Children construct reality based on their perceptions and memories. Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP, defines our sensory channels as “representational” systems, or how a child “represents” or make sense of external surroundings. More importantly, the meaning of the communication is the response it elicits. The brain has an intricate way of processing and storing information in memory, so a child’s response is often not indicative of their understanding. It is possible to perceive information in one channel, store it as memory using another channel, and express it using a third channel. Ultimately, a teacher’s rapport in the classroom is meeting and understanding a child in their model of the world.
Moreover, children and adults create filters to manage information overload, all of which the learner unconsciously creates in order to keep from becoming overwhelmed. It is important that teachers and parents understand and attune themselves to a child’s body language, in particular facial expression, as not to interrupt the sensory processing channels (filters). This realization is important because, we communicate on two levels: conscious and unconscious.
When children are relaxed it is much easier to access and make use of their sensory channels, because we want the information to be retained for future use. Consequently, teachers should accept the fact that if a student is NOT looking directly at the teacher when she is speaking does not mean the student is not listening, understanding, or processing what the teacher is actually saying.
In addition, should a child “appear” perplexed or confused (in your personal opinion), and not responding immediately to indicate a verbal validation, does not necessarily mean that assimilation is not happening. Teachers with the most flexibility have the best chances of achieving the response they desire from students. Nonetheless, noticing details of how children speak and act to better understand the systems they are using at the time requires patience, and a high level of discernment in application of student assessment. Synthesis of NLP will not only result in teacher effective communication with students in the classroom, but a greater chance of success by including NLP as an option viable in the assessment process.
Moreover, a teacher should avoid stopping in the middle of a lesson to reprimand children verbally to demand that the children “look at me” or “all eyes on me” during instruction, because that tends to shock the sensory channels and create frustration for the learners intellectual capacity in acquiring knowledge. Some teaching strategies should change over time to increase teaching effectiveness, keeping in mind that it you keep doing what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. Ultimately, a great teacher understands how to match eye-accessing cues to adapt lessons to meet the learning styles and multiple intelligences in the classroom, which include: Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Naturalistic, Musical Intelligence, Interpersonal, and Intrapersonal. These filters can be divided into visual, auditory and kinesthetic channels. Eye Accessing Cues: our eye movements (known as eye accessing cues) can hint at which channel we are currently using to access information. These may be very quick movements. You may also notice someone looking in a particular direction for a longer period of time. In addition, begin to notice the language patterns to become aware of patterns.
VISUAL ACCESSING – Looking up to your left – remembering an image or words. Looking up to your right – constructing or imagining an image or words. When visual accessing, learners tend to use phrases such as: “Is it clear?” or “Do you see what I mean?” AUDITORY ACCESSING – When processing from what is heard, learners will ask, as the listen to an internal dialogue: “Does that sound okay?” Looking to your left remembering sounds or words. Looking to your right constructing or imagining sounds or words. KINESTHETIC ACCESSING – Learners tend to use action or feeling words such as: “Let me walk you through it.” or “It just does not feel right.” Looking down and to your right – experiencing or remembering something that you have done or felt.
- Grinder, M. 1991 Righting the Educational Conveyor Belt. Portland: Metamorphous Press
- O’Connor, J. and J. Seymour. 1990 Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming. London: Mandala/Harper Collins
- Revell, J. and Norman, S.(1997) In Your Hands – NLP in ELT. London: Safire Press
- Rosenberg, M. The How of Thinking: The Secrets of Neuro-Linguistic Programming Analytic Teaching, The Community of Enquiry Journal, Volume 20, No. 2.