Banner
button button button button button button button button button

Teachers 'need voice training'...

Philip Parkin, general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, said speech training would avoid "the premature end to careers". Read on the BBC website...

Teacher support and CPD

  • The Teacher and the Voice
  • Teacher training
  • CPD in schools
  • Courses offered
  • Healthy tips
  • Client list

Why do teachers have to be particularly careful?...

Teacher with classOf all professional voice users, teachers are the occupational body to present with voice problems most frequently at speech clinics over the course of a career. No fewer than one in five teachers miss days at school each year because of voice related problems.

Teachers depend upon their voices for much of their work. Their purpose is to communicate their knowledge, yet their very environment can make that work difficult and can indeed damage the voice upon which they depend. It is all too easy to take one's voice for granted, especially when under pressure to prepare and give lessons. Teacher in action

  • What can you do to make lessons more interesting?
  • What can you do to make your voice carry better?
  • What environmental factors should you watch out for?
  • How can you help protect yourself from serious problems?
  • Who should you approach if you are struggling?

Teaching is a profession full of demands. Being aware of its pitfalls can help a long and rewarding career.

Workshops and lectures for student teachers and NQTs...

Janet in workshopWith a lifetime career ahead of them, there is never a better time to become aware of the possibilities and needs of the voice than when teachers are at the start of their careers. Speaking is natural isn't it? Yes, but the environment in a school is not. The government has said that giving trainee teachers an awareness of the voice problems a teacher can encounter and how to deal with them should now be a priority in all courses.

Janet in workshop
  • Teachers are the profession group who make the most visits to speech therapists
  • One in five teachers miss days in school each year because of voice related problems
  • Over half of all teachers will have some form of voice related disorder during their careers
  • And yet an effective voice is such a powerful tool in making an effective teacher

Talking voice already gives workshops and lectures on many courses. Janet's experience as a classroom teacher and stage performer ensures that these are lively and engaging, but pertinent and thorough as well.

CPD for teachers...

Janet in workshopThink for a moment about any teachers you know? Do their voices sound husky? Tired? Strained? Do they clear their throats more often when speaking? Is their speech effortful and strained? Do they have to shout increasingly louder to be heard? Do their voices ring out with confidence or are they struggling to be heard? Do they stagger on using the voice regardless of a cold or cough? Or perhaps they are one of the lucky ones who seem to breeze through their lessons effortlessly.

Talking Voice sets out to highlight some vocal issues and to improve the knowledge and awareness of teachers via a series of workshops designed to leave lasting structures in place and to help each teacher gain insights into their own unique voice.

The workshop begins by exploring vocal qualities and actively encouraging participants to discover their own voice. Most people do not recognise the full range of expression of which they are capable and have never been given the opportunity to enjoy this!

Janet in workshopDuring the course of the workshop, there is a chance to ask questions and to experience how posture and breathing directly affect the voice. Articulation is extremely important in a classroom particularly as often, the acoustic is not helpful for the listener and clarity diminishes with distance from the teacher. Simple techniques like lengthening vowels and speaking "on the voice" make a huge difference.

With background chatter in classes, teachers most often suffer the Lombard Effect where speech effort increases directly in proportion to the background noise - think of any parties you may have been to or football matches for which you suffer vocally the next day!

In order to maintain good vocal quality, the voice needs to be supported by muscles other than the ones in the throat. The workshop explores how to activate these muscles effectively via the Accent Method of breathing.

Learning a little about how the vocal folds work is useful when they collide anything between 100 and 1000 times a second! Skillful use of muscles and coordination will bring about a more energised and dynamic voice.

Of course there is some discussion about hydration and tips for recognising when help is needed. A few small changes made now could save the long reaching impacts of permanent voice damage due to misuse and ignorance.

COURSES ON OFFER FOR THE DISCERNING EDUCATOR:

The Art of Classroom Communication (Full day course)

This full day has plenty of thought provoking activities and information to digest for every teacher. The ability to communicate effectively is a key skill for any teacher and the course focuses on those crucial first impressions through body and voice. Learning how to activate the best voice for any situation, the words to use and the ‘silent’ language of your posture etc will mean that managing classes becomes a lot easier. Create an encouraging learning environment for your classroom. Click here for more details...

Healthy Voice/Positive Presence (Full day course)

A day designed to create greater confidence and awareness of how voice can affect the perceived and real effectiveness of the teacher. Posture, open body language, gesture and vocal clues are explored alongside vocal variety and proxemics. Creating the true voice of authority, trust and enthusiasm is the aim. Click here for more details...

