Saturday the 14th of October saw 10 ringers from across Sussex gather at Southover, Lewes for the first open course run in the county by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART). The course was part of their ‘SmART Ringer’ Teaching Programme that aims to offer training, support and motivation to ringing teachers. The course was kindly organised by Clare Cullen, a ringer from Trinity Church, Southover and our tutor for the day was Gillian Hughes.
The day was split between theory and practical sessions, with the majority of the weighting on practical, hands on demonstrations and role playing of teacher and learner. This gave us all plenty of time to practice the techniques we were being shown. (Everyone enjoyed simulating bad handling habits for our ‘teachers’ to correct!)
The ART Training scheme is based on best practice from the worlds of ringing, other hobbies & education. Some of the teaching techniques and concepts we were shown were familiar, while others were new.
The course covered some theory of teaching a skilled activity and becoming a good teacher as well as practical demonstrations of techniques and practice of teaching; developing the handstroke, developing the backstroke, joining the strokes together and ringing up and down. It also covered solving handling problems at each stage. At the end of the day there was time to practice recovering a loose rope in the tower (as if one was dropped by a pupil or another ringer during ringing) Not something you get on your average ringing course!
One of the themes of the day was understanding how different people learn. There was opportunity to demonstrate different handling faults that we had seen and to discuss different approaches to correcting them. Everyone attending the course felt they had learnt something new, whatever their level of teaching experience.
The course demonstrated a clear and structured process that all teachers can follow at their local practices and how groups of teachers can support one another and their learners, by working together in a familiar style.
So, what happens next? Those who attended and want to progress further with the scheme are paired up with a mentor who provides guidance and advice while we both develop and consolidate our skills. We gain access to on-line resources for us, as teachers/mentors and for the new ringers we are teaching.
The scheme concludes with a teaching lesson observed by an independent assessor; only after this does the teacher and mentor become an accredited Member of the Association of Ringing Teachers. If attendees choose, they can of course simply take what they have learnt away with them, without pursuing accreditation!
In all, the cake, company and course were all excellent! There are already plans afoot to organise another ART course – ‘M2F - Teaching from Rounds to Plain Hunt.’ Perhaps I’ll see you there!
St Peters, Ashburnham.