Reviewing a simple recording of your voice when you’re teaching can help you hear how you sound to your students. Taking the time to play back your instructions, corrections and compliments throughout class will help you find any weak spots as well as recognize some of your strengths. It’s a great technique to help you evaluate your instructional ability and make improvements, and pat yourself on the back for things you are doing well. Plus, it’s super-easy to do!
Setting up the recording itself is simple—you don’t need anything too fancy. You can use the voice-record app on your smartphone (or borrow one for class if you use yours for music). Be sure to let your students know you will be recording the class and why, so they are aware of what you are doing ahead of time.
Here are five different things to keep an ear out for—but you’ll probably pick out some of your own as well while you’re listening.
Listen for projection and vocal clarity. Is it difficult to hear you giving corrections or compliments over the music? Does your voice trail off at the end of a sentence—or are you easy to hear and understand throughout the class?
Keep an ear out for bad vocal habits. Check to see if you’ve picked up any bad habits, such as using “fill” words like good, or yes…yes, that may make you sound insincere to students. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of this type of repetition, and it doesn’t add any value.
Evaluate whether your directions are clear. When you listen to your instructions for an exercise, is it completely clear what you want your students to do? Pay attention to all the details to see if they add up and provide a rounded picture of what you want them to understand about an exercise or combination. What do you do well? What could you improve upon?
Feedback ability. Do you repeat the same corrections? Saying things a variety of different ways will help your students get the idea better. Personalizing compliments on technique or expression is important as well.
Check your focus. Do you direct comments to all students, or do you find yourself working more with certain ones? While you don’t have to address each student every class, this technique can help you see if you’re spreading your attention around enough.