If you’re struggling with a lost voice or voice issue, it can both undermine your position in the classroom, as well as lead to extra stress, frustration and even pain at getting yourself heard and understood.
The nature of teaching means that you’re frequently projecting your voice beyond normal conversational levels, which can cause strain for untrained voices. So it’s not surprising that teachers are an at-risk group for voice problems. A study by Voice Care UK found that teachers are eight times more likely to suffer from voice-related illness than those in other professions, and in a study by Greenwich University, a staggering 50% of all ECTs suffered voice loss within their first year of teaching.
Against this backdrop, it’s easy to view voice problems as inevitable, but this is not the case. It’s not par for the course to suffer with occasional voice loss, nor one of the unavoidable downsides of the job that you should simply accept. And it is certainly something that can be prevented in the future.
Regular voice problems can cause stress beyond the immediate confines of the classroom, too. Lost teaching days and disruptions to learning may make you worry that it’s damaging your career prospects. You may even start to question whether you’re cut out for teaching at all.
There are many contributing factors to voice problems. Factors common to classroom settings such as poor acoustics or delivering lessons against background noise can put your voice under extra strain as you’re more likely to resort to shouting. Add the stress on the untrained voice of delivering to large groups and it is perhaps unsurprising that teachers make up approximately 20% of all Speech and Language Therapy client lists in the UK.
A career in teaching can be hugely rewarding. But niggling health issues such as voice loss and throat pain can make teaching difficult. And when you can’t teach because you can’t speak well enough to be heard properly by your students, it’s hardly surprising that many teachers worry about the impact their voice health – or lack thereof – may have on their teaching careers.
But you needn’t accept voice problems as an inevitability. By learning how to use your five voices effectively, develop and protect your voice with vocal exercises and care for your voice with soothing practices, it will help propel you in your career, rather than hold you back.
By reducing lost teaching days through absence and maximising your effectiveness in the classroom, you can ensure that you’re always able to give your best when teaching, and truly engage and motivate your students to achieve better learning outcomes.
Our 5voices methodology reveals how the five main voices for effective teaching can help teachers:
You will need to be able to use your voice at a professional skills level in order to communicate effectively in the classroom. Read and consider the following statements. Mark each statement yes or no according to your view of your voice.