Just over a year ago, in the Ely Diocesan Association, we organised a Teacher Refresher Day at the Stretham Ringing Education Centre because we had 15 people who needed to become accredited before they were out of time. We also wanted the chance to meet them, find out what had been stopping them and help them to overcome any obstacles they had encountered. At the time, we felt the day had been a great success but now, a year later, we are just reflecting on what has happened. Seven of the fifteen have now been accredited and a further four people associated with the event ‒ either paired with one of the above or couldn't come on the day but was strongly interested in making progress – were also accredited. We think that's not bad!
We have since targeted people in similar situations much more individually and invited them and their mentors to come along to a Saturday morning session at Stretham. This is much easier to do ‒ it takes little organisation and only a bit of preliminary contact making sure that they're ready, and then an email inviting them to come along on a specific date when we have made sure we can observe an assessed lesson on the same day.
It had the goal of removing people's excuses for not getting accredited ‒ and therefore did accredit! But it also had the effect of raising the visibility of the teaching process, of ART and assessment, to a much wider group of people. For those who did attend, it enabled them to feel part of a community and to know each other and make their own networks. There was a bit of a buzz on the day. We got to find out about people doing things we hadn't been aware of previously. We hadn't realised they were so keen.
So, I think these bigger events are worthwhile. They're not as big as the ART Conference but they are important for growing and maintaining enthusiasm at a more local level. This year we are planning a couple more ART events in the region – an Assessment Information Day in February and a Learning the Ropes event in Norwich in the Summer.
It's important that we have reasons for people to remain members of ART after they have become accredited ‒ we need people to feel that offering the Learning the Ropes scheme is essential. I've noticed that some accredited people have allowed their membership to lapse and perhaps this is our next challenge.
Lesley Boyle, ART Tutor