In the last Teaching Tips article we looked at the stages of development of new ringers from the novice to expert and at the different rates of progress ringers make. We identified that specific types of ringers need different coaching approaches and the fact that as individual ringing teachers we are unlikely to be able to become expert coaches for all of the different groups.
Performance development coach
If you are teaching ringers who are moving on fast, who are eager to progress, your role is that of “performance development coach”. You will need to encourage your ringers to ring frequently and once they have reached the standard of the upper end of the home tower they will need to attend other practices to develop their skills. As the coach you can introduce them to other practices, send them on courses or run courses for them, identify a suitable practice for them to attend on a regular basis where their skills can be developed and arrange quarter peals and peals for them. It may be possible to find an advanced ringer who will mentor them and bring them on further.
ART provides off the shelf course materials in the form of Teaching Toolboxes, which cover from Plain Hunt to Surprise Minor and provide everything you need for your developing ringers. These toolboxes contain Teacher Resources, Student Resources a PowerPoint presentation which covers the theory sections, plus, teacher notes. These toolboxes can be found on the SmART Ringer site for those who have attended an ITTS Module 2 Day Course or those who are ART Members. For all others, a CD with the resources on can be purchased at the ART shop.
If your ringers are not in the mindset to be keen to progress for whatever reason, you must use a different approach. These ringers may be long-term ringers who have got as far as they wish to go at the current point in time or may be just unambitious and not willing to put much effort into self-development. They are often valued Sunday service ringers. Your role will be to coach to “sustain participation”.
The social side of ringing needs to be considered, you as their coach should ensure these ringers have plenty of opportunity to make friends within ringing. It is this which will keep them coming along to practices and Sunday service ringing. You need to ensure that these ringers feel valued, have a role and enjoy themselves. Going down the pub after practice is a good policy, outings to other towers and other parts of the country will provide variety and maintain interest. Summer BBQs and Christmas meals have their role to play.
Other ways to help people feel involved may be to give them a specific role, such as, social secretary, tower treasurer, steeple keeper or Sunday service band organiser.
Children’s coaching needs are different and may be met by a youth group. If you are coaching children is there a provision for their needs locally? If not could you identify a person who would be willing to establish a youth group?ART provides a series of resources for those working with youth groups in the form of a Youth Toolbox (right). The toolbox is a large collection of ideas and best practice for running youth orientated groups. It available to ART members on the Moodle site under the section called Association of Ringing Teachers. For those who are not ART members it can be purchased at the ART shop.
High performance coach
Once ringers start to be capable of ringing at the expert stage it is likely that to be able to progress to their full potential they will need to ring at a tower with ten or twelve bells and have opportunity to have a high powered band to ring with. These ringers include the “giants of the future, ringers who may become 12 bell striking competition ringers or peal conductors. This level of coaching can only be provided by ringers who are themselves ringing at the expert level and many ringing teachers will be unable to aspire to such a level. In this instance, unless you are a “high performance coach” yourself, you will need to find someone who is and a tower which would welcome your ringer. Your role here as the best coach for that particular ringer is actually to pass them on to a coach with the appropriate skills to take their ringing forward.
It is unlikely that each of us can be expert coaches at all the various aspect of the coaching role
One ringing coach may be an expert with children and not so suited to coaching high end performers, others may be good at bringing ringers on and developing performance and others good at maintaining a thriving Sunday service ringing band.
How can we develop our skills to cover each coaching role?
As we continue to teach we can develop our own effectiveness as coaches. Reflective practice, that is to say reviewing what we have done, how successful we consider it to be and how we could improve on it for the future will help us improve our coaching skills.
Our skills will develop on an informal level through our own experience and through observing others teach. Group teaching may be useful here. Coaches can also go out to other towers or attend courses as observers as part of the process of developing their own skills. Teaching and coaching skills can be developed through more formal routes such as attending courses and lectures such as those provided by ART at their Annual Conferences.
As ringing teachers continue with the coaching process, an understanding of some of the underlying issues will help them to develop their own skills further.
The importance of incremental learning
Whatever level you are teaching at, whether your role is to sustain participation, or improve performance it is necessary to take your ringers through an incremental learning pathway (learning in small stages each one built on the skills developed at the previous stage). In this way you will ensure
that your ringers whatever level of performance they are at will have the appropriate theoretical grounding and skills development to allow them to progress to the highest level of performance if they have the will and the capability.
If you are currently training a ringer with a view to “sustaining participation” incremental learning is important. This ringer may, at a later date, move onto the “late talent development route” requiring coaching which is performance oriented and may even move forwards onto a “high performance development pathway” and require the attentions of a “high performance coach”.
Re-entry into ringing
In ringing there are a certain number of ringers who learn as children or teenagers and then stop ringing when they go to university or for other reasons. They may be uninvolved with ringing for years, often many years. When they re-enter ringing, provided their previous training provided them with the appropriate foundation skills built through incremental learning these ringers will be in a good position to move onto a “progressive pathway”. They frequently move through the “late talent development route”, this progress is facilitated by good foundations skills developed many years before.
The Learning the Ropes Levels 2-5 scheme provided by Association of Ringing Teachers to all those who are ART members or who have attended a Module 2 Day Course provides teachers with the resources and guidance to ensure their ringers are well equipped to develop the foundation skills required to move on to progressive pathways of ringing development and have the opportunity to go on to become top end ringers for the future.
If your ringers are not in the mindset to be keen to progress, your role will be to coach to “sustain participation”
Coaches can also go out to other towers or attend courses as observers as part of the process of developing their own skills.