I attended the ART Module 1 Bell Handling Course on Saturday 12th March at my home tower of St. Annes, in St. Annes-on-the-Sea in Lancashire, arranged by our Tower Captain, Stuart Newton. There were 10 other students on the course, some local, some from further afield in the Northwest. This included two keen 14 year olds, my son Ellis, and Richard from St Chad’s Poulton-le-Fylde. The course was led by one of the ART Tutors, Paul Lewis. I was a little nervous about going on the course as I’ve only been ringing since November 2017 and I knew there were many experienced ringers on the course, some who have been ringing and teaching ringing for decades! However I need not have worried, everyone was lovely and keen to share their own experiences of best practice (and “interesting” experiences too!).
I was my Tower Captain’s first learner following his ART M1 course in July 2017, so I was familiar with the ART/Learning the Ropes approach to learning bell handling from the learner’s point of view, but I have no experience of actually teaching bell handling. I was hoping the course would help develop my confidence, so that I could now think about teaching and passing on the skills I have developed.
The course was structured well, with a mix of practical activities and theory presentations. Paul was a very engaging presenter, so it didn’t feel too much like a “school day”! The practical sessions gave us chance to put into practice the techniques we had been learning with another student on the course as our guinea pig “learner”. Obviously as our “learner” was already an experienced ringer, they were all progressing really well!
Having been through the Learning the Ropes scheme myself, I know first-hand it’s an excellent scheme at building skills step-by-step, in a safe way that builds the learner’s confidence. With Paul's advice, guidance and encouragement I’ve gained some new skills and I now feel, after a bit more practice to build my confidence at taking over a bell if the learner loses control, that I could now make my first steps into teaching with my Tower Captain as my mentor.
Thank you to Stuart for organising, Paul for presenting, and all the other students on the course for sharing their experiences. Overall I really enjoyed the day and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to teach bell handling or if they are already teaching to think about new ways to improve their practice.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.