By Gwendolyne Honrud
The Courier 

Irle School Set to Begin PAX Good Behavior Game

 

October 16, 2019



Glasgow’s Irle School will soon join a growing list of schools across the state who have implemented the PAX Good Behavior Game program into its curriculum. In May of this year, Governor Bullock announced the state had received a $2.1 million federal grant to build on the program, which has already been put into practice in 47 Montana schools. The expansion of the program was touted by Governor Steve Bullock’s office in September.

According to literature from the PAXIS Institute, the PAX Good Behavior Game is designed to teach “students self-regulation, self-control and self-management in context of collaborating with others for peace, productivity, health and happiness.” The organization says The Game is not a curriculum but rather a skill.

The Game is designed to allow students an opportunity to earn activity rewards through competition, which helps wire their brains for success. Designed to highlight good behavior, students who win their competition are given rewards which allow them to expend their energy within the structure of the game, rather than acting out with negative behaviors. Examples of student rewards include running as if they were training for the Olympics, banging on their desks like drums, and drawing their favorite memory from the summer.


Properly used, the Game teaches and practices social skills in much the same way as academic skills are taught. Children are supported in learning pro-social behaviors. Students are able to learn emotional regulation while also learning to frame mistakes as a critical part of learning.

This will be the first year Glasgow will have the PAX Good Behavior Game. According to Irle School principal Rachel Erickson, initial training will be offered Thursday, Oct. 17. She said the intent is to eventually implement the game school wide, “The science behind it is solid,” she stressed.

Glasgow Superintendent Wade Sunby is optimistic about the program in Glasgow “We are looking forward to implementing it in our schools and getting it going.” He noted the program has received positive press coverage, nationally and across the state. He told the Courier local mental health advocate, Bruce Peterson, has discussed the positive outcomes of the program with the Glasgow school district. Sundby added, “It will be nice to see it in our school district.”

The Game is already implemented in some classrooms of Nashua School. Second grade teacher Julie Cole took the training in the summer of 2018 and implemented the PAX Good Behavior Game in her classroom for the 2018-19 school year. Though Cole was initially skeptical of the program, after using it in her classroom and researching the science behind it, she says, “I think it is well worth the investment.”


“PAX builds community in a classroom so that it is always positive,” Cole told the Courier. She explained that students are more likely to help each other more as they never know who will be on their team for a future game. “I love that once you set up the format, it does not take away any classroom time. It actually increases time on task.”

The game teaches children how they can gain voluntary control over attention circuits in the brain. Negative reinforcement from peers and adults is reduced. Over time, the game has been scientifically shown to increase high school graduation rates, improve family relationships and promotes community involvement.

The game decreases teacher stress, special education referrals and disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Long-term studies show drug use, suicidal thoughts, opioid use, smoking and violent crime rates are lower for students who were part of the PAX program as compared to students who were not.

Erickson told the Courier there are plans to evaluate the efficacy of the program here through data collection. There are also plans for community strategic planning and development training in the area.

 

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