5 Tips for Using your Voice as an effective Behaviour Management tool.
If you have worked in a school for anything more than five minutes you will have heard teachers raising their voices for all sorts of reasons. In fact you might be unlucky enough to hear the odd scream or howl coming from some stressed classroom teacher.
In my whole teaching career, I have raised my voice occasionally but only ever shouted once. I recall still today, that after I shouted, physically I was shaking and did not feel in control. We don’t want to get into those situations.
The proper use of your voice in the classroom is a key asset that every teacher should fine tune to bring order to their practice. Here are a few tips that are proven to work that should improve any teaching situation.
- Don’t shout! Okay that’s a general rule and we should avoid shouting at all costs. Difficult students will often just shout back and you end up with dreadful situations. Parents will complain and your Administrators will look poorly upon it. There are always exceptions to the rule, but they should be quite rare, and these might occur if a student is endangering themselves or others around them.
- When looking to get students’ attention, often the best strategy is to move to a prominent position in the class and look at them silently. One by one they will understand that you are about to speak and will stop whatever they are doing in anticipation. This strategy works best when you have conditioned the students to know that when you move to a certain position in the class, you are about to speak to them.
- Never raise your voice to be heard in the classroom. If you find that the noise level has increased and that you have to amplify your volume just to be heard, then it’s time to bring order and silence. You can often do this by following step #2 above.
- When talking to your class, at times you may notice a student off-task, perhaps chatting to their classmate beside them. At these times, I have often slightly but noticeably raised and projected my voice towards them to redirect them or bring them back to my attention. Another strategy that works well is to stop talking mid sentence and look silently at the culprit; this usually does the trick. Using a smile helps to keep it non-confrontational.
- Finally, a great tip when talking to your class is to lower your voice just so much that the students at the back of the class can hear you when the class is quiet. In my experience this normally creates a quietening effect on the classroom as students settle down in order to hear you.
Remember that each classroom dynamic is different so modify strategies to suit your own environment and temperament. Be wary of those who exclusively promote or dismiss particular philosophies of behaviour management; I’ve yet to come across any system that works for everyone.
But if you feel you do need some practical advice in book form, then I would recommend Bill Rogers, an Australian Educational Consultant. His advice is down to earth and pragmatic to cover a whole range of classroom situations. His bestselling Classroom Behaviour, now in its 4th Edition, is available here at amazon or here at the Book Depository. I’ve read Bill and I have no qualms about recommending him.
All of our classrooms are unique and any strategies must be tailored to the circumstances that we have in front of us. So if you are not trying some of these already, you have nothing to lose: give them a go and let me know what works and what doesn’t in your situation.