Chairman's Chatter - August 2021

Reviewing our website, I came across this: “Start teaching as soon as you can after your day course; it's amazing how quickly things can be forgotten and confidence lost if the techniques you've learnt aren't put into practice very soon after the course.” When those words were written we were thinking of weeks or months, not the year plus of inactivity that most of us have just lived through. How can you get back into teaching and continue developing your teaching skills after such a long break?

Connect with your mentor

After your day course you would have been paired up with one or more teachers or a mentor to help you apply what you’d learnt.

For those new to teaching this partnership aims to develop your practical and coaching skills until you can teach safely and independently. For those who’ve taught before, the question can be what’s the point. The answer is that without practice, feedback and reinforcement, basic human nature kicks in and people revert back to their old ways of doing things. We tell our new ringers – practise until it is in your muscle memory and practise it right. That's what we as teachers need to do to – practise all the ART teaching skills until they become second-nature.

If you haven’t already, then why not reconnect with your mentor, chat and decide on a way forward. Some groups of teachers have already agreed to work through the online refresher courses together or are holding physical refresher workshops in the tower. Or you could go straight back to teaching, plan a lesson together and start working together straight away. The important thing is to remind yourself what you learnt on the ART course and find someone to help you implement or develop what you have learned.

If you find yourself without mentor support, then please contact us and we will help or you could come along to our online teaching forum.

» Help with finding a mentor

Online teaching forum

Having said that after-course support for teachers and mentors is really important, in practice it's not always worked as well as we'd have liked or you deserve. We've struggled a bit with how to improve things, but the more wide-spread use of online meetings gives us an opportunity to offer online support. Hence, we’re hosting an online teaching forum for:

  • Teachers looking for new ideas or struggling to see how they can progress.
  • Teachers teaching in isolation, without the support of an active mentor.
  • Mentors who've got too many mentees.
  • Mentors wanting to find out more about the role.

The first of these online gatherings will be held on Sunday 22 August at 19.30. It will start with a 15-minute, presentation by Paul Lewis, one of our most experienced ART Tutors. The presentation, “Feedback – our critical friend”, will be followed by an open discussion, with an opportunity to take discussions offline if needed. A bit of an experiment, this one, so the format might evolve with time.

» Register for the first meeting of the online teaching forum

Teacher or coach?

Returning to ringing has been straight-forward for some, whilst others have struggled. I received a very interesting article from Mary Jones, a Ringing Remembers recruit who writes so well about learning to ring. On her return to ringing, she found that what she needed was a coach, not a teacher. “I am undergoing the coaching experience. I felt that I needed extra support as I returned to ringing after the enforced break and… I decided that someone who had never seen me ring and had no personal investment in my ringing would be best. Perhaps they could see me through fresh eyes and not have any preconceptions as to what I “could” or “should” be able to do.”

Mary explains that the coaching experience involved: “Regular MOTs are not routinely offered [in ringing]. I think this is a shame because 30 minutes with a more experienced ringer, not to teach theory or the next stage, but to examine forensically what is already in place and see if it can be improved on, could be very useful, especially after a break or a few years into one’s learning.” Mary found that she tended to “over-pull. It was only by feeling what a good ringer felt at the top of their stroke that I was made aware of my error. There is no way that I would have experienced that sensation without sharing the rope. Once we moved on to me taking responsibility for both strokes I could try to break the habit”. She is hoping that with this new insight, the “familiar complaint “Mary, you are lingering” will be a thing of the past.”

David Carter, Mary’s “chosen” coach notes: “As a teacher of ringing, your learner going elsewhere for a coach is no criticism of you. All top sportsmen go to different people for coaching at various stages of their career. It is not a case of the teacher being corrected by an “expert”, more that having a fresh pair of eyes looking at your ringing is a good thing.”

Is this something that you might want to consider for one or more of your returning ringers?

We’ve noticed we’re receiving a large number of enquiries from lapsed ringers – often those who’ve not progressed too far into method ringing but who are eager to start ringing again after a few years off. Maybe the suggestion of working with a ringing coach to refine their style might land well with such returnees.

» Read the full article

Lesley Belcher
ART Chair