ISY Elementary School Faculty Blog


Mike Simpson

November 26, 2021

As I was reading Patty’s blog post on gratitude, I couldn’t help but reflect on what it is that I am grateful for. I think this is especially important when life is as complicated as it is at the moment!

We all have a lot to be grateful for but it would be fair to say that things haven’t exactly gone to plan over the last couple of years. We have all been forced to make difficult decisions or just trust that we’ll come through a difficult time okay. We have been tested again and again. Sometimes we ace these tests and sometimes we wish we could ask for re-take. These tests have taken many different forms but I have recently found it helpful to treat each as a test of character. 

I know I go on about this a bit but I am very grateful that I got to read The Odyssey to our students last quarter. As our student put Odysseus’ struggles into perspective, I ended up falling down a philosophical rabbit hole that introduced me to the idea of the Stoic Challenge.

Stoicism is a school of philosophy founded in Ancient Greece. Stoics discovered that accepting life as tests of character can change how we respond to them. This idea has been updated in light of modern psychological techniques such as ‘reframing’ by William B. Irvine in his book ‘The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient.’

The basic idea is that when you are struggling, it is your character that is being tested. Whether you pass the test depends less on the outcome and more on how you struggled through it – which is great when outcomes are beyond our control. 

As for any test you need criteria to assess how well you did. I have found our Elementary School Compassionate Agreement very useful – simply because I see it every Friday when I put this blog together. As I reflect on a week’s worth of tests this is what I use to assess myself:

We all know we are doing our best…. even when we are not at our best!

Check in. How am I? What do I need? How are they? What do they need from me?

Ask for help and be helpful.

Be present and patient. Take time to fully understand others and allow time for others to understand you. Pausing, Paraphrasing and Posing Questions promotes our common understanding.

Share your ideas and be open to the ideas of others. Once shared, they become our ideas and anything could happen!

Assessing myself is almost always a positive way to finish the week. And if I think that I have failed a few tests at least I know what I need to work on next week.

It is a stretch to say that we should be grateful for all of our tests but I think we should be grateful that we get to work through many of them with such clever and compassionate colleagues.


Please add any questions, items that come to mind to this ES Collaborative Agenda. The idea is that once we have a few things to discuss that can’t be addressed by email, we will meet.

 New Quarter 2 Schedule

Here is the link to the ES Quarter 2 Schedule which is also available on the Elementary School Faculty Pages.

 Friday Emails + Quarter 2 Offline Learning

We will send out our Grade Level Friday Emails next Friday, November 5.

You will find the email templates in the folders below on Monday. Please update these emails in blue by 12pm Thursday MMT.

In these folders you will also find the Offline Learning Activity templates that will be converted to a PDF to be emailed out every Friday. We will need to update these offline learning activities to reflect what we are doing in Quarter 2. Please update them by 12pm Thursday MMT.

ISY Annual Compassion Conference

Friday, March 4

This will be organized under the umbrella of ISY Definition of Compassion: 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.

In addition to a key-note speaker addressing resilience in young people and an ISY student panel presenting on LGBTQ+ issues, teacher workshops will be an important part of this conference. 

Teacher workshops might relate to any of our ISY Inclusive Practices and will be organized under the following strands:

    • Inclusion
    • Service
    • Diversity

Workshops can focus on anything under these strands and we are particularly interested in workshops on the following:

    • Responsive Classroom Strategies
    • Science of Learning – memory, etc.
    • Teaching Creativity
    • Integrating Technology

Our TIF team of Ian and Lindsey will be helping us put this day together and will be popping into classes from time to time to get ideas and encourage teachers. Please reach out to them if you have an idea you would like some support with – whether you intend to present it or not on March 4.

      From the Library

      Lindsey and Christian in the library would be very happy to help get books to you that you might want to read to your class or have your students read. These books can be scanned so they can be used online so let them know if you are looking for something.

      Interdisciplinary Units

      Curriculum Maps and Q2 Scope and Sequence

      Here is where you can find our Curriculum Maps (updated for Q1 using report subject comments).

      Here is where you can find our Q1 Scope and Sequence. Please link your planning to the Scope and Sequence. I have done this for PE and Culture and Communication to give you an example. We want to give you some autonomy as to how you organize your planning and resources but your planning needs to be in an ISY Shared Drive. 

      Here is where you can find our Q2 Scope and Sequence

      To fill out this year’s Q2 Scope and Sequence, you might want to refer to the skills you focused on this time last year in these Q2 scope and sequence documents:

      PK-1 Q2 Scope and Sequence 2020-2021

      2-3 Q2 Scope and Sequence 2020-2021

      4-5 Q2 Scope and Sequence 2020-2021

      Please also link your planning to the Scope and Sequence. 

      If you have not already, please check off the standards that you intend to cover in your subject in Quarter 2. Please make sure there is an ‘x’ in the second column of any standard you will cover in these Grade Level Standards Checklists.

      I’ll check in with you all next week to see if you need any help with this.

      Wednesday Assemblies

      Thanks to Ruth, Charlie, our Grade 5 students, our UWS students, Laura, and Patty for another great assembly.

      Our next assembly is on December 8 and we need a game so please sign up on our Assembly Sign Up Schedule if you have any ideas.

      From our TIFs

      Here are a curated list of helpful links for students and families as we begin the year. These videos can be helpful as you share information with them. 

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