Reviews of the Integrated Teaching Training Scheme Module 1 day courses arranged by the Surrey Training Group and given by Graham Nabb of the Association of Ringing Teachers at St Peter’s Limpsfield, 9th Oct and St Mary’s Barnes, 10th Oct 2015
“This was a day to remember and savour; it was a wonderful experience that every ringer should complete at some stage in their development. It was like holding a mirror up to yourself. I think it would make a super component of a ringer’s development and perhaps every new ringer should go through a teacher training course to hammer home what it is they have been taught and what it is they are attempting to do.”
“I can say without hesitation that my scepticism was entirely misplaced. My overriding feeling at the end of the day was that I had come away with a whole raft of suggestions which will enable me, with practice in implementing them, vastly to improve my teaching.”
“The knowledge gained from these courses should give our members the momentum and motivation and enthusiasm to work together to teach learners and become accredited Ringing Teachers, improve the standard of teaching bell handling in the Association, and achieve the main objective of recruiting new learners who can become competent and confident members of Surrey towers.”
We all know handling forms the basis of ringing and that mastering this basically divides the would-be ringers into those who go on to ring and those who clang along or just give up. It is absolutely crucial to bell ringing and probably governs whether there will be a next generation to continue the legacy of yesteryear. This course is very much a call to the bell-ringing establishment and to be honest I did wonder why I had signed up for it.
So here I was learning how to teach “handling” surrounded by the ringing elite of the District, and masquerading as “one of them”. However, by the time Graham had got to the second or third slide of his presentation my anxiety at this pretence was relieved, for here was someone talking my language – the language of the beginner, the novice, the “old” novice too, the one who was told he should have started 40 years ago!
It was transformative; “Learners find various ingenious ways of getting it wrong”! Yes! “Adults are concerned about failure” YES!“You have to ensure learners know what you are talking about” YES! “If you can do something right once you can do it again with practice” YES! And so it began; I was hooked.
Graham divided the theory of teaching “Handling”, a huge subject, into three parts.
Part 1. The skills needed to be an effective teacher, many of which had been explored and refined by physiotherapists, whose work involves co-ordination between mind and body. How many times do you have to do something before it becomes automatic? (Answer at the end of the article but have a guess). Ringing is a “big” task so break it down to its individual steps, to biteable bits that can be diagnosed intensively and practiced until accomplished; it is vital to get the muscular memory for correct ringing in place from the start, wrong habits being so difficult to correct. Remember, a beginner is like a blank canvas and whatever you put onto it as a teacher is difficult to remove.
Part 2. So how do you become a good teacher? How do people learn? How do you encourage and reward, for the modern way is for effort to be rewarded by achievement? New young ringers will expect this as their entire educational experience will have been within such a framework, “bangs for bucks”, and “old” learners will appreciate it too; no one resents a compliment and everyone wants to feel they are a useful part of the team. People want to enjoy their ringing and everyone wants to know why they cannot “do it” – so how do you help them? What sort of prompts can you provide for them; audible, visual, physical? See Part 3.
Part 3. How to solve common handling problems. There they all were, just as fresh as they were in our learning days; gravity doesn’t change, Newton’s Laws of motion operate regardless of how many times we attempt to break them and you still can’t push on a rope. Well the answer is to observe closely, analyse carefully, correct sympathetically, encourage appropriately, repeat patiently (i.e. practice) and keep going – onwards and upwards. The object is to prevent bad practice from becoming part of the ringers’ method, prevention being so much easier, and so much less painful, than cure.
But it wasn’t all talk as each of these Theory sessions were separated by a solid hour of practical hands-on teaching, and the methods were so clever and so simple. Have you any idea how much can be taught without a bell but just a length of rope, or with the bell safely below the balance? Attend the next course. Well I knew I wasn’t very good at ringing but as for teaching! Read on. Fortunately for this, my first teaching practice, and this was the amazing thing, it clarified at a stroke how much more I had to think about my own ringing. I can think of no other way of crossing that threshold than of teaching someone else. I should have expected it, after all I taught for 40 years and there is nothing like teaching to show whether you know what you are talking about.
This was a day to remember and savour; it was a wonderful experience that every ringer should complete at some stage in their development. It was like holding a mirror up to yourself. I think it would make a super component of a ringer’s development and perhaps every new ringer should go through a teacher training course to hammer home what it is they have been taught and what it is they are attempting to do.
The class was immensely grateful to Graham for the enthusiasm and clarity he brought to the subject: these are sessions that should be filmed as they would make ideal videos. Graham is an excellent speaker and a natural communicator and works like a magician at the end of a bell with coils, tails and sallies just doing what they were supposed to do.
There are a number of attractive publications suitable for new ringers including Discover Bell Ringing and Teaching with Simulators available from ART. And the answer to how many times? 2000 to 10,000; you have been warned!
Michael De Freitas
It was to an extent out of curiosity, and I confess also with a degree of scepticism, that I presented myself at Limpsfield on a Friday morning for Module 1 (teaching bell handling) of the Integrated Teacher Training Scheme, devised by the Association of Ringing Teachers, and brilliantly delivered by Graham Nabb.
Would I learn anything that I had not already been told or worked out for myself? Would it actually enable me to teach handling any more effectively, safely or enjoyably? Or would I be given a load of instructions which would make the process of teaching unnecessarily complicated?
I can say without hesitation that my scepticism was entirely misplaced. My overriding feeling at the end of the day was that I had come away with a whole raft of suggestions which will enable me, with practice in implementing them, vastly to improve my teaching.
Particular highlights, for me, were:
Those who devised this Module have clearly given a huge amount of thought to the most efficient means of handling, and how to teach it, and have also drawn on a wealth of experience. Their analytical approach was just what I wanted. Every recommendation had a reason, superbly explained and demonstrated by Graham Nabb, and there was nothing which was not firmly rooted in plain common sense.
We’re delighted that some 30 Surrey Association members took part in the ITTS Module 1 training over these two days. Our grateful thanks to Graham Nabb of the Association of Ringing Teachers for his wonderful practical and theoretical presentations.
The knowledge gained from these courses should give our members the momentum and motivation and enthusiasm to work together to teach learners and become accredited Ringing Teachers, improve the standard of teaching bell handling in the Association, and achieve the main objective of recruiting new learners who can become competent and confident members of Surrey towers.
Our grateful thanks to the Limpsfield (in particular Lynda Boast and Marianne Bell) ringers for being so welcoming with an excellent meeting room, teas, coffees and lunch, and also the Barnes (in particular Trisha Hawkins and Eddie Hartley) ringers for their fantastic hospitality, providing bells, meeting room and a great lunch. It all helped to make the courses run smoothly and all the more enjoyable for the delegates.
Paul Flavell, Surrey Training Officer
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.