NLP for Educators
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NLP provides a set of concepts and techniques that can be applied to any situation to improve communication and generate better outcomes and is now widely acknowledged to be the number one system for modeling excellence.
NLP has been successfully applied to many different fields, including business, medicine, therapy, and sport, and is now being applied to education with equally impressive results.
This intensive modular course teaches you how to apply the basic concepts and techniques of NLP within an educational environment or situation. You will learn how to understand your students and colleagues more deeply and accurately by ‘reading’ their nonverbal communication clues and noticing the deeper implications of their spoken language. This will enable you to influence them in new and more beneficial ways to create win-win situations and more successful teaching and learning outcomes. Building on your existing strengths, you will learn and practise powerful new skills that you can apply in all aspects of your personal and professional life for immediate return on your investment. The course is highly interactive, providing the opportunity to participate in practical exercises and to examine case studies in a supportive and enjoyable environment.
THE DURHAM SCHOOL PROJECT 2006 (modified extract)
During the summer of 2006, staff from four County Durham (UK) schools took part in a pilot project designed to explore the potential impact of a variety of NLP-based interventions on the development of teaching and learning. Each school nominated about five members of staff, teachers and teaching assistants, who would be willing to learn some new skills and undertake a small-scale research project about the impact of those skills on the children in their care. None of the people involved had any prior experience of NLP. The project was a collaboration between the Durham Local Authority and the Society of NLP™.
The four-day programme was arranged in three separate parts:
- On the first two days, staff learned some basic NLP and designed their research
- They then had three weeks to undertake the research and prepare their report
- On the first morning of the second two days they reported on their findings, and during the rest of the time they learned some more NLP skills.
The results were impressive. The report outlines the findings from the research projects which include an impressive array of positive effects of the use of NLP-based interventions on both the children and the staff.
Attention and Engagement
Sue Fraser works at Durham Gilesgate Primary School (for hearing impaired children).
I decided to focus on the use of the Milton Model. I wanted to determine whether I could impact on the behaviour and attention of certain children by altering my use of language patterns. Initially I aimed to concentrate on our language patterns at the opening of each lesson and also at the point of introducing the children’s independent work.
The aim of my project was to put in to use during my teaching one aspect of NLP, namely, the Milton Model. I wanted to determine whether I could impact on the level of engagement and attention of the children in my group by altering my language patterns to include those of the Milton Model. The measurement of this was always going to be subjective. The time scale set for this project was less than three weeks in the classroom. Would there be a discernable difference within such a short time frame?
Implementing the Research Plan
The project was implemented by planning the opening of lessons in detail. This included the manner of delivery (awareness of personal state) and the use of embedded commands and suggestions, quotes and positive language. The introduction of the children’s individual work was also planned in the same way. Initially these two points in each lesson were the focus, however, I soon found that the patterns were becoming more natural and I could incorporate them quite readily in to the rest of the lesson. (The more I practised, the more automatic it became and the more impact I could see!)
The impact of the change of language patterns was observed on day one! An 8 year old hearing impaired boy in my group is very nervous and a worrier. I had previously constantly told him: “Don’t worry, this isn’t hard and if you get stuck, I am here to help you.”
In the light of what I learned about the way language can lead the brain I realised that I had been inadvertently telling this little boy to worry because the work was going to be so hard he would need help. So, of course, he did! As soon as I stopped using that language his panic vanished and his behaviour changed. All I needed to do was to say:
“I know you will easily do a great piece of work because you have loved this story and you have got lots of lovely ideas, I am sure you will enjoy writing about them.”
The child immediately produced his first ever piece of totally independent writing. There was no panic, no delaying tactics and no pleas for help – a total transformation. I have continued to find that the atmosphere in lessons has been more relaxed and more positive. The children seem to engage in the lesson and maintain concentration for longer. They are definitely happier to ‘have a go’ at tasks independently.
I have learned an enormous amount, in a very short time frame, about how my personal state and the language patterns I use impact on the states of my pupils and upon their willingness and ability to learn. The NLP in Education Project has caused me to reflect in detail on aspects of my teaching, and my pupils’ learning. The evidence I have observed in my classroom of changes in pupils’ behaviour has been very rewarding, although admittedly, very subjective.
