Clean Language in the Classroom

By: Julie McCracken


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 182 x 222mm
Pages : 276
ISBN : 9781845908607
Format: Paperback
Published: April 2016

Clean Language in the Classroom by Julie McCracken introduces teachers to an innovative, yet simple, approach to supporting learning. Using modelling and questioning techniques, Clean Language seeks to minimise miscommunication and misconceptions and create deep, personalised learning experiences for each child. It helps both teacher and learners think about their own thinking and learning. This child-centred approach means the teacher is supporting and facilitating, rather than leading the learning, which also builds a supportive learning culture across whole classes. It encourages children, teachers and parents to respect others and their needs.

Clean Language is founded on listening and a particular kind of questioning. Clean questions are formed by taking a person’s words and blending them with a neutral question, which has been designed so as not to assume or elicit the answer. Written by Julie McCracken, a real teacher with extensive experience of using these approaches with her classes, this book provides a comprehensive guide to using Clean Language techniques in the classroom. It gives teachers the tools to use Clean Language in their classrooms, including detailed step-by-step instructions, effective questioning and modelling techniques, and case studies.

The benefits of the clean approach include: improved communication; improved attainment; a supportive, collaborative classroom culture; and self-motivated, independent, reflective learners. Clean Language raises awareness of one’s own thought processes and those of others. Clean Language can facilitate learning by helping individuals to explore their own mindsets, learning needs and metacognitive processes. It can also encourage respect, diversity and inclusive practice by helping classes to understand each other’s learning needs.

The book details how to incorporate Clean Language into curriculum areas such as speaking and listening, writing, reading, PE, art, maths, science and domains such as thinking skills, behaviour management, confidence, SEN, collaborative classroom culture and test performance. The examples used in the book come mainly from a primary context, but the content is applicable to secondary settings as well. It is written primarily with classroom teachers in mind, but will also appeal to teaching assistants, learning mentors and leaders, indeed, anyone who is responsible for and interested in effective learning.

Picture for author Julie McCracken

Julie McCracken

Julie McCracken is a primary school teacher, whose passion for children and effective learning has led her to become a certified Clean Language facilitator and NLP Master Practitioner in addition to her busy day job. She believes in the simple but essential solutions this training provides in allowing her to ensure that her students are part of an inclusive, interactive and happy learning environment.


  1. You can sometimes get the feeling of -˜banging your head against the wall' when trying to make sense with some students. You may have had that feeling when speaking to a couple of bickering children, but when you think the situation has been resolved, the argument continues as soon as you turn away. Does that sound familiar?

    In fact, there are times when you are unable to shine a light through the fog and connect in a way that fosters deep understanding in students, but with a little fine-tuning of to the way you listen to your students and how to use clean questions, you can achieve surprising results. This is the overarching philosophy behind Julie McCracken-˜s book 'Clean Language in the Classroom', being relevant to those working in primary or secondary schools who are wanting to improve how adults communicate with students.

    To be clear, Clean Language is a communication process developed by counselling psychologist David Grove in the 1980s and distilled into a Symbolic Modelling strategy by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins in the 1990s.

    However, Julie has developed this to apply in an educational setting, including a seven-week guide to using Clean Language in your classroom, guiding the reader to subtle changes in communication that can have major impacts. Changes in questioning, the use of metaphors, and an exploration of mental models and misconceptions all build into a crucial resource in improving dialogue and learning.

    Although obviously useful for English learning in the classroom, the book concludes with a great mix of examples of how Clean Language can be applied in other subjects, including Art, PE, and Science. Crucially, this approach can (and should) be seen as a whole-school strategy that improves the teaching and learning of important aspects of the curriculum.

    Click here to read the review on UKEdChat.
  2. Julie covers misconceptions as well as exploring in detail how to facilitate learning.

