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    At ISB, we know the power, promise, and impact of professional growth for faculty on student learning outcomes. As such, we prioritize a deep reflection and analysis of our pedagogical practices and are committed to offering professional learning and development opportunities to our faculty.

    Philip Bowman, ISB High School Learning Support teacher, has just been published by the National Association of Special Education Needs (NASEN) for research completed at ISB on the impact of one-to-one learning conversations. Phil worked in partnership with Dr. Katie Novak, a world-renowned expert on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). With our school-wide focus on meeting the needs of all our learners, we began professional learning as an ISB team with Dr. Katie Novak in 2021.

    UDL is an educational framework grounded in the belief that learners need different ways to meet the same goals, that all learners can work towards the same standards, and that all learners can become expert learners and make responsible choices. Phil Bowman’s action research embraces the beliefs, principles, and guidelines of UDL.

    Researching 1-to-1 Conversations

    Beginning in 2014, Phil facilitated research inquiring into strategic one-to-one conversations delivered every other day between a special educator and a student with the goal of improving student self-awareness, self-advocacy, self-monitoring, and self-directed learning. 

    Using the MARIO Framework he developed (Measured, Ambitious, Research-informed, Innovative, and One-to-one learning centered), evidence was collected from a cohort of our ISB high school students over a six-year period. 


    “Becoming a teacher-researcher has been a transformative process that has empowered me to become a more curious, creative, and adaptive educator. It's exciting to objectively see how incredibly effective one-to-one learning conversations have been in improving student outcomes. Along the way, it's also pushed me to investigate and improve other pedagogical practices that contribute to the overall efficacy of one-to-one learning conversations.” - Philip Bowman

    The goal of one-to-one conversations is to first create a deep and trusting relationship which will then support students in their development into creative and critical learners who can take control of their own learning, monitor their own progress, and co-create innovative ways to lead them to meeting their goals.

    “ISB inspires students to be passionate and reflective learners and throughout this study, we had to be both. All of us are passionate advocates of inclusionary practice and expert learning. Being able to reflect on the impact of inclusive practice, and its potential to change the trajectory of students we serve, both ignited and reinforced our passion for this work.” - Dr. Katie Novak

    DSCF6174Challenges, Learning, & Community

    Six years of research is a major process that does not come without its challenges and learning. “An unexpected win has been that the process has allowed me to identify major pain points typically associated with facilitating successful learning conversations in a classroom context. Exploring these challenges has inspired me to develop software (with the help of some incredible team members, like ISB Librarian and Technology Coordinator Christopher Bell) that makes implementing these learning conversations easier and more effective. 

    There has been, and continues, to be a significant time commitment needed to see this work come to fruition, but it is tied to a sense of responsibility for bringing these approaches and tools to other educators and students who are already seeing tremendous benefits from them. I'm proud of how quickly teachers and schools around the world are embracing the MARIO Framework. Already, thousands of students are benefitting from the power of one-to-one learning conversations on a daily basis,” said Phil Bowman.

    The learning and insights gained from this research would not have been possible without the ongoing support, cooperation, and participation of ISB students, faculty, leadership, and community members. Phil and Katie would like to thank everyone who contributed and supported this great endeavor.


    Phil's research, in partnership with Dr. Katie Novak, has been published by National Association of Special Education Needs (NASEN): The Impact of Frequent, Targeted One-to-One Conversations on Special Education Learning Support: Results from a Six Year Retrospective Analysis. A free version of the pre-print article can be found here: 

    We are so proud to see the impact on student learning through Phil’s action research and for an ISB faculty member to be recognized for his work on a global scale alongside such experts like Dr. Katie Novak. The MARIO Framework is now improving student learning in over 25 countries worldwide. All ISB faculty continue our professional learning with Dr. Katie Novak in our dedication to reflection, growth, and impact on student learning.

    Academics High School Staff