From: Martha E. Kendall
Language Arts Instructor & National Geographic Contributor 
      Sabri Bebawi told me he’'s  primarily self-taught in the use of  technology, and he has learned  from the best!

      I have taught English at San Jose City College for almost thirty years,  and I am enrolled in his Ed Tech 001 course about how to teach online. I  am about to offer a relatively new course here, Introduction to the Short  Story, and I thought I might try doing it as a hybrid.  I would not have even  considered that idea had I not heard that Sabri was teaching a course to  help neophytes like me learn to use WebCT and other online resources.

      He has been a tremendous teacher. His warmth and support have been  consistently evident as he buoys us up when we might otherwise drown in technical jargon. As a busy professional, I am accustomed to doing things efficiently. Imagine my frustration to find myself bumbling along as I learned my way around in Sabri’s online class and the shell he created for the course that I’m developing. With patience, Sabri always promptly answered my questions and encouraged me to persevere. Many of my classmates, like me, had initial reservations about teaching and learning online, so Sabri has had to deal with some anxiety and even occasional resistance. With clear replies, good humor, and sympathy as needed, he saved the day more than once. Sabri regularly “dropped in” on the discussions, and I learned from the variety of reactions to the many topics he raised, ranging from general teaching philosophy, the unique challenges of online interaction, and criteria for evaluation.

      At the required on-campus orientation session, Sabri’s enthusiasm was contagious. He quickly made it clear that he would help us succeed, and he has been true to his promise. His teaching is definitely student-centered. He has handled students’ individual needs very sensitively, adjusting assignments to suit each learner’s objective in taking the course. In one assignment, he asked students to review an online textbook he was considering adopting. He responded with openness to both positive and negative critiques; I think students felt safe to be candid because Sabri had built up trust. We knew he wanted our real opinions, and we knew he would not be angry or put us down if we didn’t have the reaction he might have anticipated or hoped for.

      To teach online successfully, a person needs more than just good teaching skills. S/he also needs to be a master at using the medium, and Sabri is that. Judging by the questions some students have asked, he has been called upon to deal with one technical issue after another. He clearly knows what he’s doing, and he is good at explaining, demonstrating, and having us experiment with online tools. And when something just goes plain wrong, I can imagine him throwing up his hands and laughing, “Well, that’s technology for you!” In other words, no matter how committed he is to teaching in general and online instruction in particular, he does not take himself too seriously. A little laughter goes a long way in making technology more friendly to the technophobe.

      Sabri’s attitude, combined with his abilities, make him an outstanding teacher. He leads by example, and when I offer my first hybrid, I will regularly ask myself, “What would Sabri do?” when I am striving to do my best.


Martha E. Kendall
Language Arts Instructor
Ed Tech 001 Student

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