Hi Everyone,

In mid-March, I will pay my first visit to South Korea.  Having lived in the Far East for eleven years (Hong Kong five years and Bangkok six years), South Korea has always been the missing piece in my Asia travel jigsaw.  I will be in Seoul visiting schools, then in Daegu for the IB Conference.  I’m excited to be co-presenting with two of my favourite people – one is the talented Secondary Principal of a great MARIO school and the other, a senior member of the IB team and a genuine thought leader.  Both share my passion for well-being and learning.  Our session will begin with some disturbing trends in student anxiety and poor well-being, but will go on to share some of the positive changes we are seeing.  Overall, it will be upbeat and optimistic, because at MARIO Education, we are actively addressing many of these issues.

We’re proud to be supporting our growing number of schools in helping their students in a range of ways:

·      Our check-ins (which take only a couple of minutes) provide immediate data on how students are feeling, and this generates some fascinating data visualizations which can be filtered by grade level and by individual students.  This ensures all students are heard and enabling them to indicate when things are all good, and when they’re not so good.  School leaders, counsellors and well-being leads can view data across the school, identifying patterns and outliers and deciding how to allocate resources.

·      Our MARIO 1:1 conversations address the data and help get students back on track to reach their goals and center themselves.  Our founder, Phil has been offering free training sessions to all MARIO schools, upskilling teachers in how to conduct these powerful coaching conversations (these take between three – seven minutes).

·      Our Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) are a way for each student to articulate who they are as a learner, how they learn best, how teachers and others can best help them, how they are progressing towards their goals, and how their friendships are.  These PLPs are not only co-constructed by the students themselves, they also monitor and update them, teaching important self-management skills and habits.

·      Our MARIO conferences focus on executive functioning skills and organizational aptitudes, helping students to develop their study skills and become more self-directed.

There are many other aspects to what we do (including class reflections, a range of bespoke surveys, IEP uploads etc.) and our extensive suite of strategies and tools can be viewed as a menu from which schools can select according to their needs.

Assuming I find my way around Seoul and then to Daegu via the superb but complex Korean train network without getting hopelessly lost, I look forward to sharing more about our conversations on well-being and learning when/if I return!

Best wishes,


Mental Health, Psychology

This study seeks to explore the potential gap between the responsibilities assigned to Scottish secondary teachers and those they assume. Under Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, the health and well-being of school pupils are deemed the ‘Responsibility of All’.

Addressing Mental Health in Teachers and Students

Many attempts to address mental health in schools have focused on raising awareness among both teachers and pupils. Recent recommendations include avoiding a “deficit model perspective” and embracing “techniques that encourage pupils to feel secure and foster good relations with teachers”. Integrating mental health interventions into daily school life, engaging all staff and parents, and collaborating with outside agencies have also been suggested.

Teachers can succumb to vicarious trauma as they grapple with the demands of dealing with children from traumatized backgrounds. This can lead to burnout, emotional exhaustion, and leaving the profession. Teachers’ emotional health is a key factor in maintaining their dedication, yet data shows that those working in the UK education sector report significantly higher levels of stress, depression, or anxiety compared to other industry sectors. Teachers who feel high levels of responsibility for student mental health often experience increased stress and worry.

The Role of a Teacher

The study consisted of a questionnaire, interviews, and a focus group involving teachers at a comprehensive secondary school near a large Scottish city. The interviews and focus group were semi-structured. Participants had teaching experience ranging from 1 year to over 40 years, some with additional responsibilities within departments or at a whole school level. Data gathered generated a total of 32 possible themes, further split into the following three broad areas/themes for discussion:

  1. “It’s everything we do”: Teachers felt that paying attention to pupils’ mental health was a core aspect of their role.
  2. “I’m not equipped”: All interviewees highlighted a lack of confidence in their ability to deal with pupils’ mental health issues.
  3. “To the detriment of what?”: Educators felt they should ‘be there’ for pupils but also recognized limits to their responsibility for pupils’ mental health as they managed their responsibility for students’ academic success.

More Training is Needed for Teachers

While further investigation is needed to fully understand what teachers mean by “more training”, it’s clear they are asking for deeper knowledge and understanding of how mental health issues manifest in young people, strategies for dealing with these issues, understanding of brain function, and effective listening skills. Teachers noted this training would be most beneficial at the start of their careers and emphasized the importance of improved collaboration and shared language across agencies to provide consistent complimentary services.

