The ART M1 Bell Handling Course held at St Philip & St Jacob’s (Pip n Jay’s) Church in Bristol on Friday 9 September was different in many ways.
First and foremost it had been organised and sponsored by CCCBR specifically for University students looking to improve their teaching skills as part of their bid to attract new ringers to the various University ringing groups. Since the Universities were not yet back from their summer break we managed to arrange this for a Friday rather than the more usual weekend.
The course included 8 students, many of whom who had travelled from across the country ready for a prompt 09:00 start on Friday 9 September. This, as most readers will recognise, was the day after the announcement of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. A hastily arranged discussion on the Thursday evening agreed that the course could, and indeed should, go ahead given the distances travelled and that we would be ringing on completely tied bells so that there would be zero impact on anybody outside the tower.
The Course itinerary was also rearranged to ensure that the assembled company could take part in the fully-muffled ringing around the City at noon on Friday; something that all of us felt privileged to be part of and any disruption to the planned proceedings a small price well worth paying.
The final difference was that the course rolled over into a second day on the Saturday morning when 4 non-ringing volunteers came along to provide our student teachers with some valuable real-world experience. We divided the 8 students into 4 pairs, together with one of the learners and an experienced teacher alongside to put some of the ideas and techniques covered the previous day into action. During the mid-morning break, lesson plans were created, reviewing what had been covered, what worked well and what next steps were required for each of our volunteer learners. Back in the tower we switched teacher pairs and learners, using the lesson plans to pick up where others had left off and give everyone a wider range of experiences.
Despite the ‘out-of-our-control’ disruptions, my belief was that this was a very successful event. The feedback from the students and indeed their interest and enthusiasm during the whole event seems to support this. It was really helpful having two ART Tutors jointly leading the course along with Colin Newman and Claire Penny as helpers – that certainly helped us make up some of the lost time in streamlining the practical sessions.
In summary, this was a new initiative aimed at encouraging younger ringers into teaching. Our thanks are due to Colin Newman and Matt Jerome for all their work on behalf of the CCCBR in putting this together. Nobody quite knew how it would work but we could not have assembled a more enthusiastic group of young people who came with open-minds and a willingness to try whatever was thrown at them. Lesley and I had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend in their company. The immediate opportunity to put the learned ideas into practice was invaluable, with all of the new teachers contributing to the advancement of their volunteer learners and we had one of those competently handling a bell by the end of a single morning. A great end to a great new initiative.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.