My question of the week, this week was asked in a one-to-one zoom call. Basically, the instructor was marked down on a test because the examiner thought the instructor had not taught enough to the pupil. The tasks set by the instructor were too easy for the pupil so the examiner had little they could mark on.
I have talked a lot about when the plan goes wrong, but normally in the context of the pupil making mistakes from earlier in their syllabus. But equally the same rules apply if things go well. The 17 competencies talk of two.
- Was the lesson plan adapted, when appropriate to help the pupil work towards their learning goal?
- Was the teaching style suited to the pupils learning style and current ability?
Although the problem will also reflect on some of the other competencies too, you can see how ‘under teaching’ a pupil will not fit the competencies.
What does it matter?
What does it matter you might ask, but is the pupil getting value for money from a lesson where they are learning little? Would the pupil feel bored or that they are wasting their money. The pupil might even feel demoralised doing the same things again. Learning is not really taking place and in a part three or Standard check situation, the examiner has no meat on the bone to be able to truly judge your teaching.
How does this come about?
Two things come to mind. First, the lesson was not planned correctly in the first place. The instructor looking for a safe option, choses a pupil that they know can cope with the lesson, believing the examiner will see how good the pupil is and hope for a good pass. Problem here is the examiner needs to see how you get them to where they are. They need to see the learning take place and how this happens. Second, for some miracle, the pupil suddenly developed the skills, or everything dropped into place and the instructor was left with nothing to really teach.
It comes mainly from a lack of planning or correct planning. We need to choose a pupil where we know that learning can take place. A good plan is always essential, but plan to have something to teach. What lesson do you find goes well? What lesson do you see the learning take place every time? In my early days I initially struggled with teaching roundabouts, so I was not doing that one. I would pick one I knew learning took place always. I should add, later I discovered why roundabouts was not a good one for me and adapted my teaching style, so it became another good lesson where learning always took place.
Certainly, do not try to rehearse a lesson with a pupil so they know what’s expected, the result is, yes, the pupil does well but the examiner can’t see how they got there. Where did they learn this from? We all know it goes on. Instructors try to rehearse the lesson with the pupil, even telling them what questions to ask but the result is that no real learning took place on the test. All the learning took place before the test. You’d be better off showing the examiner the lesson they did learn that subject.
What can we do?
Fortunately, the answer is simple. Change the plan! This time think how I can increase the task demands for my learner, so they do have something to learn. Can you change to a more difficult route or area? Can you add something more into the lesson, add an independent element to the lesson or even change the lesson to the next lesson you would teach. All this comes in the planning stage. Long before the test when you are planning your route. Not only are you thinking, ‘what do I do if my pupil messes up this junction or this meeting situation?’ but also what if the do the lesson well, where can I go? I have said this so many times, but the secret is ‘planning, planning, planning and then be impulsive’.
If you realise your pupil is doing well, change the plan, don’t just carry on thinking this is going well. Unless of course it is a result of the teaching during that lesson. That your pupil truly did learn it this lesson and is now doing well. But even then, you need to keep the pressure up and add new elements, fresh learning that will help consolidate what has already been learned. Different junctions, more complex or whatever that lesson needs. During my teacher training, we were taught to always have extra material to hand for those students who learnt quickly. In any of my classroom training courses, I always have additional slides ready in case I need to add information. Normally a deeper understanding of the GDE Matrix or similar.
- Don’t try and rehearse a lesson and try to convince an examiner learning is happening or impress an examiner with how good your pupil is. They need to see the learning take place.
- Change the plan if you instinct is telling you, this is going too well.
- Plan additional material before the lesson so you are already prepared to change the plan.
- Plan to change the plan. Good and bad.
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.