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Creating a ground school

One of the very best things that a flight instructor can do is teach a ground school. It brings in extra income and helps an instructor to become a better teacher. Here's a quick course in setting up an effective class.

The format: Teach an eight- to nine-week course with classes that meet twice a week, three hours a night. Give short breaks every hour. Provide coffee, water, and soft drinks for every class. Start class no later than 7 p.m. and end no later than 10 p.m. Don't play music or videos before the class or during break time. It deprives the students of a chance to chat and exchange stories.

Creating a course: Select a good aviation text and a book of FAA test questions. Have students purchase a copy of each. Divide the course topics between the number of weeks chosen for training. Make an outline of the material covered in the FAA test questions specific to each topic you'll discuss (i.e., aerodynamics, FARs, etc.). Teach from this outline. You'll cover at least the basic material expected in a ground school. Add more material to help make pilots safer, instead of just teaching test questions. Assign homework from the test question book to cover topics discussed in class.

Visual aids: Buy an inexpensive overhead projector (check eBay or your local school district's surplus equipment warehouse) and create transparencies of pictures, charts, tables, and text. Give each student three 3x5 cards with the letters A, B, or C written on them. Show multiple-choice questions on the overhead and have students hold up the correct answer card. Don't allow students to peek at each other's answers.

Fun: Make the experience fun for students. They'll love you for it.

By Rod Machado

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