Classroom Management

Teaching Tone Of Voice To Overcome Classroom Management Struggles

image of a group of teachers holding up signs asking, "What is your teacher tone?', and a banner that reads, 'Teaching Tone Of Voice To Overcome Classroom Management Struggles'."

I loved the idea of teaching them, but why did they keep interrupting me when I was speaking? I had great plans for them, why weren’t they interested in what I was saying?  As my frustration grew,  my teaching tone of voice changed.

These were good kids.  A lot of work for teachers throughout multiple years, but really good kids.  As individuals I enjoyed their humour, their energy, and honesty.  

But they had learned that if they persevered in harassing a teacher to be off topic, they could get out of their school work. 

They, quite literally, told me that. 

When they were harassing me, I lost sight of why the tone of your voice matters when teaching. I let my stress levels rise, and, although I did not escalate to shouting at them, I had not yet learned to manage my frustration in a way that communicated that I felt in control of the class.

If this was a competition for who was controlling the class . . .  they won! 🥴

textured sage green background with text overlay that reads, 'Teaching tone of voice to overcome classroom management struggles.'".
Create calm for your students with your own calm and supportive teaching tone of voice.

How does voice impact tone?

First let’s define voice.

When we teach students reading and writing we teach them about ‘writer’s voice.  Let me give you an example. 

So,I submitted this blog post to Chat GPT when almost all but this one section had been completed.

Then I asked Chat GPT to give me feedback on my voice as a writer. 🙃

Below is the verbatim response, but I have adjusted the format to make reading easier. 

“The tone of voice in this blog post is a mix of frustration, reflection, encouragement, and guidance. Let’s break down the various tones:


The initial part of the post expresses frustration with students’ behavior and the challenges faced by the teacher. Phrases like “why did they keep interrupting me” and “they won” convey a sense of frustration.


The tone shifts to reflection as the author analyzes the impact of their teaching tone of voice on student behavior. There’s an acknowledgment of the need for self-awareness and managing frustration levels.


The post encourages teachers to consider the importance of tone of voice in communication and classroom management. It provides insights into the positive effects of a well-modulated teaching tone, engagement, and establishing authority.


Throughout the post, there’s a guiding tone, offering advice on how to develop and improve teaching tone of voice. The author shares insights into activities to practice tone of voice and emphasizes the significance of emotional connection and cultural sensitivity in communication.


The overall tone becomes positive, especially towards the end. There’s encouragement to celebrate small victories, a reminder that failure is a lesson in disguise, and a sense of camaraderie with other teachers on the same journey.


The post ends on a supportive note, assuring teachers that they are not alone in their efforts to refine their teaching tone and voice. It acknowledges the impact teachers have on shaping the future and emphasizes the positive interactions that contribute to this.

In summary, the tone of the blog post is a journey from frustration to reflection, with a strong emphasis on encouragement, guidance, positivity, and support for teachers.”

Voice is so much more than just our pitch and volume.  Voice is the words we use, and how we communicate our knowledge and what’s on our hearts too.

5 hands of different colours raised, text overlay, "Your voice shapes your classroom culture'" addressing the importance of teaching tone of voice."
It is your voice establishes your students’ sense of belonging, safety and community.

How does tone of voice affect communication?

I knew establishing the correct teaching tone of voice was crucial for establishing healthy and effective communication in the classroom and the tone of a classroom. But how much does tone of voice affect communication? 

Consider the following . . .

The right teaching tone of voice provides clarity and understanding

If my teaching tone and voice is clear and well-modulated, students are more likely to grasp the information I am sharing. It will be coherent and easy to follow.

Engagement and interest are impacted by my teaching tone of voice.

So, how does tone of voice affect communication?  If I sound engaged it will help the students to become engaged making even the most mundane topics more interesting.  

Students will be more likely to participate actively in discussions.

How important is a teacher’s tone of voice?

If I model that speaking with impatience and frustration is acceptable, I will find it creeping in during their group work and play time.

Using you teaching tone of voice to establish authority and respect 

Why does tone of voice matter? 

Tone of voice alone is not enough to establish authority and respect, but it is an essential component. Through our tone we communicate confidence and we assert our leadership which underpins our authority.

