Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Well, alright...

Self image matters much. I'd once have described myself as small.

In the absence of confidence, ego projects itself as arrogance.

I once worked in a factory. One of my workmates wouldn't say boo to a goose. I read his reticence as shyness. Most of my workmates read it as standoffishness.

Anyways. I used to be shy. I still am in many contexts, but these days I'm a lot more comfortable with myself.

This Sunday, I found a way of getting trainee instructors to get into the most difficult part of their teaching test.

Today I found an old song, and it's not at all bad, given that it's just me, on a 300Mhz pc and a duplex sound card, doing a load of shoegazey bollocks. Mike Oldfield it ain't, but I'd managed to construct something both complex and appealing, even if the quality wasn't brilliant. I'll never be totally comfortable with hearing my own voice.

So second one first. Here it is:

The instructor bit needs a bit of explaining.

To become a driving instructor you first have to sit and pass three tests. The first part is a theory test. This is generally straightforward as long as you put the revision in. The second part is an advanced driving test. This is complex, but as long as you have a thoughrough understanding of the techniques involved, it's do-able. Where most people fall short is on the teaching test. Not only do you have to have an in depth knowledge of your subject, but you have to be able to put it across effectively and powerfully.

The test is divided into two parts, but in a way it's divided into 4 unequal parts.

It's all based on role play. The first half is an examiner playing the part of someone who's never done something before. The second half is of someone who has done it before, but who may not be doing it very well.

So for the first part, a reasonably deep briefing is required. This takes up perhaps ten minutes, or a third of the first half of the test. The next twenty minutes is spent talking through in real time, and dealing with any issues that occur. For the second half, a few brief questions are asked, and then you go out and find out why the "pupil" is struggling while on the move.

The hour, therefore is broken up something like thus:

10 minutes, phase one briefing.
20 minutes, talk through on the move.
5 minutes, phase two briefing.
25 minutes, fault analysis and solving on the move.

It's the first ten minutes that everyone (including me) struggles with, and since I started doing instructor training, it's the but that I've found hardest to teach my trainee instructors. Yet the answer was right there in front of us all the time.

The marking sheets are freely available on the internet, and contain the marking criteria. Here, for example is pre set test 5. The first part is about the emergency stop, and use of mirrors.

And there, towards the top of the left hand side of this document is the marking criteria. The first one, "briefing on emergency stop/mirrors references the fact that you're talking about it first. It's possible to do it on the fly, but to do so is a risky strategy. Because the option of doing it without a briefing is available, this marking section is included.

The next two deal with the exercise itself. It has to be done quickly and effectively, and in a controlled way. After this, since the exercise deals with hard braking, the issue of skidding should be covered.

The last three marking sections deal with how why and when you should check your mirrors.

Bear with me here. The subject doesn't actually matter too much at this point. Only that the requirements are spelled out in the marking sheet. On some pre set tests, there is a little more that needs to be added, but essentially, the means of doing the exercise are contained within the text of the marking sheet.

The bottom half of the left hand side deals with the second half of the test, and the right hand side of the sheet deals with the core competencies of the role. These are identical on all of the tests.

Now here's the thing.

Teaching test candidates treat such things as the information above as something surreptitious. What they actually are is a way to structure a briefing and involve the "pupil/examiner"

So to take the example above, the trainee instructor might open their briefing with something like,

"Hi, Fred (insert name of "pupil here"

These are the things we need to talk about.

Now first on the list is "Quick reaction".

Why do you think it's important that we react quickly?"

This approach can be non-linear. They could just as easily talk about skidding or when to check mirrors. It involves the pupil. Most importantly, it puts everything the trainee needs right there in front of them.

Our next few training sessions will be working with this idea, and creating the required bulletpoints.

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