ISY Elementary Blog

Chinthes Show Their Colors

Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

16 October 2020

We finished this week in Chinthe Colors!

Next week we will be celebrating Thadingyut (Thursday) and Halloween (Friday) 

ONLINE LEARNING TIP: How was school today?

It can be difficult at the best of times to get our children to talk about their school day. But it is important to understand how they are experiencing learning online so we can support and motivate them. Each Friday for the next few weeks, we will post five different questions that might help your child open up about their experience online. Here are this week’s questions:

  1. What is something that challenged you?
  2. How did someone fill your bucket today? Whose bucket did you fill?
  3. Rate your day on a scale from 1-10.
  4. How were you brave today?
  5. What questions did you ask at school today?


Over the past few weeks, I have been working with several grade levels around the skill of empathy.  Empathy is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed.  Here are a few ways you can help your child develop this skill.

  • Model emotions.  Having a large Emotion Vocabulary helps people better understand their feelings. Verbalize your feelings to your children. These examples will encourage their ability to label feelings for themselves.
  • Validate Feeling.  Encourage your child to share their feelings.  When a child feels heard and understood, they are better able to make positive choices to deal with those emotions.
  • Perspective Taking.  Provide opportunities for your child to see things from a different perspective.  It will expand their world and encourage community.

If you would like to talk further about this or another concern, please feel free to contact me at

Virtual Recess will be offered again this week 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.

Grade 5: Monday
Grade 4: Tuesday
Grade 3: Wednesday
Grade 2: Thursday
Grade 1: Friday

A Feeling for Fiction: The Power of Stories to Build Compassion

The benefits of reading are many but sometimes I think we focus on the academic benefits and forget about the potential of books, especially fiction, to ‘help train us in the art of being human.

I was reminded of the power of stories to deepen our humanity and connect us to others by a short essay called ‘A Feeling for Fiction’ published in a book that our ISY Leadership Team is reading, ‘The Compassionate Instinct.’

Children love stories and this shows that they enjoy feeling with other people, even when the feelings are sometimes negative. Whenever we read a story or watch a movie we feel pleased when a well liked character does well or a disliked character struggles. We are displeased when the opposite happens. This a basic process but potentially a very powerful one. This process can transcend the limits of our own culture, identity, perspective, and experiences and connect us to people who are, on the face of it, very different from ourselves. 

Children experience stories through their favorite character, usually the main character who is usually the hero. If the main character or hero’s culture, identity, perspective, and/or experience is different to their own, a child is connecting and empathizing with a person who is not like them. To like a character who is not like them exercises a child’s sense of empathy and develops their openness and capacity to understand the culture, identity, perspective, and/or experiences of others in the real world. 

At ISY, we are committed to developing compassionate global citizens and we are using stories to do this. Each week, in exploring the idea that ‘we are all connected,’ our Early Elementary students share in a story around which all of their learning revolves. Our teachers have taken great care in selecting stories that represent different cultures, identities, perspectives, and experiences. A student may immediately identify with a character as being ‘like them’ one week and the next week they are identifying and empathizing with a character who, on the face of it, is very different to them. 

This is one example of how we are striving to value the cultures, identities, perspectives, and experiences of all of our students and of those of people that our students may never have the opportunity to meet. By extending our students’ understanding of humanity through the stories we expose them to (at all grade levels), we are developing global citizens who will become agents for positive change. 

Keltner, Dacher, et al. The Compassionate Instinct: the Science of Human Goodness. W.W. Norton & Co., 2010.


The Compassionate Instinct is a collection of essays that appear in UC Berkeley’s The Greater Good Science Center’s Greater Good Magazine


Thursday, November 19 will be dedicated to Parent Teacher Conferences. There will be no classes on this day for students. Parents will receive a written progress report prior to this day to help guide the conferences with their child’s teachers. 

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