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Teaching - A Survival Guide for Students and New Teachers (Part 3) - Speech

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Your mode of speech in the classroom will very quickly make or break you as a teacher. Follow these tips, which are based on 28 years of teaching experience and you will thrive

It is much harder to control the tone of your voice when you are talking loudly or shouting. The logic therefore is to avoid shouting at all costs. Most women know the limits of their voices and consequently rarely lose control. Men can shout louder without losing control of their voices and sometimes use a loud voice in an attempt to frighten children. This is rarely effective unless used very occasionally, and men would be well advised to use this tactic less often. Many children are shouted at very frequently both by their teachers, and by their parents and the effects wear off. The child is aware that if you are shouting then you have reached the limit of your sanctions. They are very aware that teachers must not touch children and some will attempt to provoke you beyond your limits. The best way to avoid this type of provocation is to avoid shouting at individual children altogether and to severely limit your shouting at the class. It is possible to talk quietly to a class and to have them do everything you ask; in fact it is easier to teach that way. If you are loud then the children can have their own conversation and still hear you. They are not listening, but most children cannot differentiate between hearing and listening in any case. If you keep your voice down it will have a calming effect on you and on the class. Similarly, the banging of rulers, books or board rubbers on the desk should be avoided. Banging objects always disrupts the calm working atmosphere that you are trying to engender. Noisy class control methods are unnecessary as long as you follow the advice in the next section on Body Language. You should make an effort to speak more slowly than usual, as you would when acting on stage. This will help the children catch what you are saying more easily and add to the calm atmosphere. Large classrooms usually have echoes and the effects of these are reduced if you speak more slowly. Practice projecting your voice with a class in front of you, think about how the shape of your mouth changes when projecting. Vary the level of your voice as you speak, drop it suddenly to catch the children's attention. Make sure that you can understand the children's accents and dialect and that they can understand yours. There are more of them so they are "in the right" and it will be down to you to work towards better communication. Children will use a lack of it as another reason for not doing as well as expected. It also helps you to understand what they are saying behind your back! It is essential that you avoid the use of any word or phrase that could be construed as offensive; just because a phrase is in wide use does not automatically make it acceptable for a teacher to use. Many phrases from television series fall into this category. The most important single idea in teaching is to insist on absolute silence before you speak, if you compromise on this one, you are lost.
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