|February 7, 2013
Dixon school students see improvement due to PAX system
By Lailani Upham
Mrs. Riech first graders display PAX hands during a game of Basic Facts Bingo. (Lailani Upham photo)
DIXON — A new “game” has been bringing peace, productivity, and happy students and teachers to the Dixon Elementary School.
The game is called, “The Good Behavior Game.”
The Good Behavior Game is a method developed through the PAXIS Institute that uses a break-through “behavioral vaccine” concept which is almost as simple as hand washing to prevent disease.
The malady that the game is preventing is a vast decline in disciplinary action with the students, says Judy Gobert, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Social Service, The Good Behavior Game, Mindfulness Program Director.
Dixon kindergarten student Jayna writes a “tootle” to classmate Brynn. Jayna commended her friend on a great qualities and also stated she was her best friend. (Lailani Upham photo)
The Good Behavior Game has been funded by SAMHSA for five years as part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Social Service Department prevention program, according to Gobert.
According to Dixon School Principal Mark Faroni, the PAX game has definitely proven success by the disciplinary decrease in his students.
Faroni stated that it was almost a daily practice of children being sent to his office – as of last quarter, there has not been one reported incident in 45 days straight.
Dixon School is a Pre-K through eighth grade district with 70 students.
There were 12 students on in-and-out of school suspension with some police involvement during the same quarter the year before, according to Faroni.
Faroni contributes the PAX game coinciding with the Montana Behavior Initiative to the decrease in disciplinary actions.
PAXIS Institute Research:
Benefits in the classroom
• Compatible with other prevention efforts.
• Major improvement in engaged learning.
• 60-90 minute more time to teach and learn each day.
• 75-125 fewer disruptions per hour in classes.
• 20 percent-30 percent less need for special education.
• Reductions in deviant and criminal behaviors
• A 30 percent to 60 percent reduction in referrals, suspensions or expulsions.
• Significant reduction in life-time juvenile and adult criminal acts.
Increased mental health
• 50 percent - 70 percent reduction in mental health difficulties (e.g., ADHD and conduct symptoms).
• A 10 percent to 30 percent reduction injuries or stress related complaints.
• Reduction in directly observable symptoms of ADHD such as inattention and fidgeting, even for children not on medication.
• Reduction in observable symptoms of Oppositional Defiance and Conduct Disorders, whether or not the child is in therapy or the family is receiving interventions.
• Reduction in the manifest symptoms of depression or PTSD.
Substance Use Prevention
• 25 percent to 50 percent reduction in use of tobacco or other drugs over a child’s lifetime.
• This includes methamphetamine, GBH, marijuana and more.
Dixon Coach Shannon Murphy agrees with the match of programs. “PAX helps us reach where we want to get,” Murphy stated.
Murphy added that the teachers get more time in the classroom and the games do not interfere with the teaching time.
Both students and teachers enjoy the game and the outcome.
“It makes each school day peaceful and easier to teach.”
One kindergartener stated he loved the game because it makes everyone feel happy.
The Good Behavior Game is a behavioral classroom management strategy where young children learn how to work together and create a positive learning environment and has been around for over 30 years.
Dixon is the first school on the Flathead Reservation to implement the program.
The team-based approach also encourages positive behavior by using peer encouragement and rewarding student teams for abiding with the rules for appropriate behavior. Some of the targeted actions are working quietly, following directions, and/or being polite to each other. In turn it enables teachers to build strong academic skills with the students.
“I started this year a few days after school started. My students had all been in pre-school in Dixon last year. I think that has made a huge difference in my room. I was lucky enough to inherit PAX students. They love the game. If it gets noisy, they will ask to play a game. They use the PAX language with each other,” stated Miss Annie, Dixon First Grade Teacher.
(L to R) Fifth grader EZ and sixth grader Jaden demonstrate a favorite “granny whacky” game in Mrs. North’s class that they like to play when their team wins a round of the “Good Behavior” game. (Lailani Upham photo)
The game has it’s own language that guides the courteous classroom manners. “PAX hands” is when a student places hands on each side of their body, and is one of first grader, Jay-Jay’s preference.
Classmate, WilJames says he likes “PAX hands” because, “No one likes to get touched and get germs.”
“PAX eyes” is first grader, Jayden’s favorite move, the rule is to keep their eyes on the teacher and focus on the board.
Classmate Matthew says his favorite is “PAX voice.”
“Because when someone raises their voice, I don’t like that. ‘PAX voice’ is a soft voice,” added Matthew.
The rewards for the game are ideas that are created from the student’s in the classrooms. Some prizes can be doing a crazy fun activity for a short period of time, such at screaming at the top of their lungs to tapping a pencil on the table. A small prize also may be obtained from an individual “class store.”
A walk to the river is one preference for the older students.
Jana North, Fifth – Eighth grade Language Arts/History Teacher stated, “I think the PAX game is a great tool for kids to take ownership of their behavior. They participate in what they want to see, hear, feel and do in the classroom and they also decide what they don’t want to see, feel or hear (These are referred to what we call “Spleems” which are the unwanted behaviors.) I think the PAX game has had a positive effect in our school. When the students are motivated to play the “egg” game, get free time, or recess, we see a lot less disruptive behaviors. This allows us to spend more time teaching and less time on correcting behaviors.”
First grader Melchiah shows what “PAX sitting” is. (Lailani Upham photo)
“Tootles” are also part of the game where students and even teachers praise one another through written notes. Murphy shared that one parent came to the class in joyful tears after reading a note given to her child from another.
“I appreciate the simplicity and structure of the PAX game. It is very easy to implement in the classroom without take taking away valuable time,” stated Janita VonHeeder, Dixon Second Grade and Salish teacher.
Murphy said there were 130 detentions last year before PAX entered the schoolhouse and so far this year only 3 have been reported.
For information on PAX Training, contact Judy Gobert, The Good Behavior Game, Mindfulness Program Director at the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Social Service Department, (406) 675-2700, extension 1321, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.