Students learn good behavior
The teaching of peace and productivity through the Pax program is paying big dividends at area schools.
The Pax behavior game is a collection of different classroom tools that help children develop voluntary control over their attention, self-regulate their behaviors and cooperate with their peers. Pax means “peace” in Latin. Children work in teams, encouraging them to work together. When they make mistakes, such as talking out of turn or misbehaving, a team will receive a “spleem.” Teams that receive three or fewer spleems in that timespan are rewarded by drawing an activity out of the Granny’s Wacky Price bag, which is usually a fun game or activity.
This week, National Pax Game Trainer and Consultant Jan Wiebe was with Tami Clum’s first grade class at Allen East Friday. Clum said the program has made marked changes in behavior since they began it in September. Clum’s is just one of 400 pre-kindergarten through sixth grade classes in Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties participating in the program. Those classrooms have documented a decrease in classroom disruptions of 70 percent through the program.
“When we play Pax games during the day, good behavior increases and negative behavior decreases,” Clum said. “Students become helpful, positive leaders to ensure their teams do not earn spleems. They really look forward to playing a game.”
Students also can write “tootle” messages about other classmates. A tootle is the opposite of a tattle, remarking on a particular good behavior by a student during the day. A classmate can remark about another being helpful, having good behavior or sharing. It becomes contagious because students try to receive a positive message. Clum was particularly proud to receive a tootle from one of her students on Friday.
“Every day I am gaining more Pax leaders in the classroom,” Clum said. “Pax has been a positive tool.”
Devin Miller said the program has helped because “you try really hard not to get a spleem so you can help your team.”
Brayden Williams said, “It makes sure we make good choices.”
International research has shown the Good Behavior Game to be an efficient method for reducing off-task behaviors in the classroom, as well as increasing prosocial skills, while long-term follow-ups have indicated positive effects on a wide range of health issues.
As Yamhill-Carlton Elementary School third graders worked on math problem, teacher Kourtney Fjelland watched not only how well they were handling fractions, but also how well they were behaving. Most were concentrating, cooperating, focusing on their work and staying in their seats. In other words, they were exhibiting the good behaviors students themselves suggested and agreed upon earlier in the year, also as part of the PAX Good Behavior Game.
Medication-assisted treatment and recovery services work, but in order for the U.S. population to reach its full health potential, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers need to go on the offensive, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, told attendees at the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference on Tuesday in Seattle.
“We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them.”