Opportunities provided on the training course to practise the skills required to implement NLP in the classroom have been very helpful. So too was the chance to question other people about their research and findings in other educational settings.
I have developed skills that have enabled me to analyse my own state and use of language patterns, and to work on changing these to help achieve desired outcomes in pupils’ learning.
Early Years – Behaviour
Julia Quinn works Framwellgate Primary School (Foundation Stage Unit)
After the first 2 days of NLP training I decided to focus on one child: a little boy who has quite severe behavioural problems. He understands very little English, is extremely bright and has been moved about a lot. He has only been in our school for a couple of months.
I decided to focus mainly on one child (G) a little boy who has quite severe behavioural problems. My focus was on helping him to settle and be less excitable whilst not damping down his natural and entirely normal exuberance. At the time of the research, his English speech was not very clear. I wanted to see if his problem (and ours) could be helped by NLP techniques, and more one-to-one attention. I also wanted to use music more in the Nursery, and experiment with different types of music and the times we use it.
G improved considerably. We all worked extremely hard to praise him at all times and to be aware of our use of language when working with him. I tried using the Circle of Excellence with him to help him imagine a boy who was really good friends with everyone, and made his daddy happy every day (he is extremely close to Dad who brings him to school). I also used stickers with him and he really WANTED those stickers! I had thought perhaps he was too intelligent to be ‘bribed’ but I was wrong. I made it more specific and worked on him producing ‘desired states’ by saying what the sticker was for i.e. sitting down properly, crossing legs, not hurting friends etc., and he understood that too.
As well as impacting on one individual I was keen to notice how I could use the NLP I’d learned to impact on the rest of the class, and on the staff I work with. After the initial NLP training session I reported back to my colleagues in the Nursery. There are four other members of staff as well as myself and we work as a team but do different tasks on a rota basis.
I used more positive and motivational language straight away. We have tried before to use anchor points, but because we move into different rooms during group work times, I found that the use of anchor points was not working as well as I had hoped. I think that many of the things that I learned during the second 2 days of training will be beneficial in helping others see things the NLP way - for example the Language Pattern cards were very useful, and I am introducing them into Nursery for other staff to use.
We tried using music and this worked well sometimes. I found it worked best when I was working with a small group of children using classical music as a background: it seemed to help them achieve a calm state.
Joni White works at Framwellgate Primary School (Reception)
My learning focus was upon methods that could be used to change the ‘state’ of my classroom and try and create a positive state for learning. I focused upon the impact of my learning upon the ‘state’ of the pupils in my Reception class. Creating a positive learning state is very important to me as I work in the Early Years age group. This is a time when children should be developing good learning strategies and an enjoyment of learning and school life. Pupils should be developing curiosity and a thirst for learning without fear of failure. They should feel safe and secure enough to make mistakes and gain from all activities they encounter.
My main aim for my own professional learning was to find out about the principles of NLP and consider how they could impact upon my teaching and learning strategies in the classroom. My main aim for the pupils was to create a more ‘positive’ state for learning using NLP strategies that I had learned about. To achieve these aims I planned a five–step process:
- Assess the pupils’ current state of mind at key moments throughout the day. Identify times of the day where the classroom state could be improved.
- Trial pieces of music at different times of the day for different purposes. Consider factors such as pace and rhythm of music, volume level and whether the music has words.
- Record the ‘feeling’ of the state of the classroom during the different pieces of music.
- Reflect each day upon which pieces of music were successful at which points during the day and consider why.
- Create a bank of music that is suitable for key points during a day and record it on planning.
The resources I needed were a programmable CD player and various CDs. I actually ended up using my laptop computer quite often as the skins images which appear on the interactive whiteboard were also very useful in creating an atmosphere. These skins moved and rotated in accordance with the music which was being played.
The success criteria for the project were that:
• pupils would have a positive state of mind ready for learning;
• the level of pupil noise would be lower, and
• the pupils’ learning would be encouraged.
A positive response from the pupils on how they felt about different pieces of music would also be considered. The time scale for the project was initially one month. This was determined by the NLP training course dates which were one month apart.
The findings for the project had to be sufficient for me to justify continuing the project. The only ethical implications I had to consider were anonymity of pupils when referring to the project.
