Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Recommended article and web page

Applying NLP to special education students
by Deborah Roundy

Taken from: http://www.nlpiash.org/Articles/RecentArticles/tabid/250/EntryID/19/Default.aspx

Many other excellent articles on this page...we recommend it!!!

IASH member Deborah Roundy is a special education school teacher who has incorporated NLP into her teaching style. Following is a series of short articles introducing NLP, primarily oriented for parents of special education students.

Why NeuroLinguistics?
In 2007 I saw an NLP coach for some health problems. As I was taught new ways of organizing my thought processes I was able to allow both diabetes and liver disease to leave my body. This was a fascinating process.

Although I had gone for my personal health I soon found, as any good teacher does, I was making direct application of my learning to my classroom. My students were gaining new tools for learning and were happier.

This is why teachers are encouraged to continue to take classes. Furthering our education is a part of renewing our teaching certificates. Good teachers charge up their batteries as they learn new things and then discharge those batteries by charging up the learning of their students.

I realized there was a wealth of knowledge in the study of NLP and I had just scratched the surface. I wanted to share that knowledge with my students.

The catalyst for this was the death of a student through natural causes. With administrator and parent permission, I helped the the students to work through the death of their classmate using the NLP well-formed grieving process. I watched them mourn their loss, support each other, then refresh pleasant memories and create a memorial to their friend. When they left my classroom they were grounded and secure. They knew whom they could contact for more help, and many parents reported to me that their child had gone home and asked for parents’ support.

This was a contrast compared to previous experiences around students who passed away. I had been able to give my students a wonderful gift of learning how to grieve, accept loss, create special memories and move on. The children were well grounded and secure in their acceptance of her death and, more importantly, of the value of her life to them. They were secure in the knowledge that their families were there to support them and knew how to request that support. I had a tool I had never been taught in school, a program for an incredible life skill.

I started researching and found that NLP was a fairly new field used primarily in business, management training, executive coaching, sports, health, and therapy to model and create excellence. I found NLP little used in the school setting. Some teachers are using it and are enthusiastic, however it takes a lot of modifying to use it in the classroom setting. The greatest use for most teachers is for their own personal growth and teaching skills. I started looking at NLP programs such as the Disney Model of Creativity, TOTE, and Circle of Excellence and realized that these programs could be broken down into skills to be taught to my students.

Creating Excellence
NLP Presupposition: Choice is Better Than No Choice

Ana has a problem. She has to ride the bus every day and it is a bit of torture. The ride seems very long for a special ed student with ADHD.

Ana came in one morning very upset. Another girl was teasing her and wouldn’t let up. I called the bus garage and the true story emerged. Actually Ana, with her incessant talking at a low cognitive level, is the instigator. Because she does not understand, she does not understand that she is the problem.

I had recently done a 3 Square time line with another student and asked myself, “How can I apply the same type of solution to a very different problem?” Instead of a past-present-future I did one with present-immediate future-farther future.

Ana and I discussed the problem from her perspective, using the presupposition that the “map is not the territory.” We then went to the third block and discussed several options. I told her to be creative and come up with all of the ideas she could. She did, and we then filtered them and wrote out which ones were safe to do. She could entertain the idea of bopping the girl on the head, but she couldn’t actually do it. I have written down such options for normal kids, but special ed kids often cannot filter fantasy from reality. I had to make an accommodation for her disability.

We then discussed the next step and she chose the one she felt best about and put it into her immediate future.

The most interesting thing was how this empowered her. She now felt like she had further options and had control of her life. She reported back several days later that things were much better. After almost a year, I haven’t had another complaint.

Our Maps
Presupposition: The map is not the territory

This week I took my Special Olympics athletes on a school field trip to a museum and a warm spring swimming pool. We were going with other students from the school and there were five buses going. In years past my group had caused a delay for the other groups. This year our district had purchased a couple of small buses that teachers can drive, and we took a small bus so we would not hold things up. I had downloaded several maps to guide me because I knew I would be on my own. I could not follow the other drivers. We had to wait for a late bus to arrive with my students on it, then get a wheel chair on and secured before we left.

When we arrived at the museum we found, to our surprise, that we were the first ones there. I was worried because we had left a half hour later than the rest of the group. We enjoyed our museum visit, and had the entire museum to ourselves to explore. The other buses arrived as we were leaving. They had not taken the time to download the maps and information, had driven to the wrong museum, found it closed and taken the disappointed students to the swimming hole.

The maps I had downloaded served me well in several functions.
They were created for a purpose.
They use codes, pictures, symbols and words to create a mental picture, giving it meaning.
Each map has a specific point of view: highway, topographical, and so on.
The map creates a world in map form.
The map highlights some things and hides others, making it easy to use.
Details unnecessary for the purpose of the map are left out.
The map gave me a tool to reach my destination

One of the fundamental presuppositions of NLP is that the map is not the territory. We mean by this that each person sees the world by a different map. The map describes the territory as he sees it, not as it really is. Each map is created by the experiences we have had previously and by our family, our culture and even our history. Many believe that our maps are even in our genes.

Dennis Wood, in “The Power of Maps,” wrote, “this, essentially is what maps give us, reality, a reality that exceeds our vision, our reach, the span of our days, a reality we achieve no other way. We are always mapping the invisible, or the unattainable or the erasable, the future or the past, whatever-is-not-here-presence-to-our-senses-now and, through the gift that the map gives us, transmuting it into everything it is not…into the real.”