    With extensive experience of using these approaches with her own classes, the book provides a comprehensive guide to using Clean Language techniques.
  3. This is a stimulating, practical resource based on the author's extensive practical experience and the work of David Gore and other researchers. The text offers a range of ideas to support staff to use questioning and listening to extend the learner's thinking, personal reflection and communication skills more effectively. The book is well structured with excellent sections on -˜practice tips' and strategies to promote positive interaction.  As the author points out, too many children think they must have an instant answer and are not used to being given time -˜to think more deeply about their  response'. How many readers were taught by the teacher who asked a question, and then became assertive with a raised voice -˜come on, think, I haven't got all day to wait!!'? As the text underlines, the more effective teacher maximises engagement with a question and promotes the thinking skills of the learner by waiting for an answer with warmth, patience and enthusiastic expectancy. Many teachers will find the sections on metaphor, making a meal of spellings, mathematician magicians and facilitating learning extremely useful. This is an excellent resource for all schools keen to improve participation and learning outcomes.
  4. Julie McCracken takes us on a journey through Clean Language, metaphors and meta-learning. As well as an introduction to Clean Language and the benefits of using it in your classroom, McCracken's book is also a coaching course for teachers. She thinks not only of the benefits to the children and their learning but also of the needs of a busy teacher wanting to take on a new tool in a complex classroom environment.

    Metaphors are not just concepts to be taught in literacy but become windows into our children's thinking and aids to communication and deep learning. Facilitating a whole class to develop metaphors for learning at their best is one of the best gifts a teacher can offer their students. Julie McCracken shares how to create the optimum conditions to do just that. Learners who know how they and their peers learn at their best can support themselves and one another to create and maintain great learning states.

    Julie McCracken so smoothly translates Tompkins and Lawley's methods for use in the classroom - she creates a coaching culture across her classroom where pupils help themselves and one another to learn at their best. She shows teachers how to use Clean Language for improving behaviour management, maths, handwriting and literature - and most importantly it's about getting the children to help themselves and frame their needs in a way that leaves room for others to have their needs met at the same time.

    What's so gorgeous about Julie McCracken's book is not just the practical way Clean Language is introduced and used but also the stories of how children develop the skills to learn together in curiosity and collaboration. This is a wonderful resource for teachers and for their pupils - it brings together a simple tool, innovative applications and inspiring stories. It's a must for any teacher looking to extend their own listening and questioning skills, who truly believes that children will learn what they see and hear.
  5. Ever wondered if teaching could feel less constrained and more natural, with the majority of the thinking and effort coming more directly from the learner not the teacher? Imagine feeling freed from the effort of finding the right question to ask a learner to support their thinking at that crucial moment. Clean Language in the Classroom can support teachers in the often complex process of learning how the learner learns. Practicing Clean Language can develop the practitioner's listening skills to a degree that can enhance that sensitive attunement teachers have to the learners' words, thoughts and unique personalities. Julie McCracken describes the remarkably simple and effective structures of Clean Language and its application to learning in the classroom based on genuine experiences and classroom practice. The week-by-week guide enables the reflective practitioner to come to feel at ease in using these language scripts: with questions that reflect the exact words spoken by the child and therefore make complete sense to the listener. With engaging illustrations and transcripts of teacher-learner conversations and narratives, Julie McCracken shares her experience of using Clean Language in practical terms in everyday teaching and learning situations and across the curriculum in a primary setting. With this insight and the guiding principles of Clean Language, teachers the world over could enhance the capacity of young learners to think creatively and reflectively, enabling greater self-efficacy, independence and interdependence. Julie brings the reader to a greater understanding of the significance of trust in the teacher-learner and learner-learner relationship and such trust should be an aspiration of schools today. Reading this book with a receptive mind can enliven those core feelings and values that bring teachers into education and even the most long in the tooth educator may be surprised with the ease at which Clean Language can be applied within the learning environment. With widespread use we could see its true potential to make explicit the innermost thoughts our children have about themselves and their learning.
  6. Julie has created a simple plan that develops both speaking and listening skills for educators and children. Using real life examples, she demonstrates how to give children the freedom to express themselves and adults the techniques to hear the raw data, instead of what they thought they heard. Crucially, there are steps for educators and learners to apply Clean communication in even the most busy of classrooms.

    The real beauty in this book is how Julie acknowledges just how big and profound the thoughts of a child can be. Any educator who uses these techniques with this attitude, and excitement about children being generators of big profound ideas, can't not empower them. 
  7. I love this book for two reasons. Firstly, it is an accessible, humble and practical guide that uncovers a really powerful take on what I have always held to be one of the most important disciplines in a teacher's classroom repertoire - the language used. Secondly, at a time when reductionist behaviour strategies driven by fear and control are the state-sanctioned formula for classroom relationships, Julie McCracken proves that a careful, subtle and humane approach to understanding what is going on in children's heads is not only possible but highly desirable.
  8. Clean Language in the Classroom is the first book to describe how Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling can be highly effective in education. It is written from first-hand experience and includes many inspiring examples of how metaphor is vital to learning and understanding. Julie McCracken's trust in her pupils' ability to self-organise shines through, with children as young as five using Clean Language questions for their own and their fellow students' learning. The stories of how this approach helps students overcome their difficulties are heart-warming. We highly recommend this book, not only for teachers but for all educators.
  9. At last! Since I first heard Julie McCracken tell her stories of Clean Language in the classroom, several years ago now, I've been looking forward to the day she'd be ready to share them with a wider audience. This book delivers her infectious enthusiasm, her fascinating ideas and her practical tips for applying David Grove's Clean Language. She's used it with young children in dozens of classroom situations, as well as with her colleagues - and for herself.

