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Dealing with the No-Show

We all get it: that last minuet cancelation, that day-of text that comes in right as you're walking out of your front door saying, "I don't feel like flying today."

There goes your hours and, not to mention, your money for the day. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but what can you really do about it?

Currently, I'm a 1099 employee. For those of you that are unfamiliar with it, that means I'm not technically employee by a school, I'm an independent contractor. IE I'm my own boss.

Some schools, like part 141, have very regimented schedules and a whole department that holds the student accountable for any payments, prep work, and overall organization of their progress. At a part 61 school, and as a contractor, that responsibility falls on the instructor.

You could lay down the lay.

Show them who sets the schedule around here.

Try and convince them to come in.

I promise you, all of those thing will only waste your time and negatively effect your relationship with your student.

Instead, take a deep breath.

Put the phone down and physically walk away. Most of the time, if you respond right away, you're more heated and haven't had time to think your response through.

Remember your student is a person too.

What is going on in their life?

Maybe they're a stay at home parent who is exhausted from juggling flying and taking care of a little one.

Maybe they've been dealing with a roommate who doesn't respect their need to sleep and they're a walking zombie.

Maybe your student is a highly emotional person who is their own worst critique. (This was definitely me.)

In most scenarios, your student is probably just trying their best to make sure they're doing what you taught them to do, communicate when they're not feeling safe to fly.

You owe it to them to respect that decision.

After you've considered what could be going on in their world, respond to their text but keep it simple and hold them accountable. Confirm the time of your next flight and assign them some reading to have done by the time you meet as homework to compensate for the missed day.

Anything that still needs to be discussed, such as the timing of the text and respecting your schedule as well, should be handled in person. (That'll also give you more time to organize what you want to say.)

And when you do get another chance to meet with your student, start with a question. Ask your student how they're feeling. Follow up on the stressors effecting their study/flight schedule.

When you give your student the chance to tell you where they're at mentally and with their own perception of training, you validate their decision making skills and earn their trust.

Finally, listen to what your student is feeling and turn it into a productive conversation. You don't deserve to have your time wasted or your flexibility taken advantage of and they don't deserve to have the worst assumed of them.

The sooner you address small patterns of behavior with your student, the easier it is to build a mutual relationship of respect and communication. Remember, you can stand your ground and still listen first.

I hope this helps the next time you encounter a student calling out.

Thank you for joining me in my journey and...

Remember to have fun while flying, through this crazy thing called life!


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