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Cuddly teddy bears

A pair of teddy bears Sue Sebesta will use for her virtual puppet show

Before teaching, Sue Sebesta had another life. She worked for many years as a trader for an investment company. But not even the rough and tumble world of investment banking prepared her for the challenges she, her students and colleagues are facing today.

Tough Adjustments

With CPS schools shut down at least until April 30, Sebesta and her fellow educators are having to make adjustments.

One recent day, Ms. Sebesta picked up excess hand sanitizers, wipes, and tissues – the supplies teachers stockpile at the beginning of each school year – from her third grade classroom at Beaubien Elementary School and donated the overflowing shopping bag to a Rogers Park police station. She also supplied her “postal angel” with disinfecting wipes.

Connections

But most days, during the shutdown, she’s been in touch with students and colleagues.

Before schools shut down, she gave her 25 third graders some words of wisdom: wash your hands, relax, breathe, dance, jump up and down, and learn something new from a family member – like a household skill or cherished recipe. She also provided them with numerous websites and online resources.

She’s been posting every day on Google Classroom, assigning some math problems – they’re working on subtraction – a book report and a short opinion piece asking which they prefer, home schooling or being in their classroom. Class consensus basically split on that one. And, she sent students the link to “Goodnight with Dolly”–Dolly Parton’s video storytelling series.

While Ms. Sebesta has made contact with all but nine of her students, only seven or eight have been engaging regularly with her. She’s not sure how the move to more structured remote learning will impact her students, but she has her own worries.

Privacy and Puppets

“Honestly, I have some concerns with it. I’m not thrilled with the idea of my voice and video being out there all over the Internet,” she confessed. “I just don’t like the idea of it possibly being shared without my permission.”

To address those concerns, she’s contemplating an online puppet show, a creative move that just might get those antsy eight and nine year olds more engaged in their online classroom.