delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 36 NUMBER 11

Joe Fischer

AA8TA

What? Me Teaching?

Anybody who has paid attention to my brief re-journey in amateur radio, might recall that one dark and stormy night, I decided to relearn Morse code.  Actually, I think it was a somewhat plain and unremarkable winter day, but we need the drama.  There was some challenge to relearning the dits and dahs having not used them for almost 40 years. But, I got there.  I also got stuck.  I encountered many people who seemed to understand all that dit-ing and dah-ing at speeds that sounded like a buzz saw.  And yet, I was stuck at a sleepy pace where sending my multi-dah call sign at the time consumed a fair amount of time.  How to get better?  What kind of vitamins were these other guys taking to decode that high-speed stuff?  Or, maybe, it was all a ruse and nobody was actually copying Morse code at those dizzying speeds. Then I found out about something called the CW Academy (CWA) which is sponsored by the CW Operators Club (CWOps).  I signed up and found out that there are no vitamins or performance-enhancing supplements that would take me to those exalted higher planes of CW proficiency.  Instead, dedication and a willingness to push myself would get me there.  And – guess what? – it worked! I’m not up there with the big boys, yet, but I’m getting there.  After being invited to join CWOps, they asked me to become an advisor for the introductory CWA class called Level 1.  Me?  Teaching somebody else how to do something?  Is that such a good idea? It’s an eight-week program with meetings twice a week using Skype.  There are typically five students in each class and they have a written guide that they learn from and I’m expected to see how they are doing, answer questions and provide some guidance.  The students do all of the heavy lifting and their motivation is the real determination to whether they learn. In five weeks, they go from not knowing what a T sounds like to knowing 39 characters at 20 WPM.  Pretty amazing.  Then, we do exercises to emphasize what they learned. My first class consisted of four guys from the eastern part of the U.S. and one guy from India.  A couple had a little Morse code background and the rest were starting from scratch.  They were all enthusiastic and soaked things up and even set up schedules with each other to practice over Skype.  A couple even practiced over the air.  As I write this, I’m about to send them off with certificates of completion and the sincere hope that we hear them on the air taking the ultimate test of making contacts in CW with other hams. It’s been quite an experience for me.  I’m glad that I did it.  I don’t know if I got an unusual mix of students for my first class.  I’ve heard from other advisors that things don’t always go this smoothly.  We had some Skype issues but it worked surprisingly well with the guy in India.  All of them have been licensed for about two years or less and some of them are fairly young by amateur radio standards.  One grew up in the New York City area but went to, and graduated from, Ohio Wesleyan in little `ol Delaware. I never thought that I would tell my Mom, who taught in schools for decades, that I’m sort-of in her profession.  And, experiencing the pride of seeing students do well. GL es 73 de Joe AA8TA
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