On Saturday 12th October six potential new ringing teachers met at the Church of St Mary, St Katherine and All Saints, Edington, Wiltshire to take their first steps towards teaching new recruits the ancient art of bell ringing. They had come from across Dorset and Wiltshire with one travelling from Essex and were all in good spirits about the day before them.
The tutor for the day was Paul Lewis who had travelled from Shropshire and he was helped by David Hacker, the local organiser, and Len Roberts from Dorset who took charge of the housekeeping during the day, as well as contributing from his experience as a teacher to the course. Ruth Beavin from Trowbridge supplied and served a splendid buffet lunch.
The day started with a welcome and introductions over a cup of coffee and biscuits and then we all made our way up into the ringing room for the first presentation by Paul, “Teaching a skilled activity”. Paul was soon able, through his skills of lecturing, to engage the delegates into the discussions which took place during the presentation and to share with all of us their experiences and concerns. We then moved on to the first of the practical sessions of the day, “The basic components”. For this session the delegates were paired up, one of the pair acting as the teacher and the other the new learner, an opportunity for delegates for more sharing of ideas and experiences and to see the need to adapt to the learners way of understanding and learning. At the end of this session we all moved down into the church again where Len had a welcome cup of coffee and a large array of biscuits waiting for us.
Our next session was a practical, “Joining both strokes together” which tested the communication skills between teacher and learner to try and avoid any disasters. It went well as it is probably one of the most challenging parts of learning that a new learner is faced with. This was followed by another presentation, “Becoming a good teacher” which explained the skills of observation and communication and the relevance of positive feedback.
When we next descended into the church a splendid spread had been prepared consisting of quiches, salads, cheeses and bread and this was followed by meringue nests filled with seasonal berries and topped off with fresh cream and then pieces of homemade cake with and endless supply of tea and coffee. Needless to say we would have all welcomed an after lunch nap but it was not to be.
Before we went back into the tower Paul gave us the opportunity to browse through some ART merchandise he had brought with him and make any purchases we wanted to and then it was back upstairs to our next practical session, “Teaching ringing up and down”. This time we moved the delegates round so they were paired with another person which gave them the experience of working with a different learner/teacher as they will probably be doing this when they start teaching in their tower.
Paul then gave a presentation, “Solving handling problems”, which emphasised the importance of spotting small handling errors in the early stages of bell handling and spending time correcting them so they do not become habitual as well as discussing different techniques for correcting errors. We then viewed the ART DVD which showed various stages of learning with the potential errors which might creep in alongside the correct handling component required and suggested ways of correcting the faults. This was followed by the final practical session of the day. “Solving common handling problems”, where the delegate who was acting as the learner was asked to ring, but put in some obvious handling errors and the acting teacher had the task of trying to spot the error and take steps to correct it.
We made our way after this downstairs once more where not only were we offered more drinks and biscuits, but also an array of homemade cakes which Len had brought with him for which we were very grateful. After a final chance to browse the ART merchandise we made our way back into the tower for the final presentation of the day, “And Finally” which was a summary of what we had experienced during the day and what we had to do next in our role as teachers to gain ART accreditation, as well as what backup and resources we would have access to through the ART website.
Although everyone was tired after a long and active day all agreed it was a well-run and informative course - thank you Paul for making it so interesting.
Some delegate feedback comments:
'Thank you; an excellent day. Breaking down elements of handling I found to be very helpful in all areas of teaching and learning',
'Really happy with this course. It's given me confidence to start teaching a new learner. Thank you',
'Had problems booking course - sorted out by Administrator. Did get a bit mixed up on some of the techniques but I'm happy I'll sort these out on reflection',
'Good teacher, everything easy to understand',
'The course was well presented and the practical sessions covered the topics comprehensively with time for individual inputs to be considered'.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.