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School Partners With Prevention Works To Implement PAX Techniques

Love Elementary School teacher Amanda Tuggle plays the harmonica for her class causing everyone to freeze and put the “peace and quiet” sign the air as part of the PAX program as Tracy Jesperson from Prevention Works helps out.

Love Elementary School students zipped around the gym when their teacher, Amanda Tuggle, blew once on the harmonica. Instantly every child froze, held up their hand and put a quiet finger to their mouth. Tuggle was using the research-based PAX (Peace, Productivity, Health and Happiness) Quiet technique. Love teachers are learning PAX Good Behavior Games (PAX GBG) through a partnership with Prevention Works who have expanded their services to include teacher coaching in a handful of Chautauqua schools.

PAX GBG is used in the classroom to create a nurturing environment that is conducive to learning. The intervention is designed to reduce off-task behavior; increase attentiveness; decrease aggressive and disruptive behavior, as well as shy and withdrawn behavior. PAX also has been shown to improve academic success and improve mental health and substance abuse outcomes later in life. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services awarded a grant to Prevention Works to implement PAX in local schools.

Love teachers help students create a word-map of what they would see, hear, do, and feel more of and less of in their classroom. The things that would happen more often in their classrooms are called PAX. What they would like to see happen less often are “spleems.” Children quickly become able to discriminate automatically between PAX behaviors and spleems, an ability that is vital for learning sustainable self-regulation. Adults learn to note spleems unemotionally – not to nag, scold, or lecture – in order to prevent negative, attention-seeking behavior. PAX uses behavioral “kernels,” which are simple practices that reduce transition time and support students in behaving appropriately and positively or using “tootles” – the opposite of tattling where students tell about the positive actions of others.

“It really works,” said Tuggle. “It is great because it does not call out individuals but asks that the whole class work as a team. It takes the burden off the individual. It creates a classroom culture that fosters focus and good behavior, gives space for silliness and teaches self-control. It has made my classroom so much more peaceful since we started using it.”

After the students master all ten kernels, they “play” the PAX GBG with their students periodically throughout the day using the well-researched and proven techniques. Students compete in teams with the goal of getting three or less spleems. Teams that meet this goal get a prize from “Granny’s Wacky Prize Basket.” Which could be running around the classroom screaming like a chicken for 10 seconds.

Tracy Jespersen, Love school’s PAX partner states, “Children need PAX because it teaches them how to behave by paying attention to what we want more of from our kids. It doesn’t assume children should just know. Students learn that everyone “spleems” but every spleem can be corrected with ‘PAX.’ It approaches behavior the same way we approach any other academic. As a teachable skill.”

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