Supporting Students With Additional Learning Needs

By Philip Bowman.

Philip Bowman has been a learning support teacher for fourteen years and has been at International School Bangkok for nine years. This school year, he launched the MARIO Framework to help teachers create personalized learning support classes that are measured, ambitious, research-based, and structured around one-to-one learning. Teachers from nearly forty international schools are already piloting or planning to pilot the framework in their schools.

There is a lot of pedagogical experimentation going on at the moment and many of us are trying things we’ve never tried before. It is more important than ever that we measure the impact of every lesson that is delivered. The video below explains a simple google form I have designed to help accomplish this.

Make a copy of the form discussed in the video above:


What is the best way to handle teachers that are assigning too heavy of a workload for our students?

Depending on the situation, the first step might be to encourage our student(s) to self-advocate for themselves and have a conversation with their teacher. It this is not an appropriate first step or the teacher does not adjust the workload, the next step is to find out how much time the student(s) are regularly spending on assignments. If your student(s) can’t accurately tell you how much time they need to complete certain assignments, have them log their homework time for one or two assignments.

Next, we might want to schedule a nonjudgemental and supportive conversation with the teacher and let them know how much time is being spent on their assignments. Emails are often too impersonal an approach for such a delicate matter and can be easily misunderstood. In a virtual learning scenario, a video conference or phone call is recommended. In all likelihood, the teacher will have not realized the severity of the situation. However, in the rare event that the teacher defends the workload and ignores the numbers, ask if they can help you come up with a solution to the problem because the current situation is unsustainable for your student. If they can’t come up with anything, offer a potential alternative solution or two that you have ready.

An example is, could we prioritize the workload and make some of the currently existing work optional or an enrichment opportunity? If you’re unfortunately still hitting a wall, you might need to let them know you need to find a solution and perhaps it’s best if the situation is brought up at a student concern meeting. Of course, I’m assuming here that we are talking about a few outlier teachers that are assigning too much work. If this is is a systemic issue, the administration needs to be involved from the beginning.

As we support teachers that are teaching students with additional learning needs online, what is the most important information to share with content specialist teachers?

Have a question? Use this form.