    I wonder who else might find it useful to de-stress their coming weeks from a rollercoaster to a gentle river cruise in a rowing boat? You'll find out how to do that here.

    Many of my students already use Clean Language with their young children: one told me how it was helping her eight-year-old to tame angry outbursts. This book will be a great resource for all parents, as well as for educators working with children of any age. I'll also be recommending it to those who want to use Clean Language with groups of adults. Many of the techniques described here work just as well in business contexts - and this is probably the most accessible guide in print.
  10. This book could - and should - transform the face of education. Julie McCracken has combined her in-depth knowledge of clean approaches and her extensive experience of applying these creatively and effectively in the classroom to achieve extraordinary results. The book is well-written and offers a wealth of tools and guidance. Teachers must read it!
  11. During my career I have been privileged to work with many students who have genuinely enquiring minds. It is not always easy to know how to nurture an enquiring attitude - there is often much about formal education that seems to discourage curiosity. How heartening, therefore, to find that Julie McCracken has provided such a readable, practical guide to enabling schoolchildren and their teachers to use the simple yet immensely productive tools of Clean Language. Time and again within these pages Julie demonstrates how the astonishing capacity of young children for enquiry and self-management can be let loose, often by using just one or two questions. Naturally, given Julie's professional experience and expertise, this book is concerned with schools; even so, its contents have the potential to inspire and be applied by educators at all levels.
  12. This is the book for you if you are passionate about transforming the thinking, learning and socialisation of the children you teach, so that they can be their best selves.

    Much as it may seem too good to be true, mastering clean skills makes all this entirely possible. And this book, which is by turns inspirational, funny, heart-warming and thought-provoking, contains all you need in order to absorb clean concepts and put them into practice in your classroom. 

    Just add curiosity and enough bravery to trust the children (and the process) so that you follow through with your first few clean activities, even when habit is pushing you to take over as -˜the expert' in the classroom. You'll soon find that this surprisingly simple yet profound approach really does provide the conditions for children to actively engage with learning, raise the level at which they think and reason, work out how to get past being stuck and develop confidence and self-belief. 
  13. What a book! Clean Language in the Classroom has the power to revolutionise teachers' work and is a gift to both them and their students. Students will feel grateful for the appreciation of their own thoughts, strategies and solutions. Teachers who practice what the book suggests will present grown-up students to society who are able to develop and take full responsibility for their own thinking and solving strategies.
  14. What is Clean Language? Essentially, it's a method of communication that removes all filters and prejudices, allowing the person using it to access and begin to comprehend the complex and unique metaphors that shape the perceptions of another human being. This happens through a series of questions that are asked in a particular way, alongside mindful and receptive listening to the responses they elicit; and, when done consistently, can result in astonishing levels of connection and understanding.

    In this beautifully thoughtful book, Julie McCracken shares her experience of using Clean Language in classrooms and explains how an increased understanding of its potential has refined her practice over the course of a decade or so - teaching her to trust children's resourcefulness; to listen, respectfully and without assumptions; to work with them to create the conditions in which they can learn best; and never to limit them through expectations.

    Despite many magical moments, there is nothing fey or romantic about Clean Language in the Classroom. It's a practical and methodological guide to a pedagogical approach which, as a parent whose son was lucky enough to spend two years being taught by McCracken, I can confirm is capable of producing incredible outcomes; not just academically, but in terms of the development of the whole child as a confident, thinking, curious individual, always looking for where his learning will take him next.
  15. The power of effective questioning to transform learners' understanding is undeniable. Julie's book provides an outstanding guide for teachers who want to use questioning strategies that have become well established in therapy and counselling to promote deep thinking and reflection.

    Definitely one for every teacher's bookshelf.

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