A Powerful Voice (Half day course)

This half day seeks to encapsulate elements of the Full Day Courses. It is an overview which gives as much information as time allows! The session focuses on vocal dynamics, gaining some basic vocal technique and taking care of the voice. If you can only manage a Half Day Session, then this is a valuable and fun way to spend it! Click here for more details...

Twilight session

Click here for more details...

Open Days! (Half day course)

On my journey around Universities last year, (and this applies to some schools too!) I noticed that many of our top academics engaged to invite students onto the courses, were very uncomfortable reaching out to the general public and spent time stumbling over words or reading notes! On closer questioning amongst students, too many found lectures uninspiring! Come on guys, we can do better than that! This Half Day is a booster injection to forward thinking academics for those University Open Days when you need to present your course and your university in the best light possible. Just checking out posture and guidance for slow, clear speaking will already make a massive difference for visitors and highlight your course as THE one to follow! Click here for more details...

INDIVIDUAL BESPOKE TROUBLESHOOTING:

A Problem Shared

Janet’s understanding of being in the classroom and what it takes to create an environment where everybody can work well and creatively means she is able to offer some advice and strategies to struggling individual teachers. She has been invited into schools to help in situations where the teacher needs help with confidence or better voice management; sometimes teachers seek her out for help independently. Janet believes that learning to organise your speaking and practising your lesson and vocal pacing can lead to a more confident and calmer teacher! Taking time to work with each person is a privilege and it is surprising how much can be overcome through having time to reflect in this busy world of ours! Each session is 90 minutes long. Click here for more details...

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

DETAILS OF COURSES:

The Art of Classroom Communication - full day

What is it?

For a teacher the most important thing is their ability to communicate with students. Without this fundamental aspect, teaching becomes one of the hardest professions and students miss out on learning not only material information, but also how to be successful communicators themselves. This one day course is designed to build those skills so the teacher can be effective and lead students with confidence and clarity.

How do you achieve this?

The day is divided into 3 sections targeting specific areas inherent in great communication. Broadly speaking these are Vocal awareness, Vocal development and Classroom Communication. The day includes:

  • The art of beginning a lesson
  • Personal presence and how to achieve more
  • Silent communication
  • Managing a disparate group
  • Understanding the messages from others
  • How to change tack and deal with off task moments
  • Dealing with ‘headless chicken’ syndrome!
  • Planning for success
  • The middle of a lesson – not losing your way
  • Involving others in your communication
  • Expressive use of voice
  • Bridging techniques for the teacher
  • Emotional intelligence and why it matters
  • Disbanding ‘trouble’
  • Getting people ‘on side’
  • The voice which speaks
  • How to abandon power point and just talk!
  • Instilling confidence in others
  • What your face says all by itself!
  • opportunities to get feedback on your spontaneous speaking handling nerves
  • language choice and its effect on the listener
  • Why moving matters
  • The art of ending a lesson

There is a combination of practical and theoretical activities with interactive and personalised learning fundamental to the process. The very nature of this course requires commitment and participation.

What resources do you need?

A room with tables and chairs and separate space to move around. Also required is power point access with sound. There may be some sheets to be printed, but most resources will be provided.

Can I say what I want you to focus on?

Certainly! Indeed when I speak with trainers, it is always a two way conversation. If the idea inspires you to think about what else you would like, so much the better! I use my previous experience to guide on what I feel is too valuable to miss out and appreciate the group dynamic knowledge of the provider.

How many people can you manage?

It depends on the situation - ideally I work with any number between 10-40.

What will it cost?

I don't charge travel costs, so the price is inclusive: £625.

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

Healthy Voice/Positive Presence - full day

What is it?

The emphasis is on health of the voice, communication and specifically vocal awareness generally. This is achieved through a mix of interactive exercises designed to increase vocal awareness and offer strategies for improving vocal skills. There is a range of participation and delegates are always invited to ask questions.

How do you achieve this?

There are several, sometimes surprising, things which, when added together, definitely make a difference in creating a confident classroom presence. Personal presence is very much affected by the voice a teacher uses and a study showed how students who were actively engaged in a lesson, unconsciously copied the gesturing of the teacher. By building up a picture of what affects voice first of all, participants can isolate what they may wish to improve. A few are listed here:

  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Tensions
  • Projection
  • Vocal tonality
  • Vocal constriction
  • Energy in voice and body
  • Hydration and food imbalances
  • Warming up the appropriate muscles

Leading on from that, Talking Voice looks at the hidden messages in body posture and facial expression which affect tone, and then invites participants to put it all together, managing a less stressful environment and understanding how to regain control without shouting! Again the emphasis is on learning through active participation! How to access available help when the voice goes wrong is also highlighted.

What resources do you need?

During the session most of the practical activities are supported by resources brought along by Janet; there are usually one or two sheets for centres to print out for individuals to use. Other than that a room which is a flexible space is an advantage with chairs and tables and the ability to move into a space for moving around. Power point access with sound is required.

