Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Off to a good start.

Part of our task as professional motorcycle trainers is to assess where our students are at any given time. We need to know where "here" is in order to get them "there". We need to get to know them enough to see what their individual learning styles are. We adjust our approach accordingly. A lot of times it boils down to watching our students for the subtle signs they give us. It can require a lot of diligence and concentration.

Sometimes, though, the signs are more obvious than others!

The one on the left is giving us a pretty clear signal, don't you think?

Actually, these are instructors. I worked with my training partner Mary Kaye this last weekend. We conducted two long days of training we call "Instructor Prep: Range".

These sessions are conducted two to four times a year depending on our instructor needs. This is the first exposure to actually teaching a motorcycle safety class for these folks. The weekend consists of learning to keep students safe as they ride as well as working on coaching skills. It's a peer teaching environment. The new instructors rotate in as riders and instructors. We require the new instructors to be working on perfect riding technique as they ride. Which means that there aren't really any errors for those in the instructor roles to coach.

Enter our "Error Riders"! Which is the role that Dean ( with the cone on his helmet ) and Mike were fulfilling, among others. These crafty guys had to overcome their innate great habits and try to make mistakes on purpose. I'm pleased to say that they got quite skilled and tricky in this endeavour. When I introduced Dean and Mike to the group on Saturday morning, I told the new instructors that they would either come to love or hate these guys. I'm still not sure which side they've landed on!

Here's the victims. I mean, new instructors. There's one more just out of the picture. This was the only photo that showed nearly the whole group. Sorry, Laura!

The new folks were starting to get wise to our two "students". By the end, these two weren't getting away with much. In the photo below, you can see Dean riding the cornering proficiency drill during the evaluation. He's doing so under five pairs of increasingly observant and knowing eyes. How will he do?

Apparently, not too bad. The group is celebrating that, at long last, they finally got to see the "student" do something correctly! What they were really celebrating is the fact that they all got the same time on their stopwatches. I think my story is more fun, though, don't you? By the way, that's Laura on the right. I wanted to make sure she didn't get left out.

Here the group watches Mike as he comes into the quick stop evaluation. You can just hear them asking themselves, "What in the world is he going to do this time?"

These new instructors will go out into the field as apprentice instructors. Which means an experienced instructor will be at their side to cover their backs and help with on-the-job training. This group shows the fire and passion for rider safety you would expect from riding instructors. I've had the privilege of seeing a lot of new instructors off on their respective adventures. The prep weekends are a lot of hard work for everybody. The rewards will more than make up for it.

Speaking of hard work, I want to acknowledge my co-workers. Mary Kaye for her enthusiasm and skill that made everything work so much better and contributed to making the hard work fun for all, including me. Dean and Mike did so much more than ride this weekend. They worked extremely hard in getting bikes in and out of the trailer for the two days. When we were all done they gassed up all the bikes, loaded them into the trailer ( which is a lot of work as they all go in sideways ), and strapped the bikes down in preparation for the trailer being moved back to headquarters.

During the weekend Dean and Mike set all the cones for the upcoming exercises. On top of it all, they are both working into the training area themselves so they wore both hats during the weekend. Thanks so much, guys, you totally rock!

Miles and smiles,

Dan

P.S. Photo credit for this post goes to Leanne, our Office Manager. She came out Sunday and hung around with us. She used my camera but took some great photos in her own right!

18 comments:

tedder said...

Go Leanne! And, uh, Dean and the crew.

Bryce said...

The monster truck on the header. Do you use that to intimidate new riders?
And my only thought of those new instructors is their names and antics are going to be spread all over the internet; no peace for the wicked, eh? BTW the way, the orange cone, is there a reason it is shaped like the cap a dunce would wear? Just asking.

Dave said...

Dan
Nice to get a peek how trainer are trained

Some one I know asked me to relay this question

Dear IronDad
I carry cones tape measure and chalk on my ride

I cant ride thru a parking lot with out wondering what the spaces measure out to

I search you tube for new patterns to ride.
I think I am becoming a hard core cone monkey is there any cure?


Dave aka Old F

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Irondad (Dan):

I was looking at these p[ictures, but the lyrics of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" kept going through my head.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Wall

bluekat said...

I bet you're going to need a bunch of new instructors with the new licensing.
Good to see that the instructors get their share of good natured harassment. I don't know, maybe all the classes are this way, but we had a number of instructors rotating through the exercises, and they had someone evaluating them. Some of us students found it perversely rewarding that we weren't the only ones being scrutinized. :)

irondad said...

Blluekat,

That is called "Step-up" training. We only do it a couple of times a year. Those were second and third year instructors. Step-up is just what the name implies. The evaluator was either Mary Kaye or Laurie, the other two trainers besides me.

The instructors are honing their craft to the next level. Kind of like anything else, you work at getting the basics down really well then take it to the next step.

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Dave and Jack,

It's past my bedtime. Your comments deserve special answers. My brain is fried. You will receive special replies over the weekend!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Bryce,

We use the monster trucks to keep cars out of our training spaces. Or to deal with them if the drivers are dumb enough to trespass!

Take care,

Dan

tedder said...

Step-up is really similar to an RSP: learn skills they couldn't teach you right off the bat, but also to break bad habits.

Being asked to participate is either an honor or a slap on the wrist. I'm still trying to figure that one out!

Jeffry said...

We have almost doubled the number of classes in our region (per the direction of the state). The program is finishing it's 3 IP of the season to add more instructors. I was able to be bad student 5 different days and had so much fun.

We are also starting to do more stuff like having a Quality Assurance team that more visits to increase consistency. This is especially the case since many have been teaching the BRT only over the last few years as IL was field testing it. However, we are back to BRC only.

irondad said...

aaddendum for Bluekat

Actually, I don't know when you took the class. I presume it was at LBCC. For some reason I was thinking of this year in which I haven't done step-ups at all.

Last year and years before that I have done step-ups at LBCC since I live in Albany. It is quite probable that I was there when you took your class. In fact, I rode Sophie up until early 2009. She was a burgundy colored ST. Hmmm....

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

tedder,

Being invited to step-up is a compliment. After all, you only sharpen quality blades!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Jeffrey,

We now have a mandatory training law in effect for new endorsements. It will start with anyone under 31 and step up in ten year increment for a couple of years.

We figure to be teaching 15 to 17 thousand students a year by 2015. Yep, we're going to need instructors.

Always good to hear from a fellow instructor here as well as reading your blog!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Jack,

Ok. I thought about Pink Floyd. Isn't "The Wall" the name of the album, and not a song? If I remember, the first track talks about trying to see things more clearly, but that was a long time ago.

You will have to enlighten me, my friend, as to where you were coming from.

If you remember!

Take care,

Dan

Young Dai said...

"Hey Teacher, leave them kids alone" ?

Young Dai said...

"I don't need no education, cos' my sub-prime bike loan is now owned by Warren Buffet "

Dave said...

Well for me I was thinking more on the lines of Arlo Guthries Motorcycle Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA&NR=1

Now this tells you how old an F I am : )

Dave

bluekat said...

I had two classes through LBCC in 2008 (one in March, another in April - not one of your better students!) Both times there were quite a few instructors, but the only name I remember is Al Ault, since I wrote him down in my book. The lady evaluating the instructors had pretty, long blond hair, and I think she may have ridden a sport or sport touring bike.

Seems like there were several STs along with the other bikes. Try as I might, I can't remember any of the colors. I think it's a case of information overload at the time. It's funny the bits and pieces that get remembered.