The Newsletter
September 1st, 2008                                                                  Find your natural dynamic speaking voice and maintain it!
Vocal Tip of the Month!

Establishing a Classroom Routine that Promotes Vocal Health

Over the next few weeks, your students will learn what your expectations are when it comes to classroom routines and that will set the tone for the year. September is therefore crucial in establishing a positive atmosphere to encourage student learning and save your voice.  Here are a few musts to keep in mind.

1) Teach students how to be quiet.  Some students don't realise that being quiet involves more than not speaking.  What I've noticed with students from all across the grades is that many lack physical self-control.  Fidgeting constantly is common.  Students create undesirable noise with their feet, pencil, eraser, chair, etc.  When multiplied by 20, 30, or 35 students, the background noise contributes to the teacher's need to increase his/her volume to be heard over the class even when nobody else is talking.  

2) Choose attention signals that don't involve the voice such as clapping hands, flipping the lights, raising or using a percussion or rhythm instrument.  Rainmakers are particularly effective because of their soothing sound.  The triangle or a bell, a wind chime, tambourine and maracas work well also.

3) If you do use your voice for call and response, use a soft voice and remember to place it in the mask!  Also, you can say your key sentence softly beside a small group of children and let them answer on cue loudly.  Here are some popular ones (you say/THEY SAY):

The traditionals:
One, two/EYES ON YOU/three, four/TALK NO MORE
And a hush fell over the crowd/HUSH

The silly ones:
Peanut Butter/JELLY
Ready to rock/READY TO ROLL

Whatever you choose to say, keep it short and simple.  Because I teach French Immersion, I don't use any of these but I have a ton of attention-getting sentences created around the classroom rules that I use.  Be creative and have fun with it.

Interesting Facts

Vocal Health Costs

In the teaching community, almost half of the educators experience vocal fatigue, hoarseness or other vocal related difficulties at one point or another in their career but very few of them seek treatment.  The amount of money spent on conventional or alternative medicine to treat the voice during the school year and the days of work that they miss due to voice loss, when factoring in how much it costs to have a substitute teacher fill in, are considerable.  If you're like me, time is money.  When I lose my voice, I can't communicate as effectively as I'd like to and it makes me frustrated to waste my precious time (and others). That, too, is significant on a different level.  Of course, the cost associated with meeting a family doctor, an ENT specialist and surely the therapy or surgery that follow the most severe cases quickly add up as well.  Whether covering the losses reflects in your personal life, coming either from your own pocket or the taxpayers', vocal health ends up being a pretty considerable issue.  It's important to look at the big picture and take the necessary preventative steps early to stay vocally health and now is the best time to do it.  I hope to keep you informed on how to beautify your voice and care for it the best you can.

Inspiring Quotes and Stories...

My Good Luck Charm!

I want to tell you a story that happened to me last week.  I went to the beach to read, reflect and find guidance on what I wanted to accomplish in the next few weeks.  On my way back, I walked on the lawn and saw a whole bunch of clovers.  I used to collect 4-leaf clovers as a kid.  I'd spent about 10-20 minutes everyday at my grandparents' house after lunch hunting just before going back to school.  So I thought I'd try to find one for good luck (it's been many years since I did).  I looked at the first bunch of clovers in front of me and saw nothing.  I moved a few steps to the right to check out another bunch but still there was nothing.  I thought, "I'm not gonna find any..."  And then I had another thought:  Why am I giving up so easily?  I should go after what I want and what I want now is a 4-leaf clover for luck in the challenges I'm about to take up in my personal and professional life this year.  I moved to a third spot and within seconds, I found one!  I picked it up and looked at it.  I felt joy and courage.  That one was different from the others I have seen before because the 4th leaf is considerably smaller.  The 4th leaf is tiny but it's there and someday it will grow bigger (had I not picked it up!) and be as strong as it should be.  I found comfort in that thought because that was how I felt:  Uncertain, anxious and weak in a way but part of a growing process with faith that everything is gonna be all right.  I took the yellow post-it I used for my bookmark and I carefully placed the 4-leaf clover in it to dry.  What I learned was all one needs is to believe!

Relevant Links

Voice Yourself in the Classroom

Valerie Bastien

The Voice Connection
What's Happening?
Welcome Back to School!

I hope everybody got a wonderful summer and a chance to rest, spend quality time with their family, travel, catch up with old friends, do the things you never have time to do during the school year, etc.  Whatever made you happy this summer is the best thing you could have ever done to rejuvenate yourself in time for September.  I wish you all the best with your new students and colleagues.  May this be a fun filled year where learning is at the centre of everyone's goal.  I will be sending you all positive vibes to accomplish all that you want to take up this year.  Take care!

Things to Note
If you like what I do, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and feedback with me by signing my online Guest Book! You can also contact me directly at:

Have a wonderful month!

-Valerie Bastien