We are constantly learning. The saying, 'Everyday is a learning day' may well be true but do we choose to stop our learning, for example, when we pass a test because we think we now know everything there is to know?
Think about the driving test - once we have overcome this hurdle and passed the test do we consciously stop trying to improve and just do our own thing believing there is nothing left to learn? Is this a possible reason why drivers are so at risk of being involved in a crash within the first six months of passing the driving test?
Does the same apply to the ADI Part 3?
Do we qualify as driving instructors and believe that we have learned all there is to learn? Clearly, we will practise to consolidate the learning that has already taken place but without a plan for development, even this learning will eventually dissipate and be forgotten.
Learning is most effective when it is fun and inspiring. It benefits us by growing our understanding of how people learn, which, in turn, enhances the training we deliver and helps us structure activities with clear goals our learners can achieve. To be expert in our role we need to stay up to date with the latest thinking and changes to road safety and driver training. We know through history that everything changes and the best ways of today will be out of date tomorrow. It is essential that we continue to learn and to develop. Ask yourself what would you look for in a trainer and aspire to be better than that.
We have discovered that those, who embrace learning, tend to become more successful and reap greater rewards than those who do not ... it seems fairly obvious really ... better trained people produce better results.
Tri-Coaching Partnership developed the BTEC Level 4 Professional Award in Coaching for Driver Development six years ago and since then hundreds of ADIs have gone down this path to improve themselves and their business. The path can be challenging but ultimately it brings rewards.
Our customers have been able to diversify their business either alongside TrI-Coaching Partnership as one of our trainers or on their own.
Here are just a handful of opportunities that the BTEC 4 has delivered for driving instructors:
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
Professional driving instructors are distinguishable from parents and friends, who instruct people how to drive through their ability to use a range of different teaching methods for specific learning objectives. Listed below are a number of different techniques that you could use when training your drivers. The information has been taken from the a section in the MERIT report on teaching methods, written by Dr Gregor Bartl, who was a keynote speaker at the Tri-Coaching Conference in 2014:
The instructor demonstrates driving behaviour, e.g. how to use the clutch and the gear shift, etc. It shall be demonstrated in an appropriate way so that the pupil can follow correctly. Demonstrating must be precise, in good coordination and in the right order. When demonstrating the correct behaviour certain details can be enhanced for emphasis, but demonstrating undesirable behaviour should be avoided.
Drawings, pictures, movies and models can help to illustrate things which cannot be observed easily in traffic (because they take place too fast, like the engine running, accidents, complex traffic situations, etc). Appropriate illustrations should aim to simplify complex situations and phenomena, get people interested in details and make difficult tasks and themes more understandable.
3. Use model behaviour
A driving instructor is always a model for the pupil. Hence he/she must behave as a safe, socially responsible road user in every aspect, from wearing a seat belt to defensive driving.
4. Explain, review
Explanations about theory and facts should be presented in a clear, understandable and simple structure. They should correspond to the individual state of knowledge of the pupil. The need for understanding such theory and facts must be made clear.
5. Recount, narrate
When narrating a story, both factual information and emotions are transferred in order to motivate the pupil to behave correct and to avoid incorrect behaviour. The individual learning goal of each story must be made clear. A story always has to have one or more highlights, tension and the final learning goal. But it is also possible to leave the end open to 'set an impulse' or initiate reflection. Use of stories does support the learning process.
Instructions are information about what to do and how to do a task in detail. Instructions must be well prepared, precise, understandable and short, especially during driving. Instructions must above all be given in a friendly or neutral way. The main characteristic of instructions is that they are strict and do not leave open space for individual thinking.
7. Provide impulse/ stimulus
Impulses are given to make pupils start thinking or to encourage them to solve a problem ormaster a task properly themselves. Solutions should be found by the pupil, not by the instructor.
8. Open choice of task
At an advanced stage, it makes sense to let the pupil decide what he should practice moreintensively in order to optimize his skills.
9. Questioning - developing
Certain learning contents can be developed together with the pupil by asking questions. Thismethod activates the learner driver and he/she feels more responsible for the learning process. On the other hand, questions are useful to check the pupil's knowledge. It is important to recognise that this method cannot be applied to every learning situation.
