Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ross Bentley's Instructor Series: #3 - Integrate Classroom With On-track Instruction

I am thrilled to share that world famous performance coach, race car driver, author, and speaker Ross Bentley has put together a series of instructor-focused articles exclusively for OneHotLap. Here is Part I - What It's All About and Part II - What Happens When You Ask Questions? in case you missed them. And here is today's eye-opening Part III in the series --

#3 - Integrate Classroom With On-track Instruction
This tip is primarily for Chief Instructors, or whomever is in charge of the overall curriculum for the HPDE programs for your car club or organization. 

First, a question: Why do DE programs have classroom sessions?

1. To give students something to do between on-track sessions.
2. To give classroom instructors a chance to show our students how much we know.
3. To do to students what was done to us when we first started.
4. Because it’s always been done that way.

Okay, that's a bit sarcastic, but it seems pretty close to the truth for many DE programs. When I ask Chief Instructors why they have classroom sessions, they usually talk about giving students an understanding of the vocabulary on-track instructors will use, and preparing them with the theory behind what they will experience on the track. But even with that, there often is a big disconnect between what is said in the classroom and what on-track instructors talk about.

Now's the time to stand back and look at your DE program and see how you can integrate the classroom and on-track instruction better. There are many ways of doing that. It may require instructor training, a complete rewrite of your curriculum, different scheduling, new presentation materials, online discussion tools or a combination of these things and more. One thing for sure is that every on-track instructor should have a written list of topics just discussed in the classroom session, along with specific objectives the student should be working on, for their upcoming session.

Having interviewed countless numbers of HPDE instructors and students, one of the most common comments I've heard could be summed up by saying that what is presented in the classrooms has little to nothing to do with what the in-car instructors are talking about.

Notice that I said that this comment didn’t just come from instructors. In fact, the bulk of the comments I heard came from students. And get this: Most of these were students of car clubs that raved about how their curriculum, their instructors, and their HPDE program was far better than everyone else’s.

Yes, it's ironic but sad. The fact is that most of the students I’ve heard complaining were participants of the programs put on by the clubs that bragged the most about how good they were. So, before you write off this article as not applying to you and your club’s program, think again.

And if integrating the classroom with the on-track instruction sounds like a daunting task... well, it can be. But when done right your DE program will move to a whole new level. And your students will notice the difference. They will no longer complain, as they may be right now.

Ross Bentley

For more of Ross' writing, along with articles by other famous and not-so-famous contributors, go to www.speedsecretsweekly.com. He can be reached at ross@speedsecretsweekly.com.