Teacher has lost her voice!! Some ideas for coping

The Question:
Debbie Kramer is having trouble with chronic laryngitis. She writes: I should return to the classroom soon with a microphone system, but I still need to be careful with my voice. I’m looking for some suggestions for daily classroom management that does not involve talking. I already use clapping signals and a bell for stations, but it is not enough. Any ideas?
The Answers:
Nadine Inglis Berger 
Do you know anyone that teaches in a classroom for the hearing impaired? They may have some ideas.
Donalee Preston 
I am dealing with the same situation. Do you have a smartboard? I have found many ways to use it instead of my voice. Transition songs, counting, the biggest help was “read=alouds” of many of the stories we all use. (You-tube and Teacher-tube) I also have discovered that my children invent ways to help me. Believe it or not I have more trouble with the grown-ups not “getting” the fact that I really need to limit using my voice. One para actually was insulted that I just waved a ‘Hello” back… even after I told her about my voice problem. She said, “Saying a one word greeting isn’t going to hurt anything.” But it is adding all those words up that strains you by the end of the day. Good Luck.
Suzanne Kusel 
I don’t have the laryngitiis problem (How awful) but.. using ASL signs for sit, stand, line up, wait has been really efffective this year…
Terrie Taylor Jordan 
Sign language is the way to go. The kids love it, it’s easy and fun too.
Carolyn Lerner 
School supply catalogues sell this traffic light thing that monitors noise volume. Lessons on soft versus loud sounds , communication with no voice …sign language. Lead by example at group times and when they are talkative sit in front of them and say ” I will wait for everyone to show quiet” and just wait. Classroom job for a child who is vocal and needs to feel in control of every one….announcer…they can hit the lights off, teach them to wait til group is quiet and then you whisper to the child what to say…it is practicing public speaking and articulation.
Lynne Murray Smith 
I use music to signal cleanup and dimissal routines. I don’t have to say a word. Sign language helps a lot too. Best wishes for your recovery!
Sylvia Lusk Harwell 
Do you have a REALLY GOOD reader? You could write short messages on a small hand held white board, and he could read it aloud to the class.
Tara Hamilton Hamner
 I use sign language as well. Use Signing Exact English so that you do not confuse the children. American Sign Language has a different word order (syntax). My suggestion is to post the signs for all to see and practice. Go ahead and introduce two new signs a day. Practice… practice… practice and you will find that all eyes will be on you. It is always good to send a note home to parents to share signs and your new plan. Have fun with it! It is great for those motor skills.
Terrie Taylor Jordan 
I’m sure your doctor has told you that “whispering” is very harmful to your vocal cords during laryngitis.
Marcie Anderson
 I am fighting the same battle. I wait for my students so I only have to talk once, this is an early expectation in my room. I do know the microphone system helps, but I have to be careful not to strain my voice. I also have changed my teaching style a bit. Students lead our morning songs. (Make a list.).  This round of laryngitis has lasted 27 days so far. I did find that my kinders are happy to have me back that they have improved their listening.
Patricia Boyce 
Try using “follow me” and then various movements for transitions. For instance: “follow me” then put your hands on your hips, cross your arms, touch your toes, etc.
Lisa Weaver Yates 
When I’m waiting for students to transition from one activity to another and want to encourage them to move quickly I do a silent countdown. I show 5 fingers, then 4, then 3, 2, 1 and then I clap. It usually gets the attention of a few who join me and I do it until everyone is quiet and signaling with me. The first few times it takes awhile but after that students are anxious to be the first to join in. They seem to enjoy it and it does the trick.
Melodie Jacobs 
I’ve used ASL in my classroom for years. Love it! Especially at times like recess or lunchroom duty. I’ve used the Singing Time videos. They are very kid friendly. Good luck!
Tristica Stemple 
Sorry to hear about your laryngitis. Sign language sounds like a great idea. I don’t know a lot, but something I use is counting down with my fingers. I hold up all 5 fingers and put down 1 at a time and they know when I get all my fingers down they need to be ready. It works really well for cleaning up, lining up, etc. Sometimes I start with 10. Good luck!
Kristin Murray 
I start with clapping until most of the student are doing it and then switch to something else like patting my head, legs, etc. Once they are doing that, I switch again. I end by tapping my fingers together and putting them in my lap.
Wynn Godbold: life, love, and lesson plans 
Wow great advice from everyone here. The one thing that comes to my mind is the old quote, “If you want to get someone’s attention whisper.”
Charyse Hill 
I put a song on the cd player for a clean up signal. The kids know to start cleaning up when it comes on and that they should be sitting in their seats when it finishes.
Lynn Green Robinson 
Be very careful going back. This happened to me once and I ended up needing to be mute for 3 months. If your vocal chords are irritated, red and raw, don’t go back. You have no idea how hard it is to be mute!
Ginger Gault Phipps 
In the fall and spring I have sinus drainage from allergies that used to cause laryngitis every year. A doctor friend told me to gargle with Mylanta at night and during the day if needed to keep the acidic drainage from irritating my vocal chords……..no more laryngitis in 6 years!!!!!!!!
Dana Thomassen 
I use a maraca any time I need to get their attention. They freeze wherever they are or transition to the next part of the day without me saying anything.
Wynn Godbold: life, love, and lesson plans
 Oh, forgot to ask, Debbie, have you tried Throat Coat Tea? It is fabulous for the throat. Can be purchased in some grocery stores in the produce department- that’s a little odd rather than in the coffee/tea aisle, but produce is usually where it is found.

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