Implementing the Research Plan
To implement my project I began by looking at the key times in the day when pupils’ state was not appropriate for learning. The key times I identified were:
• Children entering the classroom on a morning.
• Children returning from outdoor activity.
• Children returning from lunch.
• Children tidying the classroom.
• Children getting changed for PE.
• Children preparing for home-time.
After all of these activities the pupils needed some form of settling to change their state of mind for learning. This is where I decided to trial music as a form of atmosphere creation. I began to play different types of music at home to listen to the pace and rhythm of the music and try to predict how I thought the pupils would react. I then planned for music to be trialed and included the music on a lesson plan. I would briefly note down at the end of a day the response each piece had created.
Over the course of the time in school I began to find particular pieces of music caused a different response. One fast piece of music I selected for tidying up caused a frantic state of mind. I had thought the piece would make the children tidy up quicker and be ready to begin work. Instead it made them tidy frantically and when they sat down they were still very unsettled, and not engaging with the learning for at least the first five minutes of the lesson.
During one handwriting session I decided to look at how music would affect the engagement of the learner if it was played whilst they were working. The piece I chose was a classical instrumental piece as I didn’t want the music to disturb the children. I chose handwriting as I decided it wasn’t a task that needed a great deal of active concentration – in comparison to something like addition where children need to count and often calculate out loud. The music really seemed to help the children to focus upon the task, and it really helped them to carry out their task within a quicker time span. As this had succeeded, I used it the following week in the same lesson. I believe this is something I would like to investigate further to consider other learning which could be influenced by music.
Significant discussions with other staff provided me with more music to trial. One teacher mentioned how music without words is better for instilling concentration on a specific task as words can distract their learning. This influenced my choice of music further. I am currently in the process of putting together all of the most useful music tracks I have onto one CD with a note beside each track as to the influence the music ‘should’ have. I will regularly use this CD from September 2007 with my new Reception class.
From my ‘positive state project’ I have gained an enormous amount, which will significantly impact upon many areas of my life. My awareness of the positive impact of NLP upon people I come into contact with is heightened. This has influenced not only the way in which I speak and react to my pupils, but also to staff and other people I meet outside of school. The NLP training initiated an abundance of personal learning which will have a significant influence upon my teaching and classroom management.
In particular, the findings of my research project will influence the fact that I use music at key points during a day to create a positive state and ‘readiness’ for learning. The improved ‘state’ of the class after the use of music has had the most influence upon my keenness to change my approach, and I intend to feed back to all of the staff in our school on the benefits of using music in the classroom for changing pupils’ state.
I would hope that my next classroom monitoring session from senior management would show that I consider the pupils’ readiness to learn before I begin each lesson. This has supported methods I already used including Brain Gym and Brain Juice (water) which were a regular part of my classroom routines. The inclusion of music will improve that routine further.
I had the opportunity to speak to a class of NLP trainees about how my project had worked. I also had my two support colleagues who were available to discuss and evaluate the project.
Our school is also creating the opportunity for all NLP trainees to speak to our whole school staff regarding our project findings and implications for the impact of NLP for all of our pupils.
The project gave me the opportunity to develop my teaching style and classroom management with a resulting positive benefit upon the pupils. I became more of aware of how pupils’ state can have a huge impact upon their ‘readiness to learn’. I could see how crucial it is for teachers to create that state to ensure true learning takes place. The benefits of music were clearly demonstrated, and I am using music more at home when I carry out different activities and feeling different emotions (e.g. stress or urgency).
At this stage I am continuing to trial different pieces of music within my class and assessing their appropriateness in creating different states. I will also continue to adapt my teaching style to incorporate more of the NLP strategies into my everyday practice.
Attitude to Reading
Helen Keay Works at Framwellgate Primary School (SEN Learning Support)
The focus for the teaching project was on my work with a year 6 pupil with a statement of special educational needs. The pupil had reading difficulties, and no interest in learning to read. The pupil showed an interest and ability in science and numeracy but the amount of progress she could make in these areas was considerably restricted due to her difficulties in reading. The pupil is dependent upon another individual to verbalise the written text.
The aims of my project were to:
• find a more effective and positive approach to reading with pupils throughout the school and
• implement a more consistent approach, enabling pupils to learn and enjoy.
