I’ve worked for the past eight years for the YMCA as an Accredited Counsellor. Becoming an Approved Driving Instructor may seem like a massive deviation, but read on! It amazed me how difficult it was to find a recommended Approved Driving Instructor when I needed them, and to be honest, before doing this job had very little idea of either the standard of tuition required, or even how effective this would be for my children’s future life behind the wheel. So when I was advised that the DVSA decided to change the way the learning to drive syllabus was taught in 2014, to create a “thinking” rather than just a “doing” Driver, I realised that the role of counsellor and Instructor could complement each other, and I also wish my own children had learnt like this. I’m fairly sure I’m not the only mum whose been delighted when their son or daughter has returned from their driving test with that pass certificate, with this emotion quickly replaced a few hours later by high anxiety as they’ve sped off independently, usually to an unknown destination miles away, leaving me waiting for the “I’ve arrived ok “text. So I want to help my clients become good, safe, and indepenent drivers beyond their driving test.
How do I teach?
The first thing I do is work out with my client how they learn best. Some people like a more technical approach, whilst others find a demonstration or visualisation helpful. I believe each lesson has to be as unique as the client sitting in the seat beside me. A lot of the time clients don’t realise that they actually have many valuable experiences and knowledge already from being a cyclist, being a passenger with friends and relatives, and even as a pedestrian. We’ve all crossed roads and managed not to get run over, which is quite an achievement sometimes! These are all skills that are transferable to driving. There might be times when you start a lesson feeling anxious, tired or having had a particularly rubbish day at college or work, and this could all be reflected in your driving. My job is to work with you to make sure this is all taken into consideration well before we turn on the engine, deciding what is going to work for you in that moment. We learn best if we actually enjoy the process and the foundation for this is a supportive, equal, honest relationship. After all, who wants to sit in a car with somebody for hours if you feel like you're not working together on the same page? Learning to drive should be a great experience that opens up possibilities, develops independence and allows the individual to move forwards with their lives, quite literally.