Conversations with Lou

The follow extracts are taken from discussions on an ADI forum recently and may be of interest to you

- my responses are in blue

Hi Lou

Just been reading the link you posted on the coaching thread…….Fascinating stuff! will be printing some of it out. feel like this could be a long journey for me as they seems so much. interesting stuff tho,it really is. A quick question for you tho Lou. Do you find you can “coach” all your pupils? As I really do think that if I used some of these scenarios from the link that some (not all) would say “dunno!” or “I just want you to tell me how to drive can we get on with it”. How would you deal with theses kind of pupils? cheers in advance. oh and sorry for bugging you again but i think i may have caught the bug for this coaching lark!

Good morning

Make as much contact as you like cos I’ve caught the ‘coaching bug’ good and proper and so sharing thoughts and experiences is really exciting for me! One of the key things with coaching is the relationship between coach and coachee. This 50/50 ratio and the giving of responsibility works best from the very first minute of the very first lesson. So definitely the pupils that I have met and coached from day one are very different from the pupils that you or I may have ‘instructed’ and then try to coach. To give you an example, even the guys who have had lessons with another ‘instructor’ and then come to me get coached from me but I have to take into account where they are at. I have a wonderful bit of footage of me coaching a young girl who has had a  couple of lessons before and talks about how she’s been ‘instructed’ previously and what she has done so far. She then goes for a drive knowing that I will NOT be telling her what to do or where to go. She can’t do it! She is a classic product of a pupil who has learnt nothing other than
how to follow instructions. She may have been doing junctions beautifully for a couple of lessons but take away the full talk through and her brain is empty…..what has she really learnt??

To then coach her takes time. Time to give her permission to experiment without being judged or lead, time to feel like a novice but without embarrassment or criticism. Time to learn for herself….and by that I mean really learning.

So I guess my answer to your question is that yes, I coach all of them. My mantra is ‘coach, coach, coach, coach some more and then instruct’. Yes there are occasionalsituations where I revert to instruction for a particular situation when I know I have exhausted there own brains or if the road situation indicates the need to take over and the pupil needs something extra, for example this particular girl I have on film stalls at a junction on a hill with a car behind us, close and impatient. She stalls again. I tell her I am going to instruct her, follow my voice and we will move off due to the car being behind us. It’s very interesting watching her face. She goes into ‘receive mode’ robotic, follows instructions and becomes a passive driver. I didn’t notice this until I watched the video back and I then realised that this brain mode is what 99% of learners go into when being instructed! Two lessons later she is driving independently, choosing her route, coming to situations not dealt with before but as long as her brain is activated and she is coached in a way that stimulates her own problem finding solutions she works it out- very empowering and wonderful to watch!

The ‘dunno’ mode if you like, describes this beautifully! Their brain is not activated!

As far as coaching pupils who are in ‘dunno’ mode then yes, this is very possible too. The process of activating the brain is fascinating and coaching tools and techniques are the only way I know of doing this.

The ‘dunno’ answer is fine! Work with it! For example say ” shall I give you and example and then you give me one?” or ” if you did know, what would the answer be?” ( I like that one….and it works brilliantly!). Or ” if you asked me that question what answer would I give? Or what answer would your best mate give? ” “what do you think about that answer?”

If coaching questions are about feelings then you may get an answer you can work with. For example “Ok Gemma, you say you don’t like roundabouts because they ‘stress’ you….what exactly is it that ‘stresses’ you?”. ” Tell me what stress feels like” ” Tell me of an occasion in your life where you have been stressed and what you did to cope”. ” So thinking about roundabouts again, what could you do to lessen that ‘stress’?” Hope this is a start….
Lou

Hey again, hope you’re well.

I just wanted to let you know about a new starter I had today. I used my limited coaching experience from watching you and using reading materials and found it went extremely well. I don’t think a 2 hr lesson has ever gone so quick. i found it so much more rewarding than just “telling” then “asking”.
This young chap ended up turning left major to minor and minor major independently making his own decisions. In your words, the faults were “countless”
but seeing his mind ticking over and working out his own problems logically just through the use of thought provoking questions was great.

