The Complete Teacher


Pointers of saving your teachers voice

Posted by Karabo Kgophane on 28 October 2021 11:35 AM SAST
Karabo Kgophane photo

By Mike Anderson

Are we losing our voice as teachers? It's no big deal, we lost ours long ago. (Kidding!) But losing your teacher's voice, well, that’s a true occupational hazard. Teaching without a voice is like driving with your eyes closed.

Here are some tips that will aid you in preserving your teaching voice: 

Stay healthy
The quickest route to a fragile, husky voice is through a cold, so those "sickness-avoiding" techniques we use during cold and flu season are critical for voice preservation all year-round.

Try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and keep them as clean as possible. Get optimum sleep and follow a healthy diet, easier said than done, we know.

Avoid speaking loudly
Yelling is the easiest way to wreck one’s voice, so utilise whatever strategies you can to keep loud speech to a minimum. If your classroom is exceptionally rowdy, get a bell or other signals, tools, to calm your class without attempting to holler over them.

When speaking at assemblies or multi-classroom gatherings, take the administrative steps to achieve a microphone. It only takes one afternoon of calling across a crowded cafeteria for a sore, strained voice days after.

Slow down your speech
One of the most common ways we strain our voices is by talking too quickly. Although teachers usually have a lot to tell their students, speaking really fast keeps the vocal cords tense and tight, and that is when damage can occur. Making an effort to always speak at a normal pace will keep your voices strong.

Be aware of your breathing
Throughout the school day, check-in with yourself to make sure your breath is regular and steady. At the end of the day, when laying down, our abdomen expand as we draw breath in and deflate as we exhale. We should aim for that breathing style throughout our hectic days.

Find your natural pitch
The more we speak at the pitch level that our voice is accustomed to, the less likely we are to strain it. Our best speaking pitch is not the highest or lowest pitch in our natural range, it is in the middle.

Teachers often may speak lower than their natural pitch for a more authoritative sound, or higher than their natural pitch to convey friendliness. Both adjustments can result in the overuse of the voice.

Instead, aim for the sound range that comes to your voice naturally, such as the tone of your voice when you spontaneously say “uh-huh.” The top note of your “huh” typically reflects your natural and optimum speaking pitch. If the voice you use to speak in the classroom differs from your natural pitch, you could be straining your voice.

Do vocal chord straw exercises.
If a husky, strained or lost voice is a regular occurrence, add vocal exercises using a simple drinking straw to your day. These simple exercises take just a few minutes per day but can make a big difference in voice preservation. Find some voice exercises on YouTube as great places to start.

Stay hydrated
Keeping your voice, as well as your body, hydrated through drinking lots of water is key. Coffee does not count, and caffeinated beverages can have the opposite effect and dry out our voice. Water lubricates the vocal cords, preventing wear and tear.

Be aware of vocal fry
Young women (and those who may want to connect with young people) are most likely to use the voice pattern of vocal fry. Think of a Kardashian sister saying “Sooo cute.”

This low, creaky voice vibration is caused by a fluttering of the vocal cords that abuses them, truly frying our voices.  This speaking style is highly damaging to vocal cords, and can cause vocal nodules to change over time. 


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