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A Day in the Life of a CFI Academy Instructor

A Day in the Life of a CFI Academy Instructor

By Jay Elder

At the orientation during the first day of the American Flyers CFI Academy, we stress the importance of many things. One of those that is important as you transition to your flight instructor ratings is learning a new “mindset”. For most of us, prior to our quest to become Instructors, previous training involved our instructor directing everything we do; demonstrating maneuvers and talking us through each element and lesson and thereby teaching us what we need to “learn”.

For a CFI candidate and what we stress in the American Flyers CFI Academy – you will need to adapt and learn quickly to see yourself as the instructor – even in the beginning. You must change your thinking and imagine that your actual instructor is now your student. This requires some effort. We coach our new candidates through this paradigm shift as they present their lesson plans for the first time. At first, this feels somewhat awkward as these CFI candidates attempt to teach in the third person, with the presentations sounding like “if I was the instructor, I would say this” instead of “I AM the instructor and you are the student and this is our lesson for today.” This is common and perfectly normal. We help overcome this challenge by providing numerous practice teaching opportunities. Along with your fellow students and your supervising instructor all pretending to be your students for the benefit of this exercise, you will have a much easier time adapting to this mindset of being the instructor. Of course, what is really important is that on check ride day, you are ready for the oral and teaching in the plane; and even more beneficial is that you are ready to go to work as a flight instructor with practical experience as soon as you graduate and become certified.

It is key to remember that our goal is to prepare you to not just to be ready for your check ride, but more important to prepare you to teach others how to be competent and safe pilots. All new CFls sometimes get lost in the detail of facts, figures and concepts and lose sight of the fact that it takes lots of practice to make things simpler, and easier to understand. Avoid the trap of making subjects more complex and complicated. So, with all the acronyms and abbreviations in the lingua franca of aviation, don’t forget the adage and abbreviation KISS: Keep It Simple “Silly”… 

Let’s face it, lots of practice is needed to learn how to simplify the ins and outs of aerodynamics, maneuvers, and regulations, to name a few. Throughout the American Flyers flight instructor academy, our candidates get hours of hands-on teaching practice and hone their skills as educators. In the end, it’s the goal of the Instructor to meet the objectives of the lessons; promote the safe practice of the airplane, set examples and encourage good judgment and impart our best procedures and techniques to continually raise the level of our student pilots’ understanding and ability to make our skies safer.