On Saturday morning, the 22nd of June, I arrived at Higham and parked by a Victorian looking building with a bell tower and spire, St John’s Church. I was a bit early but decided to go in anyway to check that I was at the right place.
The church seemed empty but I found a room with some other trainees, refreshments and someone who served them. ‘It was worth coming here’ I thought, sipping my tea and munching my biscuits, feeling very welcomed. When everybody had arrived we went through registration and plans for the day and then our fun began! I understand that we have all been taught how to ring so we obviously all have some idea of how to teach, but…
There are so many teachers who have different approaches and techniques which we don’t know about because we have only been taught by one or two of them. I felt like this course collected and combined all the known options, experiences, advice, ways and structures of teaching in one module. It seemed like a lot to take in. Despite that we didn't have to make piles of notes as everything was covered and supported by guides and logbooks, which were provided for us, in a very well organised manner. The pack contained all the safety considerations you should go through with your learner, building skills exercises, practical and theory targets.
Some of us know all the theory, can easily explain the physics of a moving bell, and yet feel anxious to grab a rope to rescue a learner. If that’s you, I encourage you to try this course. Some of us are more than happy to assist physically with back/hand strokes, taking rope from a learner but not good at the talking part, and again… if that’s you - try this course.
We had a few sessions of theory and a few practice sessions (and lunch!). We were teachers, we were learners, working on hand and back strokes, ringing up and down, rescuing each other and spotting bad handling. An interesting exercise was to ring left handed. It makes you think and adds a bit of a twist to your ability to control the bell.
Also what really stood out for me is how many psychological aspects are involved in teaching handling. The way you were taught to ring won’t necessarily work for your learner, because we are all unique. We all understand, memorise and learn things differently. For some verbal instruction is enough, others would like to see a demonstration and some have to experience physically what it’s going to be like. So if you want to be a good teacher you’ll have to patiently and tactfully adapt to your trainee’s needs for him/her to succeed in their learning journey.
We covered some safeguarding issues as potentially we will have to work with children and vulnerable adults. Every learner should be deeply respected and valued.
I think this is it from me. Now all I have to do is to find a learner, a volunteer, a victim! Any takers? I’ll see you in St John’s Church, Sidcup, Wednesdays at 8 pm.
Endless thanks to Roger Booth for teaching us to teach, to David Grimwood for being that someone who serves the refreshments and to Higham ringers for hosting the course and letting us into their tower.
Saturday’s Bell Handling course was great and I now feel confident to go back to my tower to start teaching new beginners. The course not only provided the theory in a relaxed atmosphere but we were also able to practice the bell handling skills in the tower which wasn’t always as easy as it looked. Although it was a long day the course was broken down into bitesize chunks which was great from a learning point of view.
Our hosts at St John’s also made us very welcome with plenty of tea, coffee and biscuits and a generous lunch was also provided.
I can fully recommend this course for any ringer who wants to be able to teach bell handling. Thanks Roger!
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.