As an ORDIT registered driving instructor trainer for one of the driving schools in Nottingham I regularly teach prospective driving instructors how best to teach learner drivers. This series of articles is written for driving instructors who wish to improve their teaching performance and also for trainee instructors who are preparing for the part 3 examination of instructional ability. In this article we will look at planning an effective lesson.
As a driving instructor it is essential that lessons are properly planned in order to make the best use of available time and ensure that the pupil is making their way through the syllabus thoroughly. It is helpful for trainee instructors to write out a lesson plan using bullet points to make sure all main elements of the subject are covered. This can be secured to the dashboard for easy reference.
If this is your first lesson with a pupil make sure you greet them and check their provisional driving licence. If they don't have one then you are not insured so don't forget to check. Ask if they are nervous and try to put them at ease by discussing any issues they may have, make eye contact with the pupil and be upbeat. Let them know that it isn't unusual to be nervous on a first driving lesson.
It is important to state the aims and objectives for the lesson. Make sure they are realistic and within the pupil's ability. A more experienced pupil will require greater challenge so make sure there is a thorough recap of the last lesson to set the benchmark for the current lesson. If no aims and objectives are stated then the pupil may regard the lesson as just driving about and wasting time. Make sure the pupil is focused on something specific.
If the lesson is about a new topic then a briefing will be required. Make sure the brief is reasonably short as pupils are usually keen to get on the move. All important elements of the topic should be covered with a few questions thrown in to make sure the pupil is involved and that the information you give is understood. Visual aids and diagrams are particularly helpful during briefings.
Once on the move it is important to select a route which matches the abilities of the pupil and gives opportunities to cover the topic discussed in the brief. If you are teaching roundabouts then head for where the roundabouts are. Avoid routes that are too busy or complex but also avoid ones that are too simple for experienced pupils. This requires a good amount of forward thinking by the instructor. On route make sure the main topic is covered as much as possible but be flexible enough to change the focus of the lesson if the pupil is having difficulties in areas previously covered.
At the end of the lesson give a thorough debrief with plenty of pupil involvement. The debrief is the part that the pupil takes away with them and judges the success of the lesson by. If they have done well give plenty of positive feedback, If they have difficulties then make sure these are discussed in a positive light. Nobody wants to leave a driving lesson feeling down about it.