PAX Program Encourages Good Behavior at SCSD Elementary Schools
Published on 10/7/15
Meachem Elementary School
Porter Elementary School
“When you blow the harmonica, we have to put our PAX signal up!” a student calls out, two fingers poised in a peace sign high above his head.
Second graders at Meachem are well-versed in the rules of the PAX Good Behavior Game. Intended to help them learn to self-regulate, self-control and self-manage, the program also aims to show students how to work together to create a peaceful, productive, healthy and happy school environment.
Now in its second year of school wide implementation, select classrooms in Meachem have been experimenting with the program for a few years. Through PAX, students learn to focus on good behaviors (PAX behaviors) and avoid negative or disruptive behaviors (called ‘spleems’).
“If students are more engaged, they’re more likely to succeed academically,” Meachem Principal Melissa Evans explained. “It’s a more peaceful feeling. Everyone is on the same page, using the same language, with the same expectations.”
School Social Worker Shannon Geer said this uniformity is key to the program’s success. “Used on a school level, there is a real sense of consistency,” she said. “We all have the same system, and this helps our kids behave more consistently.”
To solidify desirable concepts and behaviors, teachers divide students into groups and challenge them to play a timed PAX Good Behavior Game while continuing to instruct with normal curriculum. A classroom new to the game may begin with playing for one minute at a time, with the teacher noting each time a group demonstrates a spleem behavior. As the students catch on to the program, the length of the game increases—some classrooms are currently playing for up to 60 minutes at a time!
At the end of the timed game, each group that acquired three or less spleem behaviors earns a reward. But rather than a tangible object, these rewards allow students to perform what would typically be considered a disruptive behavior—in a controlled environment. Students may be rewarded with the ability to complete a lesson while sitting backwards in their chair, for instance, or by being able to “drum” on their desks for 30 seconds.
Meachem second grader Luke Erubare said the rewards are his favorite part of PAX. “I liked when we got to walk like zombies,” he recalled. “By being PAX, we got so many compliments that we filled our compliment jar and got a compliment party! I’m so good at all the PAX behaviors, like using a quiet voice and keeping my hands to myself.”
Each classroom is encouraged to play the PAX game at least three times a day, to help students become familiar with the PAX actions, to help them self-regulate behavior more consistently and to prevent students from being discouraged if their group does not earn a reward. “You always have another chance!” second grade teacher Kristen Duffy reminds her class.
Mrs. Evans noted that each year, Meachem measures the student ‘spleem’ counts. In the last school year, there was a 70% reduction in the number of disengaged behaviors, she explained, adding that one grade in particular saw a nearly 20% increase on local test scores as a result of the program.
“The more kids self-regulate, the more learning is happening,” Ms. Geer said. “The game piece is secondary. In the classroom, academic improvement is the key. But we want students to buy in, so we introduce the game slowly. It’s all about encouraging a peaceful and nurturing atmosphere!”
Meachem second grader Jilliana Garboushian said she enjoys receiving ‘tootles,’ written compliments that can come from a teacher, parent or peer. “Tootles are when you say something nice about someone,” she explained. “I feel happy when someone gives me a tootle. It makes it hard for me to take a smile off my face!”
At Meachem, teachers turn in their PAX scoreboards each week, and these results are used to help them strategize ways to improve. Quarterly, the staff has data meetings where they review the overall effectiveness of the program. These tips are all being noted by staff at Porter, where this is the first year the PAX program is being implemented.
“Mrs. Evans has been helping us understand more of how we can make the program work,” Principal Wil Mecum said. “We have seen positive changes quickly, not just among the teachers, but PAX brings an element of fun into the classrooms.”
“Students love the games,” Mr. Mecum added. “They are pushing themselves in the classroom. But we are still learning, and we want to make sure this translates in all aspects of our school—the hallways, the cafeteria and all classrooms. PAX is one of the steps that is moving us in the right direction.”
Thank you to Contact Community Services for their assistance implementing the PAX Good Behavior Program in our schools, and great work to the students and staff who are bringing about the program’s success!
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