How to be a better flight instructor... thoughts?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by rt4388, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. rt4388

    rt4388 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So my MEI ride is coming up within the next week or two and I'm already asking myself how I can be a better flight instructor. Lately, I've been reading through a lot of advisory circulars and SAIBs but I'm not sure what else I should be doing. Outside of actually spending time in the plane with students and giving ground instruction, what else could I be doing? Obviously I can read through the PHAK again, but I was hoping you all had some ideas as to ways I can continue to learn outside of this.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen Pattern Altitude

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    By just trying to be the best you can be puts you ahead of the time builders. The truth is, as prepared as you try to be, it's your first few students that will teach you more about instructing than anything else. Through the questions they ask and things you notice that they just aren't picking up, you will learn how to teach better. Seems like you have the right attitude. Good luck.
     
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  3. Cooter

    Cooter Pattern Altitude

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    Get to know your students, and how they learn. Don’t try to teach too much too soon and work at their pace, not yours.
     
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  4. rt4388

    rt4388 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the input. It's kind of funny because I didn't really want to instruct, but after thinking about the instructors I've had (some really great and some pretty bad) I'm actually really excited to instruct now. And yea, I'm sure I'll learn quite a bit within my first 100 hours or so.
     
  5. Sinistar

    Sinistar Line Up and Wait

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    From a student working on my PPL:

    Genuinely want us to become pilots, good pilots. Hound us via text or call wondering when we'll fly again. If you see us get stuck or frustrated, recommend a quick ride with another instructor to get thru that part. Keep it fun.
     
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  6. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Let the student talk,find their comfort level,then teach to their comfort level.
     
  7. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Spend time around the old timers, get your glider and tailwheel ticket, do some acro
     
  8. Cooter

    Cooter Pattern Altitude

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    You should just put that in your signature line. It could cut down on your post count by half.;) Oh, but don’t forget to add something about back-country.
     
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  9. RussR

    RussR Line Up and Wait

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    Arrive prepared.
    At the end of each lesson, tell the student what you'll be covering next lesson and what they should do to prepare for it.
    Be more prepared than the student.
    Provide useful, meaningful preflight and postflight instruction/critiquing.
    Vary your teaching style and methods to match the needs of the student. Don't just keep teaching it the same way - if they're not getting a concept, try a different approach. (You will build up different techniques over time.)
    Be responsive to questions in between lessons.
    Don't be late.
    Don't pretend you know things you don't. Admit if you don't know and find out the answer together.
    Be prepared to change plans before the flight or even during flight, if a situation arises that would make a good training scenario. "We were going to work on stalls today, but we have a rare crosswind. Let's get some practice with crosswind landings instead."
    Establish a rapport with other instructors to bounce ideas off of, or look for advice.
     
  10. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    He forgot to say ATP and Gold Seal.
     
  11. Brad Smith

    Brad Smith Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Get really proficient at doing spins. With the students permission, teach them everything you can about spins as this will make them better pilots and possibly save lives. I'm glad my first instructor let me perform spins to the point where it became a routine maneuver in my repertoire of flying skills.
     
  12. G-force

    G-force Pre-Flight

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    Research the different ways people learn new things. Just because you know how to fly and know the material doesn't mean you are a good teacher. There is alot on this subject available focused mostly for school teachers. It shouldn't be any different for teaching people to fly. Understand the different ways people learn, and have a plan to teach the material in that fashion. You'll eventually realize there are only a few different types of students, the faster you determine that, the sooner you can present the material the best way for them. For example if you will see "the engineer" type. He (or she) will want to know why to do something, not just told to do it. They want to undersand the process behind it, why it works, the numbers behind it, etc. They don't do things by "feel", give hard numbers (or airspeed, or RPM, etc) to hit, and show them how to hit it. Give structured lessons with layed out goals, briefed before the flight. "flying the numbers in the pattern" etc work for people like this. When a PPL student is having trouble landing, "flare faster"or " flare higher" is useless info. Tell them to start the flare at "xxx "altitude and rotate from 5 deg nose down to 10degrees nose up over 5 seconds (or whatever the numbers may be.)
    The flip side to that coin is the student that learns by "feel" and doing it. Numbers confuse them. They don't understand the science or numbers behind a manuever, but if you demonstrate how to do it, they learn it by doing it. Comments like " a little faster" or "ease up on that" make more sense than "make that bank 5 degrees more."
     
  13. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I found value in joining NAFI and SAFE.

    I learn a lot from instructor mentors.

    I continue to learn from each flight with a client well past my first 100 hours as a flight instructor.
     
