Classroom Management: The Teacher's Voice

My readers, I’m sure, have excellent classroom management. However, you may be called upon to help out a brand-new colleague or an overwhelmed veteran next door. I have a theory that much of a classroom’s success all depends on the teacher’s voice.

Pitch

Think low.

Student teachers I’ve worked with who have poor classroom management often speak in a very high voice. While you can’t change the voice you’ve been given, having taken singing lessons I know that we all have a register which spans from our chest to the top of our head. When managing a classroom, speak from the chest. It gives you power, it’s believable, and it’s not straining. My acting coaches would say, “think low.”
If your voice is too high pitched, it can sometimes sound desperate, apologetic, and it seems as if you are asking students for permission when you are giving directions.

Tone

Be calm.

It is no wonder that the teacher having a nervous breakdown in the teacher’s lounge has a classroom full of students having nervous breakdowns. Students tend to take on their teacher’s personality. Even an emergency like a fire, an earthquake, or a first grader wetting his pants requires the teacher to remain calm. If you’re not relaxed in tone then hyper students are more hyper, distracted students are more distracted, and it’s also a lot less fun.

Don’t yell at students. Okay, you might lose it now and then, but don’t be one of those teachers who barks at students on a daily basis. Barking teachers breed barking students. Don’t confuse meanness with firmness.

Intent

Mean what you say.

Prepare consequences in advance. Don’t start doling them out as an afterthought. Students don’t believe you when you do that. In every class, there will always be at least one student who tries your rules.

When administering consequences like missing recess or missing out on activity, be prepared to follow through with that consequence. If you make your consequences less severe it’s easier to follow through with them. Five minutes away from the group are going to make a student feel the consequences of his actions but not so much as to punish me or be unreasonable to administer. If it comes out of your mouth, you have to follow through with it. So don’t say you’ll go to the office or you’ll call him unless you’re prepared to it (and again, I suggest having a more reasonable plan in effect to deal with offenses which will most likely be minor.)

6 Responses to Classroom Management: The Teacher's Voice

  1. I agree with everything you mentioned, especially the part about intent. Knowing your material is important, and dealing with students who want to test your rules will get easier in time. Experience is something that should be highly valued in teaching.

  2. This is a great post- and so true! Works in parenting too;)))

    I stumbled it.

    Here via COE – my post on Flat Stanley is included this week.

  3. Very good reminders. If only I could do these all of the time:) Nothing good can happen in class until management is established I will pass this along to some of our younger teachers.

  4. Good points, Matt.
    Interesting — the pitch of voice. I had not considered that (he says, booming in his mind)

    And this is a good reminder to put in the mental suitcase: Don’t confuse meanness with firmness.

    Kevin

  5. Sometimes when I want to get my students’ attention, no voice is also a powerful tool. They are curious as to why I’m just looking at them and not talking so they turn all their attention on me to see what is going to happen next.

  6. Thank you so much. I definitely agree with you. In fact, when I returned to school today I told the children that I wasn’t going to do anymore yelling. It’s so tempting to return to the yelling, but you’re right, I have to stick to my guns and not yell.

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