One of my first lessons as a teacher was as simple as this: “Say it with your chest!” If you don’t, you won’t have a voice by 4th period.
My first mentor in teaching is the most eccentric and out-of-the-box person I know. She had a way of teaching class that was so profoundly unique and that left a lasting impact on how I process and reflect on my experiences.
This lesson about our voices was so important. You don’t really realize that until you start working with younger people that are new to the idea of speaking up and using their voices. Now, sure, middle schoolers are great at talking…when it’s with their peers about gossip or video games or football or other activities that our youth participates in. However, when you’re in a classroom expecting them to answer question, read a section of text, or just give you some feedback, their mouths clamp shut. Half of them might be day dreaming or asleep, the other half may be working on another assignment for another class. So when presented with this conundrum, a teacher must speak from their chest. In a classroom of 25+ students, a teacher must project his or her voice without losing it to grab the attention of the students.
Today we worked on that, for myself and for the students. I asked them to speak up and to return feedback when it was asked of them. They did surprisingly well and I’m sure that we can maintain it throughout the year together.