All driving instructors must undergo a series of tests to become fully qualified are required to take periodic ‘check tests’ to ensure their standard of teaching meets an acceptable level.
However, even with all this training, driving instructors vary considerably in terms of their standard of teaching, their teaching methods, professional conduct and of course personality.
Learning to drive is a unique experience where both the learner and the instructor form an association with the primary objective being to pass the driving test. This objective can be hampered by either the instructors, or possibly the learners inabilities.
So if you are taking driving lessons and find yourself asking “Should I change driving instructors?”, here are some tips that may help to answer the most frequent dilemmas faced by learner drivers.
Instructor Going Along for the Ride
This is related to learner driver progress, but is a specific issue. One of the aspects that defines a good driving instructor is their ability to pick up on each and every fault that is made and a willingness to translate that quickly and concisely. If the instructor is not doing this, you’re not going to make much progress anytime soon.
As a new learner, you’ll not know if your instructor is doing this initially, but you’ll soon come to realise some of your own mistakes that you’re making and might wonder why your instructor isn’t bringing this to your attention. It might appear nice to not have someone constantly nagging in your ear regarding all the mistakes you’re making, but it’s needed if you want to pass the test. This might be an occasion where you’ll want to change instructor.
Instructor Keeps Cancelling Lessons
A instructor who frequently cancels driving lessons not only stalls your progress, but ultimately costs you more money. With longer gaps between lessons, the more time you need to recap on your next lesson to get back up to speed and time is of course money. You might wish to take this issue up with your instructor, but in all honesty, private issues should not affect professional conduct, so save yourself some hassle and find another instructor.
Instructor Keeps Shouting
The majority of learners are nervous enough without having their driving instructor shouting at them. A teaching method adopted early on in lessons is that the instructor checks the learner by prompting exactly what they are going to do before a specific event occurs. By doing this, the instructor knows if you are going to do it correctly. If they don’t get the appropriate response, the instructor will advise accordingly. This method should continually be used throughout lessons and as the learner becomes more proficient, less prompts are required. You’ll know when you’re reaching test standard as the instructor has very little to say other than directions.
If this method is used correctly, there’s little reason for the instructor to get angry as essentially it is their failing. Sure, learners do on occasions do something so unpredictable that no instructor could see it coming, but even then, there is no reason to shout. Don’t put up with it and find a instructor who can keep control.
Driving Instructor is Always Late
Instructors will on occasions be late. Unfortunately part of the job description involves getting caught in traffic, such as a tailback due to an accident for example. However, if your instructor is almost always late, then there’s something not quite right their end. This isn’t necessarily bad though. If otherwise your instructor is doing a great job and you don’t have strict time constraints, and providing they either tag extra time onto the end of the lesson or reduce your fee accordingly (and the fact that they’re late doesn’t bother you), then don’t worry about it.
Driving Instructor Always on Phone
An independent driving instructor does need to keep the work coming in, but should text or call either at the end of the day or between lessons. You are paying for their time so their concentration should be on you and not other learners. This is not only unprofessional, but dangerous which is exactly why it’s illegal.
So, Should I Change Driving Instructors?
If your instructor is exhibiting any of the behaviors above, I would suggest that it’s perfectly reasonable to change your instructor. However, there are some complaints made against instructors which can be a little more difficult to justify.
My Driving Instructor Talks Too Much
It is perfectly acceptable for a driving instructor to chat during lessons about non-driving related subjects – providing that the learner is willing. Anyone who works with the public should have a level of people skills. Irrelevant chat during lessons can actually help certain learners by making the atmosphere less stressful and tense, but the instructor must be able to discern whether a particular learner prefers to remain quiet so to concentrate. Light-hearted chat can prove beneficial, but if it’s not for you, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor to keep chat related only to the task at hand.
Instructor Keeps Grabbing the Wheel
If it is necessary for the instructor to grab the steering wheel frequently, then this is actually a fault of the instructor and not the learner. There are few occasions where a learner will do something completely unpredictable and will require the instructor to take control of the wheel, however if the instructor has explained objectives clearly and concisely at the start of the lesson, followed by continual questions and prompts (so that the instructor knows exactly what the learner is thinking and intending on doing), it is seldom necessary to grab the wheel.
Driving Instructor Keeps Telling Me I’m Not Ready
It’s quite common for learners to think that they’re taking endless lessons and getting nowhere. Your instructor is constantly telling you that you’re not ready and that they are ripping you off. We have so far concentrated on what a driving instructor should not do, but to be clear, the vast majority of driving instructors are honest, highly trained professionals. That being said, as with every profession, there are rotten ones out there.
So before we can determine if your instructor is ripping you off and simply trying to extract more and more money from you, let’s take a look at exactly what a driving instructor should be doing:
- Driving lesson objectives – At the start of each lesson, your instructor should explain clearly and concisely what the objective for today’s lesson is. This is to include exactly what you will be learning and what you will hopefully achieve at the end of the lesson.
- Lesson end recap – At the end of the lesson the instructor should recap on the objectives and provide a professional opinion on what was accomplished and which areas need further work. The lesson end recap should also include your opinion, whether you fully understood all procedures and which areas you feel are in need of improvement.
- Lesson start recap – Before the objectives of today’s lesson are explained, a recap of the previous lesson should be covered. This should cover what you remember from the previous lesson and any strengths and weaknesses.
- Fault analysis – Your instructor should identify each driving fault made, analyse why it was made and put in procedure to remedy the fault. This is conducted verbally to the learner followed by prompts to correct when taking remedial action. Minor faults that involve minimal interaction can be explained and remedied whilst on the move. More serious faults may involve detailed discussion or the use of diagrams and as such, may require pulling over.
- Diagrams – A picture paints a thousand words as the saying goes. Diagrams often make the explanation of objectives considerably easier for the learner to understand.
- Feedback – Instructors should provide continual feedback during lessons, essentially covering what was explained in the initial objectives. Small amounts of information that are easy to process and can be put into action on the go. The instructor should provide this in a calm manner and should never raise their voice or get angry when faults are made. It is equally important that praise is given when the learner makes progress.
- Progress report – A progress report, or record of training should be filled out by the instructor outlining objectives completed and any areas requiring further work. This should be kept by the learner and taken to each lesson.
- Conduct – The instructor should be courteous, professional and where possible punctual.
If your instructor is covering the aspects of driving tuition in the list directly above and less of the issues outlined at the start of this page, then it looks like you have yourself a good instructor. Based on the information provided, you should be able to formulate a conclusion on whether you need to change driving instructors, or whether you simply need a little more tuition than most.