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Over the years, I have developed a few instructional techniques that I use when teaching students. One

such technique has proven benefi cial time after time, and begins at the fi rst meeting with the student.

Once a student is assigned to me, I reach out to them to introduce myself and schedule their fi rst ground school session. I request they bring their spouse or signifi cant other, and let them know that this fi rst ground school session is on me … as in free!

This meeting is designed to introduce the student to the training course outline (TCO) and any associated requirements. We discuss homework assignments, ground school sessions, and fl ight training periods as outlined within the TCO. It is important that your new student knows that fl ight training requires their full participation. This is where having their spouse or signifi cant other attend the meeting is crucial. Since we are only with our students while at the airport, I engage those at their home to assist me in the learning process. I want someone that lives with them to understand the level of work required in fl ight training, and to fully understand that this course is an educational process. I detail how they can play a signifi cant role in the success of this person, and that they can help them become a safer pilot. (The fact that they will be riding along with their student in an aircraft after training gives them extra motivation to help out.)

Next, I introduce to the student the fundamentals of learning. As a fl ight instructor, we are required to be trained and tested on the fundamentals of instruction, however this doesn’t occur until 150 fl ight hours or more into our professional fl ight training program. I believe that each student should be aware of the emotional roller coaster they will experience throughout their program of fl ight instruction at the beginning of fl ight training, not the end.

Training Musings By Randy Rowles Fundamentals of Learning—What’s That?

The student should know that: 1. Learning is an active process. 2. Learning plateaus are normal. 3. Homework represents rote learning and must be completed before a ground school session begins.

I make sure they understand that if they do not complete their homework assignment, they’ll have to complete it during our scheduled ground school. I haven’t met a student yet that likes completing homework while paying an instructor to watch them work.

Other topics included in fundamentals of learning include defense mechanisms, levels of learning, principles of learning … the list goes on and on. The student’s knowledge of these topics is not at the same level as a fl ight instructor’s, but it’s crucial they understand the basic fundamentals required to learn. This knowledge of the learning process benefi ts them—and makes your job as an instructor much easier.

Finally, I write out a personal contract on paper between the student and me. I start by asking them: What are your expectations of me as your fl ight instructor? They usually give me that RCA Victor dog look, so I make a few suggestions: Do you expect me to be on time? Do you expect me to be prepared? Do you expect me to give you all of my attention by turning off my cell phone and not texting during class? They get the point. Then I address my expectations of them; the list is almost identical. In all my years of fl ight training, I’ve only had to pull out the contract two times.

Remember, the pilot that you present to the industry is how you will be judged as a fl ight instructor. By engaging and educating the student on their role in the educational process, they become a more stable student, thus a more predictable student. You can’t ask for anything more than that!

Randy Rowles has been an FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certifi cates and ratings. He holds an FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certifi cate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award. Rowles is currently director of training at Epic Helicopters in Fort Worth, Texas.

52 October 2015

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