Saturday, 2 August 2014
Good Learners Gone Bad.
Looking at unit 6.4.2. of the National Standards Document I see that most of the Performance Standards information is directed towards organisations rather than individual instructors which most of us are. I have been with a couple of franchises over the years and neither had any kind of policy regarding threatening behaviour towards instructors. The terms and conditions documents mainly focussed on the financial and time keeping aspects of the job. There were never any guidelines about what to do if attacked.
It would have been useful to have had a policy to present to learners upon beginning a course so they are aware that threatening behaviour will not be tolerated. The DIA code of conduct doesn't mention this either. It is purely the instructor's obligation towards the pupil. Perhaps we should put more emphasis on the pupil's obligations towards their instructor?
The knowledge and understanding requirements raise some interesting questions. I have never read a health and safety in the workplace document that was much use to people who work in vehicles. I've never had a fire extinguisher or first aid kit in the car once. I don't know if I'm legally obliged to do so. Perhaps I should go and find out.
The extent and limits of our obligation to protect learners from the risk of physical or verbal violence during sessions is an interesting one. Does it mean a threat from third parties? I don't know what I would do if a learner was attacked by another angry driver. I like to think it would never happen. You can be in real trouble if you physically restrain someone these days. Where would you find out what is acceptable? I wouldn't know if I'm prepared to put myself in harm's way for a learner or if I'm even obliged to. I like to think my bravery would save the day.
Interpreting body language and tone of voice is second nature to an experienced instructor I would say. Sometimes a pupil can tense up and then it's just time to lay off the instruction for a while and have an easy drive. Let things cool down. I find pupils always apologise during the next lesson if they think they've been difficult. There's usually a reason behind it that has nothing to do with driving lessons. There are limits to how much we can defend ourselves but I don't know what these are either. No info on where I would find out which is a downfall in this document.
A lot of difficult situations can be avoided just by the instructor being calm and consistent themselves. Takes a bit of effort sometimes. There are times when I can hear annoyance creeping into my voice and I have to control it. Nobody wants an angry instructor. We set an important example by how we act in the car. By keeping it relaxed and professional we can go a long way towards avoiding any unpleasantness. Happy days.