Friday, January 29, 2010

Confidentiality Policy

As a volunteer at the CBC, you will at times have access to "confidential information." Confidential information includes contact information (phone, address, email), family information, medical reports, identification numbers, and judicial records.

The CBC has an officially-worded confidentiality agreement (that is included in the volunteer orientation packet) with which every volunteer and employee is required to abide.

Here are some tip to keep in mind regarding confidentiality:
  • If you are telling a story about an experience at the shop, make sure to conceal the identities of our participants (keep anonymous/vague and change names).
  • Sometimes participants or other volunteers will ask for phone numbers and other information. Don't give out any information unless you have the permission of the person who owns the information.
  • Don't leave confidential information on desks, car seats and on countertops.
  • Label folders or file cabinets that contain confidential information with the names of the people that have access to that information.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The CBC's Physical Boundaries

At this week's staff meeting, while discussing the results of our recent evaluation (based on the HighScope model for Youth Quality Program Assessment) we came upon some interesting questions: What are our physical boundaries? Does the CBC include the grassy area outside our doors? Should we let kids play outside unsupervised during our open shop time?

On the one hand, children need safe places to play, the grass outside the shop is almost certainly safer than other places in town. Even if a staffperson isn't standing there at all times, there is always a responsible adult nearby. On the other hand, parents expect the CBC staff to keep their children safe, and in the case of accident or injury not having an adult with them could be seen as irresponsible.

At the end of the discussion, we arrived at a compromise that the staff is comfortable with. But we're curious -- as a volunteer, what are your thoughts on the issue?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Featured Tool -- Freewheel Grease Injector

A couple months back we received a donated tool
that none of us had ever seen -- one that injects grease into a freewheel without requiring you to take it apart. It fits on most freewheels, and is great for those bikes that are old or have been left out in the elements -- really handy in a shop like ours.

Here's how it works --

1. Remove the freewheel from the hub, and clean it with simple green and a rag or brush
2. Thread the injector onto the freewheel
3. Load the grease gun with grease (using a tube rather than a tub really makes this step easier!)
4. Attach the grease gun to the injector, and push the plunger down
5. When grease starts coming out the other side, you're done!
6. Rethread onto your hub, and enjoy the awe-inspiring silence of your freshly greased freewheel!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning Styles: Ways We Learn

Here at the CBC, we constantly strive for children to be proud and recognize that they are capable of problem solving and self reliance. As they work to fix bikes and participate in shop programs, it’s important to remember your role as a volunteer. Don’t do the work for them – instead, encourage them to get their hands dirty and try something new.

We have noticed that caring adults will often problem solve and perform repairs for kids for several reasons: 1) they are learning the skills themselves, 2) sometimes we don’t have the words or teaching skills to explain a task, 3) the task can be physically too challenging for a child, or 4) the task is too challenging for the child at his/her current skill level.

The aforementioned fourth reason will be discussed in a future blog post through the concepts described in the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). Csikszentmihalyi describes that optimum learning occurs when we have the right balance between the level of challenge for a task and our level of skill at performing the task. Basically this means that sometimes we give kids a task that is too challenging given their individual skill level so we need to figure out a way to lower the level of challenge. Sometimes need to perform part of the task for them until they develop the necessary cognitive, developmental, and physical skills to complete the defined repair challenge.

So getting back to learning styles, we must match teaching style with each child’s preferred learning style. There are several learning styles models that can be found in the literature. One of the most basic describes the differences between auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners (
  1. Auditory learners remember by talking out loud, like to have things explained orally and may have trouble with written instructions. Auditory learners may talk to themselves when learning something new.
  2. Visual learners easily remember visual details and prefer to see what they are learning. They prefer to write down instructions and may have trouble following lectures.
  3. Kinesthetic or tactile learners prefer activities that allow them to do what they are learning about. Tactile learners like to touch things in order to learn about them and like to move around when talking or listening.
Here at the CBC, we want kids to learn how they learn best. Don’t let their displays of frustration or desire to “get the bike finished” before the end of the day pull you into completing the task for them. Let your own anxiety of dealing with their disappointment pass – it’s always ok to take a break!

