The instructions for joining the course stated that “Arrival and Registration” would be between 9:15 and 9:30. Being the closest living student, less than 2.5 miles as the crow flies it was typical that I would be the last of 7 students to arrive. My excuse was that whilst it was a lovely sunny morning the overnight frost on the car was heavier that the weather forecast had predicted.
From the introduction each of the students gave we were predominantly from Wiltshire, but we had representatives from Bristol. One student was a returnee having previously attended one pre COVID course, others had taught learners in their tower and wished to learn the advocated techniques recommended by the Association of Ringing teachers. Once again, I was the latecomer, never having taught anyone to ring I wanted the opportunity to gain experience how to. Another common theme amongst Devizes Branch Ringers from Wiltshire was the apparent eagerness to blame Julia Russell, The Devizes Branch Training Officer for somehow persuading, cajoling us to attend.
As a group, we were fortunate to have Gill Hughes as the “Presenter” of the course. ! say fortunate, because what you need in a Tutor/” Presenter” is someone whose passion for their subject spills over into to their presentations and enthuses the students. Gill didn’t disappoint on this score.
In the practical work we were perhaps a trifle luckier than other courses in that we had an odd number of students. So for each practical exercise Gill partnered one of us so that we could work in a student/ teacher pairing. As a complete newbie student, I found that beneficial because Gill was able to give salient pointers as to improve my teaching techniques. That said, it was also of benefit to change partners for each exercise as it enabled one to see the different techniques use by those who had previous teaching experience.
Before we realised it we had reached halfway through the course and it was lunchtime. With the sun being out for most of the day most people adjourned to the south side of the churchyard to take in the glorious vista of the valley in front of us, facing the Salisbury Plain.
Most of us realised that the Bell Handling methods being advocated on the course were different than those we had learned ourselves eons ago, but also recognised the methodology, safety and practical structure provide an excellent framework.
You will gather that we all felt we had benefitted from the course and look forward to being able to put those lessons into practice. At the end of the course each of us were asked to state one thing that stood out for us as a memorable teaching lesson - to be honest there were too many.
It merely leaves me to thank four people. Gill Hughes, who travelled all the way from Belper, Derbyshire to run the course. Julia Russell for her active encouragement to attend. Len Murray, Tower Captain of Holy Cross Seend, for hosting and refreshments and Alan Bryer, Seend Tower, who the week before, manufactured the wooden ties to silence all the bells specifically for the course.
Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.