Thursday, March 24

LCI Reflections


Preston Tyree Shows Us Communication Skills in the Classroom
I was privileged to attend the Plano LCI Seminar the last weekend of January. Chandra and I carpooled. For those that do not know, LCI stands for “League Cycling Instructor.” What that means is that the League of American Bicyclists has concluded that you are qualified to teach bike education courses to its curricula and have the skills to develop other education consistent with the principles embodied in the LCI Seminar. The LCI Seminar is three days in length, with a mix of classroom work and on-bike exercises. It is assumed that LCI candidates have skills well beyond those taught in “Traffic 101” and this was the case with the candidates in our seminar. What we needed to learn were ways to more effectively teach students in the classroom, in parking lot drills, and on the road. As we progressed, candidates were continually asked to assess things they and others did well, and where improvements might be made.

The Curriculum
Regina Garcia Teaches My First Seminar
On Friday, we were treated to a review of the LAB cycling program and were asked to make impromptu presentations. This part of the curricula was different for me than for Chandra in that it represented the one portion of the LCI program where I was repeating ground that had previously been covered. In my first course, Regina Garcia presented and in the second course, Preston Tyree presented.

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to make team-teaching and individual presentations, and did practice parking lot and on-road teaching. Saturday was a very long day and things wrapped up with a short night ride where we got to see what cyclists looked like in the dark.

On Saturday, We Practiced Setting Up Parking Lot Bike Skill Drills
On Sunday, we were put through our paces without being guided, and the LCIs that were assisting quietly made notes as to our abilities and shortcomings. We also heard more lecture about other teaching situations, including the teaching of non-league curricula such as the CyclingSavvy program. Things wrapped up with a short report-out on how we did and things we need to work on.

LCI Seminar Organizers Quietly Discuss the "Good, Bad, and Ugly" Regarding Candidates
Rather than a blow-by-blow review of details and nits of the program, I’ll instead summarize three things I thought it did well, three things it might have done better, and a few takeaways.

Three Things the LCI Seminar Did Well
Time Discipline – Both Regina and Preston were very impressive in their ability to stick to the curricula and finish ON TIME. EVERY TIME. What’s more, I think the point was not lost on any of us grasshoppers.

Consistent Content – I was very impressed with the consistency between what Regina attempted to impart and what I heard from Preston. Each used their own words and examples, but it left me convinced that an LCI candidate gets exposed to the same teaching regardless of where and who is involved in that teaching. Getting to hear the material a second time was not like watching a rerun of an old TV show, but it was somewhat like watching a good remake of an old movie.

Cynthia Hoyle, from Champaign Urbana, Explains Why and How We'll Do a Parking Lot Drill
Clear Message on What to Teach – I was impressed and relieved to find that, regardless of mixed messages that might occasionally be sent out by the bike league and various advocacy groups, there was no ambiguity in the subject matter, nor in what the bike league expected its instructors to do. As Preston explained, if asked an awkward question about a situation about where a poorly conceived law required a cyclist to ride unsafely, our obligation was to explain the statute, explain what and why a safe action(s) was, and don’t editorialize about the whole thing. IMO, it is what bike education SHOULD be about – teach what and how to ride, and don’t preach about the way you think things OUGHT to be.

Three Things the LCI Seminar Could Have Done Better
Improve Feedback to Candidates – When we made presentations, there was a video camera going in the back of the room. I believe it would help candidates to get a copy of their own teaching and maybe even the teaching of other candidates. Advances in digital media make this more practical than it was in the past. For an example of an LCI Candidate presentation that WAS made available, see youtube - I've seen one candidate lecture there, but I can't seem to locate it again. Our class was more fortunate than many, because Gail Spann took thousands of photos and posted them all in a Facebook album. One such is shown below. Yours truly is the "less visible" cyclist. Certainly, this photo shows other differences between the two cyclists as well. Note, for example, how they differ in their foot position while waiting for the left turn signal to turn green. Less obvious in this photo is the difference in hand position. I keep my cross top brakes applied when I'm stopped.
 
Photo by Gail Spann - Facebook Caption of it States "Teaching moment, see how the yellow jacket stands out?"
Accelerate Technology Implementation – Let’s face it. Listening to even a good speaker gets old after a while. I probably noticed it more than most of the LCI candidates because I was getting a reprise of the Friday night material. What’s more, different students learn different ways. I was happy to hear about web-based approaches beginning to be used in league bike education, at least for T101, but it is only a first start. Even substantive portions of the LCI Seminar might benefit from adaptive web-based approaches and social network sites.

