Everyone remembers their driving instructor. Some people have very good memories, others, not so much. That person who shepherded you through your first nervous miles on the road, slammed on the dual control breaks when necessary, and helped you get that bit of paper that represented your first taste of true freedom.
But what does it take to be a good driving instructor? Being a good driver, obviously, but that’s not enough. The very best driving instructors all need to have these traits.
Strong Communication Skills
You might be the most gifted driver ever to grace the motorway, but that’s only a small part of how to be a driving instructor.
Your students won’t learn by osmosis, simply being in the presence of your superior driving talent won’t cut it. You need to be able to explain information, rules and manoeuvres clearly and simply.
Being able to adapt your style to your students is also part of being a great communicator. Some people can hear an instruction once, and it will sink in. Others need prompting or more visual aids to learn. As you gain more experience as an instructor, you’ll learn to recognise different learning styles and be able to communicate with them effectively.
Patience (A Lot Of It)
So your student is on their fifteenth attempt to parallel park and they’re still not getting it. How you deal with this can have a huge effect on their confidence. Being patient is vital in these situations as showing your annoyance or anger is going to damage you their confidence and your relationship with them. A student who is uncomfortable or afraid of their instructor’s reaction isn’t going to pass their test and definitely won’t be recommending you to friends and family.
If you are not usually a patient person, you need to be honest about this and re-evaluate if this is really the career for you.
A nervous driver needs a be able to trust their instructor. You need confidence in your driving skills and your skills as an instructor.
If an instructor is nervous too, it’s going to make for an extremely uncomfortable experience for you both.
A Sense of Humour
Learning to drive can be a tense situation for you both. A good instructor will always try to make learning to drive a fun experience. We’re not talking about a full stand-up comedy act, but a more laid back, confident approach which will instil confidence in your skills.
Being able to laugh and connect on a human level with your students will make it a much better experience for you both.
Cancellations are sometimes necessary, life, illness and mechanical trouble are bound to get in the way occasionally. Don’t make a habit of turning up late (and rushing through the rest of the lesson), cancelling at the last minute, or constantly rearranging lessons. Your students are paying for your time and with the average one-hour lesson costing £24, they’re paying a lot to learn to drive. You need to keep your end of the bargain and be reliable and consistent.