10. Learning games
Playing games encourages a positive learning environment which has a positive effect on thelearning process. Both adults and children sometimes like to play. As a precondition, the goals of the learning game must be clear and the pupils must be willing to participate.
11. Preparing learning
Pupils can be motivated to prepare themselves for the following lesson by, for example, observing other traffic users, collecting information, preparing a presentation or simply thinking about a question. This method can lead to higher personal involvement in the learning process and to a better link to every day life.
When an action is correctly carried out, positive reinforcement should be given by the instructor. This encourages correct behaviour to be carried out more in the future. Each statement made by the instructor is interpreted by the learner driver; hence reinforcement must correspond to the situation.
13. Criticise/ reprimand
Incorrect behaviour should be criticised in order to avoid it in the future it. But never criticise the person, only the wrong behaviour! The criticism should be followed by an explanation.
In order to avoid a conflict or an accident the driving instructor has to correct quickly. Anexplanation should follow immediately once the incident is avoided.
15. Appeal and caution
Appeals should be more specific than general and combined with an explanation, e.g. why he should use the indicator earlier.
The learner driver should be permanently encouraged to assess his own actions / behaviour. This encourages positive independent driving which is, of course, vital once the pupil has passed the test. This aspect relates especially to the third column of the GDE-matrix (self-assessment) and to the need to give the pupil the assessment tools to continue learning even when he/she has a driving licence.
17. Collect and structure ideas
Brainstorming before starting the lesson can activate pupils and help to structure the subsequent learning process. Pupils can be motivated to find solutions, collect ideas, opinions, pros and cons, etc.
18. Probe and discover
Probe should be understood as 'trial and error', and discover in the sense of finding solutions for oneself. The instructor then has to summarize and / or to positively reinforce the correct approach. This method leads to higher learning motivation, to a higher "intrinsic" motivation and the correct behaviour is more likely to be applied later in traffic.
19. Practise and repeat
Consistent training ensures that knowledge and skills are stored in the brain and cannot bedisturbed easily, for instance during stressful situations like the driving test. It is not effective to practice too intensively shortly before the test, because new learning content cannot be memorized in the brain when the person is in a stressed state. For practice and repetition, a relaxed mood is optimal.
20. Individual exercises
Every pupil has his own learning capacity; hence individual learning shall be part of every training. Individual exercises are also necessary to train independent decision-making which is a central element of driving in different traffic situations (= levels two and three of the GDE-matrix).
21. Interactive role plays
Role plays only make sense if pupils are not too shy. Then typical traffic conflicts can beexperienced and analysed. Simple interactive plays can be used to get to know one another in a group.
22. Case studies and situation studies
Concrete examples can be presented and analysed. The central goal of such exercises is totransfer the outcome of the examples analysed to the knowledge and behaviour of the learner driver.
23. Moderation method
Moderation is a complex mix of methods described above. The main difference to groupdiscussion is that the moderator does not give the learning- or discussion goal. The subject or goal is provided by the group or individual pupil. It is an excellent method for developing group processes or for addressing problems in groups. This complex teaching method must also be trained and learned by instructors in practical seminars.
Feedback - a principle of life. Feedback is not only a teaching method but a principle of traffic itself and even a principle of life in general. It can be defined as an ongoing comparison between how something is and how it should be. Hence, lack of feedback in traffic can be a problem. If a driver drives too fast without any negative consequences, this lack of external feedback signals to him that his behaviour was ok.
Driving environment gives poor feedback. Systematic feedback from the traffic environment to the road user is normally very poor. The road environment is thus a "bad instructor", in contrast to skiing, for example, where the consequences of excessive speed are felt immediately! This lack of external feedback needs to be replaced by the driver's own self-assessment skills. Every available form of feedback should be used during driving lessons. Two main types of feedback can be distinguished:
Classic feedback: The trainer praises the learner driver for exemplary behaviour and also for what could be improved.
Advanced feedback: The instructor guides the learner driver by asking questions so that the learner driver is able to give feedback to himself. In this sense, open questions (why, who, what, when...) are better than closed up questions (either or, yes or no...)
25. Commentary driving:
Commentary driving can be seen as a subgroup of feedback. The driver should explain his decision-making processes while driving. In addition to thoughts, emotions can also be evoked in order to make the situation more meaningful and life-like.
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