The Instructor’s Purpose (RSVP!)

By: Rich Stowell, Master Instructor, SAFE Charter and Life Member, 2006 National Flight Instructor of the Year, aka “The Spin Doctor”

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose as a flight instructor. While I have verbalized pieces of this over the years, this is the first attempt to articulate purpose in a more formal way. The result seemed applicable not only to my approach to instructing, but also to the way I’ve seen many excellent instructors ply their trade. Hence, the leap from “Rich’s Purpose” to “The Instructor’s Purpose.”

The Instructor’s Purpose is not about detailing the specific roles and responsibilities of instructors. It is not about instructor professionalism or codes of conduct either, though purpose certainly dovetails with discussions about professionalism and ethics. For more information about instructor roles and responsibilities, professionalism, and ethics, see the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook, Aviators Model Codes of Conduct, and Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.

Please share your thoughts and provide suggestions for improving The Instructor’s Purpose.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.27.31 PMThe Instructor’s Purpose

• Promote a Learner’s Mindset. Learning something new is often a messy process. A certain amount of failure is normal and should not be feared. Promote a learner’s mindset by appealing to the motivations many of your students have for flying: mastery, autonomy, and purpose.
• Escape the “Cult of the Average.” Go beyond merely teaching to the test. Help your students move toward the correlation level of learning by identifying, and teaching within the context of, overarching principles. Raise the bar by helping your students reach higher levels of knowledge and skill than you possessed at similar points in your flying career.
• Encourage Peak Performance. Give your students the tools they need for peak performance. Teach them how to critique their performance. Challenge them to strive for peak performance on every flight.

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Author: David St. George

Master CFI, 141Chief Instructor, FAA DPE, ATP (ME/SE)

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