Written by Susan McCormack
I feel that the feedback we use on a day-to-day basis tends to be ‘fault-focused’ and negative and this is not just to do with teaching people to drive, it happens all the time. The only occasions we offer someone feedback is when we want to criticise them and then we try to wrap it up in a praise sandwich, which leaves the receiver feeling demoralised and demotivated. It would often have been better to say nothing at all.
The point of feedback is to help the other person develop their critical-thinking and self-evaluation skills. In this respect, feedback is a coaching skill, where coaching raises awareness and builds responsibility.
I have written about this a lot – but I think it is really important to focus on these two phrases to develop an understanding of the point of coaching. ‘Raising awareness’ means facilitating the person’s self-awareness of how their thoughts and feelings affect and motivate their behaviour so that they can learn to manage their thoughts and feelings more effectively to produce positive, social interactions. ‘Building responsibility’ follows from raised self-awareness, where we take ownership of the interactions and communications we have with others to produce positive outcomes. Both of these things combine in emotional intelligence.
The next point I want to make is that coaching is based on the belief that learning comes from within. This is a belief about how learning takes place. We used to believe that learning took place through a transfer of knowledge and information from the ‘expert’ to the ‘learner’. This is an old-fashioned and out of date belief.
We now know so much more about how the brain works and the importance of being able to learn through experimentation, followed by reflection and further practice. It is our job to facilitate this process with the feedback we use – not just with our customers but in our everyday lives. To achieve this, we must have an equal, non-judgemental relationship with our customers so that we can help raise their awareness of how their thoughts and feelings motivate their behaviour with questions like, ‘How did that make you feel?’ ‘What thoughts were going through your head then?’
We cannot do this in a hierarchical relationship because that would pre-suppose that we know how they think and how they feel, when we don’t. The equal relationship is vital here precisely because we have no idea how they think or feel – and possibly, they do not either, so we need to stimulate these kind of reflective processes in them.
We need to recognise that we interfere with people’s self-development when we offer our opinion.
Our aim should be ‘goal-focused’ feedback rather than ‘fault-focused’ feedback. Client-centred learning techniques and coaching skills encourage goal-focused feedback.
Let’s take a look at two examples:
‘Okay, how do you think that went?’
‘Yeah, okay, I think …’
‘Yep, not bad … quite good actually. However, there are a couple of areas where you need to focus attention. Your speed was too high as you steered back and you weren’t looking in the right places – you didn’t notice that car coming did you? Also, you have ended up too far away from the kerb. But, overall, not a bad attempt. Let’s have another go and I’ll remind you with the speed and the observations.’
This example is a praise sandwich. The purpose of the feedback is for the ‘expert’ instructor to develop the pupil by pointing out their mistakes, in order to produce a ‘test-ready’ manoeuvre. The focus is on behaviour with no allusion to thoughts and feelings and no attempt to raise the pupil’s self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses; or build their self-responsibility.
‘Okay, remind me what your goal was with this manoeuvre?’
‘Err, I wanted to get the car in close to the kerb.’
‘Shall we get out of the car and have a look so that you can tell me whether you achieved your goal?’
‘It looks too far away to me. What do you think?’
‘If you were parking your car to go and see a friend, would you be happy to leave it this distance from the kerb?’
‘No, someone might hit it because it is sticking out too much.’
‘Okay, so how will you get the car closer to the kerb next time? Talk me through what you did and what you would change.’
‘Let’s have another go. Remember your goal of getting close to the kerb and we’ve agreed that you want to practise this without any help from me. As before, I will let you concentrate on the goal and manage the risk by doing the observations for you. Also, if I feel you are going a little fast, I will prompt you to slow down. How does that sound?’
Goal-focused feedback is much more rewarding because it involves the pupil in the process and encourages them to work things out for themselves. They can make mistakes and learn from these in their own way because you are managing the risk and they are focusing on the goal.
In my last email I looked at listening and to put listening into practice you often will be asking questions. Your ability to ask questions, that reveal information that is of maximum benefit to your client, is an essential coaching skill.
It is important to actively listen so that the next question you ask will be as a result of your listening. If you already know what the next question is, you are not listening! Your questions should be phrased in such a way that they meet the client's perspective - using their language can help when you frame your questions and enable you to communicate more effectively. As an example, If a client says something like 'Do you see what I mean?', you could reply with 'Yes I get the picture.'
Your questions should at times be challenging and may make the client rethink their assumptions so they can discover views outside their own mindset. Questions can also be a call to action and help the client commit to what they are preparing to do. For example, 'When will you be able to complete your theory test? If they respond, 'Next week' you might ask 'Is that realistic? What do you need to do to succeed? Tell me what you are going to do for this to happen?'
