Whilst resting your voice when teaching is always a challenge, social distancing means effective voice use and care has proven more difficult for educators in 2020.
In many schools, physical distancing requirements due to Covid-19 have meant teaching must be performed entirely from the front of the room. Clear and safe voice projection is arguably your most powerful tool in the classroom. So how can education professionals look after their voices?
Most teachers have experienced that awful hoarse feeling when your voice starts to ‘go’. The stress and strain of a difficult week can take their toll on the vocal chords and severe voice strain can take weeks to fully recover from. The National Union of Teachers offers a full checklist to help you use and rest your voice, and below Prospero explore easy strategies to start implementing
The team at Prospero are former qualified teaching professionals who have a wealth of classroom experience across the UK and internationally. Here are Prospero’s favourite strategies for saving your voice that also support positive classroom behaviour management.
5 Ways to Save Your Voice Alongside Positive Classroom Management
1. Silent Communication
Try using silent communication to correct low-level disruption from students. Silent communication can include eye contact, body language and pointing to your ‘class rules’ or instructions on the board. If you appear confident and expect students to follow your non-verbal communication, you will get much better results.
2. Set a Standard for Silence Before Instructions
Wait for silence calmly before giving instructions to the class. Set yourself a challenge to only use your voice for positive praise to the students who make the right choice in lessons. Forming a habit that focuses around positive praise, rather than raising your voice to disruptive pupils, will unconsciously prompt behaviour changes and help students understand that only positive behaviours are rewarded with attention.
3. Control Your Voice Pitch
If you raise your voice to get the attention of the class, consciously lower your voice when you begin speaking. It is very easy to forget to do this when in the moment, and steamrolling on using an unnecessarily raised voice is the easiest way to cause vocal strain.
4. Adapt Your Lesson Planning
Plan in some tasks which need the minimal amount of explanation time and that the students can work on independently, in pairs or in groups. Examples of low-explanation tasks could be instructions included on sheets or on the board so that you can direct students to these instructions rather than re-explaining tasks to the group. Rather than expecting to receive all the answers from you throughout your lessons, lesson planning that limits the need for explanation encourages students to become more investigative and reduces reliance on vocal instruction.
5. Involve Your Students
Challenge students to explain things themselves or make predictions about tasks. For example, you could say, ‘Have a look at the information on the board: what do you think we’re going to be doing with it today? Look at the learning objective for a clue…’ Involving pupils in planning and decisions will encourage them to extend more effort to a task and will build a pattern of more self-directed learning.
How much ‘teacher talk’ do you feel you are using generally in lessons at the moment? Consider whether there are some classes which you may need your voice more due to behaviour, but others for which you could plan in more voice-saving activities.
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