Having taught many ringers over the last 40 years, I was very keen to get involved in and learn from the ITTS Scheme set up by theAssociation of Ringing Teachers (ART). Before this was put in placethere was little or no integration of ideas between towers and/or teachers in terms of “best practice”. The tendency is for most ringing “teachers” to do things the same way they always have done, withoutconsidering other potential approaches.
My first chance to experience and understand what’s involved was at the ITTS Module 2 Day Course held at Tamworth on Saturday 31 August. The intention of the Day Course was to guide teachers in a variety of ways to introduce learners to elementary change ringing. I attended as a Mentor, the idea being to understand and look out for the “best practices” the scheme is championing, and to then act as a Mentor to one of the Teachers on the Scheme, helping and guiding them through to achieving ART Membership.
What was noticeable from the outset was the “no previous experience required”, in addition to which this wasn’t a “this is how you do it” approach. Our ITTS Tutor for the day, Paul Lewis, covered every aspect of this very labour intensive and sometimes difficult to put across subject of getting our learners into change ringing, no easy task at the best of times and made all the more difficult if the tower in question is light in experienced ringers. Paul continually invited comments, ideas and experiences from attendees and much was learnt from these exchanges. Yes, we all have our favourite methods for teaching, but how do we lead up to these and where do we go afterwards? Despite being a change ringing course, some of the finer points of bell handling were touched on as this is sometimes the cause of lack of progress. Time was also spent discussing how to structure a practice night or other ringing session, the importance of thinking about achievable goals for individual learners, and how best to go about supporting the learner to reach that goal.
There was time for some practical work on the front six bells to try out some of the wide variety of teaching methods and exercises at our collective disposal and, as had been the case during the day, much discussion was had about the pros and cons of each of those that were tried.
Everyone who attended learnt something new and came away with excellent information packs and booklets for future reference. For my part, I now have a teacher assigned to me and I now need to go and do some homework on how best to support this teacher with their particular challenges.
In conclusion, the ITTS Modules are the first attempt in ringing circles to put structure into teaching new recruits to this wonderful and fascinating hobby which we love and cherish. I strongly recommend to anyone who has ever been involved in teaching ringing, and those who have simply thought about it, to embrace what the ITTS has to offer. It has real potential to hugely help and improve the ability of ringing teachers old and new.
Learn how to teach the skills of change ringing.