I planned to work for 3 weeks on an individual reading programme based on the year 6 pupil’s stage and interests.
Implementing the Research Plan
I withdrew the pupil from the class to work in a small room used as a story room for nursery age pupils. The room was decorated with the nursery children’s paintings of zoo animals. Comfortable rocking chairs, and music to aid accelerated learning (pupils’ own choice) playing in the background, created a relaxed atmosphere. The pupil remarked how it was “just like home ".
I implemented this for 15 minutes on a morning and 15 minutes on an afternoon for 3 weeks over a 4 week period due to a holiday week being one of these weeks. I used the Oxford Fuzz Buzz reading scheme introduced to the pupil in September 2005. These books are enjoyed by a large number of pupils throughout the class.
The annual assessment, carried out in May 2006 using the Salford reading test, gave the pupil’s reading age as 5:7 years. After the 4 weeks the assessment was repeated, and the pupil’s reading age had increased to 6:10 years.
The pupil’s interest in reading had also increased dramatically and is now at the stage where the pupil is asking to read.
The results from the project have proved to me that children learn differently in different settings. Employing new strategies has been beneficial to me, giving me a greater awareness of the environment in which children learn and its impact on the learning achieved. The result from this reading project has been shared throughout the school.
I feel I will be able to continue using this strategy throughout the school with all pupils showing reading difficulties. This will enable those children to develop stronger reading skills, and increased confidence and ability, whilst learning in a relaxed, calming and soothing environment.
Andrea Pearson and Kelly Field work at with Framwellgate Primary School (Year Four)
Spelling has always been taught in a structured way throughout the week. I felt the attainment in spelling could be improved by implementing simple changes in the approach used, and using the ideas put forward during the NLP course. Some children struggle when learning spellings, and strategies need to be found and employed which work for them. I felt I was doing my utmost to support the children and if my approaches did not suit particular learners, they needed to be changed or adapted.
The aims of our project were for us to:
• find more effective approaches to teach spelling and
• ensure pupils would learn and retain spellings more easily
We planned a 3 week project using the weekly spelling activities as a focus. We decided to make small changes each week to the structured approach, and to test the children each time so we could measure the impact. The spellings would be scored out of 8, and our success criteria were:
• to improve the full mark score and
• to improve the ‘more than 5 out of 8’ score
Implementing the Research Plan
Week 1 - baseline
• Spellings were given as usual. A spelling test was carried out and the results were used as a baseline for the research.
• Spelling pattern was ‘i before e’
Week 2 - start of project
• Spellings were written on the right side of the white board with the spelling pattern written in a different colour
• E.g. change or germ etc
• Children copy spellings in spelling log using a coloured felt tip to show the spelling pattern
• Children to work in pairs spelling out letter by letter
• spell ‘change: c...h...a...n...g...e....’ other child jots down spelling
• Children write spellings in handwriting books (joined script)
• Use Look, Cover, Write, Check sheets and write ‘ge’ in a colour. Encourage to look upwards to recall the ‘look’ of the spelling. ‘Can you see the word?’
• Spelling test
• Spellings were written on the right side of the white board with the spelling pattern written in a different colour. The children all moved seats during the spelling session to allow a straight forward view to the white board.
• Children were given fragranced felt tips to record the spelling pattern, e.g. giant, engine
• Because the children with special educational needs did not seem to be responding to the changes introduced so far – their scores were not particularly changing - they were given spellings on cards with the target blend highlighted in textured materials (net, corrugated card, bubble wrap, string, and fur).
• Spelling test.
The data illustrating the changes in the pupils’ spelling scores is on the next page, and there are a number of conclusions we have come to as a result of the project and analysis of the scores:
• The evidence has proved so overwhelming that the use of as many sensory channels as possible (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, gustatory (not used in this research) can make a huge difference to a child’s ability to memorise spellings.
• An awareness of eye accessing cues, where to place the spellings, how and where to ask children to visualise words etc, also improved their ability to remember spellings.
• The extra time element involved when using these activities is minimal (with the SEN group being the exception, but it would be manageable.)
• Because they were changing the pen within each word, the children were more focused when learning spellings.
