How did I become a Driving Instructor? Short answer? Maxwell’s Driving School took the time to teach me the ropes. Long answer? Here you go…. Maxwell’s Driving School had me ride with and observe two of their drivers while I was working on getting my Driver Instructor License. The instructors had two different type personalities with two distinct teaching methods that worked individually for them. I can say that I use portions of what I learned from each while in the car with new students. I very much appreciated getting to audit both drivers.
I think, for me, the most obvious characteristic that stood out to me was the even-keeled approach the instructors had with their students. It was also explained to me that I should not be ‘spoiled’ by what I saw from one student to another because all students do not pick up the nuances of driving as quickly. The instructor’s tone was conversational and sure and one that shared a confidence that could be instilled in his student so he could get comfortable and shake any nerves he may have had at first entering the car.
We started with some of the vehicle basics that most of us who have been driving take for granted. Seat placement was his starting point. Adjusting the seat so the student’s right foot was able to contact the brake pedal and with the heel resting on the floor mat so the foot could easily go from brake to accelerator without lifting the foot. Rearview mirror adjusted so the entire rear window was aligned with it and side mirrors adjusted to see a small piece of the car side and level to the road for maximum exposure to other vehicles trailing behind the car. A short discussion on ‘blind spots’ followed the mirror adjustments with the instructor outside of the vehicle and walking up the side to demonstrate where another vehicle would disappear from view and the importance of glancing over your left or right shoulder prior to changing lanes. Review of the interior dash was next highlighting the turn signals, lights, high beams, windshield wipers, tachometer, speedometer, temperature gauge, gas gauge and the Hazard light button; with an explanation on the importance of using it if stalled or on/off the road in an emergency.
With the student’s foot on the brake the vehicle was started and the transmission engaged to ‘Drive’. The instruction began in the parking lot with the easing of the foot from the brake and allowing the car to go forward first with no foot on the gas pedal and steering our way around the lot slowly followed by the student applying some gas and picking up speeds to begin to get a feel for the gas, braking and steering of the car. After some Stop sign practice, left turn and right turn explanation and execution and a newly found confidence as to how the vehicle performed the student was ready for the road and the parking lot was excited.
We drove thru Haddon Heights and Haddonfield, Moorestown and Mount Laurel where we could execute a series of left and right turns while following the rules of stopping at the stop signs, clearing the sight lines for pedestrian and vehicular traffic and moving safely throughout the neighborhood. The student was able to listen to the clearly provided instruction and scan their mirrors for other traffic and drive around to avoid the many obstacles that were encountered on the streets; bicycles, people, animals, parked cars, moving cars…
After getting comfortable in the neighborhood, we graduated to a more major road with higher speed limits and additional traffic lanes so he could be introduced to additional obstacles in moving cars, changing lanes and traffic signals. The student was able to take suggestions and implement them immediately as they drove down the road.
We ended the two hour lesson with an introduction to parallel parking, where the instructor, again, had specific pointers for his student to make sure he could take some visual pointers from the positioning of the parking cones and flags that allowed him to put the car in the 25 foot space and K Turn out once done.
I thought the driving lesson was a good one to observe because I was able to see a student who was sharp, a good listener, and a willing participant take instruction delivered in a calm, professional manner from his instructor and execute the driving of a car for the first time in a neighborhood and execute the basic elements of what is tested for on the Motor Vehicle driver’s license examination and prepare for his road test.
Being a driving instructor is not for everyone, but being able to teach, support and guide those with their NJ learner permit or learning to drive is a great fit for me.