This is a term that relates to NLP, but which I borrowed from sports psychology. Let's say I am the manager of a sports team and I want to not only create rapport with my players, but to instill a winning culture or frame on the field of play; and not just in training or during my team talks. I need people on the field who can communicate my vision. The kind of people who the other players would naturally look up to for guidance. I may appoint a captain and some senior players to be cultural architects of my vision, so that the team will still be influenced by my ideas when I am not present.
The difficulty that you have as a teacher as compared to a sports coach, is that whereas a sports coach gets to pick his own team and fill it with the most talented and motivated players, a teacher gets what's put in front of them. The cultural architects of your class will be those with the most sway and social credibility, and may well come into your class with a vision or frame, in NLP terms, that is completely different from yours. They many in fact have a very strong, well-defined and well rehearsed frame of disaffection and misbehavior. The skill lies in being able to use your NLP skills to re-frame those student's perceptions both of you and your class. It is with these students that you have to begin because if you can re-frame them, they will unconsciously re-frame the rest of the class for you. That's why they're cultural architects after all.
It should be obvious by this point, why it is imperative not to 'label' these children in your own mind as 'ringleaders' with all the negative connotations of that term. Language is incredibly important in NLP as it is the building block of beliefs about the self. Using negative labels may well be precisely what most other teachers will be doing to them if they have some sort of a reputation for disaffection. Anyone familiar with the Pygmalion Effect, would understand the concept of a self fulfilling prophecy and would be keen to accept them for who and what they are, within the bounds of acceptable behavior.
In addition, these are the people who can be of most use to you in articulating your vision to others, so focus on them early, greet them by name each lesson, keep good eye contact with them,use your NLP skills by pacing them even even against their will. Catch them being good and then if need be, you can revert to high status, assertive criticism, knowing that they will 'take it' from you, rather than simply react negatively.
Like most young teachers, one or two pupils intimidated me and hi-jacked my frame on a regular basis. Here's the recipe I discovered, using a combination of NLP and status skills:
a) Create rapport by pacing them against their will over a period of a couple of lessons. Catch them being good and praise them publicly. Initiate casual conversations with them, ask basic work-related questions.
b) Note the way in which they are behaving aggressively and trampling on the rights of others. Be precise about how they are trampling on your rights as a teacher, rights which you must claim, rights such as:
• the right to be spoken to respectfully.
• The right to respectful behavior towards others whilst in your class.
• The right to quiet when you are speaking
c) Create in advance, a script using 'I' statements (see section on 'assertive discipline'), which is based on a key behavior that the student does habitually (eg;speaking when you are).
d) Spring a trap. Wait for this behavior to occur then keep them back on their own and say: 'I find it personally very insulting when you talk over me' Use high status behavior. Head still, eye contact. Silence.
e) Remember you have short-circuited their habitual response to being disciplined because:
• you have paced and therefore created rapport with them first.
• you have protected their right to privacy by speaking to them privately and reinforced your rapport by spending individual time with them.
f) Now its time to break rapport; face up to and top them. You need at this point to go higher and introduce more high status language. Try instructions. 'Do not speak over me. Ever. Got it?' This may feel unnatural but when learning you have to 'fake it till you make it'.
g) Try adding what's called an 'anchor' in NLP terms. The one I use is a combination of a click and a point, almost like a gun going off. (feel free to come up with your own if you have trouble clicking loudly). After years of practice I can make the gun very loud indeed. Try it on the word 'not' if you can. The effect is to anchor this new re-frame of you as firm but fair, when they may have framed you in less flattering terms. You can trigger the anchor later.
h) In reality you have also re-framed yourself in your own eyes as an expert status player, particularly if you create the desired effect and you have never done anything like this before. I suggest you keep it short at this point and leave any talk about what might happen if they disobey you for them to ponder. Talking about it at this stage would only lower your status by assuming that they will not be following your instructions straight off.
i) What happens if they disobey you? If and when the offending behavior re-occurs, all you need to do is trigger your anchor by firing the gun and going back into the high status body language that you used for the interview without saying anything. If the original interview went as well as you had hoped and you managed a re-frame, then all of the emotions that the pupil felt, all of their new associations about you will be automatically triggered by the anchor. Also, all of your new-found NLP power, assertive protection of your rights and high status behavior will be re-experienced within you at the same time. Speaking would reduce the effect. Silent, still eye contact reinforces your high status. Your expectation that nothing needs to be said silently re-asserts your dominance, which 'magically' alters the behavior of the serial offender. With them, you will have also won over a large proportion of the class, who will be wondering what secret power enabled you to effect such a transformation.
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