• This will have an impact on the teaching of spelling within our school. Many of the problems which some children had with retaining new spellings will be addressed.
• The added effect will be a much more open and flexible approach to the teaching of a range of primary curriculum content.
• The use of test results and observation gave the most appropriate forms of evidence with which to analyse the effect of implementing these approaches.
The following tables detail the impact on the children’s ability to learn and recall spellings.
Table 1 - Raw Scores out of 8
|Week One||Week Two||Week Three||Week Four|
|No. of Children||No. of Children||No. of Children|
Variations in the total number of children are because of absence
Table 2 - Expressed as a percentage of total pupils taking spelling test:
|%Full Score||% Over 5 Correct|
Rob Wallace teaches at Framwellgate School (Geography)
Framwellgate School Durham is a school for 11 - 18 year olds. The focus for the project was a Year 9 Geography class. There are many children classed as low ability in the group.
I was aware that I often used very similar phrases to get attention both at the start of lessons and at change of activity points during the lesson. Getting attention and speaking to individuals to refocus their attention also involve a similar collection of phrases. I thought these phrases could be improved by NLP techniques.
I hoped that the use of the changed phrases might have a positive effect on the time taken for my target class to settle to tasks. I made a note of the phrases which I think I usually say in class, and I recorded a lesson with this class so I could write down the actual phrases used in that lesson. I re-wrote some of my phrases using NLP techniques, and used the new phrases in class.
Implementing the Research Plan
I wrote out some of my commonly used phrases and then re wrote them using NLP techniques so I would have a ‘crib sheet’ of improved phrases to use in the class. Some of the phrases are as follows:
• As you are settling down to this lesson can you open your books and write the title.*
• I was wondering if you were watching the video...
• When everyone is quiet we’ll be able to begin.*
• While you are enjoying this activity today…
• You are here today in this room on Friday you can begin to read this section...
• Now, as we begin to pack up…
• While you are here today you are going to enjoy learning about…
• I was talking to Mr. Nicholas who said how much you enjoyed figuring things out.
• Now we’ll start to watch this video together we’ll have some fun seeing who can be first to spot…
• Now you are learning new skills you can learn easily.
There were only two occasions when I specifically tried out the phrases in the class. In the first lesson I said two marked * phrases at the start of the lesson but did not have any set opportunity to say any of the other phrases in the lesson as I did not really refer to my notes and they did not seem to fit. This was a group work lesson where I gave a lot of individual praise to students as they tackled the tasks. I told students how well they were doing, and was very specific about what they had done well. In the second lesson I had the sheet of phrases ready at the start of the lesson again and I said the two marked * phrases again. ‘When we are all quiet’ does sound much more positive than ‘stop talking’ but I did revert to saying ‘quiet please!’ during the lesson. I did not use the other phrases. It was just not practical to learn them off by heart and there was no time in the lesson to quickly refer to the sheet and say an ‘NLP type’ phrase.
I could not say that the use of a few phrases in the class had a noticeable effect on the time it took for this class to settle. The effect of this research project has been more noticeable on me than on my classes. I am much more aware of the use of negative bias phrases in all of my teaching (e.g. the use of don't, can't, difficulty, problem) etc., and I have been much more likely in all of my classes to try to use positive phrases now I realise I have a choice of phrases.
I will report back on the project to the senior management team of the school in writing and verbally. The group of staff in Framwellgate School Durham will present the results of their projects to the research and development group in the school, and will run a CPD session for interested staff in the new term.
Jane Hutchison and Mark McCreedy teach at Framwellgate School (11 - 18 year olds)
We decided to focus on changing one Year 10 student’s negative state to a positive one. The student frequently ‘flipped’ from a positive state, and remained in a negative one for the remainder of the lesson.
