Cri-Help Course Report - June 20, 2004
Instructor: Alex Marquina

At the start of our third session at Cri-Help, there were a few challenges to attend to first. We were working with a new Lesson Plan, we had decided to include a short module on MS Word, and we needed to develop exercises for students to do during lab time. But I felt confident everything would work if our four-person instructors' team communicated and worked closely together, and in the end, it did.

The day before the first class, CDD held an Instructors' Workshop. There I met Caitanya Morris. The very next night she stood up and gave her first lecture and was great.

Daryl Brenner and Lonnie Chin rounded out the instructors' team. They demonstrated terrific focus and comraderie with the students from day one.

On the first day, twenty students showed up. Anticipating that some would drop out the first week, it would be a smaller class than the one before. We could give more lab time and easily manage the group. In fact, handling the students rarely proved difficult. My first group of students had thousands of questions and their enthusiasm to learn everything was great. They concentrated on the material being covered, followed along at the pace of the lessons, and the few questions they asked were always on topic.

Students learn at different rates, and some felt frustrated in having to practice the lab exercises several times. Others understood the material, but took time to build an underlying confidence. And a few students already had some computer knowledge, but they gave themselves their own task list during lab. Also everyone felt a little anxious about the written assignment and especially the class presentation. The instructors made sure to have plenty of lead time for both, setting aside time to work closely with the students. In a happy surprise to all of us, when the due date arrived, all the students eagerly volunteered to get up and speak. Two students even gave their presentation twice, because they wanted to do them better. Caitanya, Daryl, Lonnie and myself were very impressed. We saw that our effort had been beneficial.

The graduation ceremony was held on June 22. For varying reasons and circumstances, unfortunately some class members didn't complete their paper presentation, and thus were not qualified to graduate. But even those who didn't complete the course took something from it. And the instructors couldn't be prouder of all of the students. For me, one student in particular earned my admiration. Fredy Chaves had attended the previous session, but had not done the paper nor the presentation. He was disappointed when I reminded him that the requirements for graduation included a completed paper and presentation. Yet, halfway through the next session, he showed up in class and asked if he could complete is requirements to graduate. English was a bit of a challenge for him, but it didn't defeat his motivation and he persevered to complete his paper and presentation. He very exuberantly gave his presentation, thanking all the instructors, and acknowledging the need to keep up with your responsibilities. Our course encourages not only computer basics, but responsibility, self-discipline and motivation. Especially with Fredy, we hit our target.

--Alex Marquina

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