We use coaching to work with the personality of the pupil, so that, through questions, they can identify their goals for learning to drive and understand how their personality, values and opinions impact on the choices they make when driving, the way they manage risks, and the way they handle the car. Helping learner drivers to take responsibility for their driving is a critical part of teaching them to drive because it will increase their chances of remaining crash free. Getting the balance right with a solid lesson structure, appropriate levels of instruction and sound fault correction techniques, is the challenge that makes this job so interesting and rewarding.
Below are 13 principles of coaching with regard to driver training. These principles have been taken from the HERMES project but the opinions are my own.
1.Putting the learner in an active role
For anyone to be able to truly learn they must take part and they need to be engaged. Learning information and rules is not learning in the true sense of the word. New drivers need to gather experiences so they can make sense of the situations in their own framework, this is essential to creating a safe post-test driver.
2.Creating an equal relationship
Moving away from judgement helps create an equal relationship. If the learner feels they are always being judged then they can become scared to try. We can subconsciously be judging driving against a test standard from the very beginning. This is unrealistic and becomes a fault-based approach with the instructor always in a hierarchical position.
3.Identifying and meeting goals
Goal setting, I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the driving instructor this can be a common argument from the learner and the answer is perseverance. If you start as you mean to go on this process becomes easier. You can help them in the beginning by giving them options/choices. This will start them thinking and the process becomes easier as the learner starts to accept that you the coach are truly interested in them and their learning process. Setting goals that are within the framework of the rules of the road and the law are essential.
4.Raising awareness, responsibility and self-acceptance
The very essence of coaching is about helping someone understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behaviour. A good coach needs to be self aware.
5.Raising awareness through senses and emotions
Helping the learner be accepted for who they are. Young people are going through a huge amount of personal transformation as they make that step from child to adult, we are there to build their self-esteem - so they do not feel the need to show off (especially in young males) or demonstrate nervousness and anxiety (in young females).
6.Addressing ‘internal obstacles’
There are potentially so many internal obstacles (performance interfering thoughts) especially in young adults where their picture of the world could change on a daily basis. Giving them a voice to express themselves is part of our role as a trainer. Just being listened to can help many people understand their own thinking. Before a lesson starts find out if the learner has any concerns that may have been brought forward from the previous lesson.
7.Building on prior knowledge and experience
Knowing that the learner always knows something is a great starting point for you as the coach. They may have pedestrian skills, cycling skills, driven before and virtually everyone has been a passenger. Use their knowledge to build their learning by getting them to reflect on past experiences and see where these fit into their current reality.
8.Being convinced of the coaching role
If you are not convinced that coaching works it will not work - any learner will see straight through you. Being a great instructor and moving towards being a great coach is a journey and that journey takes time. It may mean taking steps backwards to move forward but anyone who has been a part of this process will have found the rewards very satisfying. As they often say, no pain no gain.
9.Authentic, neutral and non-judgmental communication
Learners make mistakes but they also do things well, focusing on positive outcomes and people's strengths, being honest but not criticising the person helps. These three questions are very useful what went well? What didn’t go so well? What could you improve upon next time?
10.Questioning, listening and reflecting back
Q and A has always been an instructional technique but the difference as a coach is to ask questions that you do not know the answer to and these will revolve around what the learner thinks and feels. You can never know these answers. More important than just asking questions is to listen to the answers. Active listening takes a huge amount of concentration but some useful techniques are simply to repeat back the learner’s words or summarise or paraphrase the answer. Through these processes it shows that you the coach are reflecting back to the learner, giving them an opportunity to hear their own words.
11.Coaching and instruction
If you are an instructor it can be very hard to coach, they often don’t mix well together as the relationship between the learner and the trainer changes. As a coach it is easier to use instruction for safety critical situations but not as a pure learning tool. For me, the simple statement ‘telling isn’t learning and listening isn’t understanding’ often springs to mind. It takes time to change but instruction is heavily test-focused and doesn’t deal with post-test scenarios whilst coaching looks at giving learners techniques in self-evaluation that are an ongoing life skill.
12.Coaching is a voluntary process
Learners often want to be told what to do. In addition, they are placed in a one to one situation with an expert who is often a lot older than them and with whom they have very little in common. Establishing rapport is essential in helping those who may not want to be coached make an impartial choice. We have to respect the client's decision if they just want to be told what to do even though we all know that driving requires a great amount of thought. Being told doesn't encourage much thinking but the ability to be able to make decisions in new environments is essential for a post-test experience whilst also helping them pass the driving test. Many fail because they can not deal with the situation on the day - due to a lack of experience making safe decisions in stressful situations. Coaching encourages new drivers to take responsibility for their learning and their actions.
13.Coaching is not just asking questions
Coaching has an array of essential skills including asking questions as well as Active Listening, Feedback Techniques, Rapport Building and the use of the coach’s Intuition to help raise awareness.
We are Tri-Coaching Partnership and we are passionate about the benefits of coaching. They form part of the National Driver Rider Training Standards. You may want to learn more, please visit our resource section on the website, sign up for our free standards check podcasts or just contact us for an informal discussion