Every long journey begins with a single step. Once you've decided to go ahead and learn to fly-something you may have been dreaming about for years-and selected a flight school and an instructor, you've set out on the first leg of a satisfying lifelong journey.
You've committed your time and money to achieve your goal, so throughout the process, remember that you're the customer. If you're not satisfied with the service you're being provided, demand your due.
When you begin lessons it's important to try to schedule a lesson once a week or so. If you bunch the lessons together you don't have time to assimilate the information you've learned in previous lessons, and if you spread them out too much you'll forget what you've learned. A week or so between lessons will give you a chance to ruminate over what you did and absorb the lesson.
Today most instructors are pretty good about following a syllabus so that both of you know what to expect during the next lesson. If the instructor doesn't give you a heads-up, ask so you can review the material in your software or hardware references before the lesson.
The physical skills needed to manipulate an airplane are taught in segments that go together like building blocks to accomplish the desired maneuver. The blocks start with straight and level flight, turns and climbs and glides. Those few skills, in various combinations, allow you to perform any maneuver. Once you've caught on to the basics, the next building block is ground reference maneuvers. These exercises are designed to help you develop an understanding of the effects of the wind on your ground track.
The trick to successfully accomplishing ground reference maneuvers is to note where you want the airplane to be above the track on the ground and put it there. For example, when flying turns around a point, if you simply note landmarks equal distance from the reference point and do what's necessary to keep the airplane above those landmarks, you'll be compensating for the effect of the wind.
The method also works in the pattern. As you fly downwind you do what you have to in order to stay the same distance from the runway. Many students have a tendency to fly a converging downwind that angles in toward the runway. If you're having trouble keeping your distance while keeping an eye out for traffic, pick ground references that you can fly over to maintain a downwind leg equal distance from the runway. As you fly downwind, if you're having to hold a wind correction angle away from the runway, you'll know that when you turn on base you'll have a tailwind and need to be careful not to "rudder" around the turn to final and set up a cross-control condition.
If you realize you're going to have a tailwind on base, you can widen out the downwind to give yourself more room to make the turn to final. If you find yourself having to use a steeper bank than you're comfortable with and you've turned base with enough distance from the runway, you can use a shallower bank and fly through the final and back to it, or abort the approach and on the next approach fly a wider downwind leg.