Effective questions are open questions that you, the coach, do not know the answer to. Questions should help the client provide greater clarity about what they are trying to achieve and also create new learning opportunities. For example, 'Explain to me how you would achieve this? or 'Can you think of another way that you will be able to do this?'
Coaching questions are often forward-focused and work towards what the client desires, they avoid getting the client to justify themselves or look backwards upon past behaviours. Coaching questions engage the client fully in the learning process.
In the next email I will look at how the coach directly communicates using clear and articulate language.
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From 1 May 2018, the DVSA will be changing the way 78 theory test questions are worded, to make them more accessible to everyone. Their statement is below and you can find links to their websites at the bottom of the blog.
We've worked with the British Dyslexia Association and the British Deaf Association to develop the changes. We trialled the changes with over 7,000 candidates, who found the revised questions easier to understand.
Main changes to the questions
We've rephrased all of the ‘continuation’ questions in the test. This type of question asks the candidate to choose an answer from a list, to complete a sentence. We're changing the wording so that the candidate has to pick a statement to answer the question instead.
We've also removed long and complicated words, with shorter simpler words. This includes replacing words like 'increased' and 'decreased' with 'bigger' and 'smaller'.
You can find more information on helping candidates with learning difficulties take their theory test on GOV.UK or Safe Driving for Life.
From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be able to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.
This will help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.
How the change will work Learner drivers will need to be:
It will be up to the driving instructor to decide when the learner driver is competent enough for them.
How the change will workLearner drivers will need to be:
Until the law changes, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
The change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways.
Trainee driving instructors won’t be allowed to take learner drivers on the motorway.
Motorway driving isn’t being introduced to the driving test as part of this change.
Making sure road users are ready for the changeThe change is being well-publicised so that:
Driving near learner drivers on the motorwayAs with any vehicle on the motorway, keep a safe distance from a learner driver in front of you. Increase the gap on wet or icy roads, or in fog.
You should always be patient with learner drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events.
Driving instructor vehicles and trainingDriving instructors can decide if they want to use a driving school rooftop box during motorway lessons, based on its instructions.
The car will need to display L plates on the front and rear if the rooftop box is removed.
Preparing drivers for a lifetime of safe drivingThe changes are being made to allow learner drivers to:
DVSA National Driving Syllabus, Unit 4: Drive safely and efficiently
Training someone to pass a driving test requires making sure the client can drive safely and efficiently, which means training your client to a higher standard than that of the driving test.
Your client must be able to interact appropriately with other road users in varying road and traffic conditions. This requires decision making, which should start for your client from day one of their driving lessons. We all know the answer to 'What do you want to do today?' is often, 'I don't know, you tell me, you're the driving instructor'. At this point the client abdicates responsibility and refuses to make a simple decision and yet it is imperative we help our clients make decisions for themselves. At first it can be very simple: 'Where would you choose to stop?' followed with 'What are your reasons for choosing this place?'
You client must be able to minimise risk when driving in varying road and traffic conditions; they must understand that avoidability is extremely important rather than, 'It's my right of way regardless of the situation because the guidelines say it is.' Being able to drive defensively means also being able to take a space with acceleration when necessary as well as knowing when to hold back. Your clients need to be able to work out the consequences of their actions even in a split second - driving is often like a fast-moving game of chess with all the players moving simultaneously.
If the clients gain practice and experience of working out solutions for themselves it speeds up their decision making processes. This is why it is so important that we ADIs understand when to step in to minimise the risk and when to wait and allow our clients to make their own decisions. We can use various different exercises to help our clients make decisions. It doesn't mean they always have to be driving to make those decisions - it is something they can practise from the passenger seat either with you on lessons or between lessons.
It is also important that your client knows how to behave appropriately if there is an incident. Road rage is a common theme amongst drivers and being able to control our thoughts and feelings and behave in an adult way is crucial. We ADIs must be careful that our private thoughts about other road users do not spill over into our lessons. Demonstrating how to remain calm and concentrated when other drivers are being aggressive is essential to being able to drive safely.
We also need them to know what to do in case of a breakdown or even a crash. Including these scenarios in your driving lessons will improve your driving syllabus and keep you away from test based training but more importantly produce a safe and responsible driver that will actually find the test easy because they have reached a far higher standard.
If you are interested in thinking 'outside of the box' and not just teaching to pass a test you may find our courses and products helpful.
