So, you’re qualified & ready to take on your first pupil. Feeling nervous?

As a newly qualified approved driving instructor (ADI), you may well be raring to go. You may also be a bag of nerves. Perhaps you’re a mix of the two. But it’s better not to let your nerves bubble over.

Here are some top tips to bear in mind when just starting out as a driving instructor, to help ensure things go as smoothly as a well-executed gear change.

When booking lessons…

Leave a gap between lessons

It’s very easy for lessons to overrun, for numerous reasons. This is particularly the case when you’re starting out, as giving a full lesson will take some fine-tuning. You’ll also be familiarising yourself with your routes, which may take longer to navigate at certain times of day.

This is why it’s a good idea to leave a gap between lessons – and not just the amount of time it takes to get from one pupil’s drop-off to the next one’s pick-up. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes.

This is helpful for several reasons. It saves you from feeling pressured if a lesson does look like it’s going to overrun. And even if it’s possible to set a watch by your lessons, it’s good to have a bit of time to reflect on the lesson, and write up any notes. Or perhaps to even take your mind off lessons completely for a short time, if you find that helpful.

Don’t overbook lessons

While you may be keen to fill up your diary, it’s best not to do this straight away. Until you get a better idea of your capacity for teaching per day, it’s a good idea to start slow. This way you’ll avoid getting too stressed, and burning yourself out.

Before you get in the car…

Greet your pupil outside the car

Before getting into the cockpit, greet your pupils outside of the car. This gives you a chance to have a brief ‘get to know you’ before taking the plunge into the learning environment.

So, you know you’re checking all the right boxes, there are a few procedural steps to take too.

Check their provisional licence

You should also take this opportunity to check they have their provisional driving licence. This is very important, as before they drive your car, you need to be sure they’re legally able to do so. Make a note of their licence number, full name and address. It’s probably worth taking a photo of it for your records.

Check their eyesight

A pupil must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres, provided it’s a vehicle made since 1 September 2001. If they can’t read it, then the lesson can’t continue. You can recommend that they have their eyes checked professionally, and rebook when their eyesight is corrected.

Ask how they’re going to pay

It’s best to work out how the pupil intends to pay at the beginning of the lesson, rather than at the end. If they need to stop at a cashpoint, for instance, you can work that into the lesson. Most payments are likely to be digital though, so make sure you have your payment details to hand.

Be sure to record the payment on their progress card. Also, it’s a good idea to ask them to sign for each lesson they pay for, for your own records. This should help give both you and your pupil peace of mind.

During the lesson…

Don’t overload your pupils

At the beginning of the lesson, you’ll ask the pupil how much driving they’ve done, and start to establish their level of experience and skill. Even if they say they’ve driven before, you should support them by not giving them too much to do at first.

This is because you need to establish that they can do what they say they can do. And even if they do have a certain level of experience, they’ll still need to get used to your car, and to you. This is a new experience for them too, so it’s always best to start slow.

Use your sat nav

If you’re not 100% familiar with the area you’ll be driving in, using your sat nav will give you one less thing to worry about. It will also be helpful to add your pupils’ addresses, so you can find them easily, and be sure you can drop them off on time at the end of the lesson.

Take drinks and snacks

Your first day on the job may seem like a long one. Be sure to have some drinks and snacks to hand, to stay hydrated and keep you alert.

How do I join the AA Driving School?

If you are yet to take the plunge to start training to become a driving instructor or have recently qualified as an ADI and are considering your next steps, then head over to The AA Driving School to find out more about the different franchises on offer. We’d love to hear from you!