ISY Elementary School Faculty Blog

Creating a New Normal

Mike Simpson

January 22, 2021

It was another successful week of Transition Days with all grades on campus this week. We will follow the same Transition Day schedule next week.

These days are obviously great opportunities for students to connect in person but, just as importantly, they also allow us to introduce a new hybrid mode of learning to the students.

We will have a few students who are unable to join us on campus for some time. Our students’ perspective and experience differs depending on where they are and what side of the camera they are on and this adds a great deal of complexity to our work. 

Our working definition for compassion at ISY as co-created by students and teachers is ‘the will and understanding to respect and value the identity, culture, perspective, and experience of others in acting to make a positive difference to their lives.’ 

I think it is useful to remind ourselves of this definition of compassion as it sums up what we are all doing right now. We are acting to make a positive difference in the lives of all of our students and we are learning how to do that as we go. This is incredibly complex and challenging work and these Transition Days allow for us and our students to work together to experiment and reflect on what works best for our compassionate learning communities.

By acting and continually improving on what works best for you and your students now, you are creating a new normal that the late Ken Robinson would hope is the lasting legacy of such a difficult time.

PUTTING YOUR IDEAS ON THE TABLE

While you are in the middle of reimagining teaching and learning, I was wondering if you would like to share your thoughts or experiences. No pressure but if you have any videos or articles that have caught your attention, I’d love to include them in this faculty blog. And if any of you like to write or want to give it a go, I’d love to help you get your ideas out to people who would appreciate them. Just let me know if you would like to share anything.

This is a good read on why self-compassion – not self-esteem – leads to success.

INCLUSION SHARE OUT

Each grade level at ISY collaborates and develops learning experiences that are teeming with inclusive, innovative, and interesting activities. The activities are designed in a manner that appropriately challenges each student so they can reach their highest academic and social/emotional potential. Within each lesson, there are built-in scaffolds to help students move forward more independently and efficiently.

Caitlin Tegenfeldt, as a member of the Grade 6 Team, shared an idea to add a “live” weekly calendar within their team’s slides. The team agreed. This allows students to preview what to expect for the week and what has been completed as a class any particular day (strikethrough). This visual assists students in planning, organizing, and using a weekly calendar as a strategy for success. This strategy is particularly helpful for students with executive functioning challenges.

This is an example of the weekly calendar the G6 team added to their daily presentation to keep their students engaged and on track Example: Weekly Activity Calendar  

Thank you for sharing out your inclusive idea!

Please contact Lynn Shoemaker at lshoemaker@isyedu.org to “share out” your inclusive practices. 

TRANSITION DAYS & COVID SAFETY

The Transition Days this week have been excellent. Below are links to schedules and guidelines that we are using to guide us. These are all available on the Elementary Faculty Pages

Grades 1-5 will continue on the same schedule next week. From next Wednesday, January 27, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten will begin daily Transition Days from 8:30am to 11:45pm. The change of time is to ensure that traffic runs smoothly.

We need to make that the traffic runs smoothly at the end of the day so please have your students on the Front Steps right on 12:30pm.

No Longer Offering Chromebooks

As new students join our classes, our existing students arrive back into the country, we will no longer be offering Chromebooks as a matter of course. We initially offered Chromebooks to get everyone up and running quickly but it is not our policy to provide laptops or Chromebooks for elementary school students. Patty and I will make this clear to these students as they prepare to join us. This is just a heads up for teachers not to offer them to students. Teachers may still be asked to provide supplies as we have been doing.

MAP Testing

Our Grade 2-5 students will sit MAP tests online from the week beginning February 1. Students will be tested in Reading, Language, and Mathematics.

MAP Testing Schedule (Grades 2-5): February 1-5. This only applies to Grades 2-5. This quarter is 9 weeks. If we get all of our MAP testing out of the way in the first week then we will not be interrupted. It also allows for an even 4 weeks of Music and 4 weeks of Art (I have scheduled MAP testing instead of those classes) for Grades 2-5. 

We appreciate that this year does not exactly lend itself to MAP testing and we will provide more details soon about how it will work online. We will not be using Transition Days to MAP test. Students will be able to test online from home. As always, MAP testing will be considered just one data point used to fairly and accurately assess a student’s academic achievement and progress. We will be able to use our professional judgement to decide how much weight we place on the data given the circumstances.

Here is a reflection on MAP Mindsets from a couple of years ago.

