Lesson Plans/Syllabus

JordanD

Honorary Member
Does anyone have any tips for coming up with your own lesson plans or a syllabus for the private? I feel like every time I start I want to add too much information because I'm worried about leaving important parts out. Making ground lessons that coincide with flight lessons is giving me a little trouble as well, and what type of "homework" I should be giving the students. Particularly after the first flight lesson, I feel like there's a lot of "catching up" to do to get them up to speed and ready for the next lesson.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
Dont sweat it, finding your own style for lesson plans and feeling confident that you're approaching them correctly is one of the harder parts of getting started with your CFI preparation.

Remember the purpose is to serve as a map for your teaching, not to be an article the student will read. Dont make it a narrative, just lay it out as a reminder of things you will teach.

The natural structure is an outline. Use the sample lesson plans in the AIH and go from there.

Define your objective, what is the student supposed to take away? If it's their first lesson on a maneuver, you probably dont care about PTS standards, you want them to focus on fundamental understanding and aircraft control... so set your objectives respective to the circumstances and where this student is at in their learning.

Next step is figure out how to explain to the student why they care, why are they learning this. A quick anecdote, "man this one time I got stuck on a cross country because....". Or later on, when you're less likely to scare a new student you can occasionally bring up some accident reports that illustrate a point. Things like that... dont just dive into dry technical knowledge without setting the stage for "why we care".

Then what are the major areas you'll cover so that the student has a good exposure to this big idea. Then under each of these major areas, create bullet points for each key point and illustration you'll use.

As for homework, I keep it simple... small bite-sized things that will help them be prepared for the next lesson and/or remember what they did on the last lesson. A pile of assigned reading and work is just not going to happen for 90% of students unless you're instructing at a pilot mill/university.

Some example homework I give:

I'll let the student know what we are going to do next and direct them to the relevant section of the Airplane Flying Handbook or some other resource... "Hey browse through the info on rectangular courses, turns about a point, and s-turns in the AFH, chapter 6... that's what we'll be doing on your next lesson".

I might email 2-3 youtube videos of bad landings and ask them to email me back with their ideas about what went wrong, how they can prevent that from happening, and what the correct recovery is when they find themselves in that situation.

For students just learning traffic pattern work, I'll get them a copy of a checklist and I've got a cockpit poster of my trainer I made and tell them to work through the taekoff, downwind, abeam, base, final, and landing in their head, touching controls and thinking about what instruments will be indicating. Or they can do this in flight sim. It helps them get the procedures down so that when we really do fly they can focus on flying the airplane instead of remembering where the carb heat knob is.


Finally, ground/knowledge-area lesson plans tend to be much bigger (mine run 3-6 pages for a 30-45 minute lesson) because there's more knowledge to convey, while flight lesson plans should really fit on a 5.5 x 8.5 sheet of paper (letter stock folded in half)
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
Does anyone have any tips for coming up with your own lesson plans or a syllabus for the private? I feel like every time I start I want to add too much information because I'm worried about leaving important parts out. Making ground lessons that coincide with flight lessons is giving me a little trouble as well, and what type of "homework" I should be giving the students. Particularly after the first flight lesson, I feel like there's a lot of "catching up" to do to get them up to speed and ready for the next lesson.
Less is more.

If it were complete, you would be writing a book. Those already exist. Just pick the key points that you want to get across in the lesson.

For example - on my CFI ride, Power Off 180's were the lesson plan:

Power Off 180
--- Justification: When engine craps out in traffic pattern
--- Key Points
o Turn towards runway immediately
o Trim best glide
o No Flaps until landing assured
--- Success Critera
o Airplane lands on runway
--- Common Mistakes
o Delaying Turn
o Inappropriate airspeed
o Not configured correctly

Works well if it is in your own words. Don't put anything wrong in them, but not everyone teaches things exactly the same way.

As for homework after first lesson? SHOWING UP FOR LESSON NUMBER TWO. First one is easy! After that, you'll get a feel for what the student is weak on debriefing them after flights.
 

JordanD

Honorary Member
Motivation is one of the things that's hard for me. For some things, like flight planning and unusual attitudes it's easy to tell them why we're learning it. But what about things like lazy eights and 8's on pylons, or steep turns and S turns? I know their objective is to make sure the student understands and corrects for wind drift, but I can't think of an "exciting" way to explain why we do those things. The best motivation I got for learning lazy 8s was so I could teach them to commercial applicants later. :confused:
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
The ground reference maneuvers are all about learning to fly a traffic pattern.

Eights on pylons? By the time anyone is worried about that, they are getting ready for a CFI ride themselves, motivating them will be their problem then.
 

rframe

pǝʇɹǝʌuı
A lot of those maneuvers like chandelles, lazy eights, eights on pylons, etc are about developing a much more refined level of control, awareness, skill, smoothness... aka "airmanship"... so the proper motivation is to shame the student into learning them... ;o)
 

JordanD

Honorary Member
Well I went ahead and started going through the areas of operation from the private PTS and making notes and references to everything on there. Hopefully it's a good start, even though I only feel like I'm copying a lot of information. I guess it will come in handy to have the main points all in one notebook.
 

Websterpilot

Well-Known Member
Some really good advice here. Like rframe said, try not to sweat it too much. It sounds like you have a good start and by copying all that stuff, I think you will be surprised just how much you will learn and that during your ride you probably won't even look at your plans. It is far more important to get out there and practice teaching to anyone who will listen.

If your checkride is anything like mine was, the Inspector will be more concerned about your ability to find and present easy to follow diagrams and information from your references. I've know way too many people that got in trouble because they couldn't draw something out on the board when a simple picture from the PHAK would have worked. They also want to see that you will admit to not knowing something, that you can find the answer and that you can change your presentation style to suit the individual student. I was under the impression that these were the important things and that the Inspector could have cared less about what was on my lesson plans.

Last thing to keep in mind. I'm not sure about other FSDO's, but here the Inspectors almost always make you come up with a lesson plan on the fly even if you have made your own.

Good luck!
 

Websterpilot

Well-Known Member
It is true, most of the commercial maneuvers are there to demonstrate a higher level of aeronautical understanding as well as stick and rudder skill. As far as reasons why certain maneuvers can be beneficial, here are some I've run across:

Chandelle: a max performance climbing turn, which can be useful for obtaining a minimum turn radius; think finding yourself in a blind valley or box canyon.

Eights on Pylons: using and understanding pivotal altitude is great on sight seeing flights when passengers want to take pictures of things on the ground.

Steep Turn: All about flying the airplane aggressively while being safe; important to understand over banking tendency. Great for collision avoidance, overshooting final (shouldn't ever be in this situation, but sometimes necessary during a power off 180 emergency) and box canyon scenario.

Ground Reference Maneuvers: Drunkenbeagle nailed that one.

Lazy Eights: Possibly a good way to show potential and kinetic energy; why the relationship between altitude and speed is important and how we can trade one for the other in certain emergency situations. Really boils down to why altitude is our friend.
 
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