  14. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    This is singularly important. A related item applies to recurrent training and, especially, if you inherit another CFI's primary or instrument student:

    Understand that different instructor teach the same thing in different ways and train yourself to recognize that multiple techniques work. When a pilot comes to you doing a maneuver or procedure different than the way you teach it, stop and think hard before you try to change the pilot. Watch the performance of the maneuver or procedure to see if it "demonstrate mastery of the aircraft, with the successful outcome of the maneuver never seriously in doubt." If it does, for the most part leave it alone unless there is a good reason to suggest something different in the name of safety or efficiency, not just because you like it better.

    There is nothing that will screw up a student or relatively new pilot more than being forced to change something that works.
     
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  15. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner En-Route

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    Just to restate Mark's post... ;)

    Know the difference between "procedure" and "technique".

    F'rinstance, there is a checklist procedure that says to check the mags. One technique is to check the right mag first. One technique is to check the left mag first. There are valid reasons for each technique, and both complete the procedure properly. Forcing someone to change to your technique is bad instruction. Having them explain why they like their technique better is good instruction.

    I told my students, "I don't care how you do things, as long as they get done. But he prepared to explain why you're doing it some other instructor's way instead of the way I taught you."
     
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  16. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    Syllabus. Have one. USE IT.

    I've worked with 2 instructors who didn't have one at all. 1 who showed me one but didn't follow it.

    Guess what, the one that got me signed off had one and followed it. Half of it went quickly since I had done the stuff already, but I had a lot of reading to do those first couple weeks since the book work not assigned between lessons.

    Two worst things a student will say about instructors? His kid needs braces (Too slow) or He just gives aerial scenic tours (Not teaching anything).
     
  17. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    (^^^^^ This ^^^^^ ) But also be flexible I was a little bit of both in these scenarios!
     
  18. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I pretty much go by what Russ posted. You also have to be able to recognize when a student is getting overwhelmed and either break off the lesson to do a few minutes of fun flying, or call it a day. I always tell students I don't know everything but I will get you an answer. I always am at the airport when a student is on a solo flight. Important to have a chat, if able, before and after that student's solo flight IMO. Definitely should be there when they go off on a cross-country. I also have an ATC background, but any CFI can arrange a visit to a tower/approach control/center with a student. I also try to ask questions throughout that hopefully prepares them for the oral. Airspace, ask them what kind & what they need as they fly through different airspace on a cross country.

    I'm sure there's plenty more, but do try to make it fun and enjoyable for a student, and set an example. Don't take shortcuts, use bad phraseology, and anything illegal around students.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
  19. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    Be an instructor not an hour builder. Teach your student to be a pilot, not just be able to get a license. Teach beyond the ACS.
     
  20. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now offering reverse discounts.
    Big AMEN to this.

    Bonus points if the written syllabus has a component held by the student that is documenting progress.

    ------------------------------

    The other thing I'd add is to periodically up the fun quotient by adding a mission component to the Cross Country flights. One of my cross countries was going out to KSEP for Hard8 BBQ. Another CFI and I talked about him doing PnP flight with his students.

    The idea is to break up the "it's getting boring" training routine by interjecting the fun reasons we go fly.
     
  21. jnmeade

    jnmeade Cleared for Takeoff

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    Relate training to real flying. For example, ground reference maneuvers are directly supportive of pattern work, but many teach as a stand-alone "schools" exercise. Make the student tell you where the wind is, what it does to the plane, how s/he addresses that question in ground reference. Same with stalls; try to put them in a realistic context.
    Use checklists from the start and make them a habit. Warn them that when things get out of kilter, like you have to do a go-around, falling back on a checklist will help prevent the wheels up landing scenario. Flying out to the training air, incorporate standard rate turns, 500 fpm rate of climb and other practices so the student is always learning, always perfecting.
    Instead of doing an hour in the pattern, take off, fly to a nearby airport, do several TO/Ldg, return and so several. Gets the student used to the idea that a flight is a continuum. Take-off, departure, cruise, approach, landing, all with checklists and constant situational awareness. Not just droning around the pattern.
    Help the student see the big picture. Take them to low-use uncontrolled, high use uncontrolled, etc., diverging runways, etc., so the student is not flustered when going to a different environment. He's taking cross-wind practice on 30 and here comes a small jet out of the 1500 overcast with a 5 mile final on 25, the favored runway and an instrument approach, first radio announcement Huh? What's going on? What should the student know and do? Why is this happening?
    For some instructors, it's see one, do one, teach one. The student can get the idea that all aviation is a set of little rituals, and when the student gets outside that comfort zone we have problems, such as the inability to deal with another plane that flies a non-standard pattern.
    Explain each instrument to the student and ask them what it does. If it reads high or low, what does that mean and what should the student do?
    Teach them to be pilot in command. Part of that means accepting responsibility and therefore hopefully know what they are doing and why. Have them able to answer the question, "what are you intentions?"
    Much over 1 hour and most student's are not getting best value for the money.
    Use the radio clearly and concisely. Radios don't fly airplanes. There is a flow to radio communication - learn and use it.
    Even if the student swears s/he only wants to fly Dad's Cub around the farm field, they will be signed off to fly into busy airspace and they need to be able to function there, so they need to have at least an appreciation for more complicated flight environments.
    To do this and keep the hours as low as is reasonable, the instructor has to be always "in the game" and use time and situations wisely without overloading the student.
     
