There is research to show that children who have a teacher with a damaged voice find the processing of information very difficult, which affects their ability to learn. (Rogerson, J and Dodd, B. (2005) ‘Is There an Effect of Dysphonic Teachers’ Voices on Children’s Processing of Spoken Language’ In Journal of Voice, Vol.19, No.1 pp44-60)
Children’s behaviour and learning can be improved by a voice that is comfortable to listen to and where the correct use of tone is being used.
Every Speech and Language Therapist’s client list has at least 20% of teachers and one in seven teachers will need medical help with their voice during their career.
Teachers with voice problems work under greater stress. Research from Spain shows that teachers with voice problems have less job stability and poorer health and vitality. (Protection of workers’ health by eliminating risk factors and providing proper training for the work tasks is required in the occupational safety and health legislation. Council Directive 89/391 OSHA, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. URL:http://osha.europa.eu/en/date/legislation/1.)
Further research has indicated the pivotal roles of cortisol and oxytocin in classroom management and discipline. They are two very important chemical reactions are crucial in the ability of children to learn effectively.
If you are constantly shouted at or a firm voice is used when you are spoken to, you react by producing cortisol – the fight, flight and fear hormone.
When we produce high-levels of this chemical the thinking centre of our brain switches off and it activates ‘conflict aversion and protection behaviours.’ These behaviours can be the challenging kinds of non-appropriate behaviours often seen in classrooms.
Glaser and Glaser (2015) suggest:
“We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists. And these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behaviour. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.”
However, if we use the Centred-Neutral, Encouraging and Advisory/Comforting Voices and use more supportive and affirmative language, it stimulates oxytocin – the feel-good hormone – that: “elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex. But oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.” (Glaser and Glaser 2015)
This research points to the importance of vocal variation in positive outcomes for your students, and how properly utilising different voices – rather than an over-reliance on shouting or a firm voice – can prevent long-lasting discipline issues as a result of extended cortisol release.
At The 5voices, we are always looking at the latest research on voice and its impact on learning outcomes and welcome any approach from researchers who wish to collaborate. Furthermore, we are happy to speak with researchers to help support in any way we can. We believe the more insight we can gain, the better outcomes we’ll all achieve for teachers, educators and learners.
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.