How many people can you manage?

It depends on the situation - ideally I work with any number between 10-40.

What will it cost?

I don't charge travel costs, so the price is inclusive: £625.

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

A POWERFUL VOICE - half day

What is it?

The emphasis is on the power of a healthy voice and brings about an awareness of what it takes to look after your precious tool of communication. The session unfolds with a combination of interactive and teacher guided activities to focus on the vocal skills required to maintain a healthy and interesting voice so that students are involved in your lessons!

How do you achieve this?

By working through the different factors which enable a voice to be free and clear, participants discover their own style of speaking and what may need to be adjusted to avoid problems down the line. Factors include:

  • Why posture is a key element in vocal efficiency
  • How to improve breath flow for speaking
  • Improving the clarity of speech
  • Creating the right tempo for the listener
  • Being loud enough without tightening up
  • How surprising tensions sabotage clear talking
  • Facial expression and its key role in communicating
  • How to get recognise when your voice is complaining and how to access help when that problem is more serious
  • Understanding how to energise vocally
  • The art of expression
  • Setting up the first five minutes
  • The voice saviours from speech therapy
  • Pacing and pausing

What resources do you need?

A room with tables and chairs and a separate space to move around. Also required is power point access with sound. There may be some sheets to be printed, but most resources will be provided.

How many people can you manage?

Between 15-40 people.

What will it cost?

£375 inclusive of travel.

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

Twilight session

What is it?

This sits very easily into the school CPD programme as it lasts between 90 minutes and 2 hours and is negotiable depending upon the needs of the establishment. Janet offers an overview of the vital techniques behind efficient vocal production. Within the time available, teachers learn some of the guiding principles behind looking after their voice and there is always a highly practical element. Learning quick and easily transferable skills, teachers gain a huge amount of information within a short space of time. Within the session there are a variety of interactive and thought provoking activities which allow for shared thoughts and ideas.

How do you achieve this?

Participants learn about their own default voice mode and start to address some of the possible issues for their own voice. Moving on from that, certain key factors are highlighted such as

  • Why breath flow is vital for clear vocal production
  • How to align posture and the voice for the best result
  • Creating energy for the voice
  • Understanding how voice and gesture match up
  • Becoming aware of which tensions affect clarity of speech
  • Finding a route for personalised vocal expression and care of the voice
  • Communication through vocal gesture and how simple physical gesturing guides the listener
  • Discovering how a quick vocal warm up can transform vocal longevity

What resources do you need?

A room with tables and chairs and a separate space to move around. Also required is power point access with sound. There may be some sheets to be printed for use during the session, but most resources will be provided

Who is it for?

All staff, whether NQTs or well established enjoy this mix of advice and practical discovery. Many schools open it up to support staff and other interested parties. Everybody benefits from learning how their voice works. It is a unique opportunity!

What will it cost?

£275 inclusive of travel.

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

Open Days! - half day

On my journey around Universities last year, (and this applies to some schools too!) I noticed that many of our top academics engaged to invite students onto the courses, were very uncomfortable reaching out to the general public and spent time stumbling over words or reading notes! On closer questioning amongst students, too many found lectures uninspiring! Come on guys, we can do better than that! This Half Day is a booster injection to forward thinking academics for those University Open Days when you need to present your course and your university in the best light possible. Just checking out posture and guidance for slow, clear speaking will already make a massive difference for visitors and highlight your course as THE one to follow!

Who is it for?

Professors who feel they might benefit from awakening their public speaking skills

How many people can you manage?

Between 5- 10 people.

What will it cost?

£75 pp

Click here to go to the top of page...

 

A PROBLEM SHARED

Sometimes a promising teacher comes across a problem with their voice or presence. This can be due to a decline in confidence which is then transmitted through their voice. This often leads the listener to assume the issue is a vocal one.

In the busy world of evaluation and standards it is easy for valuable colleagues to become overwhelmed and lose sight of a way ahead. Somebody to listen, take time out and work in a positive and creative manner can often be all that is needed.

Janet has successfully worked with several teachers on an individual basis to help restore their balance by focusing on different aspects of classroom technique and offering some concrete strategies to take away for managing their voice and communication methods.

If you have a teacher who is floundering because they seem unable to control a class or speak confidently enough, consider asking Talking Voice for a discreet 90 minute session.

Details are bespoke but being with a discussion on default voice and the current situation.

What will it cost?

No more than £175 per session inclusive.

Click here to go to the top of page...

Healthy Tips for Teachers...

10 things to keep your voice beautiful!...

