The Tower Handbook

11.2 The teacher

a: What qualities do I need to teach ringing?

Above all a commitment to teaching coupled with the willingness to learn from your experience. You must be flexible, since different people learn in different ways, at different speeds and have different needs. Attempting to force everyone into the same mould rarely works.

Perhaps the most important quality is patience. All ringers, even gifted ones, have spells when they seem to make no progress. You can become impatient if he does not do what you say, or if she hits a bad spot when you have got used to excellent progress. Most pupils want to succeed and to please their tutor. They probably know when they are under performing and if you show impatience, it will quite likely be misinterpreted as condemnation.

b: Does the teacher have to be the tower captain?

No. The tower captain is the leader of the band, and is responsible for making sure that things get done, but he or she need not do them in person if there is someone else suitable for the job. The tower captain may be best at most jobs, but remember that what is required is the best overall result. One person may be best at everything, but trying to do all of the jobs could mean none of them get done very well. Even if the tower captain is the best teacher, involve other members of the band in the teaching so you are less vulnerable to his or her absence or departure. Most ringers become good teachers by teaching.

c: Must you be a perfect bell handler before you teach anyone?

None of us is perfect. How good you need to be depends on your local circumstances. If you are the only experienced ringer, then it is probably you or no one, even if you are not perfect. What matters much more than being a perfect ringer is whether you are a good teacher. Teaching something is a separate skill from doing it. You should be aware of your own weaknesses so you can try to avoid passing them on.

d: Will people take notice of me if I am not experienced?

You will be more experienced than the people you are teaching. Don't be afraid to tell your pupils that you are not very experienced, and bear in mind that they may have experience in teaching other skills that you can draw on.

e: Must you be a good conductor to teach method ringing?

Not necessarily. The important thing is to be able to ring the methods reliably yourself, and to understand their structure well enough to explain how to ring them and correct minor faults as they occur. But don't forget that your approach to learning a method may not suit everyone, so be prepared to explain alternative approaches.

f: How can I improve my teaching?

In many ways, but you must want to teach better. You can learn from others and you can learn by doing. Many people start teaching out of necessity (because there is no one else to do it) and with little or no training. Here are some things you can do:

g: How can I tell whether I am a good teacher?

But don't judge yourself by one pupil. Some people just click with one tutor and not another, though both are good. If things don't work consider a change.

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