Time and time again, when I take on a new client who has been taking lessons with another instructor, they tell me tales of having been 'shouted at' by their previous instructor. Most of these are young learners, so they are very vulnerable, and many of them suffer from lack of confidence (well is it any wonder?) whilst others cry all the time, literally putting themselves through hell to learn to drive. Many of these latter pupils have suffered from low self-esteem all their lives (who started that problem for them, because we aren't born with low self esteem!), and this previous driving instructor, shouting at the learner who is trying to master what is such a difficult skill for them, has reinforced that low self-esteem!
People shout in these situations because they don't have the 'tools' to know what to do. They don't understand why their pupils 'can't do it', after all they've 'told them over and over' what to do! So if they can't understand it now, well they must be stupid! The learners simply 'don't listen to what they're being told'! And now the learner is a nervous wreck, in tears, and the instructor is wound up!
However, the blame can't really be put onto the instructors because, the reality is, no-one has ever taught them how to teach! They've never been through the full process of understanding how people learn, how to relate to different personalities and teach to the individual learning styles. They've simply been given a diet of 'this is the fault; this is the reason for it; this is the remedy'!
But, things are changing. Proposed changes to the way people qualify is some way off, because these changes require the parliamentary process. But changes to the way ADI's are assessed for their 'continuining ability and fitness to give instruction', which, from April 2014, will become the new 'standards check', are certain because this does not require the parliamentary process for the changes to be implemented. And this is where we will finally see a requirement for the learner to be at the centre of the process - client-centred learning.
This is nothing to panic about, it's not as different as it might sound. But, in my opinion, the one skill that many instructors will need to develop further is that of listening to their clients! Ed Marshall delivered a great webinar on this subject some time ago, the recording is in the video library for you to watch whenever and as often as you like. Listening to your client is what puts them at the heart of the process. Understanding their personalities, and how you relate to each other, is really helpful (this will be a future webinar topic), together with knowing your client's preferred learning style, so that you can adapt your teaching to the way the client learns best. This will completely eliminate the frustration felt when a learner doesn't 'get it', which then leads to shouting at the pupil, because your client will have more control, being at the centre of the learning process.
Please believe me when I say this isn't so complicated as it sounds! But it does take guts, a willingness to flip things on their head and put the client in the driving seat (pun intended!). Once you see the success coming from this process, you will fully embrace it and then you will suddenly realise how little work you are doing during your lessons! The client does it all!! Well, nearly all!
Oh, and have you noticed the change in terminology during this blog? From 'learner' or 'pupil' to 'client'? This change in the word you use to refer to your paying customers, your clients, will start the process of changing how you see them, and will help you to put them where they belong, in charge of their learning because they are the ones paying for your services after all!
Click the linked text above to watch a short video extract on YouTube from Wayne Dyer. Please feel free to give your reactions to this post in the comments box below.
The image at the top is from a Daily Telegraph report in 2011 concerning trainee instructors.