ISY Elementary Blog


Sandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal

11th November, 2022

Dear all,

Busy times ahead for us all. With parent conferences next week, however, we do get a lovely four-day weekend afterward. After that, it is a short 4 weeks until our holiday break. Sometimes having limited time heightens our stress as we as educators are always thinking ahead to what needs to be done. Relax, ease your pace; these young children will get what they need along the way of their education. The most important thing is that they enjoy the learning they are doing.


A parent-teacher conference is a great opportunity to:

  • share academic progress and growth based on classroom observations, assessments, portfolios/class work.
  • learn from parents or guardians so you can be better informed about students’ strengths, needs, behaviors, and learning styles
  • discuss enrichment or intervention strategies to support students’ learning
  • discuss issues that may be interfering with students’ learning and growth

Before the Conference

Prepare your materials. Preparing materials well before the conference will make you feel more at ease when families show up at your classroom door. As you’re teaching during the school year, keep in mind which assessments will be shared and reported at conferences. Review student data, assignments, and assessments that you’ll be sharing with parents, and make notes about what you’d like to ask parents about their children to support learning.

In addition to progress reports, you may want to set aside separate conference folders with three to five student documents that support progress. Some teachers keep notes with strengths, needs, and social or behavioral notes to guide them through conferences.

During the Conference

Create a welcoming environment. Make your classroom inviting by displaying students’ work and making space for the conference with an adult-sized table and chairs.

Open with positives. All parents are proud of their kids and want to hear about their child’s strengths as well as challenges, so be sure to discuss both — but start with the positives.

Discuss progress and growth. Inform parents about their child’s ability levels or grade levels in different content areas using demonstrative work examples or assessment information. Many parents want to know how their children compare to their peers, but remind them that you’re discussing their child’s individual instructional levels, not their standing in class.

It’s all too easy to let discussions veer off-task during conferences, so try to limit all talk to learning and how to support the student’s instruction.

Avoid teacher-talk. Education is loaded with jargon and acronyms, but a parent-teacher conference is not the place to use them. Be sure to explain any terms or even words on progress reports that aren’t commonly used outside the school setting.

Ask questions and listen. Ask parents or guardians for their input about students’ strengths, needs, and learning styles, as well as their hopes and dreams for their children. Don’t forget to ask these simple but important questions: “Does your child like school?” and “Why?” or “Why not?” That single line of questioning can give you a lot of information that can be helpful in the classroom.

Make a plan. Provide suggestions for activities and strategies to support learning at home. Spend the last few minutes of the meeting on your specific goals for the student.

Be honest and have a thick skin. It’s your responsibility to give parents or guardians an accurate assessment of students’ progress. Sometimes this means delivering bad news. Sugar-coating the facts defeats the purpose of the conference.

In addition, you may see some of your students differently than their parents do, and some parents may take your evaluation of their child in a negative or defensive way. While you should be open to constructive criticism, remember that you’re in charge of the conference, and if the discussion becomes too heated to be effective or goes awry in other ways, you should conclude the meeting and ask to reconvene at another time. If you have reason to expect such negative interactions before the next conference, ask an administrator/counselor to attend.

After the Conference

Follow up. A little thank-you can go a long way.  You can also have students write thank-you notes to their parents or guardians for attending and supporting their learning. In the notes, remind parents to contact you if they have any further questions or concerns.

Be sure to contact parents who did not attend and offer alternative ways to communicate about their child’s progress.

Communicate regularly. Let parents know what’s going on with their child in an ongoing fashion. Keep families informed about class projects and other assignments, students’ accomplishments, and any problems or concerns that may arise.



Conferences will be from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. You do not have to be at school until the conferences start.

Specialist teachers will be in the Gym and have no sign-up. Parents may have to wait to see them.

Rosita will only be available from 9-11 AM.

Saw John will be in his classroom and Zarchi in the PE Office for any KG and PreK parents.


Lunch will be served from  11:30-1:00 PM  in the Cafeteria. It is Indian food there are vegetarian options.

Chairs will be placed outside your rooms for any early parents.

I will be available if there are any needs.


The parent blog can be found on the faculty pages if you want to check the information sent home to parents.

Here is the link


There will be a practice of the lockdown drill on Monday. Please go over the drill with your students first thing in the morning on Monday. Then the alarm will sound at 9 AM. Once you receive the all-clear signal you can go back to normal activities.

The drill has been sent to you via email.


EARCOS Articles Wanted

Greetings from EARCOS!
We are rapidly approaching December 1, 2022, the deadline for submitting articles and art for the Winter Issue of the ET Journal.

