So far in this series of short emails I have looked at how to train behaviour; using instruction to keep the car safe; and educating for the long term. Using all three of these methods ensures people learn most effectively in the way that suits them best so that they can make safe choices and decisions when they are out driving unsupervised.
Learning is all about change and we are looking to change our clients into thinking drivers, who can act responsibly on our roads by managing their feelings.
As driving instructors, we often like to give people content but the problem here is they could easily have learned this content for themselves. Content-filled lessons lead to telling and transferring information to our learners, who could have researched this for themselves in ‘The Highway Code’ or ‘Driving the Essential Skills’.
In any case, when teaching someone to drive it is not possible to cover every single incident and every piece of information in ‘The Highway Code’ by practical application.
The key to our lessons is that they should be client-centred and performance based; not test-based training that is instructor-centred and content based and results in telling and transferring of information.
If you teach your client to measure themselves against their previous performance or how they 'feel' they have performed, they will learn to think for themselves. This makes learning fun and enjoyable and will ensure they are safer when they are driving unsupervised.
In my next email I am going to explain why coaching is the only way you should conduct your lessons.
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In my previous email I had a short look at the words ‘Training’ and ‘Instruction’. In this article I want to look at the word ‘Education’ and how we as driving instructors have moved on to being educators and delivering life skills that are long term. As we educate our clients, we are trying to build models that will help them stay safe throughout their driving lives - an example of a simple model that we help people implement is the MSM routine. The training builds specific behaviours such as the psychomotor skills of driving e.g. clutch control. Then our instruction helps them identify hazards and to act safely and proactively to avoid potential safety critical situations. Education enables the client to adopt a safe outlook on life so that they can foresee the potential dangers and put in place safe driving practices.
So far, I have touched on what training means and how it conditions a behaviour, how instruction helps keep your client safe in a safety critical environment and that we have now become educators and that education is the key to lifelong learning.
In the next short email, I will look at learning.
In my last article I looked at the word ‘training’ and what it would be mean if translated directly, and I jokingly reminded ourselves that we 'train' animals. Now, I want to look at the word ‘Instruction’ . We have instruction manuals that help us follow a set pattern in how to put things together, and if you have ever had the joy of putting together a piece of flat pack furniture, you will quickly recognise that instruction alone is not always sufficient to be able to succeed.
We do, however, often need to use instruction in safety critical environments where mistakes could lead to serious consequences. The problem that we have is our clients will need to be fully independent once they have passed the driving test and, even though our 'instruction' will help them stay safe immediately, it will be down to their ability to generalise and interpret this 'instruction' in new situations that will lead them to be able to make safe decisions for themselves. So, even though instruction has a part in learning to drive, again, like training, it will not be sufficient on its own to create a thinking driver that takes responsibility for their actions.
'Instruction' is a fundamental skill an Approved Driving Instructor must have in order to manage the risk. It helps the client develop skill in specific safety critical situations and will encourage their ability to adapt their leaning to new situations. However, 'instruction' is still not sufficient on its own to enable someone to adopt 'safe driving for life'.
Your job as a driving instructor is not just to transfer information but to influence the way your learners act and think behind the wheel of a vehicle. This is why training and instruction are not sufficient techniques on their own.
In my next email I will look at our role as educators.
In this short series of articles I will be advocating why coaching is far more effective then instruction. This is the first article, if you would like to receive these articles direct to your inbox to help you learn more about the benefits of coaching and client centred learning then sign up to our emails by registering on our website.
Learning is not always easy especially when it can be often so hard to learn. We have stuck so many labels on learning that it may have become confusing on which method works best.
It will become no surprise that I am going to advocate coaching as the best learning method but I hasten to add so many people do not understand coaching that first I am going to explain why other methods do not work in isolation and then why coaching will always work if the coach has developed the skills of coaching. Over the next series of emails I will take a brief look at different words we use to describe ourselves when helping people to learn. The good news is all of the methods will work.