Notable Quotes: 

“While the Scottish Government publicises a Responsibility of All approach, this is not enough to ensure that responsibility, in particular for pupil mental health, is felt by all teachers”

“Even those staff who had most experience dealing with pupils’ mental health issues still reported that they felt ‘ill-equipped’ and lacking in confidence describing themselves as having ‘a real case of imposter syndrome'”

“The continuum ranged from agreement that it is (mental health) a fundamental part of the role of any teacher to a refusal to accept it as part of the class teacher’s professional responsibility.”

Personal Takeaway: 

It was an interesting read. It highlights the increased demands placed on teachers beyond academics. It begs the question, just how responsible are teachers for student mental health, and can they be held accountable? —Matt Browne

McKee, C., & Breslin, M. (2022). Whose Responsibility is it Anyway? Pupil Mental Health in a Scottish Secondary School. Scottish Educational Review, 54(1), 49-69.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve just transitioned from the classroom to focus solely on MARIO Education this month, and I must admit, I’m already feeling nostalgic about the teaching rollercoaster. Each day brings its mix of those ‘aha!’ moments and the ‘where’s my coffee?’ challenges, doesn’t it? Striving to excel in our teaching careers, particularly when applying to prestigious international or local schools, is quite the journey. We’re constantly balancing lesson planning, integrating technology, and catering to diverse student needs, all while aiming to refine our own skills. It’s as exciting as daunting and exhausting!

That’s where we come in. Our MARIO Educator and Assistant Certifications have garnered global recognition from school leaders as the premier standard in applying learning science in the classroom. We provide you with the most current and evidence-supported strategies, connect you with fellow educators worldwide, and seamlessly fit this into your hectic teaching schedule. This is more than just earning a certificate or graduate-level credit from San Diego University; it’s about joining an elite group of educators committed to mutual growth, sharing rich experiences, and driving significant impact in the classroom.

The feedback speaks for itself: a staggering 98% of our course participants recommend our programs. More than a third of our graduates have integrated our MARIO for Me software into their classrooms, and about 90% of these educators report enhanced learning outcomes for their students and saving precious time in their daily routines.

Our next Educator cohort starts in 40 days and Assistant course in  68 days. We’ll give you a 25% discount if you sign up this week.

Looking forward to having you join our team.

Philip Bowman 

Co-founder and CEO, MARIO Education (and proudly, your peer)

Student-Teacher Relationships, Mental Health, Psychology

Well-being has become widely regarded as a matter of concern for governments and public policy and, in recent years, schools have been increasingly seen as sites for promoting well-being. This has given rise to a substantial growth in research on school-based interventions related to student well-being. In this regard, the role of teachers has received particular attention, given the well-established association between the quality of student-teacher relationships, student engagement and well-being, and their social and emotional development However, research on the role of teachers has identified a need for conceptual clarification with what fostering well-being might entail.


Well-being Should Be an Integral Part of Everyday Teaching and Learning

Previous research has indicated that teachers favored the term “well-being” and were more reluctant to use the term “mental health”. While teachers emphasize the importance of mental health, there is a gap in understanding how to implement practices. This has led to researchers suggesting that there needs to be more ways to increase mental health literacy among teachers. 

Researchers have pointed out that much of the discourse around well-being is centered on how it can relate to better academic outcomes rather than well-being simply being a product of education. It was additionally noted that if well-being is viewed as integral to the educational process then supporting it should be anchored in everyday teaching and learning rather than in addition to it.

The Pressure of Producing High Academic Results Prevents Teachers From Addressing the Well-being Concerns in Schools 

A qualitative study was done where researchers conducted focus groups. The study was carried out in the context of a continuing professional development program for teachers fostering student well-being across 10 municipalities with approximately 30 schools in Norway. 23 teachers participated (17 female and 6 male) with teaching experience ranging from 2-41 years. The teachers in this study gave high importance to their role in fostering student well-being, seeing it as related to students’ personal development and growth. Teachers in the study had a long-term perspective on their student’s growth and development and emphasized their role in facilitating conditions in which the students could thrive, explore, learn, and develop a sense of self-worth and social competence.

