What is a strong teacher

Teach better with a strong voice

It can cast a spell on students, let a cranky class finally come to rest and elicit wonderful comments from the shy. If you use them properly. The voice is one of teachers' most valuable tools - and at the same time it is often grossly neglected. “Teachers have to make difficult content understandable, they have to assert themselves and work well and relaxed with their voice for around 30 years. These are high requirements, ”says Daniela Laengenfelder. She is a speech therapist and trainer for voice and presence, also at the Cornelsen Academy.

How to train the voice, how to skillfully use the whole body to be present - and how to get there with exercises that are fun, that is Laengenfelder's passion. You don't have to be a natural talent. On the contrary. If you have a naturally thin or fragile voice, if you don't like to get loud or if you get hoarse quickly, you can look forward to progress fairly quickly. There are many exercises that will help. "Anyone who has never consciously perceived and trained their voice before has many ways of strengthening it," says Laengenfelder.

Having a strong voice and speaking well is not just an issue for teachers. Students who cannot assert themselves vocally, who may have a speech impediment, or who simply lose their voice when they are excited, cannot reach their full potential and are easily targeted by bullying. Sometimes a speech therapist is needed who can best help students with therapy outside of the classroom. But as a teacher you can playfully support the children and young people in strengthening their voices, being more present, and thereby also strengthening their self-confidence and concentration.

“Pupils are often just as stressed as adults, many are under enormous pressure to perform at school,” observes the speech therapist and voice trainer. “In my practice, students sit in front of me with dark circles under their eyes who are struggling with topics that only 30-year-olds should actually have.” To do exercises for voice and a strong presence together with the students and use them in class or Turning it into a ritual even before exams helps everyone. Laengenfelder knows many suitable exercises: starting with massaging the ears from the outside in for better concentration and presence to speaking with a cork in the mouth, which trains all the senses and also supports learning to read.

“Unfortunately, despite its positive effects, voice training is not yet an integral part of teacher training everywhere,” regrets Daniela Laengenfelder. “The voice is the tool of the trade for educators.” But there are some successful examples of how voice training can be integrated into training. For example, student teachers at the University of Leipzig complete this type of training. At the University of Münster, too, student teachers can enjoy a seminar on voice training and spoken expression at least once - if they accept the offer.

Not only the students benefit from a strong voice from their teacher. The educators themselves also have a lot of it. Scientists from the Freiburg Institute for Musicians' Medicine wanted to know exactly what, and they carried out an extensive research project on voice training with student teachers. The prospective educators who took part in the study and were able to fully benefit from voice training would have benefited from this in their psychological well-being. Claudia Spahn, medical specialist and head of the Freiburg Institute, summarized one of the results of the study if you can handle your voice well and feel comfortable with it, you belong to the type of teacher with good prerequisites for staying mentally healthy.

Siegrun Lemke, a graduate speaker at the University of Leipzig, also knows how important the psyche is for our voice and presence. “It is not for nothing that voice and mood have the same root word. Our mood, our state of mind, of course, also influences the sound of our voices, ”she said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk. The voice coach Christian Erhard from Freiburg sums it up perfectly: "The best prerequisite for a good voice is a good mood."

1. Learn to love your breath
Breathe consciously, deeply and slowly. Anyone who breathes briefly, shallowly and hectically automatically speaks higher, quieter and more agitated. In yoga and meditation courses you will get to know many breathing exercises, but also some calm and deep breaths in the middle of everyday school life are a boon for your voice and your presence.

2. Feel your feet
Be aware of your feet - when you are simply standing still, when you consciously roll them off, when walking slowly or with a short massage. Your feet are the anchor for your presence and your voice. To be aware of this in between, even in a short rest phase in class or during the break, has a great effect.

3. Blow hard
Blow out lots of candles - in your imagination. This exercise loosens the lips and diaphragm as you can feel in the body. You need both for a strong voice.

4. Avoid clearing your throat
Most of the time you don't even notice it, but clearing your throat creeps in to cover up a gap in your thoughts, to let out nervousness or because it has already become a habit. It does not do your vocal cords any good, rather it acts like a grater.

5. Stay open
A stiff body will not produce a beautiful, powerful voice. With your knees pushed down, your pelvis stiff and your jaw tense, it just doesn't talk well. Daniela Laengenfelder likes to use the image of a "permeable" body. Even when you are standing in front of the class: change your position, walk, sit down, lean against the window ... There are many ways to move gently and thus prevent cramps.

6. Don't be too perfect
Many teachers want to be perfect and do things systematically and thoroughly. If you want to strengthen your voice and presence, just start. With a little practice, by just trying something out. It is far more valuable to find exercises that you enjoy and that you can easily integrate into your everyday school life than systematically following a program. Get lots of ideas, take the opportunity to try something new and find out what is good for you personally.

Vocal fit for class
You will learn how to use the voice economically and how to use it effectively in speaking-intensive situations. You sharpen the perception of your own voice, discover and develop your vocal possibilities. An exercise program will facilitate the transfer into everyday (school) life.