Here are some of the features:

Curriculum Initiatives – New and exciting adoption efforts, and creative teacher ideas.

Green and Sustainable – Related to campus development and/or curriculum.

Service Learning Projects – Educational approach where a student learns theories in the classroom and at the same time volunteers with an agency (usually a non-profit or social service group).

Action Research Reports – Summaries of approved action research projects

Student Art – We will highlight MS art in Winter issue.

Student Writing – Original short stories, poetry, scholarly writing.

Reading Corner – Book review

For more information on how to contribute to the ET Journal click here and also please let Sandy or Mike know.


14th November – 2:45 Focus on Learning document review

16th November – Parent Conferences 9-5 PM

17th – 21st – No school (see you on Monday 21st)

26th November – International Day – all should attend

2nd December – Next assembly

16th December – last day of school – this is a full day of school. There will be an assembly at the end of the day; this is where we will celebrate the holiday. Santa will visit the assembly.


This year’s Compassion Conference will be on Friday, February 3.

More details will follow, but I wanted to introduce our keynote speaker. Kathryn Berkett will speak to us in 2 workshops:

The Impact of Early Development

Adolescent Brain Changes

Kathryn will be able to provide us with some insights into how our students’ brains function and develop. These insights will be directly applicable to developing inclusive practices in our classrooms and supporting young people in general.

Kathryn Berkett has dedicated over 20 years of her life learning and training about how the brain and body develop and interact – understanding how this influences what we do, say, think, and how we behave. She trains organizations, teams, and schools nationally and internationally around how environmental trauma can impact our development.

Kathryn has her Masters of Educational Psychology and has certified as a Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics practitioner. She has done a TEDx talk titled ‘Neuroscience of Device Zombies’. Kathryn also has a podcast series with the amazing Pio Terei, called “I’ve Got Questions.” A mix of practice and theory has led her to have a fascinating understanding of how everyday stress can impact us and those around us. Understanding the neuroscience of stress can help us develop more biologically respectful assessments and interventions and help us move forward in a more sustainable and focussed way. Kathryn has also spent years learning about the adolescent brain changes and how they impact behavior. She put this into real-life practice by raising her two beautiful children, who are now 16yrs and 19yrs.

If you want to learn more about Kathryn and her work, check out the resources on this website:


3rd – Gavin Ailes

4th – Mike Simpson

6th – Paul Sicard

12th – Greg Hedger

    Message re: Focus on Learning 2022-2023

    After such a disrupted couple of years, this year is an important year to figure out exactly what our student’s needs are in every subject area and how we are going to address them next year and beyond.

    We will do this with Focus on Learning Collaborations, which we introduced before Covid hit and also did in April last year. The idea is to identify our students’ Critical Learner Needs, which then become our Problems of Practice. This language comes from WASC and ties in with how we will review all curriculum areas this year.

    A Problem of Practice isn’t a shortcoming on the part of us as teachers – it just recognizes the fact that we are the ones who cause learning, and meeting student learning needs is our problem to solve.

    Below are links to Focus on Learning Collaboration documents which we will review on Monday, November 7 – once the reports cards are finished. We do it at this time as we have just reported on the needs of our students, and we also have MAP data that we can use to guide us.

    For now, focus on finishing your Quarter 1 report cards. Once you have finished with them, take a moment to fill out the document to be reviewed at a later date. On the documents, you will also see what was recorded last year.

    This Monday, November at 14 at 2:45pm we will review the Focus on Learning documents that you have filled out in Subject Teams. Please refer to these Focus on Learning Collaboration Instructions to confirm what team you are in, where you will meet and what you need to do.


    • You will get your conference schedule sent to you the day before parent conferences. Parents have until Monday the 14th, 3 PM, to sign up. Please send reminders to your parents to sign up; you can ask them to refer to the parent blog.

    • Please complete all documentation for your professional growth planning by the 21st.

    • Please promote composting in your classrooms.

    • The next assembly is on the 2nd of December.

    • Please join the Google chat group for daily quick messages as needed.

    • We should be using recyclable cups, plates, and cutlery for any birthday parties, etc. Please collect a set to keep in your room. The items can be found in #107

    • Coming up:

      Monday, November 21: SDGs in Quarter 2 Units. We will look at our Q2 Scope and Sequences and Curriculum Maps (see below for instructions) to see how the SDGs can be addressed and help us teach what we have planned to teach.


    Monday – Sabine/Zarchi, Tuesday – Dan, May Zin, 

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