Tip 44: Teacher Voice
As a young teacher, you need to modulate your voice in class. Learn to vary the speed and volume of your voice when teaching. I spoke about this earlier, where I said that teachers should speak loudly, but should never scream!
You should also learn to vary your voice. Use different speeds. You can talk faster or slower, with a higher or lower voice. Experienced teachers can use their voice as a tool to which students respond.
Start practicing how you use your voice. Use more energy or slow it down, so the students understand better. When you speak at a higher pitch, students feel more comfortable with you. But if you want to stay in control and show them strength, you’re going to be speaking in a lower tone. Either way, you should vary the speed and volume. Train it and become good at using your voice.
44.1 Why voice care is important for teachers
Teachers are regarded as professional voice users, yet the subject of voice care and voice training is often overlooked. Half of all newly qualified teachers reportedly suffer from voice loss in the first year of teaching. Teachers suffer eight times more with vocal problems than workers in other mainline professions.
A 2016 study conducted by Michigan State and Utah university showed that female teachers are significantly more at risk of developing long-term vocal problems, often resulting in shorter teaching careers. Greenwich university confirmed that 50% of educators will suffer vocal problems within their first year of teaching. This confirmed an earlier British survey (2008) that found that 60% of teachers complain of vocal problems and that it is a big cause of teacher absenteeism.
Teacher absenteeism is not the only problem. Teacher’s voice loss also has a negative impact on the quality of lessons and hampers learning, especially for students with learning or hearing difficulty. Up to 30% of learners have slight hearing loss, but depending on the number of students, poor acoustics, movement by the teacher, the projection of the teacher’s voice, the size of the classroom, small disruptions and background noise, the classroom experience can vary a lot among students.
44.2 How teachers can prevent voice loss
As discussed above, teachers can use techniques to improve their voices, such as posture, breathing and pitch. Apart from not shouting, teachers should avoid over-exerting their vocal cords and use several techniques to prevent voice fatigue.
An American research room study in the 1980s and 1990s showed that amplification had positive results for students and teachers, especially in kindergarten and ESL classes, yet this was widely ignored by administrators, probably because of cost. However, thanks to more affordable Bluetooth technology, some teachers prone to voice fatigue are now using lapel microphones and small speakers in the back of their classrooms with good results.
Classroom structure and discipline play a major role to avoid unruly and noisy classes where teachers tend to shout to gain control and communicate. We can teach students to use hand signals to gain the teacher’s attention and show what the nature of their queries is.
Tip 45: Be Expressive
Be animated in your delivery. Enthusiastic teachers show excitement for their subject. I’m not saying that you need to be a clown and over-expressive, but you should be keenly interested in your subject.
Work at keeping your students engaged.
In the previous tip I said that you have to use your voice, but you can also engage your students with the energy that you bring to the lecture. They can feel it when you get excited about a topic and pay closer attention than when you’re just standing there and talk. So, it’s up to you to bring a bit more energy to your class performance.
We can actually view teachers as performers because we have to keep the engagement of our students. You do not want to lose the attention of your students. To keep their attention, practice being more expressive with your face, eyes, voice, and also with your gestures.
If you use bold gestures, it shows your confidence and the students can also focus on it. Think about great public speakers and how do they use their voices, facial expressions and gestures.
Train yourself to be a better performer. However, I want to warn you that not to be too expressive and wild. I’ve seen that too and that can backfire, but practice and get good at being enthusiastic.
Tip 46: Lesson Preview
Preview the class in your mind beforehand to expect what problems might arise. Just like sports players mentally go through a game or a match before the event, visualizing what might happen and how they would respond, teachers too should preview their classes.
Start thinking about what you’re going to do in your lesson. Mentally work through the lesson. How are you going to start your class, how you are going to introduce the activities? How will the students respond? What will you do if something bad happens?
How will you solve any problems that might arise? By preparing your mind for what might happen, you will be better prepared for that class. Start thinking of yourself as a professional player; how will you deal with the problems and what is the best way to teach your students? You only have one shot at a first impression with these lessons, so you want to mentally prepare for that lesson and for whatever may happen in class.