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    Hey teacher! Watch that voice!!!

    I am always struck by the way many teachers change their voices when they speak to children. I approve when they are teaching they slow down their speech a bit and keep their voice calm, strong and friendly despite all. That seems a reasonable ‘change’ to make especially if usually they speak very fast and in an agitated way...

    But I notice how routinely too many teachers raise their voices and have a ‘commanding’ quite aggressive edge WHENEVER they speak to a child. Then... they turn to an adult and speak quietly and in a friendly manner. Then... back again they go to literally bark like an angry dog at the children. And this not to admonish the children but simply to issue a fairly ordinary instruction like ‘take out your maths books’.

    I wonder why this is. After all children have much better hearing than we do. And I know from experience that the more quietly I speak the better children and others strain to listen. And most pre- and primary school children as long as they understand the boundaries of behaviour expected of them and what people want from them really try to do the right thing. As long, of course, those expectations are not too high for their age and stage... If you try to make children do what they simply are too young to do you get various kinds of failure in teaching....

    I suspect that these teachers have merely caught this bad habit from other teachers, perhaps their own and really don’t know how to speak differently when they have their ‘teachers’ hat on. Also perhaps they are terrified of losing control over the children and compensate for their anxieties by becoming controlling and aggressive.

    But no human being likes to be agressively spoken to and shouted at all the time. It is tiring, agravating, distressing, demotivating and so many other negative things.  It is profoundly disrespectful too. It ceates a very unpleasant environment. And children learn best in a calm, friendly and cheerful environment. This cannot be disputed!!!

    I suggest all teachers should ‘listen’ to themselves speak to children. And ask others for a truthful criticism of their teachers voice. (no – not another teacher who shouts a lot!).

    And then take time to modulate their voice into a confident, friendly one.

    If you get into the habit of this I can guarantee the children will become better at listening and will also respect you more – and like you more – and try to please you more too. It may be the end of serious discipline problems in your class or playroom! And much happier children who are more likely to feel confident and work with a will...

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