This authority helps students to understand the classroom expectations and rules who is why the tone of your voice matters. 

I once had a classroom assistant sub tell me she couldn’t get a student to comply. She could be amazingly upbeat and friendly with the children, and she wanted to be their friend.  

But, her teacher’s tone when a student wasn’t able to do the work was critical rather than understanding and helpful.

Because the assistant was only in my class for the day, I did lend her my authority when a student challenged her authority. 

I lent her my authority that day primarily because I don’t think a defiant attitude serves a student well. However, that’s never going to work in the long term for any student who wants to challenge her. 

How tone of voice shapes your classroom culture

Students operate best in a positive learning environment, and a positive supportive tone of voice is required to achieve this. 

Positive behavioural support is not listed on my free classroom management checklist as a pillar of classroom management, it is essential to all of the pillars. 

Students will feel more comfortable asking questions and seeking help if we use encouraging words and a warm teacher tone of voice in the classroom. 

The right teaching tone of voice creates emotional connection

Our tone of voice contributes to the emotional connection between the teacher and the students. When we communicate we care about the student, not just what they do right, they feel valued and an emotional connection develops.

Proactively managing behaviour with your tone of voice

Imagine that you have developed a strong and positive tone of voice as a teacher. You have proactively modeled how students are to treat you and to treat others.

Because you have established authority in the class your students are more likely to comply with classroom expectations and rules.

But still, a disagreement starts to escalate one day.  Why is tone of voice important in the classroom?

Imagine if a conflict does break out. You are maintaining your calm and composure, and addressing students with a calm, confident assertive  teaching tone of voice, can de-escalate conflicts quickly if you have already established authority and relationship.  

If students trust you, and are willing to learn from you they are more likely to

work to resolve a conflict.  

On those occasions when you do need to be stern, the relationships you have established combined with a calm but stern and fair teaching tone of voice may be all that is required to get everyone back on track.

Sage green background with strip of ripped brown paper, 'The right teacher tone creates trust and connection' and a picture of a group of students and teacher having fun speaking to the importance of teaching tone of voice in shaping classroom morale.
The good news is that once you have done the work of learning to modulate your tone of voice it makes classroom management so much simpler.

How tone of voice communicates cultural sensitivity

Communicating inclusiveness when you talk to all of your students is essential. Your students do learn what you think of their peers through their voice, and, if your students love you, that will impact social hierarchy.  

We don’t know too much about our students’ home environments. Teaching students about tone of voice will always be essential. 

They may never have been taught about tone of voice at home. 

Do you want your students to speak to you respectfully?  It starts with you teaching students about tone of voice talking to them  in a respectful tone of voice as a teacher.  

Developing your teaching tone of voice

So, first let’s acknowledge you already have a teaching tone of voice. The first step is to identify your most commonly used teaching tone of voice.

Does your voice communicate:

  • boredom
  • fear
  • anger
  • love
  • amusement
  • compassion?

You are likely to be communicating how you feel.  

Feelings aren’t bad; they just are.  They are an essential part of how we stay safe and experience life.  

I may walk into a classroom feeling frustrated by a staff announcement from my administrator. 

If  I communicate that frustration to my students through my teacher’s tone of voice, the students may perceive that the frustration in my voice as something they have done wrong. 

That is really confusing for students, and could make them feel unsafe, uncomfortable, inadequate, or any number of other feelings.

Once again, your feelings aren’t bad or wrong, but they are your responsibility to manage appropriately. 🥰

If you take a moment to acknowledge your feelings, breathe, and choose to calm yourself you have set both you and your students with a clean slate with which to start the day.

So, the first step to developing the right teacher tone of voice is to be able understand what you are feeling.

image of a cup of tea and a blanket with the question, ' How does voice impact tone in the classroom? addressing the importance of the teaching tone of voice in the classroom."
Your tone of voice can build or destroy your classroom community.

