Warning – this unit was last revised in 2007
Unit 22: Instructor’s Characteristics – attitude and approach
The Driving Instructor’s Handbook
“This aspect should be dealt with as an overall assessment of the PDI characteristics and is concerned with the skills used to create a relaxed, but supportive learning environment. It is not to be used as a measure of the personality characteristics of the PDI, but as a measure of how effective they are in establishing and maintaining a good rapport and creating the right atmosphere for learning to take place. The PDI should display a relaxed manner and be outgoing but not over-familiar. They should be self confident and capable of transmitting confidence to the pupil in a patient and tactful manner. Any unnecessary physical contact with the pupil will be reflected in the marking.” – From the examiner’s marking guidelines (ADI1).
As soon as you start asking for money to do something – the people who are giving you that money are expecting you to act in a certain way – you have responsibilities! You must come across as professional, comfortable and knowledgeable at all times.
However – you should remember that if your customer feels patronised or uncomfortable with you then they may not take more lessons with you, or they may not learn as quickly.
Small things make a big difference here – smiling seems obvious, but it is so often overlooked! Being a professional doesn’t mean being cold and aloof, so don’t be afraid of casual language (avoiding swearing), and a relaxed manner.
Body langauge needs to be friendly but not unnecessarily tactile, handshakes may be invited by your customer, but be prepared to draw the line before things get over-familiar.
Being in a car with someone on a 1 to 1 basis for up to 100 hours can lead to complications. Awareness of feelings outside the trainer – trainee relationship. Be prepared to deal with these in a manner which will not put your job at risk.
Unnecessary physical contact must be avoided at all costs – the easy way to do this is to imagine a glass partition down the middle of the car which can only be broken in emergencies.
Dealing with unwanted (or wanted) attention
The instructor’s seating position
Using the wheel or gear lever from the passenger seat:
In an emergency