I recently conducted some informal research for a local primary school about how a teacher’s voice can influence what a child thinks or feels about them. As a parent I have often heard my 7 year old say that he doesn’t like that teacher because they ‘all they do is shout’, or that teacher ‘just sounds cross all the time’, so it was with interest that I undertook the project.
Using a representative group of pupils from each year group and teacher voices that they were not familiar with, I worked with the pupils to find out what they thought of each voice, and what feelings it elicited in them. The results were interesting, pupils responded more positively to teachers with a varied tone and pitch as they thought they sounded ‘more interesting’. Teachers with a tendency to sound monotone were labelled boring and pupils thought that ‘they have nothing good to say’. Softly spoken teachers were described as ‘nice’ and ‘we have to listen properly to hear, so we have to pay attention’. ‘Shouty’ teachers were the most negatively perceived, because even though the children could understand that they might be loud because their class was noisy, it made them feel that they were just being told off all the time and ‘we don’t like being made to feel bad’.
Much has been written discussing teacher voices causing disengagement in the classroom and the need for teachers to protect their voices:
Your voice is worth considering as a teacher or indeed if you work in any educational setting, where you need to engage an audience. If you can find ‘your voice’ then ultimately you will have more success engaging your audience, however old they may be!
If you are a trainee teacher or NQT interested in learning how to use your voice most efficiently and effectively, then you might be interested in organising a workshop at your school/university delivered by Alexandra Charalambous who has developed Voice Matters – details below: