202 episodes

On the Highest Aspirations Podcast, we engage in important conversations about the most rapidly growing student demographic in the United States - English Language Learners. We speak with educators and students, researchers and policy makers, and parents and community members about how we can help all students reach their highest aspirations.

Join us on this important journey as we bring the vibrant ELL Community together around the topics that matter most to the students we serve.

Highest Aspirations Ellevation Education

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 24 Ratings

On the Highest Aspirations Podcast, we engage in important conversations about the most rapidly growing student demographic in the United States - English Language Learners. We speak with educators and students, researchers and policy makers, and parents and community members about how we can help all students reach their highest aspirations.

Join us on this important journey as we bring the vibrant ELL Community together around the topics that matter most to the students we serve.

    S10/E2: How educators can self-direct their professional learning with Carol Salva, Tan Huynh, and Katie Toppel

    S10/E2: How educators can self-direct their professional learning with Carol Salva, Tan Huynh, and Katie Toppel

    What are some benefits we have seen from the rise of virtual professional development opportunities since the pandemic? How can educators drive self-directed professional learning that can lead to deeper knowledge and sustained results? How can school leaders best support high-quality PD opportunities?

    This week we bring back two familiar contributors to Highest Aspirations - Dr. Carol Salva and Tan Huynh along with one guest who somehow is making her first appearance, Katie Toppel. These three incredible people provide our community with a wealth of resources to ensure we are well-equipped to maximize the potential of multilingual learners. In this interview, we focus on how educators can engage in self-directed professional learning - specifically for multilingual learners. They’ve recently released a book on the topic, appropriately titled DIY PD: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning for Educators of Multilingual Learners.

    Dr. Carol Salva is an author and Seidlitz Education consultant. She works with schools, state leaders, and local education agencies to support multilingual learners at all language levels. She is the co-author of both Boosting Achievement, Reaching Students with Interrupted or Minimal Education, and also DIYPD: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning for Teachers of Multilingual Learners. Dr. Salva has taught Elementary, Middle, and High school. She is a Certified Gomez & Gomez Dual Language Trainer, and a Certified Abydos Writing Trainer.

    Tan Huynh (@TanKHuynh) is a career teacher, consultant, and author specializing in language acquisition and literacy development. Tan has taught students from 5th to 10th grade in public, private, charter, and international schools.  He has served as a language specialist and is currently a secondary social studies teacher.  Tan shares teaching strategies on his blog and podcast with the hopes of celebrating teachers who answer the call to serve multilingual learners.

    Dr. Katie Toppel is an English Language Development Specialist at the elementary
    level, serving multilingual learners through collaboration, co-teaching, and small-group
    instruction. Dr. Toppel is the newest member of the SIOP author team and co-author of the book DIY PD: A Guide to Self-Directed Learning for Educators of Multilingual Learners. She is also the co-founder of

    #MLLChat_BkClub on Twitter, which is a virtual book club aimed at improving instructional
    practices for multilingual learners.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.

    Visit our EL Community page for episode resources, related content and more.
    Download the episode transcript here.


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    • 1 hr 4 min
    S10/E1: Nebraska’s 2022 Teacher of the Year is an EL Teacher - We discuss what is working in EL education

    S10/E1: Nebraska’s 2022 Teacher of the Year is an EL Teacher - We discuss what is working in EL education

    What are some common misconceptions about EL/SLIFE students and ESL instruction? How can professional development be leveraged to help educators support multilingual learners?

    What are some particularly effective instructional strategies for multilingual learners in mainstream classrooms? We discuss these questions and more in an impassioned discussion with Nebraska’s 2022 Teacher of the Year Lee Perez. Perez is the first ESL teacher to win Teacher of the Year award in Nebraska, the recipient of the 2021 Award for Teaching Excellence through the Nebraska State Education Association, was named a Cox Communications Education Hero for the Omaha area, and is currently a 2023 Horseman Awards for Teaching Excellence finalist. He is a fifth- through eighth-grade English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska.

    He has traveled around the state speaking to current and aspiring educators to share best practices in EL education and advocate for better teacher preparation to serve ESL students. We sat down with him to hear some of the most important messages he wants educators to know about working with this student population and to share what strategies and approaches he has found success with in his ESL education career.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.

    Visit our EL Community page for episode resources, related content and more.
    Download the episode transcript here.


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    • 49 min
    S9/E10: 2022 Learnings and 2023 Predictions with Sandra Medrano-Arroyo

    S9/E10: 2022 Learnings and 2023 Predictions with Sandra Medrano-Arroyo

    How has family engagement evolved post-pandemic remote learning? Why has online professional learning had staying-power after schools reopened? What are some predictions for trends and changes in store for education in 2023?

    We’re concluding Season 9 of Highest Aspirations by reflecting on what has been a year full of learning how to best serve our students. We’ll also get into some predictions for 2023.

    Sandra Medrano Arroyo, my colleague at Ellevation, joins us today to discuss some of our learnings from 2022 as well as some predictions and hopes for 2023. Sandra is in a unique position to provide this information given her background and current work. She works with me here at Ellevation Education as our Dual Language Instructional Content Specialist, where she has spearheaded the creation of two new instructional practices specific to the needs of Dual Language programs. She has also brought her knowledge and expertise to various conferences over the course of the year, with impactful presentations at NABE and La Cosecha among others. In over 23 years in education, she has served the needs of emergent bilinguals and various sub-groups in a number of roles: teacher, academic coordinator, school director, recruiter, instructional specialist, and program planner. Prior to Ellevation, Sandra served as the Manager of Multicultural Education for the 11th largest school district in the US, overseeing the ESOL program for over 34,000 students, including a two-way dual language program that served over 9,000 students. Since 2016, she has also served as a PD Consultant for the National Association for Bilingual Education.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.

    Visit our EL Community page for episode resources, related content and more.

    Download the episode transcript here.


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    • 51 min
    S9/E9: Collaborative Support for Multilingual Learners with Disabilities with Dr. Sara Kangas

    S9/E9: Collaborative Support for Multilingual Learners with Disabilities with Dr. Sara Kangas

    This interview is episode 9 from Season 9 of Highest Aspirations, a podcast from Ellevation where we engage in important conversations about the most rapidly growing student demographic in the United States - English Language Learners.

    What impacts have we seen on recent policy changes to reclassification or exiting of ELs with disabilities? How can schools prioritize collaboration and improve their current processes for determining reclassification for SPED ELs? What strategies can we use to ensure that these students are integrated into general education classrooms without compromising on learning in a supportive, language rich environment?

    We discuss these questions and much more with Dr. Sara Kangas, who returns to HA after joining us back in 2018 to discuss how schools are accommodating English Learners with disabilities and the impacts that EL and disability status have on reclassification or exiting.

    We sat down to catch up with Dr. Kangas and learn about the latest challenges facing students and how schools can employ a collaborative approach in addressing inequities. Dr. Sara Kangas is an associate professor in the College of Education at Lehigh University.  She is an applied linguist whose research focuses on the school-age population of multilingual learners (MLs) with disabilities.  Using ethnography and interpretive policy analysis, Dr. Kangas investigates opportunity to learn for MLs with disabilities, with particular attention to the ways in which education policies, school structures, and ideologies affect their everyday learning experiences.  Grounded in interpretivist and critical frameworks, her research seeks to promote social justice through advocating and expanding the learning opportunities and educational rights of MLs with disabilities.



    Dr. Kangas has published in top-tier journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Teaching and Teacher Education, and TESOL Quarterly, among others.  Her scholarship has received the James E. Alatis Prize (2018), TESOL Award for Distinguished Research (2015), and the Wilga Rivers Memorial Graduate Student Award (2015).  Dr. Kangas earned her Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in applied linguistics at Temple University.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.

    Visit our EL Community page for episode resources, related content and more.


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    • 45 min
    S9/E8: How to Cultivate a Sense of Belonging for Immigrant-origin Students with Jessica Lander

    S9/E8: How to Cultivate a Sense of Belonging for Immigrant-origin Students with Jessica Lander

    What are the essential elements of success for learning communities to support immigrant students? How can incorporating storytelling into the classroom be used to build empathy and understanding for both students and educators? What are examples of innovative programs or collaborative approaches that are successfully improving outcomes for newcomers and immigrant students?

    We discuss these questions and much more with Jessica Lander. Jessica Lander is an award-winning teacher, writer and author. She teaches history and civics to recent immigrant students in a Massachusetts public high school and has won numerous awards for her teaching, including being named a Top 50 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2021, presented by the Varkey Foundation and being named a MA Teacher of the Year Finalist in 2022, presented by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jessica writes frequently about education policy and teaching. She is the author of Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education, a coauthor of Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success and the author of Driving Backwards.

    Download the episode transcript here.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.


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    • 59 min
    S9/E7: Giving Teachers What They Need to Support Multilingual Learners with Renae Skarin

    S9/E7: Giving Teachers What They Need to Support Multilingual Learners with Renae Skarin

    What challenges are teachers facing with the curriculum often provided by their district regarding multilingual learner instruction? What role do stakeholders such as content creators, educational leaders, and community advocates play in improving curriculum? Where are we already seeing positive changes in inclusive curriculum and how can we replicate them in other states and districts?

    We discuss these questions and much more with Renae Skarin,

    Renae Skarin is senior director, content, at the English Learners Success Forum, a collaboration of researchers, teachers, district leaders, and funders working to improve the quality and accessibility of instructional materials for English learners. She works with leading educational experts to design and implement a process for reviewing and providing feedback to curriculum developers on the strength of supports for ELs. Prior to joining the ELSF, she worked at Understanding Language, Stanford University, where she was a researcher, professional developer, curriculum developer, and project manager for projects specializing in issues of equity and accessibility for diverse learners and has a strong background in second language teaching and teacher education both in the U.S. and abroad.

    Download the episode transcript here.

    Subscribe to the show here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0W4CYdurgYRIwFGif3H6Qk

    For additional episodes, blog posts and free resources relating to multilingual education, visit our community page: https://ellevationeducation.com/ell-community.

    Visit our EL Community page for episode resources, related content and more.


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    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
24 Ratings

24 Ratings

Learner07 ,

Highest Aspirations

Great podcast! The subjects/topics discussed are relevant, and the host has a passion for ELs and it reflects over the sound waves. Always a pleasure to listen to them and learn new things!

Kbiz12425784 ,

In Depth Look at EL Education

This podcast takes a thoughtful look at K-12 issues in EL education. I appreciate how well this podcast frames issues from an evidence-based, equity-focused lens.

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