Although I’ve rung for many years, I’ve just become responsible for training the new ringers at Holy Trinity, Penn in Bucks. Something I have done automatically for years, I suddenly found I had to think about in terms of how I was going to explain the process. It was especially relevant for our tower because we’d been through a recruitment drive and we had half a dozen total novices to teach. I heard about the ART courses through the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, it seemed ideal as although I was confident in my own ringing I needed help, structure and ideas to teach our new ringers.
Along with seven others I attended ART Module 1 Bell Handling at St Mary the Virgin Amersham on Saturday 3 June for a day course. We were a diverse group, some very experienced having rung for many decades and others ringing for much shorter periods. The day was a mix of teaching theory and practical elements where we could all try out the exercises, and for me at least, learn some new ideas and approaches.
We were taught how to break down bell handling into easy stages and then how we could link them together once the learner mastered the individual elements. We talked about different approaches, challenges and the benefits of providing intensive training where possible. Handling covered some of the more common problems and how to help teach ringing up and down, again breaking things down into easier stages, that could then be joined together to make things less daunting. Through practical demonstration we practiced our observation skills, and how to provide feedback in a constructive and encouraging way, whilst addressing what might need to change.
We got a lot of helpful material to take away to help us structure our future training sessions and I’m looking forward to trying out the techniques with our learners. Thanks to our teachers Clare McArdle and Steve Vickers who were knowledgeable and patient and delivered what we needed to know. Also thanks to the team at St Mary the Virgin Amersham who looked after us on the day providing refreshments and lunch. Overall a very enjoyable day and one I have no hesitation in recommending it if you want to bring more structure and formality to training your new ringers.