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CFI - The "Modivational Speaker"

BoDEAN

Cabo Wabo Express
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May 4, 2002
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Seek tips from the elders.

I've been a CFI for almost 2 years now, and time and time again have run into this issue with students. I am finding their willingness to prepare for a lesson, to take the extra step after and before a lesson to read up on material, and their lack of "wanting" to finish is varied. I am reevaluating my approach on motivating students to finish up. Some examples: Cross country oral, teach the students how to do it, give them a handout explaining how to do it, and do one way trip with them. Next lesson I schedule 3 hours, and explain to them to have it planned prior to the lesson (departure time). Departure time comes; they have the TC and distances, and checkpoints only. It's like they didn't study it, or do a practice one on their own, or WANT to know it prior to the lesson. This turns into another ground lesson and reviewing in its entirety the planning.

Subject 2: Almost ready for his check ride. Hard time getting him out to solo and work on the maneuvers. Have done 3-4 orals, and still class E and G airspace is a mess. I've taught, given handouts, showed him in the books, etc on how to learn it. But time and time again, same roadblocks keep coming up.

Subject 3: People who constantly no-show or make excuses not to come out to the airport and excel.

I guess I need to be more of a father figure to these students? I find myself looking bad being at a job almost a year and have yet to have one student get signed off.

Opinions on approaches? Thank You in advance
 

Goose Egg

Big Jens
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Jul 21, 2004
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not really an elder of flying, per se, but...

BoDEAN said:
I've been a CFI for almost 2 years now

Ouch. Almost 3 for me. I didn't really think of it until now. Although I really didn't start instructing as soon as I got my rating. Anyhow...

...and time and time again have run into this issue with students. I am finding their willingness to prepare for a lesson, to take the extra step after and before a lesson to read up on material, and their lack of "wanting" to finish is varied.

That's the truth, and apparently money isn't a really good motivator, because ostensibly they'd save money if they studied. But I digress.

I have a theory about motivation. This stems from my own memories as a student and from what I've seen as an instructor so far. Keep in mind this is just a theory, and not a hard-and-fast rule. I don't really believe in lazyness. I believe in fear and subsequent procrastination, but not lazyness. If money is not such a great motivator, fear definitely is. And this is especially true in a venue such as aviation, where people are here because they want to be. When I feel like a student is dragging their feet, I start to wonder what they are fearing. If I can help them cope with that, then I generally don't have any problems with motivation. Students want and need to feel good about what they are doing, and fear is a counterproductive emotion to that end. There are as many things that a student could be fearing as there are students themselves. Sometimes you have to reach deep into the psyche to pull them out of it. Perhaps this is a little unorthodox, but we teach whole people to fly, so we have to address the whole person; fears, concerns, and anxieties and all.

I guess I need to be more of a father figure to these students?

Not necessarily. Just make sure you are treating the "disease" instead of just the symptoms.

I find myself looking bad being at a job almost a year and have yet to have one student get signed off.

Also understand that there are limits to your personal responsibility. You can do everything in your power to help a student to succeed and they will still fall short. Why? Because their achievement is largely up to them. All you can do is your best in pointing them in the right direction.

-Goose
 
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MauleSkinner

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Sep 4, 2005
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You also might review why they're learning to fly in the first place...you can feed them all the information you want, but unless they see why learning it relates to THEIR GOALS, it isn't going to stick.

A cross-country flight to an airport with a decent barbecue joint nearby, or some other reason to make the "destination" (their goal) at least as important as the "trip" (the goal that we tend to teach).

It takes a lot of effort, and probably some extra time, on your part, but in the long run you'll probably get more business, make more money, and build more time (your goal must be in there somewhere!) with students who keep wanting to learn than you will by sheer repetition of material.

Fly safe!

David
 

Fly_Chick

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Sep 16, 2004
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The only one who ultimately has the ability for the student to suceed is the student him/herself.

Have you thought about group learning? I often pull other students into my ground sessions, and if weather is bad I will create an ad-hoc ground session for those students "hanging out" at the flight school. For me this works well as we have a lot of full time students, mostly part 61. When I add the group dynamic, students now have another means to learn, and in a sense have another responsibility to their peers.

Are your students full time or part time? My students who are full time tend to be much more motivated as they come with one specific goal in mind.

My student's who are part time tend to have many other things going on in their lives and flying is not a primary goal. With the part time students I take things one week at a time. If a student has been working on his/her rating for a year, and has not done a solo cross country or a night flight in a few months, I will require that to be done again since their recency is a little out of date.

That being said, I do have some part-time students who are very self-motivated. They come to the flight school to learn without any prodding from myself. They look for other people to fly with (ie Instrument student building hours and they go along for the ride).

I agree with Goose, sometimes money is not a good motivator. For those students that repeatedly cancel (NOT due to wx) I just tell them they will be charged for any future cancellations. I explain that this is my livelihood. When they cancel, they not only cancel their lesson, I have lost a flight, the flight school has lost revenue on that airplane, and another student/renter lost the opportunity to fly that plane or fly with me. It will be hard at first to be so blunt, yet do they consistently cancel with other professions (doctors, mechanics, etc)?

A student of mine once called me at 4:30 pm to cancel a 5:00 pm flight, and said I was lucky since I now had an early night. Well, smiling as much as I could so I would not be too harsh, I just replied, "No, had you called yesterday or this morning I would have had an early night as I have been waiting here since 2:00 pm for our 5:00 pm flight."

You are a professional, and you must get this across to those students. Your time is valuable.

