The Propello Press | Education Insights, Resources, and Tools

Language as Power, and Other Lessons from Sarah Ottow

In our latest Education Uncharted interview, Sarah Ottow, an esteemed educator and author, shared valuable insights on best practices for learning accommodations and fostering a welcoming classroom environment. As a two-time recipient of the Americorps Award for National and Community Service, Ottow brings a wealth of experience in teaching in urban classrooms. In this blog post, we will delve into the key takeaways from Ottow's interview and explore the importance of empowering students and teachers in co-constructing language learning.

Language Empowerment:

Ottow emphasizes the power of language and how it opens up extraordinary opportunities for students. By enabling students to gain command over the English language, educators can pave the way for their success. Ottow stresses the importance of engaging students in co-constructing their language learning journey, fostering an inclusive classroom environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging. By empowering students and involving them in shaping the classroom, educators can facilitate a faster path to mastery.

Empowering Teachers:

The art and science of language learning require consistent and sustained effort at every level. Ottow highlights the significance of giving teachers a voice and choice in this process. When teachers feel empowered to shape the pathways that guide students' language learning journey, they become more invested and effective in their roles. Before seeking external help through vendors, consultants, or curriculum, it is essential to focus on internal collaboration with teachers, students, their families, and administration. Understanding the unique needs of the community is crucial for achieving success.

Putting Ourselves in Students' Shoes:

Ottow encourages educators to remember that they are also learners, regardless of their position or experience. To effectively teach language learning in diverse classrooms, educators need to empathize with their students. This involves immersing oneself in environments where different languages, viewpoints, and perspectives prevail. By experiencing life from the viewpoint of students, educators can shape their teaching practices and better connect with their diverse learners. Despite language barriers, Ottow reminds us that at the core, we are all humans who care about similar things.

Sarah's insights provide valuable guidance for educators and administrators seeking to enhance language learning accommodations and create an inclusive classroom environment. Check out the full episode and learn how understanding and embracing the perspectives of diverse students can transform our teaching and learning experience.