Voice management

Your most important teaching tool is your voice. You need it to direct, focus and encourage pupils and to explain, discipline, and manage the classroom. Take care of it and your job will be that much easier. These tips will help you do that.

Avoid shouting

If you shout right away you have nowhere left to go and pupils will accept that as your normal tone. Use other methods to get attention such as approaching the pupil not listening, try the intimidating silent look, but best of all train them to come in, sit down and await instruction. That way you save your voice, they save time and you get on with the curriculum.

Train pupils to listen

Train your pupils to listen to you and how very important this is. They know you will repeat the instructions anyway so will continue to catch up on news and listen when they are ready. You are in charge and you will have to set the standards in your room of what you expect.

Avoid having to repeat instructions

If you repeat instructions all day long you will wear your voice out and no number of throat lozenges are going to save you. Teaching with hardly any voice can do you serious harm and possibly have long term consequences.

Voice care advice

Watch out for the times of year when you will most harm your voice:

  • after holidays when you have been using your voice normally
  • when you have a cold or flu
  • when the big push is on for pupil exams or assessments and everyone is tense

To protect your voice, you should try to:

  • warm up your voice before prolonged usage by humming gently or doing some voice exercises
  • drink plenty of water/juice, small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day
  • relax shoulders and neck
  • breath from the diaphragm
  • adjust the environment as much as possible to reduce background noise
  • wait until the class has calmed down before beginning your lesson, otherwise you will end up repeating points
  • try not to over medicate, you will exhaust yourself and overpower your pupils
  • use other methods to gain attention such as a loud clap or a raised hand
  • enlist pupils help, get them to read in class for you
  • have some quite moments built into your day. Staffrooms can be noisier than your classroom, find a place to have some quiet time

Things to avoid

If your voice is hoarse or strained, or if your throat is sore, you should try to avoid:

  • smoking
  • very hot foods and drinks which cause dehydration and strip mucus from the throat
  • coughing, instead sip water or swallow gently but if you have to cough do so as gently as possible
  • shouting; remember that children's voices are much higher pitched so avoid trying to raise your pitch over theirs to be heard
  • raising your vocal volume or pitch over prolonged periods
  • chalk or other types of dust or fumes
  • singing