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New SIMs debut at NAESP Conference

June 29, 2016

Experience is the best teacher. This is the thinking behind a recent partnership between NAESP and Ed Leadership SIMs (ELS) to provide and distribute professional learning simulations for elementary school principals and administrators across the country.


A school leader makes constant short term and long term decisions that affect students, staff, and the entire school community that have a critical impact.  By understanding the thought processes of decision-making at the behavioral level is best addressed through practice and reinforcement. A professional learning simulation can be used in many ways to support and enhance leadership training situations through dialogue and exploration of real life scenarios. For principals, knowing they have been taught the skills needed to effectively lead a school through engagement in higher education programs, training, and certification paths, and actually activating those skills in real time each day in a school are very different issues and simulations can be utilized to help with the application of those leadership dimensions.


Also, SIMS provide for an understanding that new principals respond to situations very differently than veterans. Facilitators can capitalize on their audiences’ backgrounds, experiences, and individual school situations.  When it comes to using their voice, principals are challenged with having to exercise judgment around a variety of issues that require experience in dealing with situational awareness, political environments, contextual settings, and understanding stakeholders. These are the kinds of issues which manifest in a scenario where principals can experience the decision making process and also experience the potential consequences of different courses of action around USING their leadership knowledge and practices in the school building, community, and districts. Simulations provide an opportunity for synthesizing ideas and issues to reach potential solutions around scenarios such as playground mishaps, staff relations, board relations, new teacher evaluation, budget crises, etc. They narrow the focus of leadership responsibilities and responses that set culture and structure in a school.


 “We’ve seen how ELS’ simulations engage leaders in professional development activities and we want to bring these tools to our members. Elementary school leaders need help to engage the myriad of stakeholders they work with every day and experiential learning opportunities to build their own leadership skills so they can grow their school communities,” says NAESP Professional Learning and Outreach Specialist, Carol Riley. “NAESP is excited to utilize ELS’ simulations to develop administrative skills and build stronger mentoring programs while also developing elementary school specific scenarios and expand usage of this valuable experiential tool with our members.”


Simulations are currently used in the NAESP Principal Mentor Program and in other professional learning activities. The responses from program participants is positive and the deeper conversations focusing on the complexity of the role of the principal and how their responses to situations impact all aspects of school operations provide a new dimension in training and program development.


“We know simulations work for engaging leaders in leadership and professional development activities that improve both judgment and decision making capacity. In working with NAESP, we have also seen the power of simulations to help in developing mentors and assisting in their ongoing efforts with sitting principals. We’ve been showing education leaders the dramatic affect that simulations can have on their problem solving and collaboration skills as well as improving their conversations,” says Ken Spero, CEO of ELS.  “We are excited about the partnership with NAESP and the opportunity to work with their member principals and administrators to use simulations and the benefits this approach can provide to their teams and their buildings utilizing aspects of social learning and shared experience.”


NAESP Membership Discount

Active NAESP members receive a 10% discount on the purchase of any of the Ed Leadership SIMS for use in professional development. This offer allows members to access individual simulations or a package of the simulations for use in their district or for individual activities.


To find out more about the NAESP-ELS partnership, contact Carol Riley (criley@naesp.org).


And to see the new sims "in-person", check out the following sessions at the upcoming conference:


Leadership Simulations Harness Power of Experience for Engaging PD for Experienced and Aspiring School Leaders

Primary Presenter: Ken Spero, MBA – CEO, Ed Leadership SIMS


Thursday, July 07, 2016, 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Room: National Harbor 3


In Leadership, skills are essential, but Experience is often missing. Experience implies using good judgment in the most complex situations. We know Experience is the Best Teacher, but we would frown upon a surgeon who practices on her patients. Simulations enable leaders to gain Experience without putting students in danger.



ESSA and a New Framework for Leadership Decision-Making

Primary Presenter: Ken Spero, MBA – CEO, Ed Leadership SIMS


Thursday, July 07, 2016, 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Room: Potomac 1


Join us to explore simulated frameworks that will provide you with insights, strategies and even support to address issues that principals may face related to the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as states and districts begin drafting plans.  Areas such as special education, school climate, literacy, equity and equality require leaders to make decisions and apply new practices in what may be complex and evolving school contexts. By reflecting on engaging scenarios that manifest the different inherent challenges and enabling leaders to practice ‘Exercising Judgment’, to ‘Experience the Consequences’ of decisions and to ‘Get Feedback’ on what was going on, participants get the opportunity to gain experience without the pain of the ‘school of hard knocks.

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