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Fiona Taylor – Guilty

Blog by Fiona Taylor - Guilty

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Does anyone else (other driving instructors that is) have a deep feeling of guilt about how they used to teach?

I do.

I feel bad because of how I used to speak to people. How I was told to ‘be in control’ and ‘show them you are in charge’. Actually I was rubbish at it to be honest 😃 The fact is I was told to ‘make them drive how I drive’ and then they will pass their tests. [So; not test focused at all then!!! ] One single event really brought it all home to me.

I was training a lady called Z. Z was one of those people who had massive gaps during her training. One year gap here – two years in between lessons there 😃 Luckily for me she always came back to me – a fact which I absolutely cherish! By the time Z was ready and willing to take her test it was YEARS after she began sessions.

Right in the middle of her training I began my Coaching Journey. It is no secret that I am passionate about my Coaching and the Course that catapulted me into my changes. Z was just as keen on the Coaching – especially because it helped her with her innermost driving demons! (another story for later maybe??) Z really embraced the changes towards Coaching far beyond the understanding I believed her to have.

Here is what happened: – Bear with me – this is around 2013 I think?!I t was the last bout of Z’s sessions. She finally knew that this was ‘her time’ to nail this and begin driving independently with her full licence! She opted to brush up on her manoeuvres as a topic for one session. This was back in the day when we still had Turn In The Road too 😃 She was steadily and confidently working her way through each manoeuver and; as we anticipated, she just needed to have a go and it all came flooding back!… She reflected and implemented any additions to perfection.

I was so impressed, as was she!…… that was until………. until it came to Parallel Parking! — I couldn’t understand it!! She became doubtful, subdued. Apologetic even! Body language changed dramatically!

She said:

“I’m so sorry Fiona. I can’t do this. You will have to tell me what to do again. My mind has gone blank and I’m getting stressed because I can’t remember what you told me to do and when!

When do I check over my shoulder?

When do I turn?

How much do I turn?

… and what was it about the light cluster you said?

I’m so so sorry –

I know you said do something and said about the light cluster

but I can’t for the life of me thing what!!I know you told me loads of times too!”

At this point I just said it’s all fine Z. Relax if you can for a second. No problem at all. Can you explain what you mean? Just take your time because I have just watched you ace all the other manoeuvres. They were all fabulous! – I don’t understand what the difference is with this one…

“Don’t you get it Fiona” she said,”You Coached me for all the other manoeuvres …….. but you ‘Instructed’ me how to do the Parallel Parking.””YOU messed me up!””


I was gobsmacked! She was right! Once she explained I could see it perfectly!

Back in my pure Instruction days (pre 2011), every second session with a New Driver was the same topic. It was one of the only pre-planned sessions I ever delivered. Bay parking was session 2 – and by fluke – it was delivered in a fairly ‘coachy’ way. “My focus” for session two was for the driver to learn about the clutch. My session – my way – learn clutch control now – this way!

The structure was still intended to be lighthearted. Learn clutch control first, then as a bit of fun and a challenge; I would just say, “Go on!! Have a go!! Reverse it into a bay!!” 😃😃 [and they all managed it too 😃 ] The approach was teetering on the borders of Coaching… sadly still Instructor led though.

What Z was pointing out to me (and it was hurting me to hear) was that I had let her, and so many other people down over the years.It may sound drastic to you as a reader. But honestly – I do have a great deal of sadness about this feeling that I have let people down by not having the skills to let new drivers thrive their own way. I wish I had found Coaching right from the start!I am not perfect by any means even now. But I can see that Z was right.All the cockpit drills All the briefings All the talk throughs… just intrusions and hindrances.

“Don’t you see, Fiona – you Coached me to Bay Park –

but Instructed me to Parallel…

so I don’t remember what you ‘told me to do’!”

So – I do have sadness that I have caused these issues in Z and probably other People. I will never know. What I am aware of is that I have delivered NDORS on Road Driver Interventions and been saddened because Full Licence Holders actually get into the car and say “You are not going to make me Parallel Park today are you?? I just can’t do it!!

These are people that I have not met before… but the Instruction legacy is there for many. [not all – I know!]I just wish I knew earlier that it could be so very different 🙂

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