How a ringer's learning styles changes your teaching style

There are three major ways in which people learn new skills. Individuals show a “style” or “preference” for learning in a certain way and they will find it much easier to learn if they are taught in the way that makes the most sense to them.

Ideas for teaching bell handling

If the subject matter is not presented to them in a way which “makes sense” to them [i.e. the material is presented in a way which does not coincide with their learning style] then learning will be slowed.The three learning styles are:

The Visual Learner – relates to being shown what to do and will learn best from demonstration.

The Auditory Learner – learns best from the spoken word, which is explanation.

The Kinaesthetic Learner – learns best from practice and actually “doing”, they have to get the “feel” of the movement.

Most people have a mixture of learning styles but often there is a dominance of one particular style. Very few people are exclusively one style but most are biased towards one. So teachers give input to a preferred but not exclusive channel.

Often a teacher has no knowledge of which way a new ringer will learn best. Some learners will know their learning styles but many will not.


To ensure that all learning styles have been catered for in the early lessons a teacher can teach using IDEAS.


Demonstration (for visual learner)

Explanation (for auditory learner)

Action (for kinaesthetic learner)

Summary (to reinforce learning)

By teaching with IDEAS all angles are covered and the teacher can ensure that each learner gets sufficient information to start off with the activity.

IDEAS in practice

An example of using IDEAS to teach is when teaching hand transfers between the sally and the tail end.


This should be short and succinct – “This exercise is to teach you how to transfer your hands from the sally to the tail end after ringing the handstroke”.


This should be performed at normal speed and be repeated so that the new ringer can see the movement from every angle. This demonstration gives the new ringer a rough idea of the overall shape and timings for the action. First impressions are hard to change so the first demo is extremely important.


The explanation emphasises the key points. This can be talked through using positioning of the hands on the sally and rope when the bell is down.“The hands should remain close together at all times – the tail end should be in the cleft between the thumb and side of the hand visible on the ringers side of the sally – as the hands leave the sally they should move quickly and vertically down to a low and central finishing position at the bottom of the stroke – the top hand has to overtake the lower hand and join the rope underneath”.


The new ringer then imitates the movement. The activity phase should be the largest part of the whole process. It should start with the ringer performing the actions in slow motion on a static rope with the bell down.

Once they have got the idea they can transfer on to practise on a bell that is up. [In this case the new ringer is just practising pulling off the handstroke and ringing the following backstrokes, the teacher sets the bell.] If the ringer is having difficulty taking hold with the correct grip they are likely to be a kinaesthetic learner and the teacher may have to position their hands on the sally and place the tail end in the correct position. It should be noted that the activity phase will help the kinaesthetic learner to get the idea of what is required but it is also important for every learner to be given sufficient time to practise and develop the skill.


This is the review of the exercise and should involve input from the ringer and the teacher. The ringer can explain how it felt to them, what was difficult and what was straightforward. The teacher can use the summary as an opportunity to give feedback to the ringer as to what was good in the performance and what still needed to be worked on.


This can be used during the explanation or as a means of feedback before the ringer attempts the action again.

Spotlighting involves focusing the ringer’s attention on one particular aspect of the action, such as the movement of the top hand as it leaves the sally and joins the rope at the bottom of the movement. For example the teacher might say “Watch the top hand now – see how it has to overtake the other hand to get to the bottom of the stroke to join with the other hand on the tail end”.

This feedback and spotlighting process can be used again in a loop, each time focusing on a particular part of the action, such as the grip on the sally or the finishing position on the tail end, becoming more specific as to what the ringer should focus on.


Learning Style Quiz

A ringer's preferred learning style can be found using a simple questionnaire available on SmART Ringer.

Pip Penney