Here are some more specific ways people learn, and some ideas and questions you may ask kids to help them get to know their personal learning styles better:
  1. Watching a demonstration (a.k.a show-n-tell)
  2. Experimenting without instruction (a.k.a. trial-n-error)
  3. Hearing the instructions verbally: step-by-step
  4. Seeing the instructions written: step-by-step
  5. Viewing the instructions through drawings or pictures
  6. Viewing and hearing the instructions through video clips
  7. Some people want to know “why” these steps
  8. Some people don’t care to learn the “why” for these steps
  9. Does the learner need to see how all the parts inter-connect?
  10. Is process and outcome feedback needed along the way: encouragement and what’s wrong?
  11. Does playing learning games help?
  12. Does learning alongside a partner help or does one person take over?
  13. Does changing the learning environment help – quiet space, music?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Preparing for a Group Ride and the Ride Leader Bags

When out on a group bike ride, it's important to be prepared for any problems that may arise. Injuries or illness, though usually minor, are always possibilities (especially with younger, less experienced riders), and the bikes themselves often need to be tweaked on-the-fly.

The CBC has three packs (two rack-top bags, one fanny-pack) with supplies and tools for group rides. Since the extra weight can throw off a cyclist's balance, usually it's best for an adult chaperone to attach it to their bike.

Included in each pack are:

-Emergency contacts list (double check to make sure emergency info is logged for each rider, and all have submitted permission forms)
-Non-rider emergency backup contact phone numbers
-Cell phone with In Case of Emergency(ICE) numbers programmed
-Accident/incident report forms
-Emergency whistle
-Snack money and/or energy bars
-First Aid Kit
-Bike repair tools, including: multi-tool with chain rivet, tire levers, 15mm wrench, pump and/or CO2 cartridges & dispenser, spare tubes: 26x1.50 and 700ccx23c and 24x1.50, patch kit with glue and patches, rag, duct tape

Before each ride, it is important to:

-Plan route & anticipated stops (bring a map if possible)
-Identify number of bikes & number of riders
-Assign point person & rear person
-Review Rules of the Road with the group, including: Safe road riding; hand turning, slowing, stopping, and hazard signals; and verbal signals: “Passing on your left” &” car back”
-Check to see if anyone needs to use the bathroom before the start of ride

We have cameras and extra batteries available for use on rides, also extra cable locks. Depending on the weather, rain gear and a dry bag can also be good to bring:) Each rider needs to have a bottle of water and a helmet (we have extras), and must be dressed appropriately. If anybody needs to borrow a jacket, gloves, or a hat, we have those too.

Most importantly, enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Community Bicycle Center's Rights and Obligations, and the 5 Absolute "no's"

As a volunteer and member of the CBC community, you serve an important role to help support safe and supportive programming. Six rights and obligations should always be kept in mind --
  1. Right to be Respected
  2. Right to be Safe
  3. Right to Learn
  4. Obligation to be Caring
  5. Obligation to be Honest
  6. Obligation to be Responsible
When working in the shop or going for a ride, it is important to focus on the behaviors we want to live by rather than the behaviors we do not want to see, hear, or experience. Try to always recognize and praise positive behavior, and treat each participant as the person they are capable of being.

That said, there are five 100% "no's" that receive zero tolerance at the CBC.
  1. Smoking
  2. Drugs, alcohol
  3. Hitting, violence, abusive anger, threats
  4. Knives, weapons
  5. Stealing
Any occurrence of these behaviors must be reported to a CBC staff member, who will deal with the issue according to our behavior management plan. Although volunteers can verbally discourage destructive behaviors, only staff members may have a participant take time away or tell a participant to leave. More about our Progressive Behavior Management Plan in a later post...

Keep warm out there, this weekend is going to be a cold one!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Riding (and Happy New Year!)

Depending on where you live, you may have noticed the weather getting colder and the roads icy-er -- it's not your eyes deceiving you -- winter is here! You may think that it would be crazy to bike in weather like this, but it turns out that lots of people do, including many of the kids and volunteers that come by the shop. Winter riding, if the rider and the bike are properly prepared, isn't unpleasant -- in fact it's alot of fun!

If a kid comes by with a bike they've been riding out in the snow and salt, there are a few basic things you can encourage them to do to be better prepared.

For bicycles:
-Clean the chain and oil the chain regularly, and consider using a wax-based lubricant (this will help shed the grime build-up and improve chain life)
-Swap out those bmx slicks for a set of tires with more traction
-Make sure that all the bearing systems on the bike are properly adjusted -- a loose bottom bracket, for example, will let in lots of dirt and moisture, leaving you with a headache!
-If possible, store your bike inside. Don't let it end up like this:)

When out on the road:
-Ride predictably and cautiously -- stay constantly aware of road conditions and other vehicles
-Wear bright clothing, and use lights at night -- remember, the sun sets much earlier in winter
-Obey traffic signals and laws, and wear a helmet
-Layer up your clothing, and don't forget gloves, ear coverings, a wind breaker, and long socks

How else might bicyclists ride safely in the wintertime?