I have been an Approved Driving Instructor since 2007, working one to one with a range of clients, from 17 years old, to seventy-something years old, and from all around the world.
Before that, I have always been working in an environment which is based on customer service;
- advising (and gaining grants for,) clients wanting to improve their local landscape,
- working at the Jessops store in Gloucester for ten years, working as part of, and managing the team, aiming at providing excellent customer service, whilst maximising efficiency for the company. Our method was to find out what requirements a client had, and guiding their choice of equipment and techniques, to obtain the results they want.
I love this "job", though I don't think of it as just a job... it is far too rewarding to be just a "job". I wish I had become an Instructor years before.
Working individually with a whole range of customers, to allow them to become safe and confident on today's roads produces great satisfaction each day, though some days are more than others.
I don't like the title of "Driving Instructor", as this implies that I should be preaching and teaching, and that the learning process is a passive one. Learning to drive is a very active process, using trial and error where possible and safe, to learn the consequences of various actions, or lack of actions. I will help my customer to work out a method of how to achieve an outcome; ensure that everyone is able to stay safe whilst the method is tested, and then help the customer to think about how to adapt the method to become more efficient, consistent, and safe, if needed. Every customer works in different ways, so the coaching process is never repetitive.
Everyone is very aware that everybody drives in different ways, and we need to be aiming at producing a method of safely and consistently coping in the traffic and conditions, both before and after "Test". the Examiners will be checking to make sure that they are happy that each individual's driving method is safe each time. They are NOT looking for a certain way of driving to be used during the Test, as they know full well, that each driver will adapt after "Test".
People say that you only learn to drive after you pass your Test, not before it. I both agree, and disagree with this statement.
Prior to Test, a new driver needs to learn how to control the car, and how to interact with other road users, and in different scenarios. Before Test, the new driver needs to understand that other people do not always act safely. The new driver needs to learn the skill of observing a situation as it develops, and to anticipate what is likely to happen next, and how best to prepare for, and deal with, that new situation, in a safe way. They need to be able to do so independently, so that they do not need constant input from someone else, to keep the situation safe.
After Test, the new driver needs to develop their skills further, and understand that people's actions are influenced by, for example, the weather, the time, the passengers, the day's workload coming up soon, and so on.
The tuition car is, of course, dual-controlled, well-maintained, and with well-placed L-Plates, to ensure that other road users are aware of our experience.
The car is a petrol, automatic gearbox, Ford Focus, which drives really smoothly, feels comfortable, without being too big. I have also temporarily used a diesel, manual gearbox Focus as well, to help some specific pupils
The car is maintained at the required service intervals, by an MOT qualified garage local to me.