Check your PMs for airspace suggestions. This is a hard topic and I think I have figured out the best teaching approach for this one (at least it has been sucessful to date :)).

As far as being a Father figure - well, that can get hard on yourself after a while. You can lead them step by step, be motiviational, yet if they are not willing to put something in themselves, your own motivation may suffer.

Good luck with everything.
 

flydrummer

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 5, 2005
Posts
61
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3.0
Fly_Chick said:
The only one who ultimately has the ability for the student to suceed is the student him/herself.

Have you thought about group learning? I often pull other students into my ground sessions, and if weather is bad I will create an ad-hoc ground session for those students "hanging out" at the flight school. For me this works well as we have a lot of full time students, mostly part 61. When I add the group dynamic, students now have another means to learn, and in a sense have another responsibility to their peers.

Are your students full time or part time? My students who are full time tend to be much more motivated as they come with one specific goal in mind.

My student's who are part time tend to have many other things going on in their lives and flying is not a primary goal. With the part time students I take things one week at a time. If a student has been working on his/her rating for a year, and has not done a solo cross country or a night flight in a few months, I will require that to be done again since their recency is a little out of date.

That being said, I do have some part-time students who are very self-motivated. They come to the flight school to learn without any prodding from myself. They look for other people to fly with (ie Instrument student building hours and they go along for the ride).

I agree with Goose, sometimes money is not a good motivator. For those students that repeatedly cancel (NOT due to wx) I just tell them they will be charged for any future cancellations. I explain that this is my livelihood. When they cancel, they not only cancel their lesson, I have lost a flight, the flight school has lost revenue on that airplane, and another student/renter lost the opportunity to fly that plane or fly with me. It will be hard at first to be so blunt, yet do they consistently cancel with other professions (doctors, mechanics, etc)?

A student of mine once called me at 4:30 pm to cancel a 5:00 pm flight, and said I was lucky since I now had an early night. Well, smiling as much as I could so I would not be too harsh, I just replied, "No, had you called yesterday or this morning I would have had an early night as I have been waiting here since 2:00 pm for our 5:00 pm flight."

You are a professional, and you must get this across to those students. Your time is valuable.

Check your PMs for airspace suggestions. This is a hard topic and I think I have figured out the best teaching approach for this one (at least it has been sucessful to date :)).

As far as being a Father figure - well, that can get hard on yourself after a while. You can lead them step by step, be motiviational, yet if they are not willing to put something in themselves, your own motivation may suffer.

Good luck with everything.

I plan to be a future student....just waiting a couple months to pay off some bills before taking on a new one. SO I've been doing some ground study on my own to get a leg up. I'm on the airspace chapter of the Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual and have found it to be a bit confusing. Would be interested in any helpful aids. Thanks
 

Way2Broke

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Feb 24, 2005
Posts
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Back when I was a actively CFIing, I killed a couple of people for no showing me. And if that didn't work I just gave them to the "new guy." The "new guy" usually was so excited to have a student that they did not care and it worked out quite well. Although, if you get to charge them for no showing it can be nice because you get paid for doing absolutely nothing. Its not that hard to make a phone call that you can not make it. If I did not show up chances are that I would have gotten fired. Lets face it bad students suck, and there are alot of them out there. But good students, are..... hmmm... good? Thank you good students, for making a broke CFIs life much easier.
 
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TankerDriver

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Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Posts
117
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1
Face it. Learning how to fly, for most people, is hard work and is very intimidating. I think students need constant reminding of what is expected of them. Are they going to do this as a career or just for leisure? This greatly affects how serious they will be during their training.

I taught at ERAU for almost 2 years and put 16 students through a certificate or rating of some sort. Most of the students there are going there to be career pilots. I think I saw just about every kind of student behavior I could see. Everything from ones that were more interested in partying in Daytona beach while spending mommy and daddy's money, ones that tried, tried, tried, but just didn't have it to others that were AOPA poster children. As soon as I thought I had them figured out, I'd get a new one that required a different approach. CFI'ing is not an easy job. I remember it getting frustrating when a student just wouldn't get it or didn't want to study and I'd have to admit that most of the time it was because of something I was or wasn't doing.

I remember sitting down with a few of them that were having problems and asking them, "Why are you here? What do want to do with this training?" and they always said, "I don't know." or "I'm not sure.". The ones that were doing well were the ones that would say, "I want fly B777's for Delta one day." or something or other. You'd be suprised at how many people get into this industry with no sense of direction and it affects their motivation big time. I had done an intership with a major airline when I was a student and I would tell a lot of my students about my experiences at the airline and how great a time I had. Most of them would get hyped up hearing that kind of stuff.

I had an instrument student one time that just wouldn't study. She flew really well and I saw a lot of potential in her, but she just wouldn't study. It was to the point where every flight was just a mess and I'd come back so pissed off that I would get into these long, not-so-friendly dissertations about why her flights were a mess and why she needs to study. That was my way of motivating her. Well, one day we came back from a flight, much like the previous flights, and I finally asked her what the problem was and you know what she said? She got all teary eyed and said, "You know, you never talk about the good parts of the flight." Now, I can say there weren't many good parts of the flights to talk about, but she was right. I was more concerned about focusing on the bad parts that I never mentioned anything good about the flight. Anything. Something. Like, "You taxi great!!" or "You're altitude control was great!". You'd be suprised at how much the most miniscule pats on the back effect students. Long story short, we were able to turn it around and she got her instrument rating.
 
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