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  22. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Pre and post briefs. It amazes me the amount f instructors that just hand the student the keys and say, “I’ll meet you out there in 10 minutes.” The briefings are some of the most important parts of the lesson. Also, don’t just sign their logbook at the end and ask if they have any questions. Actively engage them in the briefs.
     
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  23. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    I had a mail box in the FBO. I gave students a form with several questions about what I could do to be a better instructor. It was anonymous, and it showed me a few things about myself that I figured no one would tell me face to face. Not all students participated, but I got enough feed back to change a few things.

    One thing most students told me was they liked how I adapted my teaching style to their learning ability. And did not yell at them when they made some sort of mistake.

    Most instructors will disagree with me on this. For the first few lessons I did the radio work. When I started flying I was expected to talk on the radio from day one. I had no idea what to say or anything on phraseology. I stuttered and stammered on the radio all the way up to instrument training. So at first I did the talking on the radio. And I let the student know when I expected them to start. Most of my students started talking on the radio after the first few hours saying I really helped them out by just listening to me. I also had a print out of the basic radio calls as a study guide. And I let then know that not everything is exact phraseology, sometimes just say what needs to be said to make effective communications.

    And as jordane93 says, pre and post flight briefs.
     
  24. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup did the same w/ the radio Zeldman.
     
  25. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now offering reverse discounts.
    .... don't taxi by braille ....

    (as I head to the runway running the nose wheel over each and everyone of the blue reflectors)
     
  26. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    So things remain true
     
  27. Skid

    Skid Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Coming from a student, try to have fun, and act like your interested in teaching. Can't tell you how many instructors I've had who were browsing their phone and essentially just along for the ride.
     
  28. airdale

    airdale Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    (I am making the assumption here that you are a low-time pilot who is now finishing working his way through his ratings. If that's wrong, I apologize)

    What to do? My suggestion is a little different from the others: Get a flying job and learn to fly.

    • Fly hard IFR, including enroute. Learn what it's really like in the system.
    • Make flights where weather planning is not limited to a glance out the window and maybe a quick look at the TAF. Learn to deal with fronts.
    • Make flights where fuel planning is more than topping the tanks, where you have to estimate headwinds and plan "outs."
    • Visit some airports. Shoot to get 50 airports in your logbook within a year, including B,C,D, TRSA, uncontrolled, grass and hard surface.
    • Get some aerobatic training.
    The point being, of course, it that it's difficult or impossible for you to teach something you've never done. And at this point you've not done much. Sorry to say ...

    I will probably get flamed for this, of course. The argument will be that lots of instructors teach with little or no real-world experience and things seem to work out. I don't think anyone will argue, though, that following this general path will not make you a better instructor.
     
  29. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    As some have pointed out, instructing is teaching. Not everyone is born a teacher so a little practice and improvement helps.
    Again, as some have pointed out, it is good to adapt to the student's learning habits and abilities.
    Often, students absorb knowledge that seems pointless and they do so without asking for the reasoning. A puzzled look on a student's face might be a good hint, especially if they just nod silently and take your word for it.
    Real-world application of certain rules, maneuvers and other teachings might help a few. As in "when would I use this?"

    Make sure your students are enjoying the training. This is not boot camp. Students learn better in a positive way.

    Also, don't be afraid to be human. I've had instructors who agreed to, for example, drop in for a bite on a XC flight. (my treat, of course) It makes the training more real and more enjoyable.

    And don't forget to have fun yourself too! :)
    Good luck, sir!
     
  30. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The best instructors are patient and willing to work with the student but also tough enough to gently push them out of their comfort zone. I had two of the best CFI’s that got me through my Private and I can never say enough positive things about them.

    I’m sure you’re a great instructor as you stand, but like others say, the learning will come when you start giving instruction to more students.
     
  31. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    Almost forgot... turn of your ****ing mobile phone.

    The one instructor I fired for being a worthless money pit was on the phone for about 45 minutes while I was doing pattern work. We got back and during the signature party I asked him if he was planning to charge me for the time he was on the phone. He actually said yes.

    Handed him his final check and said goodbye to him and the FBO he was contacting through forever.
     
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  32. djpacro

    djpacro Pre-Flight

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  33. brien23

    brien23 Line Up and Wait

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    Don't let a 20,000 hr pilot let your guard down he can kill you just as dead as a 2 hr pilot.