In July of 2010 the FAASTeam approached SAFE asking if we would be interested in collaborating with them to remodel their “CFI Workshops.” At the time, those workshops were a quarterly series of long “lectures” designed to provide participating CFIs with the opportunity to renew their certificates, provided they attended all eight modules over a 24- month period. In essence, it was a long, drawn out FIRC.
What the FAASTeam was seeking from SAFE was the creation of a series of quarterly gatherings open to all CFIs and DPEs to discuss training issues dealing with topics related to the causes of fatal accident. Rather than a series of somewhat boring presentations consisting of a presenter reading multi-bullet-point slides to a sleepy audience, they wanted presentations that stimulated the participants to share their own personal best practices and observations, as well as allowing for interaction between CFIs and their local DPEs. The FAASTeam wanted SAFE to create this series of presentations that steered away from “teaching” the topics, in favor of a “facilitated” discussion about the topics by those who teach them on a daily basis.
SAFE agreed to the collaboration with one proviso…all of the presentations would be made available to SAFE members so that they could use them for their own presentations to General Aviation audiences. (Most of these presentations are available in the SAFE Members Only Resource Center.)
The first quarterly presentation was launched in the fall of 2010 on the topic of stalls. Since then, 13 more SAFE presentations have been offered, with two more in the queue. So, from the creation side of the program, we have done quite well. But that only fulfills one half of the goal. The other half is getting aviation educators to participate in these presentations.
I have personally presented all of the forums in both the Albany (NewYork) and Windsor Locks (Connecticut) FSDO areas since the inception of the program. But I am sad to report that, most typically, the only folks who attend these programs are those more experienced CFIs, the ones who need the program least. That is not to say that they don’t have very valuable input. There hasn’t been one forum where I didn’t personally learn something new, or been exposed to a different way of teaching a topic than the one I used. It’s just that low-time CFIs, the ones who could use this information the most, are rarely there.
So I am reaching out to you, the SAFE membership. Let’s make the SAFE/FAASTeam Instructor Open Forum series a success on both sides of the equation. It would be fantastic if you could attend the next Open Forum in your neck of the woods, and more importantly, why don’t you drag along those new, low-time CFIs that you might know. Not only will it provide them with an opportunity to learn new techniques of teaching, it might also inspire them to join SAFE!
Yours in Aviation Safety,
Doug Stewart is the Executive Director of SAFE. He is also a full time flight instructor, DPE, and eight- time Master Instructor. He is the 2004 National Instructor of the Year. He has provided more than 10,975 hours of dual instruction.