Improve your credible voice and presence in the classroom to increase effectiveness.

When I work with Graduate Teachers and give feedback, I often recommend that they improve their ‘teacher voice’ or credible voice. Additionally, to make their presence in the classroom more credible. So what does this actually mean?

Having a credible voice means to project your voice clearly and concisely across the classroom with some assertion. Breathing into your diaphragm when talking ensures this creates a clear sound. To talk in an assertive and positive manner, it also helps to be well prepared and use positive affirmations. To have a credible presence means to stand confidently in front of the class with good posture without tilting the hips or head.

So how can I improve my credible voice (teacher voice)?

I advise my student teachers to practise in front of a mirror. This may seem silly at first, but it is a great tool. Equally, using your phone to video yourself is a great form of feedback for reflection. Stand up and introduce yourself to your imaginary class and then the concept you are intending to teach. Listen to your words and look at your stance.

The next step is to video yourself teaching in the classroom. Ensure you follow the school and departments policy on video usage, especially if there are students on the screen. Really pay attention to your body stance and voice projection. Give yourself feedback on how it can improve. Just as important is using vocal variety. There is nothing worse than having to listen to someone talk for long periods when they use the same monotone voice. Equally as annoying is listen to someone who has a continuous squeaky tone. Mix it up! Use some drama in your delivery. The pause is gold for this. To find out more about view the classroom management course here.

One way to improve your voice projection is to practise Yoga breathing. This exercise is fantastic for learning to breathe using your diaphragm. It encourages the use of your entire lungs. You also get the additional benefits of finding your zen and mindfulness—both great gifts for us teachers. Equally as good is singing, which really gets you breathing. Yes, your homework is to get to the local karaoke night. Please do film it and post it!

But having a good credible voice and stance is more than just voice projection. Having the authority and presence at the front of the classroom to portray that you are the leader and facilitator. Yes, you are in charge. It’s all about confidence. It is all just a performance. That’s why we must practice and with time, it will come, so just fake it till you make it.

Another way to improve your credible voice is to attend a public speaking course or club. There are many out there. I myself have been a member of Toastmasters for many years and the feedback from fellow Toastmasters has been invaluable for my growth as an effective teacher.

What is Toastmasters and how can it help?

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. The organisation’s membership exceeds 364,000 in more than 16,200 clubs in 145 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. This is Toastmaster’s write up and you can read more and find a local club here.

If you enjoy reading for professional growth. I totally recommend this book, Speaker, Leader, Champion: Succeed at Work Through the Power of Public Speaking, featuring the prize-winning speeches of Toastmasters World Champions. This book was great for reflection on my skills as a public speaker and helped with writing content.

What I have found so beneficial attending is the structure of the club and the guidance to members. As members, we all evaluate each other using the manuals provided by Toastmasters. Giving feedback to others heightens your ability to recognize quality vocal projection, vocal variety, clarity of narrative, hand gestures and how speakers hold their bodies. This, in turn, enhances your own skills by bringing these skills to your conscious awareness and creating a common language. This common language is also important for Classroom Management. See here for more details.

Other reasons to attend Toastmaster?

The reason I joined Toastmasters. I wanted to improve my public speaking, to engage students and staff at assemblies. I found that parents and colleagues watching was nerve-wracking and wanted to upskill in this area. I can tell you now. I won’t be winning any TED talk competitions any time soon. But I have improved a lot! I still get nervous, but I am channelling the nerves into positive energy. I can even, on occasion, convince myself it’s excitement and not nerves. So. Not only can Toastmasters improve your classroom teaching, it will benefit your career in the long term. Especially, if you intend on moving into leadership positions.

Please like and share this post, thank you fellow passionate educators.

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