The Instructor’s Purpose (RSVP!)

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.

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The 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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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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