International Week: February 1-5

We are unable to have our regular International Day this year. 

During the week of February 1-5, the Middle School is running a ‘Students Without Borders’ program that has a strong cultural focus.

To coincide with what is happening in the Middle School, we will encourage students to come to school on their Transition Day wearing something that represents their culture or country. Students online can do the same. This will be an easy way to celebrate our students’ culture and countries without adding something complicated to our very full plates.

Quarter 3 Schedules

The Quarter 3 schedule is basically the same as what we have now. I have split them into 2 halves again to allow for Art and Music to have concentrated times with the separate classes. For Q3, instead of having all students in one Culture and Communication class, we will have the students separated into EAL / Mandarin / French, at the same time as we have had Culture and Communication in Quarters 1 and 2.

Q3 Feb 1 – Mar 5: ES Specialists Schedule (plus Transitional Days)

Q3 Mar 8 – Apr 2: ES Specialists Schedule (plus Transitional Days)

Q3 Transitional Day Recess Schedule (Feb 1 – Mar 5) – PLEASE SIGN UP

At this stage, the schedule still references Transitional Days. We will adapt the schedule as the situation develops.

Instructional Orders

Instructional Orders are to be completed by January 31. Here are the ordering instructions. The teams leaders spoke about this today in their meeting and will be able to support you.

Report Writing

Report Writing Instructions:

Timeline:

January 29: Semester Ends

February 5: Reports Completed for Checking (a spreadsheet will be created for this and shared with you next week).

February 12: Reports to Parents

There will be no conferences for this reporting period. As always, if you have any students who are struggling or may be disappointed with their projected mark, please reach out to their families before they receive the report.

Step Back. Step Up. Step In.

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 be accepting of the fact 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. 

It is the gift of performance gaps that have created a performance culture that I have never experienced before and I do not think we will ever experience again unless we can replicate the pressure that we are facing now. I’m not sure that we want to do that anytime soon so I think we should go into the second half of this year accepting that we will still be under pressure but trusting that our performance will continue to improve. But we will only continue to improve if we do not get overwhelmed by our peformance gaps and that is very hard to avoid when you are under pressure. 

‘Fight or Flight’ is a common phrase used to describe a person’s options when overwhelmed by pressure. People either become aggressive or just walk away. Now, given that teachers will generally do anything to avoid conflict and their sense of responsibility to their students will not let them walk away, we need another option – ‘Freeze.’

People that have frozen do not fight and they still turn up but they cannot contribute and perform as they usually would. Rather than being an active member of a team, pressure makes them passive. They might go through the motions in a way that suggests contribution and performance but really they are just trying to get by without drawing attention to themselves. 

I know that we have all had our moments but we have all handled the pressure of the last few months exceptionally well and this is what our performance culture is based on. I am just wary of the fact that the end of 2020 does not mean that the pressure is off. It might even increase in 2021. So I have been reading up on how to handle pressure and would like to share a mental movement that I picked up from the book referenced below. It is called Step Back, Step Up, Step In.

Step Back: Gain Emotional Control

When faced with a challenging situation that has the potential to cause you to Fight, Fly, or Freeze, step back to think about your own state of mind. This has direct links to an Adaptive Schools’ Norm of Collaboration: Pay attention to yourself (and others). Thinking about your state of mind activates your powerful metacognition function (thinking about thinking) and is the first step in pushing through the urge to Fight, Fly, or Freeze. You are now ready to think about how you are going to face the challenge.

Step Up: Look for Better Options

Every challenge you face provides you with a performance gap. Challenges are challenging because you need to improve your level of performance to overcome them. And before you set out to improve your performance, you need to figure out what your options are to do that. Adaptive Schools’ would suggest that you take a ‘Balcony View’ of the challenge. By stepping up onto the balcony and looking down on the challenge without you in it, you will be able to see the challenge from multiple perspectives and determine a more objective best option to improve your performance.

Step In: Take the Initiative

Once you have established your best option to improve your performance to meet a challenge, you need to take the initiative to do whatever it takes to implement that option. Importantly, that does not mean you need to improve your performance alone. Taking the initiative in this sense might be as simple as asking for help or sharing an idea with a colleague. 

Asking for help and sharing ideas has defined our year so far and created a performance culture that will get us through the rest of it. As long as we do not let the pressure overwhelm us, we will meet every challenge that comes our way. I am sure that there will be plenty! 

EVANS, CERI. PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE: Change the Way You Feel, Think and Act under Pressure. THORSONS, 2019.