  • Limit intake of dehydrating fluids - coffee, tea, alcohol; up water intake.
  • Avoid whispering if you "lose" your voice. Speak quietly instead with support.
  • If you must shout, use support muscles!
  • Match your phonation to your breath length.
  • Excessive throat clearing is too harsh for the vocal folds. Try to avoid this.
  • Improve your posture, so muscles can work effectively.
  • See if you can have voice naps during the day.
  • Try to develop a personal warm up routine.
  • Articulate well at front of mouth.
  • When you have a cold, avoid decongestants; steam instead

Become aware of voice use. What demands are you making of your voice "off-duty" in addition to "on-duty"? If you have overdone it, try and take it easy.

POSTURE - a reminder

Knees over ankles, Hips over knees, Rib cage over hips, Shoulders over rib cage Ears over shoulders, Stand with your feet hip width apart so you have a good base.

BREATHING

If you have an important "speech" to make, low abdominal breathing as opposed to clavicular breathing will ease muscle tension and help abate nerves by circulating the oxygen instead of going into "fight or flight" syndrome. It is a great stress buster. A quick way in, is to imagine you are smelling something wonderful and feel your ribs expand without raising your shoulders. The air has the sensation of dropping into the bottom of your lungs.

Focusing on your breath will help you relax and give your vocal folds much needed moments of rest!

SPEECH

There are many simple techniques which can help. Some of these might seem obvious, others need practice.

  • Speak for a breath's length.
  • Energise your speech with different voice qualities; add in pauses; don't be afraid to experiment with dynamics and pitch. It is the contrast which keeps people listening.
  • Speaking above noise for any length of time will have a detrimental effect as will yelling at a sports event whether as a spectator or participant.
  • If you must shout, activate your lower abs - belly button to backbone - and keep your throat un-constricted!
  • Limit the distance between you and your pupils as much as possible in the classroom so they are nearer your voice.
  • Factor in rests when the pupils can be listening to a CD or watching a DVD or at the computer, maybe debating amongst themselves, or even writing!!
  • Look at the environment in which you teach - is there a bathroom acoustic? Is it poorly appointed - noisy heating? Are you outdoors where there are no hard surfaces to bounce off acoustically? Are you at a swimming pool? Is your environment drying? Are there a lot of chemicals about? (Art, Science, DT) Is it too cold? - when we are cold we raise our shoulders and tighten our necks and jaws. Are you constantly going from warm to cool environments? (PE) Are you having to yell to students far away?
  • How aware are you of what your body is saying to you? At the end of your day, maybe sitting in your car or at home, just do a quick check as to where tensions may be. The more you get to know your body, the easier it will be to undo the building tensions. One way to release is to imagine breathing warm, relaxing air through the affected muscles. Visualise lengthening your muscles and opening up your lungs, wider/ broader.
  • How much exercise do you do? Do you talk while exercising? Do you have long conversations immediately after, while the cords have extra blood supply pumped into them? They are slightly swollen in this state and no singer would sing for an hour after exercise! Nor would they go out into the cold and stand around without wrapping up - singers and their famous scarves!

INFORMATION on the INTERNET

You will find a little information on this site, but the principal aim of this site is to make you aware of what I can do to help. Much more is available on the internet, set out by others whose aim is to give this information. Above all however, remember that the science of voice is not an exact science. Good singing teaching and speech therapy requires a lot of intuition. By putting any combination of "voice, vocal cords, teachers and voice, vocal function, vocal dysfunction" etc into a search engine, you will come across numerous sites dedicated to this matter.

On Wikipedia you can learn more about the actual physical anatomy of the voice and larynx and attendant muscles with clear diagrams - type in "human voice" and you will find a wealth of information.

An American foundation at the university of Iowa has an inspirational man with the unlikely name of called Ingo Titze, whom I have heard lecture and he has set up a site for teachers called The Voice Academy. You can access that at www.ncvs.org - home page - current research - The Voice Academy. There you will see some of the information you have today with some good graphics. NCVS stands for the National Center for Voice and speech. This is packed with fascinating information.

Vocal Osteopathy is a relatively new and controversial strategy - by manipulating the larynx, the muscles which have gone into compensation mode are released. Jacob Liebermann is its founder and leading practitioner. He has a private practice and many confirmed devotees. www.jacob-lieberman.co.uk.

To download a printable version of this page, click here.

Client list...

  • Buckinghamshire County Council
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Kent County Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Hampshire County Council
  • em direct
  • E-qualitas
  • ASK
  • London Metropolitan University
  • University of Cumbria
  • Liverpool Hope University
  • UCET
  • Manchester University
  • Greewwich University
  • Brighton University
  • Kingston University
  • SUrrey County Council
  • MAND
  • National Trainings Schools in Birmingham
Share site: