GREENE COUNTY — Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria paid a visit to Beavercreek City Schools Aug. 31 to watch PAX, a behavior modification strategy, in action.
“One of the issues in schools is classroom management, making sure the classroom stays engaged and focused while they’re having a fun time,” DeMaria said. “Here in Beavercreek, they’ve been implementing the PAX good bahavior games. I had heard about these games, but I hadn’t seen it in action so we decided to take a trip out here to see what was going on.”
PAX teaches students to self-regulate their own behavior through games, common language and rewards, leading to a new classroom management style. Students are given a task, then are asked to follow certain rules, such as using a “three-inch voice,” keeping their eyes on their own book, not getting up, getting started on the task quickly, etc. If not, they are given “spleems,” which are directed toward a team or group within the classroom, not at an individual student. That way, students learn to examine themselves while helping the entire team succeed.
This is important because if the groups receives three or less “spleems” they have an opportunity to pick from “granny’s wacky prize box,” which serves as a reward for behaving during the PAX games. Students may, for example, form a line then take turns trying to jump and touch the top of the door frame.
“At the end of the day, it’s the classroom environment that allows learning to take place,” DeMaria said. “If kids are distracted, they’re not engaged, not able to focus on the activities or they’re distracted by other students who aren’t focused, that errodes the opportunity that goes on in the classroom. The bottom line is, we don’t want to make school boring, but we want to make it engaging. So how do we grasp that sense of engagement while at the same time saying that we want to promote learning.”
It has been implemented in preschool through fifth grade in Xenia Community Schools; kindergarten through fifth grade throughout Beavercreek City Schools; first through fourth grade in Greeneview Local Schools and 20 teachers in Fairborn Primary School within the Fairborn City School District have underwent PAX training, according to Anya Senetra of the Greene County Educational Services Center. It started locally upon the GCESC receiving a grant in 2006, initally kicking off as a pilot program.
Joelle Mangan, principal of Fairbrook Elementary School, said in her first year in her role, she saw 79 office referrals with the majority of the students receiving the notices being in fifth grade. By her second year, the school experienced less than 30 office referrals with three being received by fifth grade students. Fairbrook has been utilizing PAX for the last four years.
“We had a situation where our office referrals dropped dramatically because our students understood what was expected of them, they knew what it looked like and they were able to do that in the classroom,” Mangan said.