ES MORNING FITNESS WITH ISY’s MR. MYANMAR!

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 each week.

Please encourage students to join and also post the Zoom link on your Google Classroom (if your class has one)

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.

PRIDE OF THE PRINCIPAL

If you have any student (or students) that you would like me to recognise for living the ISY Attributes send me an email with a sentence about why they are to be recognised and a time that I could come on Zoom and say hi. Any time or day is OK – If I have a meeting I’ll suggest another time until we get one that works. I will jump on your Zoom and then I’ll get you to put the student or student(s) into a break out room with me. I’ll have a chat with them and take a screenshot that I will send to their parents.

 

Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

28 September 2020

I really enjoyed the meetings we had online discussing our enduring understandings and essential questions for our Quarter 2 units. Many connections were made and I know we have the got the makings of three great units. But now we have to make them! We will start this process next week by creating scope and sequences for each unit. 

This is a full width text module inside a row (the green one) called full width text.  The text formatting is plain but easily readable.  This module and row are good to use when you have a lot of content to get through.  Using it means that the reader won’t have to scroll  down the page for ages as it can fir a lot of content.

Click somewhere in the text to see the black editing menu and then click on the cog to edit the text.  Command A (mac) or Control ‘A’ (pc) will select all the text for you to then delete and type over.

This has smaller text and is good for general blog content.

This one we call ‘Blog normal Text’. Note that there is a sub-title using a bold format and then this normal text without bold format.  Remember, if you are copying and pasting from a Google Doc, E-mail or other format, it’s usually best to paste without formatting.  On a MAC that’s Shift, Option, Cmnd, V; on a PC that’s Shift, Command, V.

You can add bullets here too if you like:

  • Bullet 1 is  nicely formatted
  • Bullet 2 as well.
  • Bullet 3… you see where I’m going right?

Here’s a trick
If you want text to appear right under the last piece of text, click Shift Return.

This could be your picture title – Blog Mid-sized Image

This text could be a short description of your image.  You don’t have to have any text here if you don’t want though, just delete it.

Try to keep the image sizes down under 200kb at most!  You can use the bulk resizer to reduce large images.

 

“Here’s a nice design for a quote.  Bear in mind the mission and vision when coming up with quotes.  It’s not always easy but if it sounds like it came from a Hallmark card – then maybe not!”

Gavin Ailes

This is a full width text module inside a row (the green one) called full width text.  The text formatting is plain but easily readable.  This module and row are good to use when you have a lot of content to get through.  Using it means that the reader won’t have to scroll  down the page for ages as it can fir a lot of content.

Click somewhere in the text to see the black editing menu and then click on the cog to edit the text.  Command A (mac) or Control ‘A’ (pc) will select all the text for you to then delete and type over.

Here’s a nice bit of text with a border

  • Might be a good place to list events.
  • Event 2 could go here
  • This event is taking place on 4 September 2020

Then you could continue underneath like this.

2 column design

Here’s a row with two columns.  One has text and the other one has images.  You don’t need both images, you could jsut have one, OR you could replace the images with another row of text.

Click somewhere in the text to see the black editing menu and then click on the cog to edit the text.  Command A (mac) or Control ‘A’ (pc) will select all the text for you to then delete and type over.

 

2 column text

In October, 2009 ISY Alum Kyaw Thiha Tun visited campus to present and share his experience and knowledge in the Renewable Energy sector. In an assembly for all secondary students, he highlighted how solar energy is a viable source for Myanmar, relating it to the Sustainable Development Goals of Affordable and Clean Energy and Sustainable Cities and Communities. After the presentation he shared, “It was great to see the enthusiasm of ISY high school students for Renewable Energy. I hope we can help and participate in ISY’s green and eco-friendly journey!”

second column, also has text

In October, 2009 ISY Alum Kyaw Thiha Tun visited campus to present and share his experience and knowledge in the Renewable Energy sector. In an assembly for all secondary students, he highlighted how solar energy is a viable source for Myanmar, relating it to the Sustainable Development Goals of Affordable and Clean Energy and Sustainable Cities and Communities. After the presentation he shared, “It was great to see the enthusiasm of ISY high school students for Renewable Energy. I hope we can help and participate in ISY’s green and eco-friendly journey!”

Blog Large Image with Caption

Photograph by Lorem Ipsum (or maybe something else goes here – you decide)

This could be a title for your gallery

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