I used the scoring system which i watched you do,asked what he enjoyed most/ least and added why he felt that way, The best skill which he thought he’d acquired and what he thought he needed more work on. I also used the “who’s responsibility,and who’s in charge?” questions like you which went down a treat, (that was probably my fave part of your vid!) So all in all i was well chuffed! I used minimal instruction but found that sometimes it just had to be used.

The lad said he couldn’t believe how much he’d learned and didn’t think he’d even be driving in his first lesson never mind just told to “get on with it!”. I found the lesson much more interactive and enjoyable than a normal instructing lesson (I usually dislike the first ones too!) so it was a win win.

Obviously i’m no expert but i think i’m grasping the concept of coaching and what its kind of all about ( which is more than i could say before I PM’d you!) so anyways before i waffle on anymore i’ll end it there! just wanted to let you know how it went (feel like a kid coming home from his first day at school telling his mom exactly what he’s done!) but hey ho!

cheers

Wow!
I’m really pleased for you! It sounds brilliant. So what if it’s not pure coaching, you went out and tried something new and to all intense and purposes the outcome has been really productive! I’m very impressed!

I’m really glad you had fun too. Make sure you score yourself and then self evaluate that score and come up with ways you would increase your score in future….what went well, what could have gone better….that kind of thing. Self reflection, evaluation and progress are just as important for you as in is your student.

Second tip, to keep the momentum going with this particular student, write some quick notes about the lesson along the lines of what you’ve already said to me and what I’ve suggested you do for yourself. That way you will stay on track and keep future lessons relevant. Make sure that at the start of the next lesson you re evaluate the first as sometimes feelings change with time to think so another scaling is good to check he’s still happy. Encourage him to set the goals for the lesson. You may hear other coaches/ instructors say to pupils “what would you like to do today?”. But any experienced coach will tell you they would say ” what would you like to improve on today” or ” are there any particular skills you would like to work on today?” you will get very different answers.

You have got yourself a pupil who will never go into ‘dunno’ mode cos once the brain is activated and they are tuned in they will only revert back if you allow it.

Please stay in touch. Don’t be disheartened if the next lesson doesn’t feel so good…it will go in phases….your pupils may feel happy but you will sometimes feel a bit low….this comes as a side effect to self evaluation and reflecting…. it’s called caring I’m never very far away from advice or here just to listen to your successes!

Would you consider writing up your learning and reflections for the new section on the forum, the real learner lesson reflective log section? Doesn’t have to say much cos your enthusiasm will show through. I don’t mind if you say we have communicated and of course you can mention watching the videos. You’ve done a lot for my own self confidence so thank you.

Get writing!

Lou

A second conversation -

Hello again Lou.

Think you knew this was coming, Really enjoyed watching those, I have done very similar types of teaching myself, unfortunately i didn’t have the time so had to interrupt, the lad reversing got his ideas mixed up, i would have had to prompt there, wouldn’t have time to let him see his own mistake but would’ve liked to…..that was 30 years ago.

Going to ask a question here, this is just me talking to you so don’t read to much into the question, its not a moan or a crib. if the situation was, that you took on a partly trained pupil that had had a fair few lessons.Do you think there would be a chance that they have a negative response to coaching; in that they are of the mind, “she just let me drive round without saying anything then asked a load of questions” because they don’t know anything else other than traditional techniques. do you fully explain the difference in teaching approach before you begin?

thanks for the links Lou.

Thank you for your comments and positiveness.