By Sunday Afternoon, You Can See "Lecture Fatigue" Starting to Accumulate
Better Integrate Assisting LCIs – In both Seminars I attended, a single seminar leader taught the bulk of the material, with LCIs present to assist and advise. I felt this resource added greatly to the class and is consistent with the message that team teaching WORKS. I wondered, however, if I might represent an abnormal viewpoint since five of the assisting LCIs were either co-students at my first LCI seminar or assisted at both. Had I been one of the three candidates travelling from Illinois, not knowing any of the assisting LCIs, it might have seemed more daunting. As a model for how things might be improved, those assisting LCIs took on an entirely different nature for the practical demonstrations than in the classroom. IMO, they could have benefitted some of the classroom work in a similar fashion. Each seminar leader has been through things many times before. Many of the assisting LCIs represent a recent experience viewpoint of what the candidates can expect to go through as they attempt to transition through their first classes. I, for example, would have appreciated Gail Spann describe the trials and tribulations of BikeDFW attempting to re-establish a viable bike education program in the DFW area.

Three Takeaways
Get Teaching – If you live in the US, visit the bike league website and pull up a list of LCIs in your area, you may find many that are fairly close by. I don’t have a precise count, but when I count the courses offered and the LCI count, it is clear to me that there are a lot of LCIs there that never teach. Y’all may not have noticed, but I have been known to occasionally slip educational tidbits and snippets into my blog posts. I’d like to think that some of it has helped others ride safer at least once in a while. Preston noted that if you don’t teach early, you never will. And that is truly sad because there is a WORLD of people out there that could benefit from a little more knowledge.

We ALL Have Things to Learn – Throughout the seminar, I heard little snippets of useful things I could apply in my own riding; from those that led the seminar, and from other candidates. Personally, I even learned from bad examples. “I’ll never do THAT!” Yeah, right. Something good, something to improve on, tell why, explain how, demonstrate – All principles we got drilled into us repeatedly, proving that even I can absorb things.
 
Chandra, Intently Learning Stuff About How to Teach Children
The League You Don’t Hear About – Bike Ed is a different bike league than the public image. It is an entirely more serious league. I knew the serious league existed before taking the seminar and even long before I took T101, but I’d also heard (and continue to hear) many claims the league had forgotten its essence. Make no mistake about it. Riding your bike every day, whether on dedicated facilities or in traffic, is a deadly serious business, just as driving your car should be taken seriously. It is no coincidence that the safest riders are the ones that DO ride every day. Personally, I think it goes more towards explaining any “safety in numbers” effect than attempting to explain it as changing motorist behavior. The bike league does a lot of PR and bicycle “feel good” stuff. That’s appropriate and necessary, and certainly reinforces the message that riding a bike is fun and safe, but in the final analysis, just as political parties have their “base,” so does the bike league, and successful organizations always keep their base in mind, even when reaching out to a larger public. If there is any question as to what that base consists of, the league has now certified over 3000 LCIs. Total membership is around 16000.

This is the Serious Bike League? Well, We JUST Finished Up. Photo by Preston Tyree

6 comments:

Trevor Woodford said...

Great report...I found this really interesting. We have a similar setup and seminars in the UK...

-Trevor

PaddyAnne said...

The photo which illustrates visibility is very effective. Neon does work. I just wish... neon wasn't so neon-y! :)

That looks like an interesting course. But goodness, it appears the group is very wild and I'm sure made up of hooligans. Would kids really be safe left with this crowd?

Steve A said...

PaddyAnne, remember you're talking to "the cyclist in black." The relevant question is "at what point does extra visibility become something relatively irrelevant to safety?" Clearly I feel I don't need to look like a Christmas tree to be safe. Motorists don't need to see us from the distance of the moon to avoid us. A couple of blocks is plenty and I know I'm visible from more than that even in camo. High vis will be a future "myth" post.

Steve A said...

Trevor, I want to hear more about the UK program. I have Frankin's "Cyclecraft" book.

Chandra said...

@Steve,
Very detailed and nice post! I agree with you on all 3 of the recommendations. I would also add that while the communication piece with Waco was probably useful, it could have been made shorter and the salient features could have been highlighted better.

I also like PA's observation about the "hooligans" :)

Peace :)

cafiend said...

Contrast all this education and the deadly serious business of riding a bicycle with the later post reminiscing about the freedom of riding a JC Higgins bike hither and yon with no bike infrastructure, no education, no helmet and no serious consequences. This perfectly illustrates the dichotomy that confuses people both in and outside the cycling ranks. The generation that pioneered road cycling as a major activity in modern America is the one that grew up running free and wild from childhood through at least young adulthood. They then turned around and started building up the protectiveness and the culture of fear that has led to people feeling they need larger and larger armored vehicles and larger and larger paychecks to fuel them, to transport their precious offspring door-to-door without exposing them to the dreadful hazards of the outside world.

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