Students know best
Who knows best about how your students learn? You? Probably not. Each student has spent a lifetime living in his or her body, learning all kinds of neat things. Some of them, like walking and talking and calculating orbital equations, are pretty complicated. A betting person (and a wise instructor) would gamble that the student knows more about his or her learning strategy than anyone else. So if you'd like to learn something about the best strategy to use when teaching your students to fly, why not just ask them to tell you?
The next time you're introduced to a student, spend some time chatting with him about some of the motor, perceptual, and cognitive skills he has acquired. Ask how he went about learning those complex skills. Did he need to see a demonstration of a behavior more than once before wanting to give it a try? Did he want to focus on the details of a behavior before learning about its more global aspects? Did he need to engage in trial-and-error practice before settling in with a detailed explanation of the skill to be learned? Perhaps he needed to see several demonstrations, and then practice in complete silence what he observed before receiving feedback.
Your job is to find out what your students know about how they learned what they know, and then put it to good use. This will help your students to learn faster and better, while making the instructional process more gratifying for you.
So the next time you're with a student, ask how she learns and how she'd like to be taught. These simple questions don't take anything away from your position or status as an instructor. Your student might just be flattered (if not shocked) that you'd be insightful enough to ask.
By Rod Machado