This was the fourth in a series of short articles that have been written based on the DVSA Driver training syllabus. You can find more information here.
Here at Tri-Coaching we are constantly striving to bring you quality products that will help you improve your ability to deliver great lessons and give you the confidence to perform at your best on your Standards Check.
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The online materials will be delivered to your email address via a series of emails with links to pre-recorded video webinars. The online webinars are also divided into the same six sections as the Course Book and can be watched alongside. With wifi access, you will be able to watch or just listen to the webinars on your mobile phone, for example, whenever or wherever you wish.
This course is ideal for you if:
Standards Check & CCL Training Day
The day runs from 9.30am to 4.00pm and focuses on coaching and client-centred learning techniques. There is a particular emphasis on the new Standards Check and how adopting coaching techniques will help you deliver your driver training with confidence. Whether you have been an ADI for over 20 years, or are more recently qualified; even if you have been delivering coaching and client-centred learning for a long time - there will still be plenty to gain from this day's training. The day looks at:
Book a One to One Session One to One Standards Check Training
There is nothing like a dress rehearsal before the main event and with no pressure of a pass or fail this is just the training we all need before we step up to the plate. You will be matched against the national standards and assessed on the competences that the DVSA are looking for with no added pressure and the feedback you will receive will be honest, positive, personal and specific to your development needs. When the training is complete you will have an action plan that highlights your strengths whilst also pointing out your development needs.
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DVSA National Driving Syllabus, Unit 3: Driving a vehicle in accordance with the Highway Code
It can be challenging for ADIs to integrate The Highway Code into their driver training syllabus once a pupil has passed their theory test. However, incorporating and referring to The Highway Code regularly on driving lessons makes it easier for The Highway Code to become embedded into a new driver's learning without it becoming boring and repetitive. As we all know, just reading The Highway Code might be a great cure for insomnia but putting it into practice and helping it be real-life will make the learning more fun and interactive.
For this to happen, we ADIs should know it inside out, upside down and all around - it should be the very bedrock of our knowledge and understanding of all principles of driving, from zip-merging to parking regulations. I wonder how many people reading this have read The Highway Code in the last week, month, year or since they passed their Part One examination? To learn The Highway Code we must use it and refer to it daily - it should be dog-eared and probably not in a great condition. I get to sit in a lot of ADI and PDI cars and find quite often there is not even a copy available. The other book we should use frequently is Driving - the essential skills, which gives more depth than the rules and regulations in The Highway Code.
Have a look at your training resources and ask yourself, do you really know them? Do you use them? Do you need to get some new ones?
The DVSA Driving Syllabus Unit 3 is all about The Highway Code and it is essential that driving instructors know how to bring that book to life for the benefit of teaching safe driving for life. Unit 3 is also very useful if you are considering creating your own syllabus or designing a training logbook.
If you want to learn more about creating great driving lessons then you may want to consider one of our training courses. We focus on what makes a great lesson and what makes a great trainer.
DVSA National Driving Syllabus, Unit 2: Guide and control a vehicle
This short article has been prompted by one or two Facebook posts from a few driving instructors, saying driving is not rocket science and, whilst this maybe true from a skills development point of view, I believe there is an aspect to learning to drive that is hugely complex.
Driving is complex because it involves taking in loads of information and acting on that information appropriately. To do this, the driver must be able to scan the environment; constantly and immediately sift through the information while travelling at various speeds; and then interpret the information to decide how to act, whilst understanding the possible risks and hazards the whole time they are driving. This requires lots of concentration and drivers are bombarded with distractions, which make this task all the more difficult.
We driving instructors often become one of those very distractions to our learner drivers. In our quest to help, we sometimes overload the client with too much information and treat the whole lesson as one long hazard perception task. This is fine if that is the goal of the lesson but if you are an inexperienced driver just imagine the information overload that is going on.
We need to understand that new drivers will learn in spite of us so we need to know clearly what information and help we are giving on each lesson. Dividing up your lessons into smaller, goal-focused sections and using the DVSA Syllabus to create an ongoing learning experience is also beneficial to your own development as an ADI.
Unit 2 of the DVSA Driver Training Syllabus 'Guide and control a vehicle' provides the information for you to cover on your driving lessons.
As ADIs, it is imperative that we keep our skills and knowledge up to date and make sure that we offer a comprehensive training package that is about safe driving for life and not just passing a test. Making the lessons real in focusing on post-test potential experiences can help bring your training to life.
If you are interested in how to enhance your skills and put yourself ahead of your competition then we can help you with a whole series of courses and products designed to make you an even better ADI than you are now.
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