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Instructional Recalibration

Posted 4 years 363 days ago ago by Randy Rowles

Have the Right Tools for the Job!

Training toward your flight instructor (CFI) certificate is often a long and arduous process. Countless hours of curriculum development and practice gaining the skill sets to safely and effectively transfer knowledge to a future flock of fledgling aviators. The effort put forth to obtain the coveted CFI certificate is valuable. For many, this is their entry into the ranks of being a helicopter aficionado. Once the CFI is obtained, is retraining for the flight instructor valuabl

For too many, the answer is often: No. Once the CFI is obtained, very few instructors desire to have their teaching skills evaluated again; once was enough for them! In many cases, these instructor pilots attend pilot refresher training and negate the instructor perspective. They view the skill set adjustment of refresher training received as a pilot to be adaptable to their flight instructor role. This is a flawed assumption.

Instructional piloting is less about flying and far more about watching, waiting, and reacting to the learning process [mistakes] made by the student. Instructional Intervention is key to any and all instructor training; not simply flying the aircraft from the opposite seat. The ability to provide the student a path to learn requires allowing the student to make errors. The depth of error chain development is what the instructor needs to know how to identify, and when intervention is required. Too early intervention…the student’s ability to learn is potentially compromised. Too late intervention…well, now you’re a data point on an accident chart!

The ability to periodically have your instructional skill sets evaluated should be a welcome and sought-after opportunity. Not only for those skills you’ve already obtained, but new enhanced procedures and maneuvers that improve and expand your instructional toolbox. 

The instructional toolbox must be full of various instructional methods implemented based upon the students learning style and ability. As an example, a 9/16th nut may require many different tools based on the situation. A deep socket, open wrench, an extension with a universal joint. All these variations in the toolbox help to make the job easier, but you’re still dealing with a 9/16th nut! 

For the instructor, having a diverse and comprehensive instructional toolbox is imperative to providing safe, quality education. It is important to recognize that there is not one “right” way for any maneuver or task to be conducted. The ability to inject varied experiences into the instructional process provides the student with a broader perspective of the subject. Caution should be taken when professing tribal knowledge as fact. It is the instructor’s responsibility to offer references for the material they provide within the learning process and engage the students higher order thinking skills (HOTS) when able. This aids in the decision-making process; where poor decision-making accounts for many helicopter industry accidents.

Train-the-trainer opportunities help adjust or correct subjects when a lack of recent experience or poor habit formation occur. Gaining insight into your instructional capabilities will not only make you a better instructor, more importantly, it will make you a much safer instructor too!

About Randy:  Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award. Rowles is the owner/president of Helicopter Institute.