The open-ended question of “What do you want to work on today” is often met with incredulity by some instructors along the lines that the learner will always answer along the lines of the headline for this post.
And they are most likely correct. Their learners probably will give that answer. That’s because just as deficiencies in instruction can lead to learners displaying certain types of fault, being instructor-led from the very beginning will lead to reliance on the instructor for the topic.
Think back to when you first trained to become an ADI. I’ve no doubt there were times you were aware of something you wanted to work on but your trainer was more led by the syllabus they wanted to deliver rather than what you thought you needed to work on.
The next point, of course, is how does the trainee know what they need to work on?
I usually start each lesson with a question along the lines of “What are we doing today?”, on the first lesson, I usually ask “Where do you want to be in an hour?”, or “what would you liked to have done in an hours time?”
People are invariably sensible, on the first lesson some people want to stop and go, some want to turn into junctions and some want to change gear. No-one to me at least has ever suggested they want to go 70mph down the motorway in the first 30 minutes.
You can then build on that first lesson to each subsequent lesson. The natural progression from moving off and stopping will be into slow speed clutch control and 2nd gear, maybe third depending on the pupils’ ability, then left and right turns.
In these early stages, a suggestion to help the pupil who wants to improve steering and/or clutch control would be the turn in the road which practices these skills, all of which are transferrable to all of the other manoeuvres later in the training. I use the DVSA learner record, merely because it’s there and I’m lazy, but you can use whatever progress sheet you need as long as it lists the overall requirements. In this way, the learner knows what they need to achieve and knows what level they need to reach to be independent in each area.
And carrying the topic of manoeuvres forward, my opening gambit is to suggest the pupil has a go themselves. Well over 50% of the learners can complete the exercise within reasonable accuracy only needing further guidance on observations. Time spent on those early sessions with clutch control and steering reaps benefits later. I’m not concerned, and neither is the examiner (within obvious limitations) of “how” the exercise is completed, just that is done within “O,C,A”
If you talk the pupil though what they need to acomplish, and identify the faults, then when you let them have a go independently they will almost always tell you what the faults are themselves.
So let me slay this beast once and for all if you explain to the learner the standard they need to reach overall, and allow them the freedom to assess themselves where they are against that standard, then they will guide you in their learning process.
If you start each session with ‘this is what we’re going to do today’ and ‘this is how I’m going to score you on this today’ then you’ll always get “you’re the instructor, you tell me”