ISY Elementary Blog
 A Performance Culture
Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal
January 15, 2020
It was wonderful to have some Elementary students in classrooms and on the playground this week. All three Transition Days went very well from both student connection and safety points of view. The students on campus were happy to be here and also very responsible in following our health and safety guidelines. Masks were worn at all times by all students and I think our students have the cleanest hands in Myanmar! Those students who joined us online were able to do so using our new camera and sound systems and it was great to see their faces on our classroom screens. We will be continuing with the Transition Day schedule next week as outlined below. 

This weekend I am teaching a university paper on curriculum development. I am a teacher but I have not taught for a while. I present on a lot of things and facilitate a lot of groups but I have not had to go through the cycle of planning, teaching, and assessing on any topic for a few years now. I like teaching and I am looking forward to the weekend but I have certainly been reminded of how complex a task teaching can be. I have also been reminded that good teachers are never completely satisfied with what they plan or their performance! 

UPS founder, Jim Casey, coined the phrase ‘constructive dissatisfaction.’ Casey considered that if you feel too comfortable with your performance, you will not have the urge to try to improve your performance. The urge to improve is based upon your acceptance that there is a gap between how you are performing and how you would like to perform. It is this performance gap that makes you want to improve. 

Given that it is Thursday night and I have just decided to completely redesign my course as it stood on Wednesday night, I’m not sure if my dissatisfaction with my work is particularly constructive in this instance. And it is probably even less constructive for me to be writing about my need to redesign my course than actually redesigning it…

My point is that the best teachers are the ones that have accepted the fact that they have performance gaps and are prepared to work hard to fill them. This also true of sportspeople, musicians, architects, doctors, engineers, or any professional group of people.

This is the first school I have worked in that has a performance culture in which everyone is focused on getting better than they are now

Given that I have only ever worked in good schools, that statement might rub a few ex-colleagues up the wrong way. But the reality is that for everyone to be focused on getting better than they are now, everyone needs to accept that they have a performance gap. 

If there is one thing that the 2020-2021 school year has given (and will continue to give) all of us, it is a performance gap. This is a gift that we all have received by virtue of being asked to perform in ways we have never been asked to perform before. We all have different performance gaps but we are connected by the circumstances that have caused them. This has created a performance culture in our school that I have never experienced before and I do not think will ever experience again. 

Teaching is an already complex task made more complex by the pandemic. We all want to perform at levels that we have never performed at before. The pandemic has us doing that everyday and we still aren’t satisfied! And to me, that is what makes ISY so special.

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. 


Supporting your Child for Transition Days:

During our first few Transition Days, I have asked students how they have felt preparing for and entering the school campus for the first time in many months.  I found that most students reported a mixture of feelings: excitement and joy with a touch of anxiety or nervousness.  As a parent, you might wonder how to best support your child during this transition.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Offer opportunities for your child to share how they are feeling.  It is common and appropriate for students to have a mixture of feelings.  Change comes with uncertainty.  It is natural to be nervous about doing things in a new way.  Let them know it’s okay to share and talk about their feelings.
  • If your child expresses concern about health and safety, remind your child that policies and procedures, such as wearing masks and washing hands have been put into place to protect them.
  • Focus on the goals.  Transition Days offer opportunities for them to socially connect with friends and teachers, while preparing them for a possible hybrid model of learning.
  • If your child is ‘Zooming’ into the classroom on Transitional Days, they may feel isolated or disappointed.  Allow them to express their feelings and gently remind them that they will still participate and engage with peers and classwork.
  • Manage your own emotional health. Children take their emotional cues from adults.  

If you have any questions or concerns for your child or your family, please feel free to contact me at

Patty Amundson-Geisel

ISY Elementary Counselor

Virtual Recess is still running from 1:00-1:30 PM.  Students should use the All Grade Specialist Link to join on their assigned day.  All activities will be student driven but will include fun and games.

Grades 4 & 5: Tuesday
Grade 3: Wednesday
Grade 2: Thursday
Grade 1: Friday


All Transition Days start at 8:30am and end at 12:30pm

Students will be asked to practice social distancing at all times and please note that masks will need to be worn in all areas of the school. This includes while in classrooms. Please always enter through the front steps area as this entrance is outfitted with a thermal camera to check temperatures.  We also ask that everyone wash their hands at the sinks on the front steps before entering the campus.

MAP Testing

At the beginning of February, we will be MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing in the Elementary School (Grades 2 to 5). 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.

To ensure a fair and accurate assessment of a student’s academic growth and achievement, teachers combine MAP assessment data with all other student data that they have collected in the classroom. This combination of data informs teacher instruction in meeting the needs of each child. 

More details will follow soon about why and how the students will be taking the tests in such a unique year.


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. 

Previous Elementary School Posts