Ineffective tones of voice for classroom management success

Teachers have many ways of using their voice to manage their classroom. Following are a list of some of the ways I have heard teachers speak to students in an effort to manage their classrooms. :

  • dominating voice lets your students know ‘who’s in charge’
  • high pitched super friendly voice trying to win friendship
  • condescending voice to manipulate students to behave to stay in your good graces
  • angry tone of voice to create a powerful differential in a hope to avoid conflict with any but the most rebellious students.
  • conspiratorial in an effort to get the ‘popular’ kids on board expecting the rest to follow.

Stepping out of this comfort zone can be daunting, and it is unlikely to go successfully all in one day.

If your voice is high pitched you will likely have to remember to lower it and breathe multiple times throughout the day.

If you manage using a teacher’s tone of anger when you perceive defiance you will need to shift  your perspective to vulnerable to the idea that the child just made a mistake.

This is a process, and I encourage you to celebrate every single moment of progress.

Improve your teaching tone and voice by celebrating your own growth

Mindset is everything, and changing patterns of behaviour can be brutally difficult.

My family of origin is a group of kind, decent, community minded people, who love animals and children and care about their friends and family.

However, we did not spend a lot of time affirming each other.  More often than not we were more vocal when we were irritated with each other. 

This is natural. My parents are scottish, and in the Scotland of their youth anyone who got too big for their britches was swatted down to size. That was the culture.

My parents had 5 children and 4 grandchildren by the time my first child was born. They were somewhat unimpressed with the magnificence and extraordinary accomplishment of my daughter’s ability to stain her face purple when eating blueberries. 

Their nickname for my magnificent daughter was ‘The Myth’.  They thought she was wonderful, but they weren’t as hyped up about my overt exclamations of her perfection. This is just ‘not done’ in their minds.

I have worked hard to adjust my mindset to acknowledging my personal growth, and it is a daily work in progress. 

The point?  Be gentle with yourself if you are working on changing your teaching tone of voice.  

You are probably changing more than just your tone of voice in teaching.  I know I had to.

Recognize your growth, and press forward after a bad day or moment.

Ask for help to shape your teacher tone of voice in the classroom 

Teaching is becoming more collaborative, fortunately. For years many teachers worked in a silo without a lot of support.  

  • Sign up for pro-d on positive behavioral support if it is available to you.  
  • Read up on how to get started. 
  • This intensive training will provide you with a lot of goals, strategies and support to get you going.  

If you know of a colleague whose students go back to visit for years after leaving their class, get to know them. Any teacher who leaves an indelible positive impression is likely to have some very helpful suggestions for how to get you started.

Persist in practising a positive teaching tone and voice 

As you seek to refine your teaching tone of voice in order to manage your classroom positively, perseverance is key. 

Not every attempt will yield perfection, and that’s perfectly fine. 

Each time you step up you are engaging in a learning opportunity.

With each attempt, you will refine your skills. 

Keep trying, be open to adjustments, and celebrate the small victories along the way.

image of greenery surrounding and encouragement to, 'Celebrate every step of growth along the way.' to encourage teachers to accept their mistakes and celebrate small steps of growth practising their teaching tone of voice."
Effective classroom management grows over time, and, as teachers, we never stop learning how to perfect it. Celebrate your successes as you learn and grow.

Be encouraged on your journey and remember!

  • You are not alone!  However, you are someone who is doing their best.
  • Failure is just a lesson in disguise!
  • Dig into the treasures that experienced teachers have to offer.

I can quite honestly tell you that working on my teaching tone and voice changed my heart, by being, my perspective on people and life, and significantly impacted my relationship with my own children.

If you are giving your best (but not trying for perfection) every day, You’re doing an awesome job! 

Embracing positive behavior support through tone and voice is a journey. Your commitment to creating a supportive learning environment demonstrates your heart for your students.

As you navigate the learning curve, celebrate the victories. Like any adventure there will be narrow trails, and steep climbs. No matter how small your achievement, know that you’re not alone in this adventure.

As you continue to work on refining your teaching tone and voice,  remind yourself that  the impact of your efforts extends far beyond the classroom. 

You are shaping the future, one positive interaction at a time. Share a secret to your success in the comments below!

Related blog posts:

How to strategies for student engagement

What is the positive reinforcement students need to thrive?

Classroom Behaviour Consequences: How to Focus on the Positive10 Ways a Growth Mindset Classroom Transforms Classroom Management

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