All too often during the course of training students will experience some difficulties with their instructor. These difficulties can range from something as simple as having a rough communication day between instructor and student, or they can be far more menacing such as a fundamental difference in personalities or learning styles. Students who come to talk to me during their training are generally reluctant to address the issue; yet most of the time these issues should have been addressed long before the meeting with the flight school manager / chief flight instructor takes place. The key to remember during these more challenging times is to be your own advocate.
I have written several times about topics concerning students and their learning process or about how to find the right flight school for you. Unfortunately, once training begins, students often feel as though they are on a one way track that has no options or ways to change. Nothing could be further from the truth. A quality flight school will understand your concerns that you are having with your flight instructor as well as accommodating any changes that you will request as a result. When two people who have never met socially begin to work together as a team, there are bound to be problems. Your flight school and your instructor have seen this before.
Having a problem with your instructor should never be a reason to abandon or delay your training. Remember, YOU are the customer! Here are some suggestions on how to proceed.
• First, try and be open with your instructor about your feelings or concerns about the relationship or training material. If your instructor is a true professional, this is not the first time he/she has addressed a student’s concerns. The most common area for friction between and instructor and student is miscommunication. Whether it is the instructor’s style, tone, or word choices, most of the time if you are feeling put off, put down, or upset at the situation, it was likely unintended or a difference in style. Start with asking your instructor for a few extra minutes at the end of a lesson. Address your concerns directly, making sure to use clear terms on how you are feeling and what it is that you would like from your instructor.
• If you have addressed your concerns and feel like there has been little or no change, then don’t hesitate to contact the flight school manager or chief flight instructor. This person’s job is to make sure the instructors are doing what they are supposed to and ensuring that you are getting the experience that you expect. Customer service issues fall squarely in their purview and they are concerned with your experience at their school. Your issue should be addressed with great tact and privacy so any feelings or concerns that you have about going around or over your flight instructor are unwarranted. These issues are handled with professionalism and can only get better if they are discussed openly. The manager will either choose to counsel the instructor privately, as a group setting with you and them, or ultimately suggest a possible instructor change. In any case, the resolution of your issue is the sole objective.
• If you have gone through all the channels, addressed your concerns promptly and in a clear manner and still feel as though no improvement has been made, only then should you consider a change in flight schools. Never use your experiences at a single school or with a single instructor to determine your willingness to continue flight training.
Above all else, remember that if you are not being treated properly, or feel as though learning would be better served with another instructor, YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER! Respectfully request that issues be addressed, a meeting be held between you, management and your instructor, or a change of instructor take place to ensure joyful, quality training is taking place.
Enjoy your learning.
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