Day’s Verse:
I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor — it is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

How do you teach PE teachers — or anybody — traffic principles without resorting to excruciating PowerPoint slides full of confusing pictures? Since I don’t teach it with too many words, here’s the visual explanation. Remember the practice intersection I made?
Practice Intersection

Here is it in action (yes, that’s me with the idiotic expression on my face in every single one of the pictures). Combined with some little bikes, a Playmobil car, and some imaginary bike scenarios, we have a pretty effective way of letting people explore traffic principles themselves.
Traffic Principles Game 2

Traffic Principles Game 1

Traffic Principles Game 3

Overall, the Auburn class went pretty well. Click below the fold for more thoughts on the class.

On a slightly different note, did you notice my clothing choice in the pictures? I always wear a long-sleeved bike shirt and jeans to the trainings. Very casual, very practical for all the moving around and bicycling I have to do during the trainings. Today a guy I was talking with told me that he thought what you wore to work reflected your work ethic and indicated the quality of your work. He, by the way, was wearing slacks and a button-down shirt. I was in bike clothes. I said, “So when I wear PJs when I’m working from home, my work isn’t as good?” He replied with a tangential comment about younger people (my age) and their standards of dress. That made me think, though. When I wear PJs while working at home, that’s one thing. But should I dress more professionally for these trainings? The PE teachers typically show up in sweat pants and T-shirts, but since I’m putting on the training, should I have a higher standard? Do the participants, all of whom are 15 or more years older than me, see a young and inexperienced trainer because of my clothing choice? Or, I guess I should say, do I make myself seem even younger or less experienced than I am by my clothing choice? I already struggle with looking youthful thanks in part to the oily, acne-prone skin I inherited from my parents; should I use clothing choice to somewhat counteract that? Something to think about.

More thoughts on the training.

The bad things: I felt much more crunched for time than in the previous classes (my co-teacher, bless her, elaborates at length sometimes, and several of the students loved to talk, too), we didn’t cover everything needed for Traffic Skills 101 certification, and the Wednesday skills drills were a wet nightmare. I got soaked trying to lay out the course that morning, and the spray paint didn’t stick to the ground because it was more like a river than asphalt, so I had to use half tennis balls instead. Then when we went outside it wasn’t just raining, it was as if we’d decided to do swimming drills instead of bicycle drills. The teachers all maintained really amazingly good attitudes, and the worst we got was jokes about the wetness. But we cut short the drills, and never even got near to doing the Quick Stop or Instant Turn, both necessary for TS101 certification. Fortunately, we offered it as optional certification, and only one person really wanted to do it. The grant requirements discussion was boring (and I led it!), but mercifully brief.

The good things: Lots of enthusiasm and engaged participants. It helped to have a couple people who tended to talk and joke (on the road ride, one guy couldn’t resist talking to the kid holding a sign on the corner), which kept the tone lighter. Several of the changes I made for this training worked well and smoothed out some of the rockier bits from the previous training. I still have to figure out how to frame the optional Traffic Skills 101 certification, but that was my rockiest bit. The Traffic Principles part went well, although we ran out of time and didn’t get to the video until the next day. That was OK, but not ideal. People seemed to have fun playing with the cars, and once again they were able to figure out all the traffic principles without my spending even one minute lecturing. I love it!

On Day 2, the road ride was a real highlight. One teacher who the previous day told us, “I think some people just aren’t cut out to ride on the road, and I’m one of them” successfully rode this route, including going under Highway 18 and moving out in the second-to-right lane. A number of people commented, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” which is about as good as we’d hope for. This was a pretty challenging course from a traffic skills point of view, and everybody did an excellent job, as far as I could see. Unfortunately I led out, so I didn’t actually get to observe students’ on-bike behavior very much, but Ellen rode sweep and reported back on lots of good behavior. Participants self-reported that it was a highlight for them, too. A couple people were talking about biking to work by the time we finished the class.

Having a couple of observers worked tolerably well. Mostly they kept quiet, for which I was grateful. I was glad to have extra LCIs during the road ride. I think I could lead the in-classroom portion by myself just fine, but I still feel that teaching the drills and on-road portion by myself is going to be not only hard but dangerous. I can’t be responsible for, let alone observe and recall behavior for, 10 inexperienced bicyclists on the road.

One thought on “Auburn Class Recap

  1. I should think that your clothing reflects that you’re actually a bike person and not, say, a random temp that this job got fobbed off onto, and that you’re prepared if the class should require you to, say, demonstrate something on your bike.

    To me, slacks and a buttoned shirt would say a) I’m not a real bike person, b) I’m not prepared to do any actual biking (ie, I’m not putting that much effort into this class), and c) I’m not grasping the difference between this class and a random corporate board meeting.

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