Passing On Wisdom

I’ve been an instructor for 19 years and I’m now thinking I’d like to start training PDIs. Any words of wisdom?

Guy, ADI

Answer: Firstly, be 100% sure you truly understand the current Parts 1, 2 and 3. Revisit your own theory and driving skills, not just to brush up on knowledge and understanding, but to begin thinking how you could reframe this theory in a way that will help someone else see. So, not just what we need to know, as instructors, but why we need to know it and how we then pass this on to pupils. Get really familiar with the individual 17 competencies and their definitions. Become aware of the common traps, pitfalls and mistakes instructors fall into. Without a solid, rounded understanding and knowledge, you will be unable to recognise a PDI’s needs in order to structure your training effectively for them and their needs. If you feel the need for a bit of a refresher or top up, or you just want to start looking at these with a fresh pair of eyes (as a trainer rather than an ADI), I would strongly recommend a good workshop, reading material and training videos to give you a proper, solid foundation for your new thoughts and priorities.Two essential books as a minimum would be: ‘Who’s in the drivers seat?’ by Ged and Claire Wilmot; and ‘Can drivers really teach themselves?’ by Ian Edwards. Ensure the ‘Highway Code’ and ‘Driving – The Essential Skills’ become your bible. You must be completely familiar with ‘DVSA ADI1 Examiners Guidelines’. Both the Part 2 and Part 3 sections are easy to ready, well laid out and should form the basis of your knowledge and understanding. Start talking to PDIs, listening to what they are struggling with. This will help you understand the PDIs needs and attitudes, working out strategies and solutions to help them. Become open to having people sit in your lessons and watch – it does wonders for your own self-reflection, your own teaching confidence, especially when it comes to those who are already qualified drivers! And do the same for others… sit in on as many lessons as you can, borrowing what you hear and see. It will begin to open your eyes and mind to what is really needed in order to become a good instructor trainer!

Putting the Brakes On

When securing the car, is it handbrake then neutral, or doesn’t it matter? I’ve just had a candidate pass the test who does neutral then handbrake, but they didn’t get pulled up on it.

Ian, ADI

Answer: We are encouraged to teach handbrake then neutral because, particularly with inexperienced pupils, they are quite keen to move their feet slightly too early, resulting in a stall or roll. So, applying the handbrake ASAP just lessens the possibility of either of these issues. For this reason, it would be picked up on a Part 2 test.
However, if a pupil does it the other way around, and there’s no adverse outcome, then its absolutely no issue whatsoever, not even worthy of a comment or feedback from the examiner, hence the pass!

The First Hurdle

I’m really struggling to get into studying for my Part 1. Any suggestions?

Paul, PDI

Answer: Try mixing it up. Using just one training tool can become monotonous, so alternate between using videos, apps, websites, books and social media groups. When it comes to learning anything, the evidence suggests that by using a variety of medium is the most beneficial. Sometimes it’s all too easy to see the Part 1 as a dry, theory heavy topic, rather than it being intrinsically linked to the practical skill of driving and, ultimately, teaching people to drive. Make sure you are getting regular opportunities to practice bringing the theory into your Part 2 preparations. Also, try this: Every time you learn something new, come up with a way you could help a pupil learn the same new fact or skill. It may be thinking of a good question you could ask, or it could be a practice exercise they could carry out in the car. This will help remind you that studying your theory is all about making you a fab instructor.

Can I Do It?

I’m just about to sign-up for training to become a driving instructor. The company I’m thinking about training with say I can train while holding down my full-time job and that I could be fully qualified in around 6 months. Is this realistic?

Nigel – thinking about training

Answer: Training while working another job is very possible, but training for anything can be challenging at any time too. Be prepared to put in a lot of self-study outside the training. Without doubt, the PDIs I train who put in the extra leg work reap the rewards. Dedication shows, while a lack of study shows even more!
If your job is 9-5, Monday to Friday, then prepare yourself for studying and training on weekends and evenings. Are your family prepared for this? Too often this is not fully thought out – they have to be supportive, understanding and understanding of your learning journey. Realistically, you should be prepared for a 12-18 months training period. Some are able to complete the training quicker, even in 6 months, but some take longer. It’s dependant on so many factors, not least your trainer’s availability, your availability and the availability of test dates in your area.

Unwanted Guests

I have my Standards Check looming. The pupil I’m taking is test ready, but feeling too nervous to book her test. Would it be appropriate and, good preparation, to talk about the test and having the examiner in the car?

Helena, ADI

Answer: There are ways of bringing up the examiner’s presence into the conversation in a way that’s appropriate for your pupil, yes. Rather than you suggesting the experience is good for her, how about asking the pupil if they can think of any benefits to having the guest in the car! This way it allows them to recognise the possible positives rather than you telling them it’s a good idea, which they may not believe! Be ready to take the conversation a little further particularly if the pupil can’t volunteer any ‘good’ reasons. You may have to be the one that turns around the negativity and reframes it in such a way that allows them to see it as a learning opportunity, even if it’s not comfortable. Maybe even make it into one of the learning goals – to find coping strategies that can be taken forward to the test day. This would be very appropriate for this unarticulated pupil, who’s nerves are stopping her progress. Examiners are pretty good at settling pupils and putting them at ease. They will certainly be friendly and reassuring to your pupil, but the pupil does need to be a willing participant.