ISY Elementary Blog
 A Beginner’s Mindset
Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal
March 19, 2021

When I left school, I was not sure what I wanted to do but I was very sure that I was not going to be a teacher. 

The main reason for this was a teacher’s comment to my mother in a parent teacher conference:

‘Michael would make a good teacher. He can do many things but he is not particularly expert at any one thing.’

Looking back I think this teacher was trying to say that those who have had to work a bit harder to learn something are often better equipped to teach it. 

At the time I took it as a challenge to become an expert at something other than teaching. 

Now I consider it to be a pretty accurate reflection of how I think many teachers and parents are feeling at the moment. It is hard to feel like an expert at any one thing when you are learning multiple new things each day. But we should all feel pretty good about all the things we can do. 

We might not feel like experts, but today we had an assembly to remind ourselves that we are now pretty good at things that we did not know how to do at all just a matter of months or weeks or days ago. As adults, we could have chosen to stop learning new things so we could feel like experts in the things that we knew how to do a year ago when we were all forced online. Instead, we continue to choose to learn new things for the sake of our children even if we constantly feel like beginners.

It can be difficult for us adults to admit that we are beginners in anything – even in things that we are doing for the very first time. However, intellectual humility or a beginner’s mindset can increase our capacity to learn new things, and improve our thinking and decision making. Our children are wonderful models of how effective a beginner’s mindset can be when nothing is certain and every challenge seems new.

How a ‘beginner’s mindset’ can help you learn anything.

Below are two graphics from today’s assembly. The graphic on the left represents all the online tools, apps and platforms that students have enjoyed using this year. The graphic on the right represents what they have enjoyed learning. It worth noting that with all the new tools, apps, and platforms, writing is what our students have enjoyed online the most.


Healthy Choices: Get Moving with your Children!

The combination of Covid-19 and the current political situation, has limited our ability to get out and move.  In general, many of us have become more sedentary and have found it more difficult to make healthy choices. 

This is, in part, why last week the elementary student council sponsored Healthy Living Week.  Each day a different area of health was highlighted and addressed.  One day’s focus was physical fitness.  

The benefits of physical exercise are wide ranging, including but not limited to:

  • Improved memory and brain function
  • Reducing risk of obesity
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Enhances emotional well-being
  • Improved sleep

So how do we encourage our children to get active and make healthier fitness choices?

  • Set a regular schedule for physical activity.  Elementary students need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.  Put it in the daily calendar.
  • Be a role model.  Fitness is a life-long commitment, your example will help your child develop sound exercise habits for years to come.
  • Be active together as a family.  A family that plays together, stays fit together!  Get creative and find family sports that everyone can engage in.  
  • Expose your children to a wide variety of physical activities.  Fitness includes endurance, strength and flexibility.  Allowing children to explore a range of interests can help you discover a variety of ways to meet these elements.


Kids Health

10 Benefits of Physical Activity for Kids

10 Tips to get kids to exercise

Yearbook Photos

Everyday next week we will have open times when anyone who hasn’t already had a yearbook photo can come in and have one.  These will be between 7:45 – 8:45 am and between 1:30 – 3:30 pm.  Simply come to the B Building which is the small administration building next to the soccer field. You don’t have to make an appointment but please make sure you are wearing a mask, that you wash your hands and that while waiting you socially distance yourself from each other.

If you can’t make one of these days for any reason you can send in a photo for us to edit and add to the yearbook.  Mr. Ailes has been joining classes virtually to help with this but you can also send in your own photo.  Below is a video with the kind of photo we are ideally looking for.  In the video Mr. Ailes suggests a stool  but standing against a blank wall is also fine.  Also, try to make sure your child is smiling and please make sure you tell us who the photo is of.  Finally, don’t worry about cropping the photo as Mr. Ailes will do that for you.

Instructions for taking a Yearbook photo

Where we are missing photos by the end of the year we will simply use last year’s photo or for new students a photo we have on record but it’s always nice to have a fresh photo.  Photos can simply be sent to


For the remainder of the school year there will no longer be any transitional days or in-person ASA’s.  Due to the current circumstances in Yangon, we cannot be consistent with the transitional day schedule so the routine we were hoping to provide for students is not possible to maintain.  In addition, we have had a small number of teachers electing to leave Yangon and teach synchronously from their respective homes making in-person school all the more difficult.  
Using volunteer teachers we will continue to keep the facilities open including the field, playgrounds, courts, pool and fitness area.  Bookings to use these spaces can be made using the facilities booking form.  Questions regarding facility use should be addressed to Ms. Isom, and more information about activities and facility use can be found on Ms. Isom’s blog


We have done some planning for the unlikely event that there is a country wide permanent loss of access to Google tools.  In that event everyone should log in to PowerSchool and look for the menu item on the left side of the screen called ‘Office 365 Credentials’.  Here you will see a single user name and password for both email and for documents. The email has already been set up such that all school email from now on is being forwarded to the alternative email platform.  The documents platform is the place where teachers would upload documents for students.  There is no need to log in to Office 365 before losing access to Google.  It is advisable, however, to login to PowerSchool just to make sure you know your login and password.  If anyone needs help with logging in you can review this simple guide to resetting your password and if that doesn’t help you can contact the PowerSchool Help team at

Although we have yet to lose complete access to the internet during the school day, we do have a plan for this happening.  In that event, students not involved in a transition day, will work from home on pre-arranged work that they have downloaded already.  Elementary School teachers have sent a download to parents today and Secondary School parents and students will be getting their downloads on Monday.  Secondary students and Upper Elementary students will go through the download process with their teachers in class.  It is important that this work is downloaded as soon as it is received so no use of the internet will be required to access the instructions.  These downloads will be updated from time to time in line with the progress of students through their various studies.

Offline Learning Activities in the Elementary School:

The grade level summaries you receive every Friday now have a PDF document attached. This document will be a summary of what has happened in class that week plus a selection of Offline Learning Activities. Students are to do these activities only if we lose internet access and classes cannot proceed online. These activities are connected to what we are doing in class but they are only to be done on days that we cannot meet as a class. When classes resume, students will share and reflect on their work. Please download the PDF Summary & Offline Learning Document when you receive the email on Friday. In this way these Offline Learning Activities will be immediately available to students if we lose internet access in the following week.

Below is a video that outlines how to download a PDF document:

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