Having decided on our focus, we had a series of meetings to discuss the way forward and decided that we would use the following NLP ‘techniques’ when the student entered a negative state:
• Avoid using negatives such as ‘Don’t’ and ‘Can’t’. Instead give clear instructions as to what the student will do e. g ‘Don’t swing on the chair’ becomes ‘Place the chair legs on the floor and complete section one of the task’
• Use the ‘quoting’ technique e.g. ‘I was talking to Mr. McCreedy yesterday and he was saying you completed an excellent essay in English. I want you to do the same in Business’
• If a student says, ‘I can’t do this’, rather than say, ‘Yes you can’, ask them what they are having difficulties with and offer clear advice on how they can improve
• Use three facts followed by something that you want the student to believe is true e. g ‘You’ve completed your last piece of coursework to a high standard, you’ve worked really hard all lesson and you’ve completed all of your homework. Now I want you to achieve a ‘C’ grade for this next piece of work’
We would monitor this through a ‘positivity’ report as follows:
• Student enters the room in a positive frame of mind
• Student responds to given instructions in a positive manner
• Student responds to teacher’s attempts to change his state of mind (if required). The report would be marked on a four-point sliding scale with one being refusal to follow instructions and four, fully complying with instructions and displaying a positive attitude.
Implementing the Research Plan
Initially we decided to work in two subject areas of Business and English, yet because of time restrictions only managed to trial the techniques in one area (the following is from Jane Hutchison).
The one lesson where I had to focus specifically on the student because of a change in state had varying degrees of success. At first I felt that I hadn’t been as successful as I had initially hoped in changing the student’s state in that lesson, yet although the change wasn’t immediate (i.e. that lesson) success did happen. The student came to the room the following lesson with a completely different outlook. Previously he had claimed that he wasn’t bothered about his coursework and that he didn’t care if he got an ‘E’ grade, yet the following lesson he approached me and told me that he wanted to achieve a ‘C’ grade and could I help him to do so. Since then he has had much more of a positive outlook and recognises himself that he can improve.
The whole area of NLP has helped me enormously in my teaching and in my role as Head of Department. I feel that by using the skills learned over the four days my pupils are much more responsive. Staff have noticed the positive effects that I have had on some of their students and have even asked me to ‘NLP their student’. I have realised that it needs much more practise until it becomes a natural part of my teaching style, but am excited by the challenges that it poses. It has aroused my natural curiosity and I find myself wanting to read more about the subject (Jane Hutchison).
State and Language
Keith MacClelland teaches at Walworth School (SEN 4 – 11 years)
The pupil on whom I focussed my work was an 11yr old female. She had recently undergone assessment related to ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). She can often be withdrawn and insular, followed by times when she is verbally and physically aggressive. She rarely takes part in general question/answer sessions and hardly ever instigates conversation with staff. At the beginning of a lesson she appears to "switch off" and relies on staff to support her to start and complete work.
By the end of the project, through the use of an NLP model, I expected to see an increase in the target pupil’s communication with staff, and a more relaxed and confident attitude displayed by her. In putting the intervention together I referred to a variety of information sources including:
• Reports and reviews on the pupil
• Materials and good practice from the NLP course
• Information relating to the Milton Model of communication
• Recent work undertaken related to ASD and examples of strategies employed to aid communication (in-house training led by members of County Durham's ASD support team).
With the emphasis on the beginning of a lesson, Milton Model language patterns were to be used to help motivate the pupil.
Implementing the Research Plan
Because of a number of external factors, I was only able to implement my interventions for one week before reporting back to the NLP group. I used Milton Model language patterns particularly at the start of lessons and the process was by no means one of steady upward progress. Some sessions were better received than others. There could be a number of reasons for this, with the following being most influential:
• inexperience of deliverer, me or my support assistant
• pupil's level of ASD
Another important factor was made obvious about half way through the project. The support assistant had not attended the NLP course so was given information second hand and without benefit of some practice. It must also be noted that the same person does have some difficulty with "positive" attitudes. On a few occasions, but not with the observed pupil, she spoke in a "negative" fashion towards other members of the group, and, in many ways, this affected the positive feeling in the class. There are obvious implications for future training.
By the end of the week the targeted pupil was showing signs of increased communication. She was beginning to look more relaxed and at one time actually instigated a short conversation. Whilst one week is only a short time, and with this pupil we take one lesson at a time, there did appear to be some change in attitude and behaviour.
There are a number of useful conclusions that I can draw from this project:
- it is important that all members of a team are conversant with NLP
- learning about NLP highlights the need to clarify language
- the work has demonstrated the importance of one’s own "state" and how it can affect the learning of others
- using this approach develops a more positive feeling in both staff and pupils
- working in this way extends the range of communication available.