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 (Lifetime Member)

David St. George learned to fly at Flanders Valley Airport in 1970. Proving that everyone is eventually trainable, he became an FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor for airplanes (single and multi, instrument, and glider) and serves the Rochester FSDO as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. In this capacity, he gives flight tests at any level from sport pilot to ATP and CFI. For 25 years David was East Hill Flying Club's 141 Chief Instructor and manager. David holds multi and single engine ATP pilot certificates, with pilot ratings for glider and seaplane and several jet type ratings. He recently earned his 13th renewal as a Master Instructor and owns an Aeronca Champ so he can build hours for that airline job!

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