Every teacher – actually everybody – uses NLP. They use it knowingly or unknowingly! Maybe some would think that NLP is not useful and others would say it creates miracles.

NLP in our classes - methodology article

There are very different opinions about NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), which is fine because they are all speaking from their own reality, maps, beliefs, values or filters. Here, whether you believe in NLP or not does not matter because you use NLP in your lessons or daily life in this way or that.

  • Representational styles
  • Anchors
  • Sensory acuity
  • Presuppositions of NLP
  • Conclusion


Representational styles
Let me explain what I mean. First, think of the things that work in your classes. Usually these are the things related to what you have learned at school or from your own experiences and usually they are based on the learning strategies, styles, methods etc. For example, you try to use activities that appeal to visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners because you learned that students have different learning styles. In NLP, we call these “Representational Styles”. These are based on the idea that we have certain filters that help us perceive, store and recall information in which we use certain “representational styles” or our five senses to represent the world around us. We all use all five styles although the three most people use predominantly are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Depending to some extent on context, most people naturally tend to use one style more than the other two, or one style before the others, either when noticing things around them, or when learning something new.

Secondly, let me mention the things that we do but do not think much about. Have you ever noticed that the students tend to stop talking when you close the classroom door or listen carefully when you stand at a certain point in the class? You may have noticed these or you may not. These are called “anchors” in NLP. Certain actions or spots bring students into certain states. For example, after cleaning the board I stand still with my board marker in my hand. My students stop talking and become all ears. This is a state that I establish on purpose but without my students being aware of it. They unconsciously become ready for a new presentation. In other words, I put them into a state that would be necessary for the success of the lesson. As for another example, if a student has difficulty in exams I help him / her to recall memories of past successes in order to bring him / her into the state that would help him / her to handle the situation with the necessary feelings, beliefs and behaviour.


Sensory acuity
Thirdly, we generally tend to understand whether our students are enjoying an activity or are bored to death or we would understand if an innocent discussion is turning into a vigorous fight. We notice the non-verbal clues that our students are communicating to us all the time. If we are aware of all these, we adjust our lesson plan, prevent fights or give a short break to clear the air or liven the students up. In NLP this is called “Sensory Acuity” which is to observe carefully and not make quick assumptions or judgements, so that we can respond appropriately and with maximum rapport. We already have this skill, however with awareness and further practice we can master it which is where NLP can help.  


Presuppositions of NLP
Lastly, if you support the ideas that “there isn’t a student who can’t learn but there are teachers who can’t teach” or “every person is unique” this would mean that you also believe in the presuppositions of NLP. In NLP, there are some general beliefs like; “No one is wrong or broken. People work perfectly to accomplish what they are currently accomplishing”, “Behind every behaviour is a positive intention.” and “There is no such thing as failure. There is only feedback”. As teachers, we usually carry these beliefs because otherwise we would not have the necessary skills to teach. If we had pessimistic opinions about our students or didn’t believe that we could make a difference I am sure that none of us would be in this profession. NLP’s basic principles support the uniqueness of humans that match the basic principles of teaching human beings.


In this article, of course, only a few concepts of NLP have been mentioned which all are very broad subjects on their own. There are many more things that could be mentioned or discussed further. Here the aim was to slightly touch on the key elements of NLP and show that you use it everyday both in your classes and in your daily lives, to create awareness to some extent that would be a starting point for you to get acquainted with NLP or perhaps break the ice between you two. In conclusion, whether you do not support or believe in NLP you use it and this shows that actually, NLP uses the most practical methods and structures that would help anyone who would like to become successful in whatever area they like. So maybe all these would help you to take a second look at NLP especially if you are not for it and discover all the successful things you are already doing and find out about other things that would make you even more successful in your profession.


Further reading
Revell and Norman, In your Hands, Saffire Press
Ravell and Norman, Handing Over, Saffire Press
Rinvolucri and Baker, Unlocking Self-expression Through NLP, Delta Publishing
O'Connor and Seymour, Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Thorsons

Oya Caldır, Teacher, Trainer, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey

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