Last weekend I completed the process of becoming certified by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) as a League Cycling Instructor. I am now certified to teach LAB’s Smart Cycling Curriculum. The process has several components (in fact the process has similarities to another process that is familiar to many readers of this blog). I had to take the Smart Cycling Course that I am now certified to teach. I had to pass an open book exam in order to qualify to take the instructor’s course. I had to demonstrate competency in specific bike handling skills and I was told (warned) to practice before the course. There was a group ride road test, an intersection test, and a night ride. I was given assignments– a group presentation and a solo presentation. During all these activities, my performance was assessed and graded. I received feedback from the instructor (coach) and my classmates.
It was a huge amount of work but of course, I learned a great deal. At various points during the process I certainly saw connections to my the life as a developmental optometrist. On Sunday evening when I was no longer worrying about executing a “quick turn,” a few ideas ideas began to move to the front of my brain.
1. Practice. I had to demonstrate proficiency at 4 bike handling skills and I was told to practice. I did. One manuever in particular (the quick turn) requires timing and coordination. The repetition got my synapses connected and I learned how to complete a quick turn effectively and efficiently. Neuroplasticity– you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
2. Learning styles and teaching styles. We discussed the different learning styles– visual, auditory and kinesthetic. I am a very visual learner. Give me books, maps and diagrams. I am also most comfortable with visually based TEACHING strategies….. but you cannot teach someone how to use their gears with a Powerpoint. Nor can you teach a motorically driven child to navigate a 3 dimensional world by giving them paper and pencil tasks.
3. The power of collaboration. I have spent my entire optometric career in an academic environment where I have thrived in a collaborative environment. But this course, with 6 students and 2 coaches in a very interactive environment felt more like a vision therapy room. We learned so much from each other. I am thinking more about leveraging group dynamics during vision therapy. Doctors, therapists and patients can all learn from each other.
4. Sensory overload. During the group ride road test, I was hypervigilant. Moving cars on the left, parked cars on the right, pedestrians, left turns, shoulders coming and going, potholes, fire engines, right turning lanes, stop signs…. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and when we finished the 11-mile ride, I was exhausted. Is this what a learning disabled/ADHD child feels like?
By far, my most favorite phrase arose from the intersection drill. The instructor picked a complex intersection with multiple lanes, turning lanes, lights, lane mergers and a few potholes. There were 4 ways in and 3 ways out, so we had to ride through the intersection 12 times! But for each pass through the intersection, there was always an optimal approach.
5. Four Ways In and Three Ways Out—Many patients have the same diagnosis, but they probably took different roads to get there. They require different treatments , but for each of them, we have to look at that treatment, that way out, and find a way to maximize the patient’s outcomes.
So those are my Top 5 Optometric Thoughts from becoming certified as a League Cycling Instructor. And I must add, I am really looking forward to working with children and teaching them how to ride a bicycle.
p.s. don’t forget to wear a helmet!