Almost every pilot who pursues a career in aviation spends at least a little time as a flight instructor. Achieving that title however means you have to pass the ominous CFI checkride. In order to prepare for your CFI checkride you’ll need to attend a CFI academy.
In this article, we’re going to share three simple tips you should follow to help you prepare for, and pass your CFI checkride.
Prepare Your Own Lesson Plans
After witnessing many, many students pass through our program we’ve come to find a distinct difference between the students who purchase lesson plans and those who write their own.
Students who write their own, frequently understand the material better and are able to more easily recall info as they teach.
While the upfront labor to write your own can be intense, the payoff is huge. Nothing prepares you better for your checkride than taking the time to write your own thorough lesson plans.
And not just a few either. If you will go through and write out every single lesson plan in your own language you’ll be amazed at how well this prepares you to teach and to pass your checkride.
Now, if you’re training at a part 141 flight school your school likely already has lesson plans and a specific order for you to teach them in. So your job is to master those lessons as quickly as possible.
Buying Lesson Plans
Now, if you aren’t quite ready to dive into writing your own lesson plans from scratch, you could go ahead and purchase some.
But you should then go through them and make them your own, by adding notes, references, and diagrams or images you want to include.
The last thing you should do is purchase lesson plans and just read through them in an attempt to memorize them.
While the short term goal is to help you pass the checkride, what we really want is to create effective flight instructors who know the material backwards and forwards.
We’ve found that writing your own lesson plans is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that goal.
Practice with Everyone
As you’re writing your lesson plans, practice them repeatedly. Teach your dog, your brother, your parents, your roommate, fellow CFI academy students, even current CFIs.
Anyone that will give you some time to listen can help you prepare.
During your CFI academy it’s a great idea to find one or two people to partner up so you can teach one another your lesson plans.
Preparing lesson plans and then hearing them taught over and over again by your partners will really help solidify the info in your head and make it easier to recall during your CFI checkride.
If possible, you should also try to practice at least one or two lessons with an experienced CFI. Since they’ve actually worked with multiple students they can help you identify any holes in your lesson plans and help you improve them overall.
During your CFI academy you’ll work with an instructor who you will help you practice teaching but it can be a good idea to get a second opinion from yet another CFI.
Understand How People Learn
One aspect of the CFI academy is learning about how people learn. Much of this material is covered during your CFI checkride but it can be easy to overlook while focusing on your own flying and making sure you’ve prepared & practiced your lesson plans.
During the academy take the time to really understand the material. Don’t merely memorize acronyms and facts. Truly understand what it means and how you can tailor your teaching to different types of students.
While this may not help as much with passing the checkride, this will help you become an excellent teacher and that’s the true goal of a good CFI academy.
As you come to understand how people learn you’ll begin to pick up on what techniques work with each student. You’ll be able to modify your lesson plans effectively and you’ll see your students begin to progress more rapidly.
Understanding these principles of learning, won’t just take place during your CFI academy. As you work with more and more people, your level of experience will increase and absolutely help you become a more effective teacher, but only if you work at it.
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Liz Brassaw is a first officer for a regional airline and the former Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Operations Officer for Thrust Flight. She holds an ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AMEL, ASES with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. She’s passionate about flying and enjoys instilling that love in the instructors on her team and the new students she trains.