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Has anyone seen my voice?


Senior Member
I've been subbing since around February of this year. A few months later I started losing my voice and it became a bit painful to speak. Since then I have had many days where I'm good for only a few hours and then it starts to get painful again. I just recently got sick with a cold. I was in a 4th grade classroom and by the middle of the day I completely lost my voice. I couldn't speak up and of course the kids got out of hand. It took about 3 days to get my voice back to something reasonable.

Is this a common problem for people just starting out? Sometimes I think it is from raising my voice to get the students' attention, but I don't need to do constantly do that. I think the main problem is from having to repeat directions too many times just to get the kids through an assignment. So maybe this is more of a class management issue. Any ideas what I can do differently?


Senior Member
you sound like me

I am home today because I have had hoarseness. I'm not a smoker, just a dedicated teacher. LOL

The problem we encounter as teachers is leg and feet pain, sometimes back pain, and even voice hoarseness and sore throat. I don't have this problem when I'm not in school, so I attribute the problem to teaching, not a medical concern.

I would be concerned if the problem is there after a week, let's say, of not teaching. Like you, my problem begins with a cold and continues until I have my next long break for healing my throat completely. I can't wait until Christmas break so that I can get my voice back again.

Ideas: Watch that you don't read or talk too much. Decide what part of your talking can be done by the kids. I usually like to read, myself, because I project my voice better than the kids. (They usually can't hear each other when they read.) But I also realize that I have to surrender some of the task to the kids or else my problem will get worse.

Watch that you aren't talking loudly. When I'm in a classroom, I have to monitor my own voice so that I'm not blasting and wearing it out. I think you can actually get kids' attention better when you're not talking very loudly. Try talking just above a whisper and see if that helps. This is especially good at the carpet with the little kids because you have them all close together and don't have to project your voice to an entire classroom.

I think that kids will get used to whatever voice you use after awhile. If you talk loudly from the start, then they won't "hear" you unless you talk loudly, even though you know they have good hearing. It's just what they are used to.

If their classroom teacher repeats, repeats, repeats, then that will be a bit of a problem for you. Try stating directions ONCE, then telling them that you will do two things: #1: write them on the board so that you don't have to repeat; #2: ask a friend if they don't understand.

Mr. G

New Member
It sounds like the problem is that you're raising the volume of your voice rather than actually projecting it. It's hard to describe how to actually project rather than just getting louder. Try speaking as though you were having a casual conversation with someone at the back of the room; maybe that'll help. I'm not sure how to explain it beyond that.

Another trick is to have a prop to get their attention and make them be quiet without you having to raise your voice to get them quiet. I have a yard stick that I use to smack a table with. That's an attention getter, but don't do it near any kids or it'll hurt their ears and don't just slam the thing down as hard as you can (it's tempting, but don't :) ) I also keep a whistle on my keychain. That's a wonderful attention-getting device and it doesn't have to be loud.

Hope that helps.

a teacher

Voice "lessons"

I have found that I lose my voice when I'm nervous, stressed-out, or tense. Does this happen to anyone else? Not that you are always stressed when subbing, I don't mean that. But your body is on "go" when you are with the kids and everything is heightened being in a strange place all the time.


Senior Member
Thanks for the help so far. I think you can definitely categorize me as stressed in the classroom. Sometimes you know right from the start that the day is going to go well, while other times you know it's going to be the day from hell.

I don't think the yardstick thing is for me, but I have resorted to using a whistle indoors a few times. So far the whistle hasn't been particularly effective for me, but maybe it's because I only use it as a last-minute deperation move. I do like the idea of using a lower voice. One of my professors at school mentioned to me a situation she experienced as a sub when her voice was gone and could only speak in whispered tones. She said the class was great because the kids whispered back to her and were quiet all day long. I just accepted an assignment in the 4th grade class I took last week where my voice disappeared. I'll give it a try and see how it goes.


New Member
Until then...

Until you get your voice back, drink hot tea whenever you can. I understand Chamomile is best. Not sure why your throat is painful. I have had some hoarseness but never pain with it. Sometimes when people begin to do something new with their voice, like sing, etc..in a way that is out of the ordinary, nodules can grow in the throat. So if the pain persists awhile, I would at least have it looked at. Good luck!


Junior Member
My two cents worth

I think there have been some great ideas mentioned in the above posts, but thought I would add my two cents worth. I have been subbing for over a year, and have had some instances of hoarseness as well. Most of the time, my problems have been caused by the residue of a cold or virus. It helps me when I get hoarse to drink lots of water (at night of course - during the day isn't feasible with bathroom breaks as sparse as they are). I have also recently started using Mucinex for a few days when I get hoarse. This seems to really help.

Is it possible you have allergies? In any case, I would have this looked at by a doctor if the problem doesn't get better. Better safe than sorry.

Good luck to you!


A helpful book

I've been a teacher for a long time, and I have this problem from time to time. The other suggestions are good, but I'd also recommend checking out the book "Change Your Voice: Change Your Life: A Quick, Simple Plan for Finding and Using Your Natural Dynamic Voice" by Morton Cooper. I read this book many years ago, and I think Cooper's suggestions are good. I don't think the book is difficult to find, and your public library might have it.