Teachers noted their concern about the high expectations on student performance in their school life including social pressure, academic pressure, and extracurricular demands. They said this has led to students feeling more overwhelmed and prone to mental health difficulties than they had in the past. While teachers would like to focus more on well-being and address these demands on students, they face their own unique set of demands, such as better test scores, leaving them with little time to foster overall student well-being.

The Role of Educators Concerning Student Well-being Needs To Be Clarified

The authors emphasized the tension and issue facing educators: wanting to find time to emphasize and address student well-being, but feeling ill-prepared and being short on time to do so. This in turn threatens the well-being of teachers and leaves them with a sense of uncertainty about their role in student well-being. One suggestion made was to offer more continuing professional development in this area and have more meaningful conversations about the educator’s role concerning student wellbeing.

Notable Quotes: 

“[…]the dominant discourse has focused on how students’ wellbeing can lead to better academic outcomes, rather than wellbeing being an outcome of education[…]”

“At an overarching level, the teachers in this study considered fostering student wellbeing to be integrated into their professional role.”

“This situation left teachers struggling to balance their various responsibilities; on one hand they felt that they should put pressure on the students to make them work harder and get better test scores, and on the other hand they felt that this might come at the expense of their focus on fostering students’ overall wellbeing”

Personal Takeaway: 

It was an interesting read. I resonated with valuing student well-being but being unsure of how to actually make this happen in practice. I also appreciated the way the tension teachers face with student well-being and academic achievement was articulated.—Matt Browne

Samnøy, S., Thurston, M., Wold, B., Jenssen, E. S., & Tjomsland, H. E. (2022). Schooling as a contribution or threat to wellbeing? A study of Norwegian teachers’ perceptions of their role in fostering student wellbeing. Pastoral Care in Education, 40(1), 60-79.


This study examines the effectiveness of Readable English, a reading fluency and comprehension program, on underperforming rural middle school students over one school year. The goal is to address the increasing number of middle school students entering without proficient reading skills.

Multifaceted Strategies Are Needed for Reading Interventions

Edmonds et al. (2009) discovered that comprehension strategy instruction significantly improved reading comprehension but had no significant impact on word recognition, fluency, or word reading. Word study interventions had small to moderate effects on comprehension, and fluency instruction alone did not affect comprehension. Lovett et al. (2000) found that instruction in syllabic segmentation and decoding strategies not only improved decoding skills but also enhanced passage reading comprehension without direct comprehension instruction. The best interventions for low readers were those with instruction in linguistics skills and spelling, followed by fluency and reading comprehension strategy instruction. 

The complexity of reading necessitates multifaceted strategies and the research underscores the importance of a combined approach that addresses both linguistic skills and comprehension strategies.

The Readable English Intervention Helped Students in All Reading Areas

This action research study involved 17 teachers from four schools in rural Indiana and was conducted over two years with American English-speaking students. Three districts participated, with one implementing Readable English for all middle school students. The study included 167 student participants in grades six through eight in the intervention condition and 177 in the typical practice condition.

Results showed that students in the intervention group outperformed those in the typical practice group in reading accuracy, rate, comprehension, and oral reading fluency. The study found that 10% of the improvement in reading comprehension in the intervention group can be attributed to Readable English instruction.

An Intervention That Combines Both Linguistic and Comprehension Skills

The Readable English program is an effective and sustainable reading intervention program for adolescent students. It incorporates linguistic skills components and comprehension strategies, along with a conversion tool that makes English phonetic, to provide targeted support to students with various reading deficits. The program also supports cross-curricular integration and allows students to control their own learning. Implementation with fidelity is crucial, but the program has the potential to help students develop the necessary reading skills to become proficient readers and lifelong learners.

During a classroom visit, the author spoke with teachers and students who reported that Readable English had helped students who hated reading to read and learn new things, with enough support for below-average readers to explore topics and content in school. The students also made connections between their books and the content they were learning. The program’s conversion tool, now available as a Chrome browser extension, could be used across content areas for multiple years and benefit homeschool and online students.

Notable Quotes: 

“Reading  programs  should  be  educationally  sustainable  across  multiple  platforms  used  in  schools  and  be  able  to  support  students  with  differing  needs  across  grade  levels.”

“Teachers must have access to intensive, targeted reading interventions that support students at their current reading ability level and help them develop the requisite skills to become proficient, skillful readers.”

