Washington, D. C. May 25, 2016 — Teaching is an occupation with a high risk of developing vocal problems — teachers have more than twice the voice problems than people in other professions, as the voice is the major tool in classroom instruction and is often used for long periods of time and in noisy environments. Additionally, females face a significantly higher risk than men of developing long-term vocal problems. Therefore female teachers, the predominate population of teaching workforce, face a dual risk for developing prolonged voice problem. In a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and the Gould Voice Research Center, researchers displayed that the cost of teachers’ voice injuries to the U.S. economy is estimated at US$2.5 billion per year. As a result, many scientists have worked on finding the physiological causes to help teachers prevent and treat voice problems.
Vocal fatigue is a common complaint among teachers and one of the most debilitating conditions that can lead to vocal damage. The typical symptoms include hoarseness, vocal tiredness, muscle pains and lost or cracked notes. However, the actual physiological mechanism of vocal fatigue is still being explored, and it is often difficult to accurately diagnose the cause as the patients’ vocal folds may look normal during an exam.
Now, a group of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Utah have found a potential link between pulmonary function and the symptoms of voice fatigue unique to women. The study proposed a common, simple, low-cost tool that could aid medical experts in detecting potential voice fatigue at an early stage, which would help teachers to better prevent and treat voice problems. The researchers will present this work at the 171th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), being held May. 23-27, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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ACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Bibb County School District plans to put cameras in every middle school and Veterans Elementary next year.
Ballard-Hudson Middle School tested the new audio/visual system this year. Teachers received their classroom cameras and speakers in October.
It took some time for 6th grade teacher Doneshia Gordon to get used to her new accessory.
“When it first came in, it was very hard to remember to put it on, to charge it before you leave. I even got to the point where I was like I don’t even need this mic! You can hear me,” said Gordon as she gestured to the teardrop shaped microphone hanging from her neck.
The new teaching tool is now a staple in Gordon’s daily routine.
“It’s called audio enhancement and what ends up happening is there are speakers in our room so it enables [students] to be able to hear better,” explained Gordon.
She said it’s especially helpful for students who sit in the back of large classrooms.
“Some students can’t hear if you have a lot of students talking, if you’re trying to get everyone quiet. When they start hearing you through the speakers it’s like oh, okay, I can hear everything she’s saying,” said Gordon.
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Based on gains in student achievement and teacher effectiveness many school districts across the country now include audio reinforcing technology in every classroom. Most of us can relate to conferences in large hotel rooms where the presenter fumbles with a wireless microphone questioning “Can you hear me now?” until someone in the back of the room acknowledges the volume is satisfactory. We have all been frustrated when a member of the audience states a question that no one hears and the presenter answers without repeating it. As adults we ask for presenters to speak up, adjust equipment or repeat the question because we are there for a purpose and the information is important to us.
Though the audience in a school classroom knows the information is just as important, the confidence and skill set needed to speak up and ask the teacher to do anything different is not likely to exist. If there is background noise, if the teacher speaks in low tones, speaks while facing the board, has an accent or talks fast, or if some children are hearing impaired; it is possible some students will not receive the information. Unlike adults, it is unlikely the child will complain they
cannot hear or make a request for the teacher to repeat information they did not hear.
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Audio volume is an essential element in effective, quality communication and classroom instruction, therefore it is a critical component as we are educating our students in our classroom environments. Inadvertent behaviors such as turning ones back to write on a board, reading a difficult passages or classroom distractions often have a negative impact to the quality of verbal communication. In order to ensure the quality of communication and address inadvertent negative impacts, we are in the process of implementing the use of Audio Enhancement Classroom sound system this school year. We are already seeing a positive impact; one such example comes from Ms. Lackey from Hyman Elementary: “Even though it took some getting used to, I now use my microphone daily. This helps keep my students focused and keeps me from having to raise my voice”. We also have reports from teachers that the use of the system assists them with their classroom management. Learn more on the benefits of classroom sound on Audio Benefits Montage.
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One Bibb middle school is piloting a program that would bring overhead cameras to every classroom. It might look like an ordinary middle school classroom, but there’s something looming up above.
