I can now legally drive any vehicle (except for a semi or a motorcycle)!  Let me tell you more…

With more of our fleet of busses coming equipped with airbrakes, I wanted to make sure I could still take the preschoolers for their first school bus ride. I was ,therefore, encouraged to get my airbrake certification. Facing 20 hours of instruction over two days, I thought doing it with a friend would make it a little more pleasant. Jack Boersma (Secondary Vice Principal/PE Teacher) and I did it together. Good move!

Take the test ASAP!

The 16-hour classroom portion of the course was geared to giving us a basic understanding of airbrake systems and safe maintenance and driving practices. We saw some neat working models of airbrake systems being put together, though we never got to handle a single piece. Mostly it was about learning what we need to know to pass the ICBC test. It was classic traditional instruction: teach, review, teach, review, teach, review, teach, review, and then one last review. Then we had up to 90 days to take the test.

Right off the bat, the instructor told us to do the test ASAP. After eight years of teaching the course and having students report on their test results, he has determined that for every day students wait to take the test results, on average, go down by 4%.

Show what you know

After eight hours in the classroom, Jack, another student and I went to learn how to do a pre-trip inspection on a real truck. We watched the instructor, we watched each other, and we talked about what we did wrong and then did it all over again…three times.

After another eight hours in the classroom on the second day, the three of us went out to get individually tested on the pre-trip. Even though we were all pretty bagged by this time, we were all energized by being able to show what we could do. Because of the two hours of practical experience the day before, we all felt confident we would do well.

Good learning looks like this

This experience made me think about what good learning looks like. Let me share some of my observations and reflections on this experience:

  1. I passed the knowledge test. I got three wrong. I don’t remember what they were, even though I did the test this afternoon. Once I saw the right answer, it had more to do with clever wording than useful knowledge.
  2. If I took the knowledge test again in one month without a thorough review of the material, I would probably fail.
  3. The parts that I will remember the best from the classroom instruction are the stories and videos about safe operation of a vehicle.
  4. I passed the pre-trip test. I got one demerit. Once I made the error, I knew exactly what I had done wrong and what I needed to do to get it right. That one mistake was disappointing. I wished I had been able to stop and redo.
  5. If I was taken back to that same truck six months from now, I am fairly certain I could do the entire pre-trip successfully.
  6. With some time to get familiar with any of the air-equipped busses in the ACS fleet (and there will be differences), I am confident that I can do a proper pre-trip, and operate the vehicle safely.

I have drawn my own conclusions from this experience about what kinds of learning activities lead to lasting results. Rather than pontificate on those here, I would like you to draw your own. Even more, I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to come in and chat, or at least, make a comment.