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Just say 'Aah!'

Teachers need to look after their voice. Three years ago I had vocal problems, and couldn't speak at all. After a few days of trying to teach by writing everything down, I realised how important the voice is. It's the tool of the trade - simple as that.

The course tutor was a former actor, and really knew his stuff. He was brilliant at pinpointing where people were going wrong. He encouraged one person to lower the pitch of her voice, and immediately she sounded more authoritative, with less strain.

In my case, he helped with my breathing, getting me to use my diaphragm more, and take deeper breaths. It's made a real difference. My voice is more powerful, and I feel relaxed and in control.

Several people on the course said they had problems because they ended up shouting at their classes. His advice was to concentrate on sounding the ends of words very strongly and clearly, rather than raising your voice. It really works. Another trick is simply to slow down when you're speaking.

At the moment, I'm struggling with a sore throat because I've got a bit of a cold. But by focusing on my breathing, and following all the tips, I've been able to keep it in check.

In fact, I've been so impressed by the advice I got on the course, I've suggested we should have this workshop for the whole staff, as an inset day. After all, teachers are performers. If you can use your voice more effectively, you'll be a better teacher

Ann Haworth teaches maths at Oldham Sixth Form College. She was talking to Steven Hastings

The details

Voice and the Teacher: maximising and protecting your vocal skills is run by Etch

There are courses in London, on November 23 and March 6. Cost is pound;185 + VAT.

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