ISY Elementary School Faculty Blog

THANKS for all you are GIVING to our families. They appreciate it. 

Mike Simpson

November 25, 2020

Here are some comments from families about what you are doing….

“First of all I want to express our deep appreciation to your flawless preparation to the most absurd situation the world is facing. Your solid delivery of your planned sessions and your relentless patience in this new teaching environment is impeccable. You all have shattered our expectations with the amount of effort you put on every day of the week. We are so grateful to your extraordinary execution and management and we are pleased to be part of ISY community.”

“I have a huge respect for you all. I am a teacher myself and I am amazed by the ideas, patience and effort you have /make every week.”

“(Child) loves his class and his school, like nothing I’ve seen before, that’s a credit to his teachers and school.”

“We thank you in sustaining our children’s education, morale, and academic curiosity through this most unprecedented moment in history, and appreciate all that you do.” 

“I want to take the opportunity to thank the whole team for the extraordinary work you are doing with the children during these challenging times – it is very impressive!”

“Thank you for continuing to research innovative ways to improve virtual learning with the many challenges while also balancing the core priorities.”

“The way ISY has been engaged with its students in this new norm is itself commendable. Even our younger son who will be turning 4 next August looks forward to attending school.”


This message went out to families and you are also welcome to contribute….
It is a tradition at ISY to honor and express gratitude for our local staff during the holiday season.
We do this through a program commonly called December Baskets.  Each family is asked but not required to make a small donation to help purchase items to complete the basket.
This year, families wishing to contribute, are asked to make a monetary donation through the ISY Online Ordering System, which can be found on your Powerschool account or drop a item such as rice, shampoo, soap, oil or sugar at the school front steps.
Thank you for your support in celebrating the wonderful people that help make ISY a great place to learn!


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.


Music & Art
To make Music and Art classes more manageable and to ensure that every homeroom class gets one special per day, we have a new Quarter Schedule. The main change is that each Grade 1-5 homeroom class will get separate Art and Music classes plus one whole grade level class. To make this work, we have split the Quarter into 2 halves. In one half, students will have only Art (no Music) and in the other half, students will have only Music (no Art). Other specialist classes are not affected. Your team leaders know about this and will be able to help you understand these schedules:


We will get this started again so 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.


I came into teaching through coaching sport and this background still shapes the development of my philosophies around teaching and learning. There are many similarities between education and sport but for now I want to point out one important difference. This difference dawned on me in the following quote from Matthew Syed’s book, Bounce:

Sport is, to use the jargon of economics, a zero-sum game: if I win, you, by definition, lose.

To modify an example that Syed uses to explain what this means, suppose that I am a top sprinter and I adopt an innovative practice that reduces my time by 10 per cent. When I run my next race, I will beat most of my competitors. This is good for me but bad for them. My relative position has improved, but at their expense. The net ‘benefit’ across the group is zero.

Now suppose I am a sprinter and all of my competitors join me in adopting an innovative training practice that reduces all of our times by 10 percent. Our relative positions in the next race will be precisely the same as they ever were. The net benefit, once again, is zero.

Learning is not a zero-sum game. Learning is a game in which everyone can succeed without needing to declare a winner. According to legendary basketball coach (and teacher), John Wooden, there is an important difference between winning and succeeding. Wooden was regarded as one of the greatest coaches, of any sport, ever. His teams won a lot but he did not talk in terms of winning and losing. He spoke only of success. 

Wooden developed his own definition of success as a peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable. He felt that he needed to develop his own definition to make him a better teacher and coach and to give his students something to aspire to other than a grade or a score.

Wooden developed his definition of success from beliefs that were grounded in the teachings of his parents and his own experience. I have reproduced these beliefs in Wooden’s own words from his excellent TED Talk, The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding with some suggestions as to how they can be explained to our children:

  • Never try to be better than someone else. Always learn from others. Never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s under your control. If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned in regard to the things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control. 

Learn from others. And then do your best.

  • If you make the effort to do the best of which you’re capable, trying to improve the situation that exists for you, I think that’s success, and I don’t think others can judge that.

Your best is always enough.

  • I believe that we must believe, truly believe. Not just give it word service, believe that things will work out as they should, providing we do what we should. I think our tendency is to hope things will turn out the way we want them too much of the time, but we don’t do the things that are necessary to make those things become reality.

You must do your best to succeed.

  • You never heard me mention winning. Never mention winning. My idea is that you can lose when you outscore somebody in a game, and you can win when you’re outscored. I’ve felt that way on certain occasions, at various times. And I just wanted them to be able to hold their head up after a game. I used to say that when a game is over, and you see somebody that didn’t know the outcome, I hope they couldn’t tell by your actions whether you outscored an opponent or the opponent outscored you.

Your success can only be measured by your best.

I believe that developing Wooden’s peace of mind in our children now is a key to them living fulfilled and meaningful lives in the future. This peace of mind will help them learn but, more importantly, it will allow them to act when others fixated on winning and losing might not. 

Syed, Matthew. Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success. Perennial, 2011.

Join us on Saturday, December 12th for the 3rd annual UWS-ISY Sports-A-Thon! 

This fun active event raises funds for the UWS-ISY Wan Kaung School partnership, allows children in Northern Myanmar to attend school with appropriate supplies and resources.  If you are interested in learning more about this amazing program, check out the ISY website.

This year’s event will be held virtually on Saturday, December 12 from 9:00-11:00 AM.

How can you participate?

  1. Set a personal challenge or two.  Gather sponsors that will donate when you complete your challenge.  Join a zoom meeting on December 12th to complete your challenge. Finally, donate for completing your challenge

  2. Video your family member(s) completing their physical challenge prior to December 12th, submit the video to be included in the day’s celebration and make a donation!

All donations will be collected through the ISY School Spirit Store.  Simply login to your Powerschool account, click on School Spirit Store and make your contribution.

We look forward to your participation!

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