It is not surprising with the amount of talking that many educators do in large, noisy classrooms, that many experiencing a voice disorder at some stage in their career. Our voice is produced through closures of the vocal folds which collide together to create sound. Teachers have around a million vocal fold collisions a day and the louder the voice they use the more forceful the collision the folds undergo. It is important to protect your voice against this occupational hazard. While the best solution for teachers is to use amplification devices such as a microphone, this may not always be a feasible option. Here are some other ways to minimize the effects of these vocal fold collisions.
Here are three ways for teachers to improve their voice
Drink plenty of water
It is important to remain hydrated, as the vocal folds need a thin layer of mucus to vibrate. In classroom environments, especially those with heavy air-conditioning, the vocal folds can dry out quite easily. As your vocal folds dry out more effort is required to talk and project your voice, which impacts voice quantity and increases the risk of vocal fatigue. To avoid this risk make sure you keep a water bottle handy, and take sips throughout the day even while you move about the classroom to help stay hydrated.
It can be very easy to get lose patients in the classroom when dealing with an entire classroom of children and on top of this, one or several students that disrupt the learning environment. Often our first instinct is to raise our voices. For many teachers, changing this behaviour can be enough to avoid vocal pathologies or damage such as nodules. This can be achieved by not shouting and just stop talking and wait for the class to settle down. If this is not effective, use non-verbal signals such as clapping to gain their attention first.
Project your voice in a healthy way
Some situations cannot be manipulated and require us to use a louder volume to get the message across. In these cases, it is important to ensure that you are projecting your voice correctly. This means using the correct vocal technique to ensure you are getting good oral resonance and using your reparatory strength to achieve louder volumes instead of a laryngeal voice, which forces the vocal folds to collide in a more hazardous manner.
For specific advice on how to project your voice in a healthy way, consult a speech pathologist who specialises in voice disorders.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.