Lesson 1) Rules and Regulations
Hello and welcome to my humble courtyard and to Magical Transportation! I'll be your instructor, Madame Fox. In my many years of guiding youngsters through the skies (as well as working in the Department of Magical Transportation) I’ve learned quite a few things, and am hoping to pass them onto you. In this course, you can expect a thorough background in multiple types of flying apparatus, with a particular focus on broomsticks. At the end, provided you pass the course, you’ll be able to bring your own broom with you to Hogwarts as Second Years, and you will be fully prepared (and trusted) to fly on your own with no supervision from Hogwarts staff! If you have to retake this course, don’t worry, it won’t keep you from going onto your Second Year. It may sting your pride a bit, but plenty of competent Quidditch athletes have been late bloomers and needed to take the class twice or, in some cases, ended up sleeping through the final exam. They were very motivated to set their alarm next year! I’m sure you can imagine the discomfort of being on the Quidditch team, but not being allowed to practice unless supervised by a staff member! It made for quite the interesting Quidditch season that year.
But enough reminiscing. In case you’d like a sneak peek at the topics we’ll be covering, you’ll find a syllabus on the board:
Lesson 1: Rules and Regulations
Lesson 2: Madness at the Ministry
Lesson 3: History of Broom Flight
Lesson 4: Broom Theory
Lesson 5: Flight of the First Year
Lesson 6: Flashy Flying
Lesson 7: Magic Carpet Ride
Lesson 8: Feathered Friends
Lesson 9: Other Flights of Fancy
Starting in your fifth lesson, many of the classes will be in two parts: a discussion followed by a practical segment where you will be able to put what you've learned in the lesson to actual use. After all, the best way to learn is by doing, or, in this case, getting out into the open air! If you’re feeling a little queasy at this prospect, fear not! You’ll not be in danger in this class, at least, not if you pay careful attention and follow all rules. For this reason, we’ll be covering safety measures and rules quite thoroughly before we officially take to the skies. And, if it helps put your mind at ease, I’ve not lost a pupil yet!
Rules of the... Road
Because negotiating the rules fifty feet in the air is both a bit difficult and dangerous, we’ll need to be clear on things well before we take off. These rules are here for your safety, your classmates’ safety, and finally, mine. Anyone who breaks these rules faces immediate house point deductions, a good shot at months of detention, and even possible expulsion.
I have no doubt that many of you come from wizarding families and may well even own your own broom already, but these rules apply nonetheless. Even Viktor Krum was not a Seeker superstar overnight, and neither are you! No matter how well you think you fly, you’ll be sticking to my simple basics while in my class. Often, students neglect the basics for the flashier stuff and end up getting here with little clue how to accurately steer. More importantly, just because you are an ace at airborne acrobatics doesn’t mean all your classmates are! By deviating from instruction, you risk colliding with or surprising those that are brand new to a broom, which will not end well. With that mandatory reminder that we all need to follow the rules, let’s break my three rules down:
1) Pay attention.
As mentioned, even if you think you’re quite the flier, listen to my directions. Your elder brothers and sisters may well have taught you incorrect or sloppy techniques. Plus, you don’t want to be the one flying left when everyone else goes right. So, make sure you’re tuned in when I’m talking!
2) Come prepared to fly.
Even if we’re to be discussing theory, history, or regulations, be sure you’re set to jump onto a broomstick. This means a few things. First, I will insist that all those with long hair tie it back in some fashion. On a broomstick in large groups, peripheral vision is crucial! Additionally, it is best to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes underneath your robes, as well as some closed toe shoes. You do not want to have your shoes sailing off while you’re flying through the air -- you may never find them again! Any other equipment like pads, helmets, or broomsticks will be provided to you at the appropriate point in the lesson, so you needn’t fuss over acquiring those.
3) Whenever you hear my whistle, return to the ground.
As a general rule, hearing my whistle is a direct instruction to touch back down to earth again. It’s charmed to carry quite far, and I assure you it is far more enjoyable (for all parties) than making me yell for your attention. Of course, many times my whistle will mean “begin,” “turn,” or “stop,” but I’ll always explain beforehand. If you’re hearing a whistle and you don’t know why or don’t know what to, it more than likely means I want you out of the air.
Now, these rules do not mean there’s no fun to be had in flying class. Quite the contrary, actually! Without these rules, I wouldn’t be able to take you into the skies at all, or trust you to do any of the maneuvers we’ll be trying later on in the year. Once we get administrative things out of the way, we’ll be taking to the skies as often as possible! With these rules in mind, we will have the freedom to enjoy ourselves without compromising our safety.
Of course, it’s not all brooms and breezes. You will have assignments. However, most assignments will come either in the form of brief written reports on your progress that week (if we’ve done practical flying), or as quick quizzes to ensure you’ve filed away the necessary information. The main exceptions to this will be your midterm and your final, both of which will have two segments: a practical portion, and a written theory portion. For the practicals, you may be completing a few basic tasks on command, to something as complicated as navigating through an agility course.
For any of your assignments, even if you are a non-native speaker, please be sure to submit your work in English. You may of course write your work in your own native language first, but be sure to translate it to English before submitting so my team of professor’s assistants are able to most efficiently correct it. You may also wish to add the abbreviation “NES” (Non-native English Speaker) to the top of your assignments, as this will exempt you from any spelling or grammar requirements as long as the assignment is comprehensible! Relatedly, if you have a learning disability, write LD at the top of your submissions for the same leeway on spelling and grammar. The one place we won’t be having leeway, however, is plagiarism! Make sure you are using your own words to answer questions, or your assignment will be returned to you with a 0% and no chance to redo!
For a final note, I would like to take the time to mention my PAs, who as referenced, will be grading your assignments. If you have questions on an assignment, be sure to owl them for help before you submit your assignment. Once you’ve submitted your work, it’s too late! They are able to answer questions on content if confused, clarify any doubts you have on various questions, and have the most up-to-date estimates on how soon assignments can be graded. However, be polite. Remember, manners and understanding cost nothing! The PAs and myself are all living, breathing witches and wizards like you with many responsibilities and requirements on our time. Assignments are not graded instantaneously.
That’s All For Now
And that is where we will end today's discussion. I know many of you are disappointed we’re not doing Wronski Feints on the first day, but remember that we all learned to crawl before we could walk. Next week will be on more abstract subjects as well, but they will be no less crucial, as we will be discussing the Ministry of Magic and how to ensure you are not only flying safely, but legally. I imagine no one wants to take a one-way flight to Azkaban!
For your assignment this week, I’d like a brief introductory essay on your previous experience (or lack of) with flying. It helps me get an idea of the composition of my pupils, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. More details will be forthcoming in the assignment itself. In addition, there will be a short quiz on the key things I want you to remember from the lecture. Make sure to grab a copy of both as you exit the classroom. With that, it is time we say goodbye. Until next week!