“It’s not like a Big Brother thing. I felt that way initially, but not anymore,” Ballard-Hudson Sixth grade English teacher Maya Boston said. She’s talking about the new camera and audio enhancement system that’s now a part of her regular day.
“It’s a great tool to monitor growth of students and develop teachers,” Boston said.
All a teacher has to do is push the record button on their microphone and then, instantly, a video starts recording of their lesson, a discipline problem, or an emergency situation.
“Teachers give me access if I request it, so I can assist them by looking in and seeing some things they may not be seeing because their backs are turned as they’re delivering instructions,” Principal Eclan David said. He said along with the cameras the audio amplifiers make sure each student can hear the teacher.
“I don’t have to use my teacher voice anymore. I can simply talk in a comfortable tone, and all I have to do is press this button, and now my voice is amplified and everyone can hear me at the same decibel,” Boston said.
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…A simple law of physics that we do not realize as teachers is that the further away a student is from the teacher, the less the student hears. Add to this fact the reality that classrooms are inherently noisy — especially if you have the “easy to clean and maintain” tile floors — due to ambient noises, such as air conditioning, computer fans, buzzing florescent lights, hallway noises, and vehicle noises from outside. Let’s not forget the inescapable people noises of scratching, shuffling, crumpling, talking, and tapping.
I wear an infrared microphone that picks up my voice and amplifies it to speakers in the ceiling. I can walk around the whole classroom and be confident that the students on the other side of the room can still hear me. Students hear the instructions clearly and do not have to ask their peers what was said. I have seen an increase in student recall and performance simply because of students being able to hear better.
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Gary Shattuck thought he knew a bad idea when he heard one. In 2011, Shattuck, the director of technology and media services for Newton County Schools in Covington, Georgia, put microphones on some of his teachers to see if amplifying their voices improved instruction. It did, and it created a bigger impact than he or his colleagues had ever imagined. But when a partner of the 23-school district suggested Newton raise the bar on its experiment by adding video cameras to classrooms, Shattuck’s first reaction was “No way”—teacher concerns ranged from privacy and vanity issues to worries about being disciplined for every misstep.
With less than a month left in the school year, Shattuck agreed to a small pilot. The results surprised him. Teachers—who had been given total control over what to record and whom to share the videos with—were amazed by the differences in their classes, mentioning specifically how discipline changed for the positive.
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RENO, NV– In 2010, Wooster High School in Reno implemented a new audio enhancement system designed to help hard of hearing and deaf students by placing speakers in all the classrooms. The system cost $126,000 and was funded by state bonds.
Teachers also wear an egg-shaped microphone around their necks to broadcast their lessons.
“The first thing I thought that was the weirdest thing I have ever seen,” said Chad Coley, math teacher, Wooster High School. “After the first or second period I was so glad I had this thing because my voice isn’t tired and it has just helped immensely.”
Kyl Garrick is deaf and the audible enhancement system can still give him signals to help in his studies.
“For example if I am working and I am paying attention to my work at the table and the teacher starts talking or something, the kids will look up but I won’t notice it,” said Garrick. “But, if I hear with the audio enhancement then I can look up and notice the language access from the interpreter.”
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…The 200,000-square-foot building boasts a two-story fitness facility with 14 basketball hoops, an auditorium with a full cable rigging system and an infrared audio enhancement system for teachers that automatically hooks up to speakers in the classroom.
One of the hardest parts of the process was convincing teachers of the vision, according to Hart, who said it took “hard conversations and leaps of faith” to get to opening day.
The design choices aren’t just aesthetic, according to Canyons spokesman Jeff Haney. He noted that 50 percent of the school’s students are from low-income homes.
“For them to walk into this school and know that we’ve invested in their education — that’s important,” Haney said.
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Noisy classes don’t usually make the news, but in this case, they have. Western Heights Middle School in Hagerstown, Maryland received a grant from Audio Enhancement. With the new classroom audio systems in place, the students could hear their teachers better. Additionally, the classrooms next to the lunchroom were able to overcome the distracting noises because the systems improved their learning environment. Watch how the Audio Enhancement systems made a difference in this Maryland school.