TIP NUMBER 3: Speak slower and deeper
Speak s-l-o-w-e-r and DEEPER. Students don’t trust a squeaky voice. I want you to practice speaking slower and deeper. When you speak slower, it shows confidence, because you are dictating things at your own pace. I want to emphasize that this is different from a teacher that has a lot of information to share, and they want to do so quickly. If a teacher speaks too quickly because they are afraid of silence, it shows a lack of confidence and students will attack that.
For example, in my classes I expect the students to speak a lot, I don’t want them to be shy or afraid. So, when I’m talking to some girls or shy students, I will actually speak at a higher pitch tone so that they feel more comfortable and not as threatened. However, if I’m going to speak to some students that are difficult to handle and have strong personalities, I’m going to bring my voice tone down, I’m going to make it much deeper so they can feel it resonate with them, because the deeper voice shows a masculinity.
So, start taking your time and start speaking slower. Actually, you should mix it up: Speak slowly and then a little bit quicker; when you want to keep them on their toes. So, why should you speak in a deeper voice? Well, I do it all the time. You can probably hear me speaking like this, which is a little high than I would normally, but it all depends on your students, because if you use a higher voice tone, it makes students feel more comfortable with you.
Now you may say, “I’m a female teacher, how does that affect me?” It doesn’t matter – speak slower and lower to show them that your words come from a place of strength. Obviously this does not happen all the time. You have some teachers with a high voice that are in control of their classrooms, but this is a good tip to remember. So, even for myself I think about it when I work with students with strong personality, I speak lower and when I want students to feel more comfortable with me, I’ll speak at a higher tone.
TIP NUMBER 4: Classroom rules, procedures
Set rules early and teach students the classroom procedures; let students know your expectations from the very first day of school. What is the difference between a good classroom and a bad classroom? A good classroom has procedures and children know exactly what is expected from them. In a bad classroom, students don’t feel that there are any rules or control, so they will act out because they do not feel secure.
So, what are you going to do as a teacher? The very first week of school you’re going to show them the classroom rules and you’re also going to teach them the procedures that you want in the classroom. What are procedures? It’s the actions that the students will take for every situation in the class. You might say it’s unnecessary, the students should already know how to act. No, make sure and teach them what you expect step by step.
For example, when students enter the class, how do they enter? What is the first thing they do? When they sit down, what is the first book that they take out? What do they start working on? One of the worst things a teacher can do is have students come into the class loud and disruptive. So, have a procedure in place: They come into the classroom, they sit down, they take out a book and they start working on something.
You can also have procedures for when you want the students’ attention, you can just raise your hand and they have to be quiet and look up. You can have an exit procedure; you can have a procedure for handing in homework. You should have so many procedures in place that the students know exactly what they are to do from when they enter the class.
What usually happens, is that students come to class and they are very sweet the first couple of weeks and THAT is when you should take advantage of the situation and teach them the procedures. And reinforce it so that their behavior stays the same for the rest of the school year. The problem is that lots of teachers go and they see the children so sweet and innocent, and they think it will stay that way automatically. No, it doesn’t! Make sure to have procedures in place so the students will know exactly what is expected from them. You can print it out and put it on the wall; you can send it home to their parents so that they sign it, but make sure that the students know what you want.
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