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Teachers at Risk for Vocal Damage

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Teachers at Risk for Vocal Damage

One of the main tools for classroom instruction may be harmful to teachers.

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that teachers have more than twice the voice problems as people in other professions. Talking all day in a noisy environment can lead to vocal fatigue, whose symptoms include hoarseness, vocal tiredness, aching neck muscles and loss of voice.

Females are particularly at risk for developing long-term vocal problems. This may be due to a biological difference between men and women. The study discovered that female teachers with more symptoms of vocal fatigue had reduced lung function.

One way to protect teachers’ voices is to use an amplification system, such as a wireless microphone. Teachers at Fenton Avenue Charter School in California routinely use microphones in their classrooms. In addition to less strain on their voices, they’ve noticed that students can hear them more clearly and are better behaved.

Providing every teacher with a microphone would be costly for schools, but in the long run, it may be an investment worth making.

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