Your voice matters - Tips for the classroom

Research has shown that an ineffective voice can produce disaffection among students in the classroom. In her blog, Alexandra Charalambous, a voice specialist, lecturer and teacher trainer, takes us through a vocal warm-up for teachers and focuses on the clarity, tone and pitch of the voice. In her FREE session at Teach 2017, she will also explore how to protect and maintain a healthy voice for a long-lasting career in teaching. ‘Voice Matters’ is a practical, interactive workshop exploring how the voice works and how best to use it in the primary and secondary classroom to engage students. Book your free place at Teach 2017 now to see Alexandra in action. 

There is so much more to teaching nowadays than just standing in front of a class and delivering your subject. Exciting students about your subject or an aspect of learning is crucial in motivating them and bringing the learning to life. Teachers are professional voice users and it is essential that they are able to communicate effectively. They can talk up to 70% of a lesson for 6 hours a day. Body language and voice play a pivotal role in getting students tuned in and engaged in learning. Research has shown that an ineffective voice can produce disaffection amongst sections of pupils in schools. We have all been to lecture halls or conferences where we hear a monotone voice or someone speaking with the same intonation or pitch. This affects the content of what is being said, leaving us uninterested and uninspired. It is, therefore, ever more important that we are able to adapt our voice and be flexible with the sound it makes. We need to consider who we are addressing, the space we are in (outdoor space will naturally need more projection) and when is an appropriate time for changing the tone and pitch to be able to convey a particular point or message.

Lowering the pitch of your voice can help you to sound more authoritative. If you are stressed or anxious, you tend to speak with a higher tone. To keep control of your voice and produce a rich sound with resonance (the tone or quality of your voice), you need to speak through your chest, not your throat. This can be achieved by waking up the ‘breathing muscles’ in the stomach and ribcage area by carrying out some simple breathing exercises involving the diaphragm.

Your students hang on your every word. Being heard right to the back of the room is where we may over-project and damage our throats. This is where a good vocal warm-up is needed at the start of the day and being mindful of using our chest voice for projection. Similarly, if your diction is unclear from garbling or rushing your words, students will be become disengaged. Your aim to produce a clear sound in an even manner, keeping the pitch of your voice just above conversational level. Warming up using tongue twisters and loosening the jaw is a good way to be ready to speak in front of the class.

Find out more about Teach 2017 and secure your free place at the conference.