Effective Educator = Learning!

Student progress and learning are primarily determined by the quality of the educator. Though 50% of the variance in educational effectiveness is the “raw material” that students bring to the table, fully 30% of variance is determined by the skills and attitude of the educator. Environment and equipment figure in at less than 10%

But unfortunately, lack of student progress is often dismissed with all kinds of incriminating accusations pointed at the learner. And often the real cause is the skill and motivation of the teacher. As my mentor would say “if the student has not learned, the educator has not taught.”  And the best way to improve and keep the motivation going for an educator is to continue to grow and learn; humility in the face of a new challenge. Most CFIs embrace the role of “expert” and this can easily segue into the pompous and annoying “know-it-all.” Remaining an eager learner requires a degree of humility that fosters a better relationship with the student; “partners on the road to greater excellence.”

Humility seems especially rare in aviation. If the standard 70% of drivers claim to be “above average,” (Lake Wobegon effect) probably 95% of pilots think they are “better than average” (and in charge). Though it takes a lot of confidence and strong personal belief to pilot successfully, it is essential to dial this back to be effective as an educator (two very different roles in aviation). Arrogance and impatience are toxic to a learning relationship. Educators need to willingly accept student fumbling and self-correction by staying in touch with the challenges of learning themselves. Fly safe out there (and often).


Join SAFE and get great benefits (1/3 off ForeFlight!) This supports our mission of increasing aviation safety by promoting excellence in education.  Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

About the author

David St. George

David St. George is an FAA DPE (Sport to Multi ATP) and a Part 135 charter pilot flying the Pilatus PC-12 in the NYC area. He recently renewed his Master Instructor for the tenth time and is a Charter member of SAFE. Formerly a 141 Chief Instructor for over 25 years, with a Gold Seal CFI. David started flying at 16 and has logged over 15,000 hours. He owns a 1946 7AC Aeronca Champ and wrote the SAFE Toolkit app.


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