NLP in Education

The Science Class Who Hate Science by Tracey Cole Practitioner of NLP, Time Line Therapy® and NLP Coaching

tracey cole

Forward by Christine Dawson, lead trainer at Quest for Success Ltd:


I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Tracey for sharing her experiences.  I find this article extremely inspiring and appreciate this brief glimpse into the day to day life of a teacher.  For Tracey to take her NLP knowledge and techniques into the classroom was a bold move that rewarded her with amazing results and gave something really precious to a group of children who don’t always fit into the modalities of mainstream learning.


Tracey teaches chemistry at secondary level, taking children to both GCSE and A level qualification. She became a Certified Practitioner of NLP with us in February this year and a Certified Practitioner of Time Line TherapyTM and NLP Coaching in April.  Tracey took her learning straight back to the classroom, here is her story…


9A are not the most studious class in the world. A middle ability set of 28 13-14 year olds, some labelled as having significant barriers to learning: two pupils are ADHD, two are recognised as having other behavioral issues, two pupils are dyslexic and one is diabetic, whose insulin dosage has not yet been able to stabilise his blood sugar.  Two girls have emotional problems stemming from their home lives and lack confidence in this boy-dominated class. Normally, the class performs the work under considerable duress, requiring me to cajole and coax, as well as keep students behind for a quiet word or to catch up on classwork. They are very hard work, demonstrating limited interest and attention spans; this class was calling out for a different teaching style!


Since a new approach was desperately needed, and having nothing to lose, I opted to try some NLP techniques. Previously, none of even the most modern techniques in teaching had worked. Cooperative group work, individual work, competitive teamwork, computer research……. all had had little effect and I was beginning to dread my Monday morning battles.


Planning my ‘NLP lesson’ was great fun and I enjoyed finding metaphor stories that would pique their interest. At the start of the lesson, I asked that everyone try out this new form of learning and that this would facilitate easy, effortless learning, wouldn’t it?! I used three embedded metaphors, linked to working hard, not being afraid to fail and avoiding apathy. Unusually, the class sat quietly listening, some with screwed up faces, what was going on, how was this science? By the end of the calming, Milton Model language-loaded third story, they were absorbed in the stories and soothed by the words.  I finished each story on the cliff-hanger, to be continued at the end of the lesson.


Feeling buoyed by their response to the opening of the lesson, I continued by teaching them how to achieve the learning state. Only one of the ‘ADHD’ boys mocked the method, a couple of others, not wanting to lose face in front of him, also lacked a little focus. Nevertheless, the majority agreed to try it out, some having surprisingly good results and being able to feel the rush of success in a science lesson!


With the importance of spelling being revived for exams and coursework, we moved on to the spelling strategy. Luckily, we have mini-white boards and marker pens in the classroom, so each pair of pupils could try it out for themselves. Our spelling list included the old bug-bears, photosynthesis, chlorophyll and chloroplast, as well as those we may consider slightly easier, but which for the pupils, remain a source of creative spelling: oxygen, carbon dioxide and sugar. We rounded off the lesson with the finale to the metaphors, raising a smile on some of the faces as they understood the deeper meaning.  One of the more extrovert boys declared it to have been a ‘good lesson’ and the class left on time, with no-one kept behind.


Unbeknown to me, the lesson was to be observed by a newly qualified teacher. Although a little daunted by her presence with such an unruly class, coupled with an untested lesson plan, I decided to go ahead in spite of any misgivings I might have had.  It is interesting to note that she was also convinced of the powerful and amazing results of the learning state and the spelling strategy, both of which she said she would use in her own teaching.


Since that first lesson, I have injected a little NLP thinking into quite a few lessons and, coming up to the examination period, every class will have learnt how to enter the learning state and how to use eye patterns to install essential facts. In essence, this taste of NLP in the classroom has proved an invaluable aid to my teaching and, in my opinion, would enable good teachers to become outstanding. Moreover, a school with the foresight to train their staff in NLP would be an enlightened, inspiring and aspiring forum for learning.