So I am going to start with a brief look at the word training and if you take a moment to think about what we could possibly train, what sprung in to my mind was, you could train your dog, training states you are going to train the dog to perform a specific task quite precisely. Training is often command led and so if we require the dog to sit, we command it to sit and hopefully the dog sits. When training we are looking for a change in behaviour or in the case of the dog create a new behaviour on command and so if we are training our learners to drive we are looking for a change in what they have done previously. So through repetitive training we are able to produce a change in behaviour that is consistent and has fewer errors and can be done quicker and then in more difficult conditions. This can be related to driving a car on automatic pilot it doesn't require you to think about the physical or mental actions required to do something, for example changing gear. Training helps perfect this task and is an effective method but it is not sufficient to produce a safe and competent driver.
Training will allow the learner driver to reproduce what has been taught and then be able to act automatically and then will be able to replicate the behaviour time and time again exactly the same way, just like changing gear. You may already be thinking what's the difference and does it matter and to be honest it probably doesn't matter what label you stick on helping someone learn but it may help you to think about what methods work best for helping you trying to achieve a leaning outcome for your client.
This blog is part of a series of emails which you can sign up to by registering on our website. I will look at the word Instruction and why instruction is helpful in the next article.
Wow, so much has changed in driving instructor training over the years, I thought you may like to see a clip from the days of pre-set tests and examiner role-play. Nowadays, it is client-centred learning and goal-focused training that is far more engaging and effective for both the student driver and the PDIs, who are training to become driving instructors.
Tri-Coaching Partnership are at the forefront of the changes to the driving instructor industry and you can see our very own Co-Managing Director Susan McCormack in action in this video. We can help you to become an approved driving instructor. Our driving instructor training courses are always evolving to be up to date, they match the DVSA National Standards and have been designed to help you achieve your goal of becoming a driving instructor.
Change is constant and we can assure our customers that we are and always will be leading the way in driving instructor training. We are also the leading supplier of ADI CPD and you can find out how we help Approved Driving Instructors with there continual professional development by visiting our sister website https://www.tri-coachingpartnership.com/
Some driving instructors could think that their only role is to train someone to pass a driving test. The reasons that they may think that way could be:
If your clients knew that statistically they only have at best a 50/50 chance of passing their driving test each time they take the test, how would this change their perception? What do they think affects their chances of passing? Do they know the statistics of crashes for new drivers?
If they knew that they are around four times more likely to crash than the average driver, what would they want their driving ability to be like once they have passed their test?
What would be the consequences to them of having a crash? You could try getting them to mind map this question, making them aware of:
Coaching and client-centred learning techniques help you challenge the type of statements that learner drivers might make.
If you want to learn more about using coaching to help raise awareness amongst your clients, then consider booking one of our specialised courses to help aCCeLerate your skills in coaching for driver development. You can find one of our short 2 day aCCeLerate coaching courses by following this link. Alternatively, book yourself on our BTEC Level 4 in Coaching for Driver Development.
P.S. All courses booked before the end of the year will be guaranteed at the 2018 price. Prices will rise in January 2019.
Drivers will be encouraged to take the ‘number plate test’ - a quick and easy way to check they meet the minimum eyesight requirements for driving. By law, all drivers must meet the minimum eyesight standards at all times when driving - this includes being able to read a number plate from 20 metres.
The campaign is reminding the public that they can easily check their eyesight by taking the 20 metres test and is pointing out some ways to quickly identify 20 metres at the roadside. It is advising that 5 car lengths or 8 parking bays can be an easy way to measure the distance.
The campaign is encouraging anyone with concerns about their eyesight to visit their optician or optometrist for an eye test.
Dr Wyn Parry, DVLA’s Senior Doctor, said:
The number plate test is a simple and effective way for people to check their eyesight meets the required standards for driving. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to work out what 20 metres looks like at the roadside - this is typically about the length of 5 cars parked next to each other - and then test yourself on whether you can clearly read the number plate. It’s an easy check to perform any time of day at the roadside and takes just a couple of seconds.
