Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!
If you were a professional violinist would you start each day by giving the instrument a good whack? Would you leave it out in the sun, use it when you couldn’t find a cricket bat or just never tune it? Of course you wouldn’t.
Yet teachers as a group treat their main tool of trade to just such stress every single day. Whenever you talk loudly, over background noise, across large distances like the playground, the sports field, swimming pool or assembly hall, you risk vocal damage.
I’m not messing round here. According to Sydney based speech therapist Cecelia Pemberton:
In Australia and throughout the world, research shows that up to 20% of teachers experience voice problems each year. Teachers are between three and five times more likely to experience voice problems than the general population and are a staggeringly 32 times more likely to report voice problems than the general population…
The incidence of problems in music teachers, physical education teachers, language teachers and preschool and primary school teachers [is higher]…there is a high incidence of voice problems in teachers early in their career (1-5 years) … another increase after 15 years of teaching…Many teachers tolerate voice problems and do not seek help, this may exacerbate the voice problem.
So how do you know when you need help? The National Union of Teachers in the UK says “Prolonged and recurring hoarseness in the absence of a cold or throat infection and a persistent change in pitch or quality of voice should be investigated”.
Pemberton says there is good evidence that preventative measures and education in voice care make a difference. The Victorian Department of Education recognises voice care as an OH&S issue, and in the UK there are some schools introducing microphones to save teachers’ voices.
What should you do?
First of all, make any adjustments to the acoustic properties of your environment which are possible. Find another room if there is a racket next door. Close the doors and windows if there is traffic outside – and so on.
The basic rules for protecting yourself are NOT to
Not easy I know.
Here are the things you should do:
Special Care for Voice Users (American Academy of Otolaryngology)
Why You Lose Your Voice With Laryngitis (everydayhealth.com)