Give yourselves to disciplined instruction;
open your ears to tested knowledge.
I feel that my recent work with the Bicycle Alliance needs a little bit of explaining. It’s not the kind of work I can summarize quickly in a word or phrase. Ian can say, “I’m a software engineer,” or “I’m a programmer,” and people have some idea of what he spends his days doing. My current employment situation isn’t so easy to succinctly describe. So here goes.
Before my AmeriCorps internship ended, the Bicycle Alliance started applying for grants to teach bike classes. Not just to anybody, though. With these grants, they teach bike classes based on Traffic Skills 101 to PE teachers — either elementary or middle school — as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The PE teachers would then take their new knowledge about bicycling and use it to teach a bike unit in their PE classes. This isn’t a new idea; the Bicycle Alliance did a pilot program along these lines with just a few school districts, and these grants really build on that experience.
The Bicycle Alliance received three grants along those lines, with some variations (one is for college-level instructors). After my internship ended, the Bicycle Alliance hired me and another LCI — Eileen Hyatt, the gal who originally did the pilot program — as contractors. We’ve spent from January to now working with Feet First, a pedestrian advocacy organization, to:
- Figure out exactly what we’re going to do in this 2-day seminar — essentially create an agenda based loosely on Traffic Skills 101 that also serves as our curriculum. It’s much bigger than TS101, though; it’s TS101 plus pedestrian information plus training on how to teach the kids’ curriculum. We have 15 hours total to teach this huge volume of information to PE teachers.
- Modify the kids’ PE curriculum to include pedestrian lessons.
- Work with the Bicycle Alliance’s coordinators (they have 2 staff people coordinating the details of 2 of the grants. One we call the OSPI grant, the other the CPPW grant) to get details for the classes in place.
That’s what I’ve been doing so far. Now we move into the next phase, which is actually teaching the classes. This involves driving to remote areas — Lynden and Sedro-Wooley are my first two — and:
- Scouting out around the area to find a road ride route that meets the Traffic Skills 101 requirements.
- Marking (with paint, chalk, sponges, or 1/2 tennis balls) a bike handling skills course on the ground in the parking lot provided to us.
- Teaching the class: 8 am to 4 pm two days in a row; Feet First is there on the first day, and then I’m on my own the second day.
- Doing a bunch of paperwork after the class.
Since Lynden is our first-ever class, we’re going to have an abundance of teachers: Two people from Feet First, me, Eileen, and an LCI from near Lynden who we’re hoping to bring in to help teach these classes. Eileen drove all the way from Spokane for this. She’s staying with us two nights on either end of the class, and we’re staying with the LCI in Lynden tonight and tomorrow night. I think we’re all somewhat nervous; I know I am.
I have to try to learn all the stuff that relates to classroom management of elementary/middle school kids with bikes and all those detail things about actually running the class. Eileen, who was a teacher before she “retired,” has that stuff down cold. She’s been working on this program for 20 years. I, on the other hand, just came into this in September and I’ve never laid out the kids’ course, managed a class of 30 squirrely 6th graders, or tried to wrangle parent volunteers. I have a lot to learn before I can confidently go teach teachers how to do some of these things. And I have to learn it fast, because next Tuesday and Wednesday I’m teaching this same class in Sedro-Wooley, except by myself.
Between now and mid-April, I teach one class per week — each one takes 3 or 4 days, depending on the location — with one week off. For the OSPI grant alone, which runs through 2012 (assuming the world doesn’t end), the Bicycle Alliance is teaching 29 school districts throughout Washington State. We’re going to be very busy.
In addition to the LCI teaching work, the Bicycle Alliance also hired me to help co-manage the OSPI grant. That’s a fairly new addition to my plate, and I’m not 100% sure what that will pan out to look like.
So that’s what I’ve been doing and what I will be doing for the next year or so. Now I have to finish getting my supplies together for the trip to Lynden. I won’t have access to a computer between today and Thursday night (gasp!) so if you need me, please call or text my cell phone. I’ll be available evenings. Wish me luck — I sure hope it goes well!