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PAX Good Behavior Game

PAX Good Behavior Game logo

The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) is a set of strategies developed by the Paxis Institute that has been vetted through more than 40 years of research to be effective in supporting the social-emotional learning of students. In it, students determine what they want to see, feel, hear, and do both more of - PAX behaviors - and less of - spleems - in their classrooms to create a community in which they feel safe, supported, and able to persevere in their learning.

The PAX GBG was originally created for use in K-2 classrooms, but the principals are effective throughout the grades. In fact, it is not all that dissimilar from adults creating working agreements or group norms, then striving to build trust and hold one another accountable as they build positive working relationships.

Thanks to a $41,000 grant through the Early Learning Hub in 2014, the Hillsboro School District was able to  train 35 teachers from 8 of our elementary schools. Since those initial trainings, hundreds of Hillsboro School District staff have been trained on how to integrate the PAX GBG into their daily classroom activities. To date, 97% of our elementary schools are implementing PAX in their classrooms, which is having an impact on over 7,000 students on a daily basis.

In each classroom, students determine the PAX behaviors that are positive or desired, and the spleems that are negative or unwanted. They can acknowledge each others' PAX behaviors with a tootle, which is the opposite of a tattle. Using words that are either made-up or unrelated to regular speech is purposeful so that positive or negative connotations students may already have with "real" words are avoided.

PAX behavior expectations can be initiated with three notes played on the teacher's harmonica - high- to- low- to avoid triggering a negative response from students who may either have special needs or anxiety from loud or unexpected noises. Upon hearing the notes, students respond in a way they have practiced to become quiet and indicate they are ready to listen to their teachers instructions.

Teachers can also weave PAX games into their regular learning activities. While reading a book to a group of kindergartners, for example, a teacher can simply indicate and keep track when they see a spleem and then continue reading. This gives students the responsibility to recognize the unwanted behavior and self-regulate. At the end of the activity, any student or group of students charged with fewer than the maximum number of spleems is awarded a prize, which is some sort of brain break or activity, like standing up and wiggling, or playing finger-drums on their desk for 20 seconds.

According to one teacher, “PAX  has impacted my students and our school community in a really positive way! I especially love Tootles because they not only help my kids focus on the positives in others, but I’ve noticed a positive difference in myself as a teacher when I take the time to write them each day.”

To learn more about the PAX GBG, visit