a few weeks in...

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
#1
So. I've been teaching a couple of weeks now, part-time.

I've gotta say - I have elevated respect for those of you who taught full time and would grind it out 12-14 hours a day. I knew instruction would be challenging and rewarding - it most definitely is. I underestimated how *mentally* taxing it can be, though. I mean, I was sort of academically aware of the amount of mental management you had to do as a CFI, but theory and practice are two different things. At the end of a 12 hour day with multiple students, it's amazing how exhausted you can be from just teaching and sitting.
 

A150K

Well-Known Member
#6
I did part time for 2.5 years and full time for a year. Never got too burnt out doing it part time, but full time instructing international students out of one of the top 5 or 10 busiest ga airports in the country 6 days per week made me forget the meaning of life.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
#7
I've taught part-time for 12 years. It gets easier with experience.
I'm getting into a rhythm with it. It helps me immensely that I'm inheriting students from 2 other instructors but not wholly; they're still involved, too, so we're collaborating a lot on the students. It also is helping me that they are all more or less following the same 141 syllabus (I do have a pair of part 61s who are returning to flying/finishing up) but by and large, they're all roughly in the same place, which means I can focus on a lot of the same tasks and ensure that my own teaching is effective.

I haven't had a single brand-newbie from lesson 1 yet, but there's a couple on my schedule starting in January. I think that's where the real work will start.
 

KVNC

Florida Man
#8
I really believe instructing is a very undervalued role. General aviation and training as a whole suffers because of it. I will be instructing for two years full time in March. That said, it will be the end of my instructor career. There is no incentive to continue. I’m at close to 900 hours dual given with decent experience and a gold seal. You would think the industry would be set to motivate me to continue instructing but it is the opposite. I began at 300 hours like many, and now that I’m experienced I’m taking that experience not to share with students as I should, to make their training better, more efficient, and safer, but to fly right seat in an RJ. Seems kind of backwards to me.

I love GA and do think the CFI is the gatekeeper to the system but the role is just not respected and that is something that needs to change. We all started as Private students (outside of the Military) under the tutelage of an instructor, many of which motivated us to be the pilots we are today. The future pilots deserve the same and I wish I could continue to be that person but being a 1099 contractor, no benefits, working 12-16 hours, no breaks/lunch is pretty hard to take.

While many see instructing as sitting in a seat getting flown around a pattern, I take pride in it. I see it as service to GA, which I entered at a young age and I hope will continue to old. However, I’m skeptical the current system will support it if the bedrock role in flying continues to be seen as a rung in the ladder rather than a valued station to maintain.

*end rant*
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
#9
I really believe instructing is a very undervalued role. General aviation and training as a whole suffers because of it. I will be instructing for two years full time in March. That said, it will be the end of my instructor career. There is no incentive to continue. I’m at close to 900 hours dual given with decent experience and a gold seal. You would think the industry would be set to motivate me to continue instructing but it is the opposite. I began at 300 hours like many, and now that I’m experienced I’m taking that experience not to share with students as I should, to make their training better, more efficient, and safer, but to fly right seat in an RJ. Seems kind of backwards to me.

I love GA and do think the CFI is the gatekeeper to the system but the role is just not respected and that is something that needs to change. We all started as Private students (outside of the Military) under the tutelage of an instructor, many of which motivated us to be the pilots we are today. The future pilots deserve the same and I wish I could continue to be that person but being a 1099 contractor, no benefits, working 12-16 hours, no breaks/lunch is pretty hard to take.

While many see instructing as sitting in a seat getting flown around a pattern, I take pride in it. I see it as service to GA, which I entered at a young age and I hope will continue to old. However, I’m skeptical the current system will support it if the bedrock role in flying continues to be seen as a rung in the ladder rather than a valued station to maintain.

*end rant*
I can see why you feel that way - you describe some pretty adversarial conditions. I'm lucky in that the flight school I teach for has us all as W2 employees. There aren't a lot of benefits, but the pay is competitive and there is a lot of structure to the company. It's well-equipped and connected, and it's part of the reason I work there. We have complete autonomy on our schedules, though - I can work as much or as little as I want.

Since writing the initial post I've given more instruction, had some good days and not good days, made some boneheaded newbie-instructor mistakes (and learned from them) and I've seen my students improving. I've soloed one student and I'm very, very close to soloing another.

For me, instructing serves two needs: it allows me to fly but it also allows me to teach. I like teaching, quite a bit, and I like seeing other people "get it" - it's really rewarding for me, and so far, I've been graced with excellent, relatively-easy-to-teach students so far. I plan to make a career shift into some kind of aviation gig full time, but I'm not sure what yet - at ~500TT I've got quite a ways to go. But whatever decisions I make - the ability to instruct will factor into that. I don't think I ever want to completely leave GA.
 

KVNC

Florida Man
#10
Good to hear! Sounds like you’re working for a better operation that actually treats you like a professional which is what we need! Glad you’re enjoying it so far, it’s one of the most important jobs in aviation in my opinion. Hopefully you’ll be able to do it long term and share your experience with students, which should be the model.
 

MikeR

Well-Known Member
#11
Glad to hear of your success!
Would like to share with you, some good qualities that stood out to me from a almost 80 year old CFIl (many hrs of dual given)
He had endless patience but no tolerance for drifting from heading/altitude whatsoever. Checklist for everything, to passenger briefing, noting engine start time, actual TO time, TOC time, BOC time, etc.
Hope these tips may help!
 

