Teachers read this!
Holidays are over, and if you’re a teacher going back to work you are part of a huge group of professional speakers who subject their main tool of trade to stress every single day. You talk a lot, talk loudly, over background noise, in unforgiving environments, across large distances – the playground, sports field, swimming pool or assembly hall. Is it any wonder teachers are at risk of vocal damage? The Victorian Department of Education rightly recognises voice care as an OH&S issue. If you live somewhere else, here are some ideas to protect yourself.
- talk or sing loudly
- clear your throat
- yell or shout
- teach with a throat infection
- use tension at the start of utterances
- speak over large distances or in noisy situations without a good amplifier.
Not easy I know.
- Drink water. Hydration is very important for a voice in heavy use.
- Do a daily voice workout before you start. This places your voice correctly and minimises the risk of damage from speaking, yelling or shouting ‘on the throat’.
- Use forward resonance when you need to project.
- Invent work-arounds. For instance, instead of calling out, give instructions to a small number of students who then have responsibility for informing the rest of the class.
- Use non vocal cues (playing a piece of music, handclaps or body poses) to signal changes in activities or the need for students to quieten down.
- Use an amplifier where possible and develop good microphone technique.
- Don’t clear your throat. Instead swallow hard, yawn, take a sip of water, suck or chew a sweet .
- If you have a sore throat or respiratory infection, avoid using a husky breathy voice. Just wait till it’s better. That’s what sick leave is for.