PAMSP training providers – Let’s try to be objective: 2018 – The PAMSP Office opens (Part 5 of 5)

2018: Office opens, endless training begins.

The new Administration had been given a daunting task and little time or assistance to accomplish it.

Keep in mind that at the beginning of 2018 the Program started with 0 Instructors. This was an occurrence that had not happened in the Program since its inception.

The 2018 PAMSP office would not officially open until January 28th, 2020. As soon as it did, people were in motion (and were in as much motion as they could be before that). Not having access to the office meant not having access to all of the systems, people, and information the PAMSP retains as an organization.

Training planning had been done as much ahead of time as possible. The first week of February training started in all (3) regions using Training staff from other locations in the US flown in to train PAMSP Instructors.

The initial training was modified “transition training” for Instructors who were currently certified in another curriculum. It was abbreviated in the total number of days but Instructors still had to show both in class and on range competency and had been used in the California transition when it occurred State-wide there in the past.

In the field, “town halls” were open forums held by the Program Administrator senior management to bring Instructors in to talk to them about the transition plan, training opportunities, the curriculum, and other Administrative logistics such as payroll, etc. that were in the works.

Not everyone was happy about some of the arrangements initially but over time the new Administrator would work with the Instructors to address their needs and or concerns.

Those who were interested in becoming Trainers started shadowing, on their own time, and working through the lengthy process to become an Instructor Trainer.

Not all of the transfer Instructors were successful. Not all were happy about not being successful. Anyone who wasn’t was informed that they could return at any time (unless they did something so egregious that they could not). Many returned and became Instructors.

The town halls would end but the Instructor Training ran non stop for weeks, then months. ~10 Instructors per class, range sessions, live classes, live range sessions, student classrooms, student ranges – repeat.

The pace didn’t slow down, the Trainers never stopped paying it forward, the PAMSP Instructors kept working towards certification.

Laptops were built and delivered to sites, motorcycles were prepared and delivered to sites, sheds were repaired, 3 wheeler containers would later arrive at some sites, paperwork was distributed from Harrisburg to the sites.

Classes would start on time, held by a very low number of Instructors, but they would grow.

2018 would start.

2018: Moving forward

During that time, the new Administration changed what had been done over the last 5 years.

Communication was open, Administration staff accessible.

Regional Managers were accessible and engaged.

Site Coordinators returned to lead at a site level, work with Regional Managers & the Office.

Scheduling was again done locally, via Site Coordinators working with the local Instructors and updating the regional Managers, CSRs and the Office.

Fuel was once again picked up by the Site Coordinator.

“Shed stamps” were used instead of personal stamps so that they would remain on site, available for use by any Instructors following skills exams.

Instructors were coached as to what to look for, how to analyze what students were doing, what they should be doing and how to quickly communicate that to a student. Coaching was just a few seconds at a time, providing students more time to practice, to develop their skills – to ride.

Skills testing was now part of all Instructor training.

A Knowledge/Learning Management system was brought on line, coursework digitized for Instructor Candidates.

A document & media repository was brought online.

A new PDW format, like that used in California, was adopted for PA. (3) locations, 1 per region, were selected, a “track” was painted on the range, tents erected for classroom sessions, and Instructors were expected to arrive on their own personal bikes or borrow local range bikes. Riding as part of Instructor professional development? For the first time in Program history – a riding PDW!

Couldn’t make the PDW? An online makeup had been made available to Instructors for the last 2 years so they could complete it from the comfort of their own homes.

A new QA process was implemented and was still in the process of being rolled out.

A W2 employee option was implemented, enabling additional paycheck flexibility.

“Shadowing” returned – Instructor Candidates could audit a Clinic from an Instructor level view, get a better understanding of the rigors of the job before they started the Instructor Training process.

In order to reduce no-shows, Site Coordinators and Customer Service Reps were contacting students directly, confirming attendance, to drive attendance and increase retention.

“Track Day ARC” would be held out at Pitt Race increasing local PAMSP awareness around the motorcycle community.

PAMSP outreach was consistent, well received and attended – a number of places were actively asking PAMSP to attend their events, speak, spread the word.

Additional “IT” (Instructor Training Classes) were brought online for more advanced Clinics, to enable Instructors to advance within the program.

One Program Administrator, finding out there was an issue with getting staff shirts, spent 10K of their own money to purchase all of the Instructors shirts.

Meetings with PennDOT and other groups in Harrisburg were engaging, fun, and full of promise. An open dialogue, apparently ongoing.

The day to day contacts the Program had with PennDOT were with really nice people who appeared to be every bit as enthusiastic about the Program as the Staff, Instructors.

New sites were coming online across the Commonwealth, some previously closed.

The Mobile Training Unit was becoming a reality.

A new streamlined BRC slide deck, updated with a lot of feedback from the field, with new videos & graphics was arriving & being rolled out to the field.

The BRC range curriculum was being updated, new range cards would be on their way.

6 different Clinic types were planned to be offered – growing the catalog for the first time in decades and now covering the complete gamut of rider types from the unsure to the experienced.

PAMSP was starting to get its swagger back, building its ranks.

Were there things that needed to be fixed, yes, but Instructors had the ear of their Site Coordinators, Regional Managers, and even the Office and the Training Staff (who list their number inside of every training guide). Communication was becoming more regularized, IT were becoming more organized and occurring on a regular basis, recruitment, range maintenance, etc. were all operating smoothly.

2018 was a rough year, but a building – a re-building – year.

2019 was a better year, still lacking Instructor numbers but ramping them up to teach to the maximum possible across the Commonwealth.

2020 was on track to open all sites on time, meet all contractual obligations, have the best year to date. And when that didn’t happen, simply help others, prepare for reopening.

Many obstacles, no time to ramp up, odds not always in their favor. And somehow they did it.

And in the process, every Instructor not only became a better Presenter, Coach, or Instructor, they all became a better rider.

Being Objective

It is difficult to be objective if you don’t know all of the facts.
– 1999-2013: Widely used curriculum and stable, professional administration.
– 2014-2017: An unfortunate series of events, a teachable moment.
– 2018-2020: Solid curricula, heartfelt rebuilding, a trajectory terminated before its time.

One vendor had a competent 15yr run.
One vendor had a less than competent run.
One vendor didn’t have a run at all.

Don’t judge the current Program Administrator too harshly, their focus was always on PA Students and Instructors. As it should be.

The newest vendor was hobbled from the start, took everything that was thrown at it and kept trying to make the program work, and keep PennDOT, sites, customers, staff and Instructors happy. They developed new ways of teaching, working, listened to the staff and put Instructors first as much as possible.

Not perfect, but no one is, but to simply shut it down when it objectively could have been PAMSP returning to it’s glory years – exceeding that expectation, all while educating students and saving lives?

Objectively, Pennsylvania deserves better than cancelling the PAMSP contract, and Instructors need to find a way to not be caught in the middle of a political tug of war.

Objectively, 2020 was on tap to be a great year, even with the ugliness of COVID. It was going to be the first year PAMSP could get ahead of the curve and deliver for students across the state – now cancelled, and highly inconvenient.

Who knows what the tenure of the most recently appointed Program Administrator would have looked like at the end of the 2018-2022 contract, with or without COVID-19.

The simple and objective fact is that by cancelling the contract, not electing to pursue any other recourse, no one will ever know.

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