Nihon_Ni

Well-Known Member
#12
Here's the biggest lesson learned from my years of instructing -- never try to BS your student. Just like children, they learn more from watching you than from what you tell them. If you don't know something, fess up. If you demo a maneuver and blow it, admit it. Sometimes when a student is struggling with landings, I'll demo one and ask him to critique me. Switching roles for a bit helps them get a different perspective.

Here's my second tip for you: My first student had a hard time holding altitude, and I couldn't figure out why. One day it dawned on me when I watched his eyes. He'd look at the altimeter and see that he was off by 50 ft and wouldn't take action. 80 ft, no action. The next time he'd look back he'd be 200 ft off and would have busted his checkride. I finally realized that he'd see those first two deviations and wouldn't be concerned because he'd tell himself that he had +/- 100 ft. One of my first flight instructors had a saying that I've always remembered: "You're either on, or you're correcting...and you're never on." The art of flight instructing is getting a pilot to become his own critic. I tell my students this phrase and ask them to hold themselves to a higher standard than the ACS/PTS. I tell them if they are one foot off altitude, I want to see them correct. That's a bit of hyperbole, but it's the mindset that I'm after. I don't want them to be happy with deviations, no matter how small. Flying is easy to learn but hard to master. I've been in search of the perfect flight my whole life and I've never achieved it. I get closer most every time, but I'll never get there. The pursuit of excellence is one of the things I enjoy about flying.

I recently inherited an instrument student who busted his checkride for glideslope control and came to me for remedial instruction. When I flew with him I realized he was comfortable being a half scale deflection on glide slope, and he flew the first approach half scale high all the way from GS intercept to where he finally got a full scale deflection near the DH. We had a long talk after the first flight about this very subject, and how his acceptance of deviation had to stop if he wanted to not only pass his checkride but safely execute approaches in bad weather. If the needles weren't perfectly centered, he needed to take corrective action and not dismiss it in favor of the ACS tolerance.

It's much harder to instill this behavior into a 500 hr pilot due to the laws of primacy, but it's much easier with student pilots and it will be the best thing you ever teach them. If you can teach them to strive for perfection and not be satisfied with deviations, no matter how small, you will really do them a service and set them on a path toward truly becoming a pilot!
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
#13
Here's the biggest lesson learned from my years of instructing -- never try to BS your student. Just like children, they learn more from watching you than from what you tell them. If you don't know something, fess up. If you demo a maneuver and blow it, admit it. Sometimes when a student is struggling with landings, I'll demo one and ask him to critique me. Switching roles for a bit helps them get a different perspective.
Had one of these the other night. I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say I gave my student some incorrect guidance on an evening flight into FDK which resulted in us maneuvering for the incorrect runway. Created a bit of confusion for us and the controller for a moment - once I figured out that was my fault, I told him so.

The next day I pulled a Google Maps Satellite view of the airport and spent a little bit of time with the image editor drawing some lines and arrows showing the student a) what we did under my guidance b) what we SHOULD have done and c) where the controller thought we were. I explained to him how and why that happened, and how we could avoid it in the future - which also led to a good discussion about SPRM and using all the tools (in this case, flipping to OBS mode for a minute to verify orientation against the DG) available.

It was embarrassing as hell, but I learned from it and I think he did, too. He's still on my roster and comfortable enough that he can rib me about it, so that's something. :)

I also like the idea of having the student critique the technique. Will try that with some of my students.

One of my first flight instructors had a saying that I've always remembered: "You're either on, or you're correcting...and you're never on." The art of flight instructing is getting a pilot to become his own critic.
Love this.

It's much harder to instill this behavior into a 500 hr pilot due to the laws of primacy, but it's much easier with student pilots and it will be the best thing you ever teach them. If you can teach them to strive for perfection and not be satisfied with deviations, no matter how small, you will really do them a service and set them on a path toward truly becoming a pilot!
Love this, too. Thanks for the advice. There's four or five of you around here who have given me some real pearls to incorporate into my teaching.
 

Nihon_Ni

Well-Known Member
#14
Had one of these the other night. I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say I gave my student some incorrect guidance on an evening flight into FDK which resulted in us maneuvering for the incorrect runway. Created a bit of confusion for us and the controller for a moment - once I figured out that was my fault, I told him so.

The next day I pulled a Google Maps Satellite view of the airport and spent a little bit of time with the image editor drawing some lines and arrows showing the student a) what we did under my guidance b) what we SHOULD have done and c) where the controller thought we were. I explained to him how and why that happened, and how we could avoid it in the future - which also led to a good discussion about SPRM and using all the tools (in this case, flipping to OBS mode for a minute to verify orientation against the DG) available.

It was embarrassing as hell, but I learned from it and I think he did, too. He's still on my roster and comfortable enough that he can rib me about it, so that's something. :)
That's a great way to handle that scenario! Your student got some real learning out of that situation, and probably better than if you had done it right the first time. After you do this a few more times it will be less embarrassing. When you put the student's learning above your own embarrassment it gets easy to fess up. I always tell my students I've never had a perfect flight, I probably never will, and I will definitely make mistakes with them. BUT, I promise them I'll never BS them about anything and when I do something wrong I'll tell them about it. I critique my own performance the same way I critique theirs, but I'm harder on myself.
 
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