A small word with a BIG meaning!
I don’t want to be seen as the teacher standing in front of an individual Flight Student or class just teaching and answering questions. I want a students to know that they can approach me at any time, for whatever reason, maybe not at 3AM in the morning, HAHA!.
Simply someone that likes to help them understand things, whatever effort that might take and improve their overall learning experience.
Teaching aviation and especially flying is not always easy and can be difficult sometimes! I personally always try to find the best approach for the individual student, as every student is different in the way he thinks, understands and learns things.
What’s important to me…
As theory (knowledge) in flying is just as important as the practical side of it, students are usually happy if you (the instructor) are able to help them with their “tons of studies”. Rules of Thumb can become a big help, as well as other small helps such as Acronym, which can make remembering a lot easier at times. Practically speaking, flying takes a lot of practice and exercise. I think it’s important to give the student time to get comfortable in and with the airplane and to get used to it especially at the beginning. And one of the most important things for the student is, that he feels comfortable with his instructor, accepts him as his mentor and never doubts him! This is also a point which is very important to me. Feeling comfortable and safe and motivated in the training environment is important and can make big differences for the student.
The Teaching Process & Things To Be Aware Of
Regarding the teaching or educational process itself, there are some things that should not be forgotten while teaching someone. A big one in my opinion and one that the instructor has to deal with on a daily basis are the so called
“Barriers to Effective Communication”. This is something I personally always try to be aware of, especially since I have experience in teaching a language, English in my case, as a foreign language to individuals. Students don’t always understand you or the message you try to transfer in the same way you would like them to understand it, especially at the beginning where they have to deal with many new words, terms etc. One of the most common problem is probably
‘unknown vocabulary’ or terms that are just new to them. Instructors call this a …..
“Lack of Common Experience”
It basically means that you use words that are absolutely logical and understandable to you as the instructor or teacher (in regards to experience), but that’s not necessarily the case for the receiver or in this case, the student, depending on his experience of course. Especially in the English language, there are different words or vocabularies, sometimes only one word can be used in many different contexts compared to other languages like German for example, where a particular word is used to express only a single idea. I have made that experience so many times this far. At some point this will make it easier with time as students get more used to English and start to find it fairly simple, but at the beginning it can be quite difficult for some.
Small things can make a big difference.
But there are a few more “Barriers in Communication” which are all equally important and are also related to these issues, such as ‘Overuse of Abstractions’, “Confusion between the Symbol and the symbolized object etc.
“Overuse of Abstractions”
can be compared to the first as explained above, although it also means that, if the instructor explains things he should be on the point rather than using a broad description. The example of ‘Aircraft Vs Airplane’ is a very common one and also being used to in the FOI book. This word is often wrongly understood, as the word aircraft basically describes any flying object or whatever is flyable according to the FARs 14 CFR (“Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.”)
Besides all these things, there’s one more that I personally find important – ‘Good Questioning’.
Students tend to always agree to your explanations or just say “OK” at the end of you sentence while trying to transfer some knowledge to them etc… BUT!, if you start questioning them back and eventually ask them to repeat or even explain it back to you they mostly end up with a very unconfident face expression and don’t know what or how to express themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing but shows that it was probably not correctly or completely understood by the student. At that point, the instructor might need to re-explain some things or use an entirely different approach to transfer his message.
I think this is a very important thing to know for the instructor as it also checks the students understanding.
That’s also, why I like to question my students.
Some students even learn more from a ‘direct and specific question – answer process’ rather than just listening
to an instructor holding a lecture in front of the class or the individual.
But again, no student is the same and so is their learning.
My personal goal is always to find the right approach to things and to make sure that the student gets the message right at the end of the day (Principle of Primacy), not at the of his training. Sometimes this might take longer, sometimes it happens quicker. Sometimes it even requires a completely different approach to explain only one thing! Of course, this might require a bit of patience, but that’s OK! I think, if the instructor adjusts to the student, he will we be successful at the end of the day. From my experience, I can tell that understanding (from a student’s perspective) also often depends on a teacher’s overall teaching style and the material he uses to explain things on a daily basis, no matter if he holds a lecture in front of a class, works with small groups or holds a One-on-One lessons. In today’s world, many things are being learned digitally, while other students still prefer the good old book. I actually do too sometimes. It’s really important to keep them motivated at all times. Motivation is a really big prerequisite for the learning process, as I also found out for myself.
I absolutely like to use modern material, whatever is available and useful. I also like modern learning helps. They often have the advantage of being very flexible and offers things, which can be very handy. For some students, they even expedite their learning process due to a high motivational factor. Teaching is really interesting and I often find myself in a new kind of situation, just as flying is not always the same thing.
This brings me to the practical side of instructing, flying, which is probably the most important of all.
Here, it’s not less important, that the student has accepted the instructor and has trust in him. He should never be afraid of asking questions at any time during training. But this is just as important for the flights as it is for the ground lessons.
One thing I personally like to support a lot is to get the student used to the airplane and flight maneuvers at his own pace.
Just as with theory, some students require a longer approach to adapt physical and/or motoric skills, some it within no time.
Another point I also like to emphasize on is the
‘Telling & Doing Technique’,
which comes into play quite often during flight lessons, especially when practicing maneuvers etc during initial training with a student pilot, but also later when they advance. There is one step, in particular, which is called ‘Student tells – Instructor does’. I first became aware of this step when I was studying the FOI book. Of course, a student will not be confronted with pedagogical methods, although it sometimes would not be such a bad idea in my opinion.
The usual procedure from my experience
‘FI Tells – FI Does’ → “Student Tells – Student Does – FI Evaluates”
even though this might expedite the training process and/or safe time, the following step is not a bad idea…
The better procedure – I’m sure!
FI Tells – FI Does —> ?!“STUDENT TELLS – FI DOES”!? <— Student Tells – Student Does – FI Evaluates
obviously a good idea, one that I like to incorporate into my training.
Back to my point before, when I read about the ‘step’ mentioned above, it instantly made me think about my own training and still can’t remember one time where I went through this step as a flight student, unfortunately. That does not mean that my training was not as good! No, I’ve received good flight training from great instructors. I’m sure every FI has a different opinion about teaching methods etc. Nevertheless, I still think that the ‘student tells – instructor does’ step should be implemented or used in Flight Lesson whenever it’s appropriate. I would!, not just because it’s in the book, no, because I think it’s a step that will enable the FI to correct mistakes early (again → Principle of Primacy).
Especially new students can easily become overwhelmed at the beginning with all the procedures they have to remember.
That said …
Finding the right approach in theory and practice is not always easy but it’s a challenge I like that I don’t mind taking.
It’s always a great experience as you never stop to learn new things and can always improve yourself!
Simply said… I like teaching!