A warm welcome from our hosts Matt Thomas and Jonathan Williamson (organiser) set the scene for a very interesting and worthwhile day.
Lesley Boyle started by introducing the things we would be doing during the day, alternating between theoretical and practical sessions to give a balanced approach to learning new ideas and techniques, and refreshing existing knowledge.
With an enthusiastic and open approach Lesley made everyone feel comfortable to ask questions and share ideas with an overall target of bringing everyone to a common understanding of good ideas and ways to teach the basics of a skilled hobby. Right from the start everyone was talking about how they could apply things back in the tower.
The best approach, from my own point of view, was to come along with an open mind to take on the elements that have been put together for the course, whether or not you have had direct teaching experience. The fundamentals are generally there – a focus on safety in the ringing chamber and the longer term target of teaching an individual to be able to ring a bell – but the refreshing thing that I learnt was how much those fundamentals could be further broken down into much smaller components.
With three fresh learners already lined up to learn at Rushmere it is easy to see how the elements learned during the course can be applied and especially how much more comfortable I am personally in my approach to teaching them. I have more confidence and understand better how the simple concepts of the hand-stroke and back-stroke, and then the challenge of combining the two, can be broken down into simpler actions that more easily piece together to form the whole-pull.
This is wholly supported by the additional comments from others who attended:
Loraine Beer – St. John's, Felixstowe: I thought the course was well thought out and presented. It has improved my confidence regarding my ability to actually teach!
Eric Brown – Otley: I think that the day was excellent. Although over the years I have taught many to ring bells I now look at teaching in a different light and have picked up a number of good points. The benefit of us all teaching in the same way can only be good for bell ringing.
Carol Brown – Otley: A very worthwhile day and I think the structure of the ART method will help learners to see the progress they have made. A recruitment drive is about to take place in Cretingham.
David Birkby – St. Margaret's, Ipswich: I thought it was an excellent and very thought-provoking day, and I'm looking forward to putting it all into practice when the bells return at St Margaret's. It was also very useful to meet so many other teachers and know there is a community of people to be able to share future ideas/questions/problems with.
Jonathan Williamson – St. Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich: What is so encouraging is that the vast majority of those who completed Module 1 in Ipswich are either already lined up with pupils to teach, or have firm plans to recruit in the near future. I’ve taught many people in the past but ART shifts the focus from just a few teachers taking on lots of commitment, to many teachers each doing their bit and, crucially, with a consistent approach and with support and encouragement from others.
Jacky Savage – St. John's, Felixstowe: The practical sessions helped greatly with my confidence. St. John's, Felixstowe will be running two consecutive afternoon courses for between 6 and 12 beginners in March.
Amanda Richmond – St. Mary-le-Tower, Ipswich: A thoroughly enjoyable day and Lesley was an excellent tutor. Sue did a brilliant job of soup-maker extraordinaire and lunch co-ordinator! We have two young beginners lined up at St Mary Le Tower, so Jonathan and I will be putting our learning into practice, starting this week.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.