable manner. This will call for a different process than that which has been used in the past – it is a significant change that must be managed.

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Uncovering Hidden Inequity
~45 minutes

As a principal supervisor, your goal is ensuring equitable learning opportunities for students of color, while also attending to your own and others’ biases while framing your message about equity. In essence: building policies and structures to serve equity, while acknowledging both material differences and political interests.

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Community Partnerships – Digital Readiness
~45 minutes

In this simulation, co-authored with the National Parent-Teacher Association, you will be addressing communication strategies as they relate to Community Partnerships, one of the seven gears within the Future Ready Framework. In the role of superintendent, you will work with your leadership team and community members to optimize the roll-out of technology to your district. In an era of connectivity and connectivity gaps, being strategic about how you meet families and the community where they become critical to the inclusive learning community you strive to create.

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Social Media: Integrity in Community
~45 minutes

This simulation involves a school leader finding a phone with messages describing an underage drinking party going on. As events unfold, you will need to collaborate with school and community constituents, responding to a diversity of interests. You will be challenged to act with integrity and fairness, while promoting the success of all students in an ethical manner.

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Recognizing and Reporting Abuse and Neglect
~45 minutes

As a school leader, you must know the signs of child abuse and neglect, and know how to act sensitively, accurately, and legally toward all parties involved. When accusations are made, you need to act promptly and appropriately, as well. This simulation gives you practice recognizing and responding in a variety of situations and also provides you with an application tool for assessing and mitigating risk.

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Cultural Competency
~45 minutes

This simulation places you, a month into your new position as principal of Waterside School, in a district experiencing significant shifts in demographics, which in turn leads to challenges balancing needs and perspectives of long-time residents with those of newcomers. The district has a stated commitment to “Create High-Quality Learning Experiences that Meet the Needs of Each Child.” Your job is to uncover specific needs, and resolve discrepancies in the treatment of students, wherever they may exist.

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Finding and Leveraging Voice (ELL)
~45 minutes
In this simulation, you’ll take on the role of a school principal to find your voice in determining the best strategy for your ELL program. You’ll be able to leverage that voice in contributing to an ESSA plan in collaboration with local and state resources. How well can you actualize your strategy in the face of shifting demands?
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