“Explicit instruction of linguistics skills components with comprehension strategy instruction that has shown promise with other interventions probably accounts for most of the improvement in students’ reading skills.”

Personal Takeaway: 

The topic of addressing adolescent readers interested me because a large part of my job is working with students who have not yet mastered reading to learn. As the article mentions and as I have observed, students with reading struggles fall further behind their peers in knowledge. I am glad to know that reading programs continue to be developed that leverage technology and effective instruction for improved outcomes. My takeaway is to remember that reading is complex, requiring explicit instruction in the linguistic aspect and comprehension strategies.—Dana Wells

Coggins, J. (2023). Righting Reading in Middle School: Readable English Helps Underperforming Adolescent Readers. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), 1-30.

Cognitive Science

The first objective was to examine the effects of a “next-generation” fraction intervention on fourth- and fifth-grade students. This intervention, which featured six enhancements compared to a previously validated fraction intervention, aimed to address career- and college-readiness standards. The second goal was to assess the long-term impact of the next-generation fraction intervention one year after its completion. The third objective was to isolate the effects of one specific enhancement: interleaved fraction calculation instruction.

Single Topic Instruction vs Interleaved Practice in Teaching Math Skills

While robust research supports the efficacy of fourth-grade fraction interventions, the existing studies were conducted during the early implementation of career and college readiness standards (CCRS), limiting their applicability to present-day students. Research indicates that the prevalent approach in mathematics textbooks, school instruction, and interventions is blocked instruction. This approach involves the teacher focusing on a single operation or problem type, with practice involving solving problems of the same type. Interleaved instruction, a less common approach, addresses more than one operation or problem type simultaneously and provides practice on different problem types, even before all types have been taught.

Interleaved Instruction Is an Important Component of Math Interventions on Fractions

This study involved fourth- and fifth-grade students scoring at or below the 20th percentile in math on the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-4). One hundred and fifty-eight students with intellectual abilities falling broadly within the average range were selected. There were three groups: Groups 1 and 2 received the enhanced next-generation fraction intervention, focusing on magnitude understanding and calculation. Group 1 received interleaved instruction, while Group 2 received blocked instruction. Group 3 served as a business-as-usual control group. Students in Groups 1 and 2 who received the next-generation fraction intervention showed stronger fraction outcomes than the control group. Although the advantages were smaller and less significant one year after the intervention than immediately following it, there was still an indication that the next-generation fraction intervention had more robust results than the control group. This study replicates a recurring finding in the cognitive science literature regarding the long-term advantages of interleaved instruction, applying it to a different population—students with intensive intervention needs—and within the context of a structured comprehensive instructional design. The conclusion is that interleaved instruction is a crucial component of fraction calculation intervention for this population.

Future Research Should Focus More on Interleaved Interventions

This study suggests that the next-generation intervention produces stronger post-test results than the control group. Interleaved instruction emerges as a vital design feature in interventions for fraction calculation. Future research should specifically isolate the effects of interleaved calculation interventions related to whole numbers and algebra for this study’s population and the broader spectrum of students experiencing mathematics difficulties.

Notable Quotes: 

“First, when contrasted against a control group representing CCRS national reform’s enriched classroom fraction instruction and students stronger fraction learning, next-generation intervention produces a strong posttest conceptual and calculation advantage for students with intensive intervention needs at grades 4 and 5.”

“We note the possibility that persistence may be stronger for the present study’s fraction intervention and other mathematics interventions if review of intervention strategies were to be provided during the subsequent school year.”

“Cognitive science demonstrates that although confusion and errors likely occur early into interleaved instruction, long-term outcomes favor interleaved over blocked instruction”

Personal Takeaway: 

It’s definitely worth looking into the SSNIT (super solvers intervention) that was the basis of instruction for the next-generation fraction intervention. I would like to see if it’s something I can use for my own practice when providing interventions. This article also highlighted the importance of maintenance following an intervention which I think is often overlooked.—Matt Browne

Fuchs, L. S., Malone, A. S., Preacher, K. J., Cho, E., Fuchs, D., & Changas, P. (2023). Next-Generation Fraction Intervention and the Long-Term Advantage of Interleaved Instruction. Exceptional Children, 89(3), 332-352.