ISY Elementary Blog
Controlling what we can control
Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal
February 5, 2020
Even in the context of 2020-2021, this week has been a particularly challenging and unsettling one. But we got through it.

We got through the week by focusing on the things we can control and making decisions based on what is best for our students and families. 

As is always the case in times of uncertainty, some decisions are made to get through a short period of time until some certainty returns. These decisions are made in reaction to something that has just happened. For example, we have control over the MAP testing schedule and we decided that, in the best interests of our students in the short term, the tests can wait for now.

But even in times of uncertainty, especially in times of uncertainty, schools must continue to look beyond immediate challenges and make proactive decisions that will allow them to adapt and thrive in the future. An example of a proactive decision was made this week by our Early Elementary team. 

Despite all that is going on around them at the moment, our Early Elementary team decided to go ahead with scheduled online sessions with an early elementary expert. They are working with Dr. Linda Henke to confirm the ‘Principles of Practice’ that will guide the teaching and learning of the ISY youngest students for years to come. They met on Tuesday and Thursday and will meet again with Dr. Henke next Tuesday.

Going ahead with this strategic work was a proactive decision made by a team that recognizes that we will not get through this difficult period just by waiting for things to happen and reacting to them in the moment. 

We might not be able to control what challenges we will face tomorrow or in two years from now. But, by proactively focusing on our Mission, Vision, and Strategic Themes in our decision making, we can take control of what we can control – how we plan for and react to the challenges that we will face. 



With COVID, we needed to adapt our schedule for online learning to prioritise our core curriculum subjects as we started the year. This meant we needed to combine our World Language and Culture and Communication programs. These classes are related but intended to be taught separately so students can focus on developing specific skills in their chosen language.

For the first semester (ending January 29), we decided upon a Culture and Communication focus with all Grade 2-5 students (French and Mandarin) in the same class. We decided to use the Education Perfect app to provide our students with skills practice in the language of their choice. This is not how we would normally teach languages in the Elementary School at ISY and, while this app is a useful supplementary resource, it is not the basis of our language program.

For our second semester (beginning February 1) we have shifted our focus from general Culture and Communication classes to specific French and Mandarin classes. We have separated the students into separate French and Mandarin classes which allows for smaller groups all focusing on the target language. We have two teachers assigned to each of our French and Mandarin classes to allow for more specific instruction.


How can you support your child during times of change?

Although ISY strives to be a consistent presence for students, this week’s current events impacted your child’s learning schedule.  Several parents have reached out to ask how they could help their child during these unexpected changes.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be a Role Model: Children take emotional cues from the adults around them.  If parents demonstrate a calm, healthy attitude toward change, typically they will also.  Demonstrate healthy habits, such as proper nutrition, sleep & exercise.
  2. Explain world events with terms and vocabulary your child can understand.  
  3. Highlight their safety.  Children have a limited world view.  They need to know that they are safe and what measures are being taken to ensure safety.
  4. Allow children opportunities to share their feelings.  Let your child know that their feelings are valid and you want to support them.
  5. Highlight areas for gratitude.  Change can be scary but it can also highlight the constants, the areas in our lives that are stable and supportive.  Take a moment to be thankful for these areas.

If you or your child would like support in dealing with change or other transitions, feel free to reach out to Ms. Patty.  She can be reached at

Virtual Recess is still running from 1:00-1:30 PM.  All activities will be student driven but will include fun and games.

  • Grades 3, 4, & 5: Tuesday at 1pm
  • Grades 1 & 2: Thursday at 1pm


Thank you to everyone for taking part in the online learning this week.  We will continue with an online learning only schedule for the start of next week.  Once the optional Transitional Days start up again we will let everyone know in good time.

COVID Safety: Can my child go to school today?

Here is a link to a very useful Can my child go to school today? flowchart prepared by our ISY Medical Clinic. It will help decide whether to send your child to school if they, or someone they are close to, have been ill. 

MAP Testing Postponed

We have postponed MAP testing in the Elementary School and will reassess the timing of these tests at the end of next week.

MAP assessments in Reading, Language, and Mathematics are online adaptive assessments that provide useful data in developing a fair and accurate assessment of a student’s academic achievement and growth.

Teachers combine MAP assessment data with all other student data that they have collected in the classroom. MAP data itself is not used for grading at ISY but this combination of data informs teacher instruction in meeting the needs of each child.

Quarter 2 Report Cards

Quarter 2 student report cards will be available on PowerSchool next Thursday, February 11.


Did you know that Mr. Zar Li, our head security officer, was a former Mr. Myanmar! He is very fit and knows 100s of different exercises to stay fit.

Mr. Zar Li has kindly offered to run 15 minute work outs for our students that will start at 8:10am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These work outs will start next Monday. The Zoom link for the workouts will be on the Friday Family Report email that you receive from your child(ren)’s teacher. All ages are welcome and parents are welcome to join in too.

The workouts will finish at 8:25am to give students time to get a drink and get organized before joining their classes at 8:30am.

These workouts do not replace regular P.E. classese during the school day. 

Cultural Diversity ay ISY

This week we took some time to celebrate our community’s many different countries and cultures.

Previous Elementary School Posts