Becoming a skilled driving instructor is an exciting and rewarding journey. However, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and inexperienced during the training process. In this blog post, we want to assure you that it’s perfectly okay to feel stupid at times when training to be a driving instructor. In fact, embracing this feeling of being a novice is a crucial step towards success. Let’s explore why it’s normal to encounter these challenges and how you can work through them to become a confident and competent driving instructor.
Embrace the Feeling of Inexperience:
Feeling like a beginner is a natural part of any learning process. As you dive into the world of driving instructor training, you’ll likely encounter moments where you’re unsure of how to handle certain situations or how to effectively teach certain driving techniques. Remember, even the most experienced instructors were once in your shoes. Embrace the feeling of inexperience as a sign of growth and progress.
When I began my journey as a driving instructor, I vividly recall feeling overwhelmed during my first few training sessions. In previous articles you may remember how I came so close to giving up. My heart would race every time I entered the vehicle with a pupil. The fear of not being able to provide accurate guidance or answer their questions made me feel like an imposter. However, I soon realized that these feelings were entirely normal and even experienced instructors go through moments of self-doubt.
Learn From Your Mistakes:
Mistakes are an integral part of the learning journey. Don’t be afraid to make them! Use each mistake or awkward moment as an opportunity to learn and improve. Analyse what went wrong and how you can handle similar situations better in the future. Your ability to acknowledge and learn from mistakes will help you become a more skilled and adaptable driving instructor. This is what the trainee licence is for. It is as Donald Schön, in his book The Reflective Practitioner, calls a reflection in practice model. Something I researched a lot while doing my master in Driver Training Education. It is what the DVSA want to see in you reflective log books. Record your journey, record your mistakes, and record how you fixed them. Even if you fail several times, you are never starting from the beginning but from a place of experience.
During my initial training sessions, I encountered various challenges – miscommunication with pupils, difficulty explaining certain concepts, or struggling to maintain calm in stressful situations. Instead of dwelling on my shortcomings, I made it a point to reflect on each session. I sought feedback from experienced instructors, attended additional workshops, and incorporated their suggestions into my teaching approach. Gradually, I noticed improvements in my abilities and grew more confident in my instructional techniques.
Seek Guidance and Support:
Remember that you’re not alone in this process. Seek guidance and support from experienced driving instructors, trainers, or mentors. They have been through the same challenges and can provide valuable insights and advice. Join driving instructor communities, participate in workshops, and share your experiences with others. Learning from their experiences can boost your confidence and help you navigate through the training period. However, be careful who you get your advice from. There is a majority of trainer, mentors and help that is not the best and some downright wrong. Look for the ones who embrace the DVSA principles and particularly the 17 competencies from the DVSA. Anyone who thinks the best way forward is to do lots of role play with you, is going to cause you problems and grief in the future. Look for those that value your input and our open minded about you trying your ways.
You might think you want someone to just tell you how to do it, but they will not be with you when you are teaching pupils. Everyday you will see new things, new faults and new questions from your pupils. You need to be able to think for yourself and know where to find the answers. The reality is, a few lessons coaching you how to find the info yourself, will set you up for life.
Connect with fellow trainees and experienced instructors to discuss common struggles and exchange best practices. Mentorship programs are excellent opportunities to gain valuable insights from seasoned professionals. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek guidance when faced with challenges. More often than not, you’ll find that the driving instructor community is supportive and eager to help each other succeed.
Practice, Practice, Practice:
Gary Player, the golfer has been credited with saying ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get’. (although there is evidence to suggest it was Arnold Palmer or even Jerry Barber) Whoever said it, he more you practice, the more confident you’ll become is certainly true for teaching pupils. Don’t shy away from real-life training sessions with pupils. Embrace the opportunities to put your skills into action and work with learners of varying abilities. Every session is a chance to refine your teaching techniques and adapt to different learner needs.
At first, instructing pupils may feel daunting, but as you gain experience, you’ll develop your teaching style and become more attuned to individual learning preferences. Each student you work with presents a unique challenge, but these challenges are stepping stones toward becoming a well-rounded instructor.
Celebrate Your Progress:
As you progress in your driving instructor training, take a moment to acknowledge your growth. Celebrate the small victories, like successfully guiding a student through a challenging manoeuvre or effectively explaining a complex concept. Building on these successes will boost your confidence and motivate you to keep improving. And above all, record it in your reflective log!
Keep a reflective log (journal) of your experiences and note instances where you effectively helped a student overcome a driving obstacle or when a student expressed appreciation for your instruction. These affirmations serve as reminders of your progress and the positive impact you are making on your pupils’ lives.
In conclusion, feeling stupid or inexperienced during driving instructor training is not only okay but an essential part of the learning process. Embrace the feeling, learn from your mistakes, seek support, and keep practicing. Remember, even experienced instructors started where you are now. With dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to learn, you’ll become a confident and skilled driving instructor, ready to guide future drivers on their own journeys. Embrace the challenges, for they are the stepping stones to success. Trust the process, and you’ll soon find yourself making a meaningful difference in the lives of your pupils as a competent and empathetic driving instructor.
Driving School Dave
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.