It may come as no surprise to hear this if teaching is your chosen profession, but studies have shown that teachers are at a higher risk of vocal damage.
A teacher’s voice is their main tool in interacting with students, and is often used for prolonged periods of time, usually in noisy environments.
A study at the University of Malaga in Spain, focusing on 282 teachers, has revealed that 62.7% report having problems with their voice on a daily or weekly basis. This can lead to various problems, as the study also found teaching staff with vocal problems report less respect for their work and more insecurities in their duties.
Looking after your voice as a teacher is vital, and there are a few things you can do to prevent damage:
- Rest your voice – Alternate the types of activities you do with your class to give your voice a rest every so often
- Avoid Shouting When Possible – When you are competing with loud background noise or a large teaching area, you may have no choice but to raise your voice, but try to avoid shouting whenever you can as this puts extra strain on your vocals
- Stop clearing your throat – Try swallowing hard or sipping water instead
- Keep hydrated – 6-8 glasses of water a day can help keep your vocal chords moist. If they are irritated, try breathing in steam to soothe them
- Breathe through your stomach and diaphragm – Shallow breathing from your upper chest can damage your voice. It is a good idea to practice slower breathing from your diaphragm, feeling your rib cage move in and out as you breathe. Concentrate on the tension you are releasing by breathing in this manner.
If you have had persistent voice/throat problems for more than a few weeks, it is advisable to seek out professional medical advice to rule out any underlying problems.