My students also use maps of their world and each has his or her own map, distinctly different from any other. We can use the same functions of paper maps to compare and contrast with maps of reality belonging to each student.

Their reality map is created with a purpose. As my map helped me make sense of the roads to get to my destination, so their reality maps help them make sense of the experiences of life and travel to their destination.

The maps use pictures, symbols and words to give the reality map meaning. Reality maps have symbols, too. They may be a loving or angry teacher that begins to symbolize all teachers. Or they could be words. If the student has always had a good experience in art and the teacher says it is time for art, the reality map will say that this, too, will be good. But what of the student who has had others make fun of his art work? The teacher says “time for art” and wonders why the student rebels, not knowing that the student’s map of reality contains symbols she is not aware of.

Each student is the creator of his own reality map. But he has a lot of help along the way. His parents, teachers, friends and enemies all play a role advising the student on what to put on the map and where.

The reality map creates a world in map form, but the map is not the territory. Using the art experience from item 2 above, let’s say the student did not understand the assignment and the children in the class laughed at him, but in our reality, the student is a talented artist. Still the student’s reality map denies his talent as it has “I can’t do art” drawn on in indelible ink.

As I drove I looked out at the beautiful winter landscape and was aware that my map left out the incredible beauty that I was feasting on. Likewise student’s reality maps leave out the beauty of life. The student may know it is there but cannot get it on the map. The student may understand that for others art is a favorite class, but cannot seem to draw that onto his own personal map.

The student’s reality map does have a purpose. It is a tool to lead the student somewhere. It gives the student’s life order and certainty. I don’t have to worry about art. I know I don’t like it. I no longer have to worry whether I like art or not.
As teachers we realize that each student has his or her own reality map. That map serves a purpose. It gives structure, order and certainty to the world for the student. We also understand that the map may not be an accurate representation of the world for that student, but is merely a tool. One of our purposes of teaching is to give our students a more accurate and functional map of reality and help our students create the maps they will need to be successful in their future.

(The idea for this article was gleaned from a slide show by Charles Faulkner found at www.nlpco.com Charles is an author and developer of NLP books, seminars and programs.)

Presupposition: If what you are doing isn’t working, do anything else
I have a darling little girl in my class named Ana May. I have worked a bit with Ana May. She comes in to school in the morning with no meds down her system and the worst case of ADHD one can imagine. Her brain is totally not in gear.

One day a boy came in sporting proudly his newly dyed blue hair. Ana May told him that it was ugly. He was hurt, and he is the type who blows up. I have chipped plaster in the walls to prove it.

Could I do it? Could I effect a change?

I escorted them back into our private room and let them talk. Talk they did. I could see and feel the anger. He had a right to his anger, she had attacked him personally.

My mentor had told me, if you remove something you will leave a void. I did not want to leave a void. These kids feel and react to voids or emptiness. They have no social restraints and no idea how to fill their voids so they hit out or cause problems trying to find a way to fill the void.

I got an idea. I had them imagine the anger they felt and give it a color. Hers was brown, his blue. I stood behind and had them place the color out in front of them with their imagination and asked if they wanted to get rid of it.

I then had them both imagine themselves as happy and in a positive state. We then together swished and superimposed the happy, positive image over the angry color, pushing the angry color away and replacing it, or filling the void it had left, with a positive image of self. We did this several times to make certain it would stick.

I then sent the blue-headed boy off to class. As he walked through the class room the aides overheard him say, “That was cool!” The anger was gone and he was calm. What was more important to me is that it seemed to hold. For the rest of the year this boy did not have another blow-up, though he had had them frequently before. I had provided an alternative way to behave and he then applied it himself to other situations.

I kept Ana May a bit longer and had her work on impulse control. She also is making progress and I am happy to say is doing better.

This program is a loosely applied NLP pattern called the SWISH. It accepts that there are things we no longer want, but leaving them will leave a vacuum in us somewhere. We therefore replace the thing we no longer want with a well-formed outcome. In this situation we replaced anger with a well-formed outcome of a happy, positive self image.

Presupposition: The Map is not the Territory
This story came to me off the Internet on a joke page. It is a story of “the map is not the territory.”

An elementary school got a new librarian. She prided herself in teaching the children responsibility. She decided that instead of checking out children's books by writing the names of borrowers on the book cards herself, she would have the youngsters sign their own names. She would then tell them they were signing a "Contract" for returning the books on time.

Her first little customer was a second grader. He looked surprised to see a new librarian. He brought his allotted four books to the desk and shoved them across to the librarian, giving her his name as he did so.

The librarian pushed the books back and told him that he was supposed to sign them out himself now. The boy laboriously printed his name on each book card in neat print, and then handed them to her with a look of utter disgust.

Before the librarian could even start her speech he said, scornfully, "That other librarian we had could write."

I laughed and thought how often we see the world from our adult eyes and forget that our students see the world in an entirely different and sometimes utterly delightful way.

This can lead to challenges. We expect the children to know the reason they are going to school. We expect them to know that they will need a job someday to support themselves and be contributing members of society.

We forget that the reason they go may be because they are “supposed to.” School may have no meaning to them. If we can create that meaning and let them have a bit of our map to enlarge their map with it will help them focus with greater depth and enthusiasm on the real reason they go to school. Part of the job is to create larger, more detailed maps for our students to carry into their future.

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