On Saturday 15th October a Module 1 - Teaching Bell Handling Day Course took place at Church Broughton. The course was led by Gillian Hughes and students from Derbyshire and Birmingham attended.
I was keen to attend the course as we are looking to build a band at our local tower in Brierley Hill. The tower hasn't had a practice for over 20 years and so the development of ringers locally hasn't been all that it could have been. Not that I'm an experienced ringer myself, having only started ringing two and a half years ago and currently working towards myLtR Level 5. As such it was with some trepidation that I approached the day.
The day was really well structured and pacy; broken into four theory sessions of around thirty minutes each and three practical sessions of an hour the balance of the day was good. Theory sessions covered learning paradigms, teaching strategies, and videos of key errors which teachers should look for and correct in their students. The key messages were to adapt to the learning style of the student; ensure that good practices are developed in the student from the start; and always be aware of health and safety and safeguarding issues.
Turning theory into practice was more challenging. Sessions consisted of demonstrations by Gillian of how to introduce ringers from scratch to being able to handle a bell well. This was followed by practice activities with participants taking turns to be a student or a teacher. I've been through the LtR process relatively recently and recalled many of the exercises. Attempting to teach those skills though was a different matter.
Observing the position of hands at handstroke and backstroke, that the student was pulling in a straight line whilst also keeping a hold of the end of the rope just in case something went wrong was multi-tasking to the extreme. Panicking that a student might break a stay or let go of the rope was also disconcerting. In short there were all sorts of terrifying challenges. That's where the course was exceeding helpful. Gillian explained the issues and solutions coolly and calmly. The chance to practise with experienced ringers in a safe environment took away many of the worries, building confidence to teach others. Even those who had taught before picked up tips on how to improve.
To underpin these theories and practicals everyone was presented with a folder of materials reinforcing and reminding participants of the themes covered during the day.
At the conclusion of the day the muffles on the bells (in place to protect the sanity of surrounding residents) were removed and a good ringing session took place.
The day was a successful introduction to the art of teaching ringing. Activities were carefully structured and opportunities to put teaching into practice were provided.Now all I have to do is find an unsuspecting student and get going.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.