Teaching is all about communication, and one of the most effective tools you have is your voice. Teaching a class of 40 students comes with an occupational hazard of losing the voice.
On average, teachers do approximately three hours of voicing for seven hours of work. Research suggests that teachers are three times more likely to develop voice problems than any other professionals.
Vocal health plays an important role in the way we approach our work. Sometimes we struggle to be heard over the class and raise our voice unnecessary resulting in vocal fatigue. This can affect our mental health and overall wellbeing.
Sore throat, quiet and blocked sound, tension and shortness of breath are some common vocal problems they face. Below are some general tips.
- Start your day with at least one glass of lukewarm water, always carry a water bottle and try to sip-in every 30 minutes. Six to eight glasses of water a day is a good minimum target.
- Avoid throat-clearing which is banging your vocal cords together with great force. Instead try to sip water and swallow hard or clear your throat gently if you need.
- Do vocal warm-up exercises. This needs only a few minutes. (i) Voicing the sounds ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘ng’ on one breath (ii) Trilling on your lips and/or tongue, up and down the scale (iii) Humming or lip trilling to songs on the radio. (iv) Stretching your chin muscle.
- Effective class control techniques will help limit speaking over the noise in loud places. Some ideas include (i) Clapping to get attention. (ii) Raising hands in the air (iii) using a whistle or a bell (iv) Countdown for silence (v) Warning signal with yellow/red card .
- A good amount of breathing is highly recommended in between your lecture delivering.
- Take proper rest as your voice-box has to go under a resting period to lessen the stress and strain levels.
- Maintain a good posture. Stand in a place in the classroom that makes it easiest for students to hear you. Stand tall when teaching. Shoulder blades should be sloping down the back. Keep your head comfortably balanced at the top of the spine.
- Slow down your speech. The faster you deliver your lecture, the more exhausted you will feel.
- Simple breathing and stretching exercises and gentle massage will lessen stress and anxiety. 10. Minimize junk food. Eating a balanced diet helps to keep the mucous membranes in our throats healthy.
- You can assign lecture demonstrations to each student weekly. It builds the student’s confidence and lessens your burden.
- Go for miming to save your precious voice. You just have to learn to mime and then assign different signs for different commands.
- Gargling with salt water and steam inhalation can be the best tips to save your voice. You should do it twice a week at bedtime.
- Consuming honey and ginger (in warm water) daily or thrice a week will maintain your voice levels and keep your vocal cords moisten.
- When you are sick with a hoarse or husky voice you need to take time off.
Writer is Principal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Senior Secondary School, Vattiyoorkavu, Kodunganoor,Thiruvananthapuram...