The teacher I have been paired with, Jen, has been teaching for 3 years and has developed techniques to improve the effectiveness of her delivery. Middle school students are naturally incapable of paying attention, being motivated to participate, and being respectful to others. It is through the teacher’s vocal ability that these behaviors can, at least partially, be molded towards acceptability. We all have learned that various forms of vocalization lead to different responses in the audience. For example, timid delivery often elicit no response from the audience and may even contribute to disarray as the leading figure is shown to be weak. On the other hand, loud and commanding delivery is also destructive to the environment as a leader that needs to shout to be heard is ineffective at keeping focus and attention. There is a style of delivery in the middle that is capable of generating an atmosphere of trust in the teacher as well as obedience.
For Jen, the key to success has rested on two fundamental tenets – a rigid rule structure and levels of vocal delivery. During normal class time and lecturing, Jen uses a firm vocal delivery of moderate volume with short pauses between sentences. This allows students to comprehend the information provided and establishes a baseline. When students are participating, her volume rises and speed of delivery slows down which provides positive feedback to the students to result in further participation. When students are actively not participating, she does not hesitate to switch to a disciplinary delivery style. In this situation, Jen immediately switches volume level from moderate to very loud which surprises the students. Coupled with the volume change is direct confrontation which forces the students to take responsibility for their own disrespectful behavior. These two vocal delivery styles are enough to moderate behavior as the students have been previously trained to avoid evoking the stronger disciplinary response from the teacher.
In concert with the vocal delivery style is the rigid rule structure on which the students rely. They have the comfort of knowing the exact outcome for any behavior they choose to exhibit in the classroom and there are no exceptions for these rules for anyone. For example, students caught eating the classroom must immediately get rid of their food and will be reprimanded. In addition, students caught with a phone in class will have it confiscated until the end of the day. All teachers are held to these same standards as well. As long as these rules are described and enforced without question, the students simply need to be told once that they have broken a rule and will face the consequences and there is an understanding, as opposed to bargaining and whining.
These two techniques help regulate the behavior of middle school students, which in turn increases the teaching effectiveness.