Although I have been ringing for more than 40 years, I have never taught anyone to ring. Finally, due to taking on the responsibility of being acting tower captain at my local tower, I decided I should learn how to teach bell handling. I was fortunate that I could attend a one-day training course designed to cover all aspects of teaching bell handling and to give potential ringing teachers the confidence to put their skills into action. This is the ART teaching bell handling course, M1. I joined the next available course in my area on Saturday 27th April at St Paul's, Birmingham. The course was led by Clare McArdle. There were eleven students from towers across Birmingham and beyond. We all had varying degrees of experience: some students had been teaching learners for some time whereas others had never taught. We all recognised the importance of developing the skills and confidence to teach bell handling.
The course was structured with alternating theory and practical sessions.The emphasis of the theory was on teaching complex skills by breaking them down into smaller skills. The learner focuses on the smaller skills and then puts them together. The complex skill can be broken down again if the learner needs it. The importance of giving good, instant feedback to learners was made clear as was spotting and correcting incorrect handling before it becomes permanent! The practical sessions were extremely important for developing the confidence to allow learners to handle a bell from the start while remaining in control of the learning process. Clare made the point that, even if we did not have a learner to teach straight away, we could practise our teaching skills on experienced ringers and keep those skills fresh. We worked together during the practical sessions with some of us being teachers, some being learners and then swopping over.
One of the most useful things we did during the practical sessions was to start teaching ringing a bell up and down straight away. The learner feels the weight of the bell and holds and pulls the rope right from the start but the teacher can minimise risks through controlling the “up” part of the process. Before the course I had never realised that this could be the main way to teach bell handling.
At the end of the course we were given lots of useful resources, links to the SmART Ringer website and the name of our mentor who will guide us to become accredited ART teachers. I was on the course with two ringing colleagues from my tower. Since the course we have been teaching our learners in dedicated bell handling sessions as a team of three teachers. We have been able to use all the skills we learnt in the course and we have supported each other throughout. Our confidence as teachers has improved massively.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.