Having good eyesight is essential for safe driving, so it’s really important for drivers to have regular eye tests. Eyesight can naturally deteriorate over time so anyone concerned about their eyesight should visit their optician - don’t wait for your next check-up.
Notes to editors
This article will continue to look at goal-focused feedback and the importance of this for the individual’s growth, development and learning; as opposed to fault-focused feedback, which serves little purpose even in terms of preparing someone for the test (whether L test, Part 3, Standards Check or ORDIT).
Let’s take a look at the following structure and consider how it might help us stick with goal-focused feedback: Assessment, Feedback, Development.
Ensure that a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) goal is set first so that you know what you are assessing. In this respect the Goal should be linked to the purpose of the assessment and needn’t be finalised until after the assessment. Avoid talking about ‘having a drive and seeing what is thrown up’ because this is likely to take you down the route of fault-focused feedback.
Set up the assessment so that the customer can drive for at least a few minutes. This means that you will need to agree the route you are going to be driving on and the level of support the customer will need during the assessment. For example, if you are going to look at junctions, agree a five to ten-minute route where the pupil has to deal with emerging from junctions. The aim of the assessment is to get around the route so you will need to manage the risk but you shouldn’t deal with any faults.
Once the drive is concluded, pull up at the side of the road and start the feedback by referring to the Goal that was agreed at the start of the assessment. If the customer wants to start talking about the faults, ask them to hang fire and focus first of all on the positives. Diving straight into the negatives is not effective for someone’s learning but it is often the way that people will want do things because of their previous experience. It is your job to steer them clear of this. The conversation might go like this:
Q: What went well during that drive dealing with junctions?
A: I was able to put the routine into practice.
Q: Tell me more about this.
A: I was trying to think through MSPSL and found it helped me as I approached the junctions. This then gave me more time to plan and then look for a safe gap.
Q: Okay. What else went well?
A: I was thinking about whether the junction was open or closed and trying to assess my visibility into the new road.
Q: Anything else that you were really pleased with?
A: My speed on the approach.
Q: What was it about this that you were pleased with?
A: I stopped in good time.
Of course, some customers will not respond as well as in this example but it reinforces their learning if you are able to highlight their strengths. So, if they say, ‘I don’t know’, you could be specific and say, ‘What about the routine – how did that go?’.
Once you have exhausted the positives, move onto the weaknesses by asking, ‘What didn’t go so well?’ To which the customer might reply, ‘Well, I keep stopping at the end of the road and then realising that I could have gone.’
On the other hand, the customer may not give you an answer and if this is the case, you could ask, ‘What would you do differently next time?’ or ‘What do you want to improve next time?’
The idea is that the whole of the feedback session is client-centred, which means that you are drawing the information out of the customer and avoiding having any input yourself.
This is where you agree an action plan for development – where does the customer need to go from here to achieve their goal? You might need to re-define the goal at this point and again agree the route and the level of support.
You might decide to have some focused development on a specific area. For example, helping the pupil emerge using a ‘rolling first gear’ so that they can keep the car moving if it is safe to do so.
You could demonstrate how to approach a junction, slip into first gear, find the biting point and creep up to the give-way line whilst looking. You could do this in silence just asking the pupil to watch; or you could talk yourself through as you are doing this. Remember, to keep the demonstration focused on the point – rolling first gear emerges – and don’t bring anything else into it. Then let the pupil have a go and, again, just focus on the emerges – it really doesn’t matter what else occurs so long as you keep the car safe.
Finally, the pupil should be able to go around the whole circuit again, using rolling first gear emerges where necessary.
The most important part of this process – Assessment, Feedback, Development – is that you reflect and evaluate how YOU got on. Consider, what did you do well? What did you not do so well? What would you do to improve? And then come up with an Action Plan for your development.
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.