Your voice is your instrument - use it wisely!

When I first began teaching, my mentor told me I should tape record myself when I teach a lesson.  She felt it would give me helpful feedback.  Have you ever done that before?  If not, you should try it sometime.  I was surprised at how much information I gained by doing this.  It was the beginning of my first year, so classroom management was definitely a weakness for me.  I noticed that my voice got louder when my students' voices were reaching the "danger zone".  (Cue:  Top Gun music and picture Tom Cruise)  The danger zone is that point when you completely lose control of your class during a discussion.  What begins as a lively discussion, quickly enters the point of no return.  I found if I spoke in a quiet voice, my class was quieter.  If my students were getting louder and louder, I got softer and quieter until my class was back under control.  It sounds counterintuitive, but try it sometime and see if it works with your students, too.

Do you ever have those days when you are teaching and you feel like all of your students came to school with cotton balls in their ears?  They haven't listened to a thing you've said!  Those are my "Charlie Brown" days.

When I talk, I think all my students hear are "wanh, wanh, wuh-wahn, wahn".  To help your students tune in more to what you're saying, talk less.  Yes, I know another suggestion that sounds counterintuitive.  But, try it and see!  If you are talking less, guess who is talking more?  You got it!  Your students will be talking more.  Ask more open ended question, get a lively discussion going and you will see more active listening taking place.  Think about it from your own personal experience.  Do you prefer professional development meetings when it is "sit and get" or "make and take"?  Do you want someone talking at you or talking with you?


Sarah A said...

I had to record a lesson for student teaching, so it was really interesting to see what I did! Video is great for seeing what words you repeat frequently and what gestures and expressions you make. It was so hard to watch the video, though! :) The way you compose yourself in front of the class really does make a difference in their behavior!

Miss A's Kindergarten

Lisa R. said...

I love this post. You are so right about the tone of your voice and how it affects your students. I have always heard to tape record yourself and listen back to it for reflection. I have found also that talking in a quieter voice sets the tone for your classroom & helps you regain their focus a lot faster. Great tip!
Learning Is Something to Treasure

Tammy said...

Good post. I shared something similar with a student teacher last year. If he was loud, they were loud. When I was quiet, they were quiet. It really does work.
❀ Tammy
Forever in First

April Kreitzer Wolfe said...

This is so great for all teachers to do. Although it is scary to watch yourself, it is very useful. Thanks for sharing this idea.


Gretchen Schultek said...

What a great suggestion! So much can be learned from audio. I highly advice video taping yourself and look at body posture and other ways you "say" things without using your voice. I realized I needed more "wait time," and not correct every little misbehavior. Such a powerful tool. I suggest for teachers of all experience levels!

Shabana Jameel said...

I really liked this post - especially the buddy system idea!