ISY Elementary School Faculty Blog

Sharing the Load

Mike Simpson

January 29, 2021

I hope you have all had a good week. I know the students have. 

Teaching is a caring profession and good teachers care a lot. About everything. We care about our students and they care about our colleagues. We care about what we are teaching and how we are teaching it. We also care about the school and community in which we work. This is a heavy load at the best of times and the load is undoubtedly heavier this year. 

When a load gets too heavy to carry it makes sense to drop a few things. But caring teachers won’t drop the heaviest things. We will drop whatever we can that won’t impact those things that we care about as teachers – our students, our colleagues, our subjects, our schools, and our communities. So the first thing we are likely to drop is ourselves.  

I think we do this because we do not want to add to anyone else’s burden. But we forget that we are all carrying bits of the same burden! This week reminded me that if you have to put something down, for whatever reason, somebody at ISY will pick it up. I felt a bit guilty having to put a few things down this week but now I just feel grateful for those who picked them up. 


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 Ages 2-7 Matter So Much for Brain Development: Rich experiences—from play to the arts and relationships—fundamentally shape a young child’s development.


We understand that basic human needs such as getting the appropriate amount of sleep, eating well, and proper exercise could affect school work, but some students may also have difficulty in school due to language barriers or neuro-biological challenges. These challenges could include having a learning disability, slow processing speed, working memory issues, etc. Some students have to learn with several of these challenges on a daily basis. It can be exhausting to learn for some students. 

An ISY elementary school student shared out that she was having “trouble in math” and she knew she was in “trouble” but her teacher helped her. The teacher showed her “over and over, using different ways” until she could understand and do the math. She “finally got it”  and she was “so happy.” The student shared that her teacher always helped her and did not make her feel “dumb” if she has a question. This is a perfect example of meeting the social-emotional and academic needs of a student. As simple as this may seem, it’s one way to have a positive impact on a student who knows they need help.

Please contact Lynn Shoemaker at to “share out” your inclusive practices. 


The Transition Days continue to be successful. Below are links to the Quarter 3 schedules and guidelines that we are using to guide us. These are all available on the Elementary Faculty Pages.


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

  • We have made some changes to the schedule from last week. If these changes affect you directly, you should know this already but anyone can reach to me if you have any questions.
  • At this stage, all specialist classes will continue to be online except for Patty’s Life Skills classes. Classes are not yet able to visit the library.


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

  • Now that the students are in the swing of things, we have settled on a recess schedule. We need to be tight with our supervision and students must be supervised wherever they are playing (including on the four square courts) to ensure masks are being worn and students are playing safely. Students should not be playing tag. Four square and football is ok if the players wash their hands before and after and the ball is washed at the end of recess. 
  • Only one grade level is to be on recess at a time, with the exception of KG and PK who can play together.

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 next week. Students will be tested in Reading, Language, and Mathematics.

2021 Winter NWEA MAP Testing Google Site

MAP Testing Schedule (Grades 2-5): February 1-5.

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.



The following message will go out to parents today:

‘With COVID, we needed to adapt our schedule for online learning and we felt we needed to prioritise our core curriculum subjects as we started the year. This meant we needed to combine our World Language and Culture and Communication programs. These classes are related but intended to be taught separately so students can focus on developing specific skills in their chosen language. 

For the first semester (ending today, January 29), we decided upon a Culture and Communication focus with all Grade 2-5 students (French and Mandarin) in the same class. We decided to use the Education Perfect app to provide our students with skills practice in the language of their choice. This is not how we would normally teach languages in the Elementary School at ISY and, while this app is a useful supplementary resource, it is not the basis of our language program.

For our second semester (beginning this Monday, February 1) we will shift our focus from general Culture and Communication classes to specific French and Mandarin classes. We will be separating the students into separate French and Mandarin classes which will allow for smaller groups all focusing on the target language. We will have two teachers assigned to each of our French and Mandarin classes to allow for more specific instruction.’

Our schedule will not change but instead of Grade 2 to 5 students going to the Grade Level Link for Culture and Communication, they will go to separate Mandarin or French Links. These links will be posted in this ES Zoom Links document. These links are also to be posted on Google Classrooms so the students can access them.


New Schedule

Patty will still be offering Online Recess for our students but given the small numbers in each grade, we will consolidate the students into these sessions:

  • Grades 3, 4, & 5: Tuesday at 1pm
  • Grades 1 & 2: Thursday at 1pm

‘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.


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.


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.

Instructional Orders

Instructional Orders are to be completed by January 31. Here are the ordering instructions. Please let me know if you need any last minute help.

Report Writing

Report Writing Instructions:


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.

Previous Elementary School Posts

Elementary School Blog – February 17th, 2023

ISY Elementary BlogFAMILY FUN FAIR - SEE YOU THERESandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal 17Th of February, 2023 Random acts of kindness this week was so amazing, it is great to feel the love in the school. Let's keep celebrating each other in the coming weeks....

Elementary School Blog – January 27th, 2023

ISY Elementary BlogREPORTS ARE OVERSandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal27th January to the 14th of February, 2023  Thank you for completing your report cards and getting the international orders in, it was a busy week. This blog will be your reference...

Elementary School Blog – January 20th, 2023

ISY Elementary BlogACTIVITIES, ACTIVITIES, ACTIVITIESSandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal20th January, 2023  Thank you for a great first week back! Thank you so much for your support of the Olympiad, it was a wonderful event, enjoyed by all. Special...

Elementary School Blog – January 13th, 2023

ISY Elementary BlogWELCOME BACK AND HAPPY NEW YEARSandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal13th January, 2023Welcome Back! Happy New Year! We have strategic planning next week, don't forget to attend any meeting you may be scheduled to be part of. There are lots of...

Elementary School Blog – December 16th, 2022

ISY Elementary BlogIs The Season to be Reminded of how much you are Appreciated !!!Sandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal16th December, 2022Dear all, Thank you to all of you! Your actions on a daily basis are what make ISY such a wonderful place for our students...

Elementary School Blog – December 9th, 2022

ISY Elementary BlogIs The Season to be Jolly!!!Sandy Sheppard , Elementary School Principal9th December, 2022Dear all, This blog is very full today, so make sure you read it right to the end; it is a mix of information, both new and old, and also celebration. Along...