ASU’s online Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership and Innovation is designed for leaders in education who want to help lead their fellow educators to create better learning opportunities for their students. EdD students come from a variety of education backgrounds, including teachers, teacher leaders, principals, superintendents or higher education professionals, but all have the same goal, to create innovative classroom experiences for their students, benefitting school children, adult learners, schools and communities. Students interested in pursuing an EdD have the chance to enroll in ASU’s online program three times per year, in the spring, summer and fall.
Michelle Otstot is a senior in our EdD program graduating this month (Congratulations, Michelle!). She took time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about her experience in the program and impart wisdom for other students. Read on to learn more about her experience and see if the EdD program is right for you.
Why did you choose ASU’s EdD in Leadership & Innovation?
With three Master’s degrees already–I like to call myself a collector of degrees–I was looking for a doctoral program that I was comfortable with. Programs can be intimidating when applying, but at ASU I felt at home and the program worked within my schedule. I am a school principal, and ASU’s EdD program allowed me to use my research and my practice. I apply everything I do in the doctorate program to my work. Each theory and tool makes me a stronger leader.
In your opinion, what is unique about ASU’s program?
A unique aspect of ASU’s program is taking the theory we learn in the coursework and applying it to practice. A lot of times you learn something in class and don’t apply it to your work right away, but since ASU’s program is theory based, I immediately test out each theory learned in class. With this program, you learn the theories and test them out. If I put what I design into practice and connect new teachers with more knowledgeable teachers for hands-on experience I can help my teachers grow far more than if they simply listened to a lecture.
How is the degree you earned at ASU impacting your personal and/or professional life?
This degree opens doors in so many ways. Having a doctorate under my belt improves the way people respect my knowledge base. Colleagues and peers come to me with questions about research and the field of educational leadership, and I’ve already spoken at conferences, done webinars on leading technology principles and conducted interviews about my research. Once I graduate, I look forward to focusing solely on being a principal and working with my teachers to further put my research and knowledge into practice.
If there was one insight you could share from your experience what would it be?The main insight I’ve learned is that it’s okay to fail. I have developed a great educational philosophy through this doctorial program, from John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward. It’s about taking failure and moving forward with it, and that successful people don’t often have success right away, they work for it and overcome failures. It showed me that to be successful in my doctorate program I had to fail. I experienced failing and it was valuable because I learned from it.
What was the best piece of advice you received while completing your degree that influences you today?
The best piece of advice I received was about change theory and celebrating the small wins. If you take time as a leader to try to illicit change you are bound to encounter a lot of small wins along the way, and they deserve celebration. Educational leadership and creating innovation in our schools is important work and in order to realize those greater, long-term goals, we have to celebrate the small wins.
How were you able to balance completing your degree with other responsibilities?
At the beginning of the program I outlined my responsibilities at home and work and looked at how much time my coursework would take. I then sat down with my husband and two kids to talk about how we were going to make it work together. This is a family project and everyone has to be all in. At work, I work with my assistant principals to plan our schedules since we all have personal lives and multiple responsibilities. The key to succeeding and truly managing it all is balance.
If you want to further your career in education and think the EdD program may be right for you, learn more about the program here.