The Next Decade: #IGotIntoUSC

It's hard to believe that its been a little over a decade since AskMsQ was born.  I'm so grateful to my experience at the University of California, Irvine for my strong foundation in the social sciences and education.  Perhaps the greatest gift I received during this journey was learning how to design student-centered learning experiences using the Backwards Planning Model created by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.  

The very nature of this models forces you to be reflective of the environment you are teaching in, the skills students need alongside content and what opportunities you can provide to help students demonstrate their learning in a way that is meaningful to them.  As a result, I was able to address the challenges of teaching in a world that is constantly changing, while embracing the opportunities that it comes with. 

While my educational foundation was strong, the economy I graduated into in 2008 was not.  I quickly learned, as many of you did as well I'm sure, that the traditional storyline of going to school, getting good grades and having a great job and stable future, just wasn't the case. After three years, three different schools and three layoff notices, I realized I needed to change my approach.  It was also at this time that I came across, "Linchpin," by Seth Godin, and here's a short excerpt that would forever change my life:  

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions and being managed. Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can. 

The job might be difficult, it might require skill, but it's a job.

Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.
I call the process of doing your art 'the work.' It's possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that's how you become a linchpin.
The job is not the work.” 

This change in perspective, allowed me to begin recognizing gaps that existed that could become potential opportunities that would lead to new career paths within education. The most exciting of these opportunities being how do we redesign traditional learning experiences that allow students to ask questions, face challenges and solve problems.  This work allowed me to pioneer a 1:1 technology-enhanced curriculum program at Fairmont Private Schools and a 1:1 iPad initiative at the Keck USC PA program.  It was also this opportunity that allowed me to travel the globe as a consultant with EdTechTeacher working with schools to redesign learning with design thinking. 

The past few years have taught me three important lessons that serve as the underlying reason for pursuing the Global Executive Ed.D program at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California:

"Are we creating students who look for jobs, or students who will create their own."

Today's world has broken down the walls and barriers to what's possible and where it's possible.  However, to truly take advantage of these opportunities requires a different skillset and a different learning experience. 

"Cultures of innovation begin with a culture of empathy." 

To truly understand how we can create a culture of change we must understand the unique fears and motivations that drive people.

"When we begin with empathy, what we think is challenged by what we learn."

As global citizens the more we learn about one another, our challenges and our opportunities, the more we can work together to solve the most pressing issues of our time. 

Gordon Kirk said, "The PhD is to understand the world. The EdD is to change the world."

As I take a step back into the role of a student and think about my role in changing the world I'm excited to learn from some of the best in education and document and share the journey with all of you along the way. 

Together let's Fight On! 

3 Questions to Identify Your Interests

"Practice empathy as an avenue to becoming self-aware." - Sabba Quidwai


Last year I spent a lot of time talking about design thinking and how it can be used to address the challenges and opportunities we see around us in the field of education and beyond.  This year I’m taking the focus one step further and placing emphasis on how we can use the design thinking practice in our own professional lives to address the challenges and opportunities we face as individuals.  

Design thinking is unique as it asks the user to view challenges and opportunities through the lens of empathy.  When we talk about empathy, we often use it in reference of empathy for others. However, sometimes we need to take a step back and be able to empathize with our own selves.  What do we think, feel, see and do?  What drives us, what motivates us, what do we want to do with our lives? Taking these thoughts and ideas from our minds and onto paper, can be meaningful as a daily practice that allows us to be more self-aware about who we are what we want to do.  

Last year, I integrated a design thinking approach to digital portfolios when working with students at the high school and college level.  Often times students find themselves jumping through hoops, blindly fulfilling requirements and rarely taking a pause to reflect on their interests and passions.

For example at Keck USC, all of our students are there because they want to be healthcare providers, however being able to truly understand their “why” is what will differentiate each and every one of them from each other.  We don’t wait until one month before graduation to begin building digital portfolios and professional learning networks, it begins on day one and it begins with having empathy for oneself.  While there are many different activities that we do, one of my favorites is having students conduct, “interest interviews” with one another using the following three questions:


In these questions, you can replace “healthcare” with any field and begin the first round of interest interviews.  Often times it helps to revisit these questions over a period of time, conversations will evolve and students will have a deeper understanding of what their interests and passions are, allowing them to pursue professional paths that ignite within them a drive, as Daniel Pink would say, made up of autonomy, mastery and purpose.