To answer you question in a round about kind of a way……
One of the key things with coaching is the relationship between coach and coachee. This 50/50 ratio and the giving of responsibility works best from the very first minute of the very first lesson. So definitely the pupils that I have met and coached from day one are very different from the pupils that you or I may have ‘instructed’ and then try to coach. To give you an example, even the guys who have had lessons with another ‘instructor’ and then
come to me get coached from me but I have to take into account where they are at. The video of Lucy that you have watched is a wonderful example of coaching a young girl who has had a couple of lessons before. She talks about how she’s been ‘instructed’ previously and what she has done so far. She then goes for a drive knowing that I will NOT be telling her what to do or where to go. She can’t do it! She is a classic product of a pupil who has learnt nothing other than how to follow instructions. She may have been doing junctions beautifully for a couple of lessons but take away the full talk through and her brain is empty…..what has she really learnt??

To then coach her takes time. Time to give her permission to experiment without being judged or lead, time to feel like a novice but without embarrassment or criticism. Time to learn for herself….and by that I mean really learning.

So I guess my answer to your question is that yes, I coach all of them but the differences from their previous experiences has to be highlighted and reasons must be given. My two golden rules ( only rules I have ) are honesty from both parties including the ‘just tell me!’ opt out and the ‘off pedals’ rule ( my get out in a real emergency )

My mantra is ‘ coach, coach, coach, coach some more and then instruct’. Yes there are occasional situations where I revert to instruction for a particular situation when I know I have exhausted there own brains or if the road situation indicates the need to take over and the pupil needs something extra, for example Lucy stalls at a junction on a hill with a car behind us, close and impatient. She stalls again. I tell her I am going to instruct her, follow my voice and we will move off due to the car being behind us. It’s very interesting watching her face. She goes into ‘receive mode’ robotic, follows instructions and becomes a passive driver. I didn’t notice this until I watched the video back and I then realised that this brain mode is what 99% of learners go into when being instructed! Two lessons later she is driving independently, choosing her route, coming to situations not dealt with before but as long as her brain is activated and she is coached in a way that stimulates her own problem finding solutions she works it out- very empowering and wonderful to watch!
I’m sure that coaching will come naturally to you once you are let loose for real! I will be more than happy to give you a few pointers as and when you’re ready!

This following post was written in response to a forum member who shared his recent first attempt at coaching with other members -

Excellent write up! I’ve been reading the coaching stuff on the forum quite a bit. (when i should be studying really) I think you might find that there is a place for standard instruction, and a first lesson on controls, is, if I’m right, such a place. Lou will put me right anyway, i think in such a case, once the basic knowledge is passed over and understood, then coaching comes in and takes over getting the pupil to work it out themselves using their new knowledge. i don’t think at early stages of a subject such as controls, pure coaching can be used. so i think you got it spot on. you used standard instruction to pass information then used coaching to get pupil to think and work things out using that information. It must have felt good for both of you. you have a new approach to teaching that enables the pupil to go home satisfied that they can work it out themselves without constant telling. i am really starting to see how coaching works thanks again for the good honest write up.

I don’t want to take this thread over or down a different street so I’ll have a think about where to respond properly. I also don’t want to diss your comments as ‘wrong’ but I think there is the risk of falling into the trap here of thinking coaching is one thing (hence you hear many ADIs saying ‘I already coach’) when in fact it is something completely different.

For example I have to disagree, with respect, and say that of all the lessons where coaching fits so beautifully is the controls lesson. I have done a few lessons now with complete beginners and never once mentioned pedals, gear sticks or steering. Yet with coaching techniques they have found it all out for themselves in very little time, with great enjoyment and far more understanding than if I’d ‘instructed’. Secondly, and most importantly, coaching is about the relationship between coach and coachee, awareness and responsibility and self learning and reflection. For this to be truly established and optimal then the first lesson in so many ways is the most important one to establish this style of facilitation.

What has been describes is a mixture of techniques of which many will say does not work and should not be encouraged….( more on that later ) but for the likes of this member starting somewhere is important and that is what he’s done, with great results. Knowing a little about this members enthusiasm and desire to learn I am sure that he will be asking himself how to coach from the start and how he can change his current approach to the controls lesson.

I understand your thoughts completely and thank you for sharing them.

If you would like have your own ‘conversation with Lou’ you can contact me via email at louise@driving-instructor.tv or become involved on the forum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>