ITTS (Integrated Teacher Training Scheme), run by the national charity ART (Association of Ringing Teachers), was set up in order to train teachers of ringing – both handling (M1 course) and the skills to get people to plain hunt (M2 course). Each course consists of a full day’s workshop of both theory and practical sessions, followed by up to 12-24 months working through a skills checklist with the help of a mentor.
The ITTS courses, as you probably know, are designed to bring some standardisation and professionalism into the teaching of ringing, the idea being that if we teach more teachers and we teach them how to teach better, then we stand more chance of competing with all the other activities which people can do these days, where there are trained coaches, a syllabus, and graded schemes of learning with goals and certificates. We also stand more chance of retaining the ringers that we do teach – that’s the aim. More can be found about it here.
The ITTS M1 teaching bell handling course is designed for people who are both completely inexperienced right through to those who have already taught multiple learners. The various techniques and ideas add a lot to the repertoire of solutions to the problems you usually encounter at some point during teaching. But even more, it gives access to a network of people who are all teaching the same way. So if you have more than one learner you can call on others who teach the same way to help you. There are ITTS teacher get-togethers where you can fine tune skills and compare techniques. It is so much easier if everyone is working from the same guidelines. We don't confuse our learners with different instructions. Learners too get something out of having multiple teachers and meeting up with other learners.
All your learners, kids and adults, can then be signed up for the 'Learning the Ropes' scheme through the ITTS, and the adults are just as keen as the kids to get the next certificate. This really does work!
The M2 course is about giving new ringers the skills needed to control their bells in order to start ringing changes, and to help them gain ropesight. This again helps by having a few more tools in your box when you run out of ideas on a practice night. It's not just for tower captains, or for those who run practices at district meetings and the like, but it is good training for the more experienced people in your tower who currently might stand behind ringers and help in that way. You don't have to have done the M1 course in order to go on the M2 course. Teaching handling isn't for everyone!
If you are interested in a course, or go to http://smartringer.org/public/daycourses and browse the list of courses to see if there are any convenient to you. Otherwise contact Lesley Boyle (lhmboyle_at_googlemail.com) or your nearest RATs member to find out if there is an Ely DA course planned. It's really good to team up on these courses with another person - more fun, and that's also the way that the ITTS like you to work, so if there's anyone else you want to mention this to, that would be good. Usually the more experienced one of the pair acts as 'Mentor' and the other as 'Teacher'. Is there anyone who would act as Mentor who you would enjoy working with and could persuade to attend with you? Other people from our area who have been on the courses come back saying 'Brilliant' and 'Now I've been on this course I actually have the confidence to teach someone'. All the comments I've heard have been good.
ITTS charge £20 per head for the M1 course and £15 for the M2 - they have to cover their expenses as tutors have to come a long way. There will also be a modest additional charge for lunch and the cost of hiring the church meeting rooms for the day. In most cases attendees have obtained some subsidy from their tower funds as this training is very much in the interests of the long term sustainability of the tower band, and of ringing in the Ely DA for the future.