First few lessons
Do not be worried if you are nervous delivering your first few lessons. Everyone is and your pupils will not notice. Planning is the key. If you have not already done so in your training it is a good idea to find out what routes you will be using for your learners. Just like a music teacher who starts everyone off on the same piece of music and then progresses through each piece as the learning develops. You too will find it easier to have set routes where each item on your learner’s syllabus can be practiced in relative safety. From there, you can gradually amend each route as you learn from and reflect on your teachings. Below I will give you some brief outlines of the features you are looking for in each different route. It may be that if you cover a large area or different towns you will need to do this for each place, but try to keep the amount of areas down if you can even if you need to drive your pupils to a suitable location of the first few lessons.
If you want to remain confident and focused you need to select initial routes that have very little traffic on them. Look for wide roads with not too many junctions on them. Ideally a few small gradients to help develop the clutch control. A few simple left and right turns should be present to help develop the car controls too. Look for longer straight roads to develop the use of the gears both up and down. Avoid traffic lights, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings or difficult road junctions that might alarm your pupil in these early lessons.
Intermediate routes should lead on from or ideally overlap your nursery routes. Here we are looking for some give way and stop junctions, as well as basic crossroads. Some junctions on slight gradients are a good idea too, as are slightly higher hill/controlled start situations. Begin looking for the traffic light controlled junctions and simple roundabouts. Here you can begin to look for the areas where you will start to teach the manoeuvres, bearing in mind these will need to be relatively traffic-free areas initially. Try to avoid multi-lane roads, one way streets and roundabouts that do not comply with basic rules as well as very busy right turns.
Here you are looking to extend your intermediate routes to incorporate everything else. Multi-lane roads, one way streets and complex junctions all need to be found. It is here you will look to develop your mock test routes too.
General route advice
Try to avoid test routes as much as possible and look for areas where there are not too many learners practicing. In recent years there has been a lot of bad publicity about Driving Instructors using the same areas and residents are often complaining to the test centre managers and press. If you do see learners practicing try to move on to another area as best you can. Never get confrontational with a resident, if they ask you to move on or are seen watching you just smile and take an alternate route. In time you will build up your training areas and will seek out new, challenging areas. New areas where there are not too many learners are good for business too as yours will be the only car seen. When possible try to build a good rapport with areas and residents by using the common courtesies. You never know where your next pupil will be coming from…
The wrong road!
I remember on one of my very early lessons missing a right turn and ending up a no through road, Feeling very embarrassed I quickly suggested a ‘turn in the road’ it really was a narrow road and it must have took at least 8 turns to get the car round. And in Exeter there used to be a problem with a roundabout under the M5 motorway where pupils on test would be told by the examiner ‘follow the road ahead the third exit sign posted Exmouth’ Pupils would get confused and take the second exit and unless the examiner was quick they would end up going up the slip road to the M5 motorway!!! Many a test was then abandoned as the examiner had no choice