How to Not Fry Your Voice as a Teacher

By Marissa Siegel, Owner and Speech-Language Pathologist at Rising Star Speech and Language Services

Young math teacher in front of chalkboard

At the end of the day, do you ever end up with a super hoarse voice that no amount of water can alleviate? You may be suffering from “teacher voice.” While that’s not a technical term, teachers are at a significantly higher risk than the general population for voice issues. That’s due to the stress of using your voice all day and at a louder than normal volume. This problem may actually be getting even worse due to dealing with mics that aren’t sufficient while working virtually or having to increase volume to be heard from behind a mask. Here are a few steps you can take to boost your vocal hygiene routine:

Use a Microphone

If possible, have this piece of equipment do the amplification for you. Your vocal cords vibrate to produce speech. Increasing your volume puts a strain on your vocal cords by vibrating them together more forcefully. Many headphones, even ones that are relatively inexpensive, have built-in mics. There are also sometimes mics that are available to teachers in their classrooms. Requesting one from the appropriate person at your school may help bring awareness to the importance of vocal hygiene. Chances are that your coworkers are also going home with a raspy voice by the end of the day.

Reduce Background Noise

Along with letting the microphone do the amplification for you, there is less of a need to amplify your own voice if the background noise is kept to a minimum. This will help your students as well, so they can speak at a normal volume and not have to talk over background noises in order to be heard. If you like to play music in your classroom while students are working, consider decreasing the volume a couple of notches. If your classroom has a particularly loud ventilation system, ask the appropriate person about safe ways to make it quieter. Modeling proper vocal hygiene as a teacher can also help students learn how to take care of their own voices.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated drinks can help keep the vocal cords more supple. Drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, can actually have a drying effect. Keeping a water bottle closeby can help remind you to take sips throughout the day. Those sips of water also lead to many additional health benefits. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, staying hydrated helps “regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.”

If you would like resources to help educate your coworkers about proper vocal hygiene or to advocate for better classroom acoustics, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has overviews on acoustic compliance as well as additional resources. If you are experiencing vocal issues such as a hoarse voice, pain when speaking, or losing your voice often, you may want to seek help from your doctor or a speech-language pathologist. Instead of feeling like you have to fry your vocal cords day after day, try out these tips to help protect your voice.

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