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Sep 7, 2018

PAX Trainer Professional Development Workshop – September 2018


Edited: Sep 17, 2018

Thank you for taking part in the September 2018 PAX Trainer Professional Development Workshop. This interactive exercise will allow you and your fellow PAX Trainers to meet your quarterly obligation to professional development and renewal as outlined in your PAX Contractor Agreement. This forum also allow you to benefit from and harness the collective experiences of the other trainers.


This first professional development installment focuses on some of the experiences and action items highlighted in your PAX GBG Trainer Workbook. You may find this resource useful in considering some of the contributions you make in this workshop. This practice will allow us all to benefit from our collective knowledge and “skinned knees,” picked up along the way as we spread PAX.


For each question prompt, please respond with a paragraph (or more) detailing how you as a trainer would respond, based on your knowledge of PAX or your other professional experiences. This creates a body of wisdom from all PAX Trainers.


After making your own comment for each item, identify another trainer’s response to comment on further or ask questions. That adds depth and wisdom to our training community. The Q&A across trainers increases consistency of the PAX experience, reducing confusion if schools or teachers have different trainers across time.


In the coming days after your write your own reflections and ideas, please check back later to review other trainers’ responses. Their insights will add to your toolbox of perspectives and strategies. Remember, PAX has been built over many decades of both research and collective experiences—including both failures and successes.


* * * Reflection and Response 1 ***


Predatory environments (aka, Adverse Childhood Experiences) can cause, contribute to, or worsen problematic behavior and outcomes among young people in classrooms and over their lifetimes. Sometimes, workshop participants may think and say that a nurturing environment is a “soft” or coddling environment – free from hardship or obstacles that are part of life. Some participants may credit their own success to surviving “in spite of” or even “because of” some of predatory or adverse environments. However, the ACE's study and similar studies show that truly predatory environments have far more problematic than beneficial effects, yet multiple studies show 1-2 years of exposure to PAXGBG dramatically increases positive outcomes for children exposed to predatory environments.


  • Describe how you would engage such a participant and the audience that “nurturing” built into PAX and being “soft” in the participant's perspective/experience are not necessarily synonyms. Do this in a way that respects the participant’s experiences, but also benefits the audience’s understanding of how a Nurturing Environment like PAX might benefit children/adults who are difficult through your explanation.


  • Select an area of Predatory Environments (limited reinforcement prosocial behavior, inconsistent limits on problematic behavior, exposure to toxic influences, psychological inflexibility) and identify a concrete example that you like to use that shows how exposure to that element outside the classroom can bring about adaptive in the larger world—but inappropriate behavior inside the classroom. Then, describe how one or more of the kernels or the PAX Game, itself, might help a student succeed despite the history of a predatory environment. (You may actually have an anecdote that illustrates this from training or partnering.

* * * Reflection and Response 2 ***


Hindsight often involves rose-tinted glasses. Any of us can reconcile our own difficult experiences as a “necessary” part of our development and success. When children or students are quite difficult in school, stressed adults can employ illogical behavior modification strategies with their students as “necessary” to teaching accountability. However, attacking or demeaning participants’ underdeveloped skillsets is unlikely to recruit their support or open them up for the possibility of change. One of my godchildren, demonstrated this foible of adults in 3rd grade. In April, my little shaman—Tyler—noticed the principal and the yard duty people make the children who broke the rules on the playground sit on the "Time Out" bench. Tyler told the vice-principal, "I notice the same kids have been on the Time Out bench since August. I don't think that's working. Maybe you should try something different." While Tyler was correct, he got sent to the principal's office. My god child now has a child of his own, and teaches special ed.


  • Identify an over-the-top behavior modification strategy such as teaching through error response (responding always to the error) or teaching through retribution that some teachers may still use in the classroom. How would you convey that this is illogical or even harmful in a way that allows participants to safely consider some of their own classroom behavior without becoming overly defensive?


  • Identify an example of a non-academic skillset at home, school, etc. you familiar with, then create preposterous behavior modification strategies (with humor hopefully) to convey the importance of teaching behavior as a skillset (e.g. antecedents, modeling, reinforcement, etc.?)

Sep 21, 2018

Reflection & Response 1:

For those workshop participants who have the belief that a nurturing environment is a “soft” or coddling environment, they frequently are giving the trainer a window into their world of surviving a less than nurturing or adverse environment. To not put these participants on the spot or create a situation which may make them defensive, the trainer could facilitate a group discussion about the four characteristics of a nurturing environment and encourage the participants to share specific examples of each: increasing psychological safety and flexibility, richly reinforcing prosocial behaviors, reduce or minimize toxic influences and limiting problematic behaviors. As the concrete examples of the characteristics of a nurturing environment are shared, it becomes increasingly clear that coddling is not an element of a nurturing environment.



Reflection and Response 2:

One common behavior modification practice is to send the student outside of the classroom to sit in the hallway for a period of time. Depending on the challenging behavior for which the child is sent out, the child may be sent there for a short period or for several hours. One of the ways to help teachers think about behavior modification practices is to ask a set of Socratic questions. For example, 1) Why or what is the purpose of sending students into the hallway?, 2) If the practice is working, should we send the same student into the hallway more or less? As the teachers answer questions such as these, often times they come to their own conclusions about the ineffectiveness of the practices.


Nov 14, 2018

When my son was in kindergarten and was in love with another little kindergarten girl, they were both sent into the hallway together because they were talking in class too much....

Sep 25, 2018

Reflection and Response 1

I don't really have much more to add to Claire's thoughtful response. Focusing on the 4 characteristics and having people think about examples of these takes the discussion away from people's opinions (often vague and contradictory) about nurturing/predatory environments. It provides people insight into what specifically were the characteristics and experiences they have had (or witnessed) that contributed to their own personal strength and well-being. I also find that people become less defensive when Nurturing/Predatory (non-nurturing) environments are not discussed as an either/or, but as a spectrum of more or less that changes.


I use an example of a former classmate of mine who had very limited access to reinforcement for prosocial behaviour in his home growing up. The result was that he did not know how to behave in a prosocial way to access reinforcement. The result was that he often engaged in strange, inappropriate behavior to get attention, and ended up being quite stigmatized and even bullied. And this was all observed in High School. It had long term implications.


Reflection and Response 2

About 8 years ago, when it was a bigger deal for a 8 year old to have an iPod touch a parent of an 8 year old friend of my daughters told me that the main reason why they gave her a new iPod was so that they had something highly desirable that they could take away from her as a consequence. Although there can be a place for 'loss of privileges' this is often overused as a way to impose consequences for misbehaviour. At school, if it is something like recess, free time, electronic device time etc. there are at least 2 important reasons for why it is problematic for students to miss out on these experiences. Often, the students who experience the consequence of losing certain privileges are also the students who want and need those experiences the most. Secondly, those 'privilege' experiences are also important opportunities for children to learn important behavioural skill sets. Students won't learn to regulate their behaviour, whether it is stopping and starting their time on a device or coming in for recess if they have limited access to experience success in those experiences. The use of kernels such as the timer, harmonica, red/green cards, activity specific Visions (e.g. recess vision at the doors) will be much more beneficial for the student and more quickly reduce problematic behaviours (beneficial for others including teachers) in those situations. Generalization is also much more likely to occur.


Using this example of a parent none of the participant know reduces the chances that they will become defensive, but is close enough to what happens in schools for participants to make connections.

Oct 10, 2018Edited: Oct 10, 2018

Reflection and Response 1

I like what Tim says about the spectrum of more or less nurturing environments. As a teacher, I've done a ton of reflecting as I dive deeper into my knowledge of trauma informed approaches. Teaching today is so multi-faceted and while it's very important to reflect on and make changes to INCREASE the nurturing environment in our classrooms, it's also important to take into account all the other things that teachers need to focus on (curriculum, professional development, student and family communication, standards and testing, etc.). We can't make big changes over night. I like to say "progress, not perfection." Increasing the nurturing environment is, however, "contagious". Once you see the relationships change for the better and see those at-risk kids respond and feel safe, you want to do more.

Really looking at each of the four parts of nurturing environment and how each one looks in a classroom setting would most likely clear up any misconceptions about it being too "soft" for both the participant and others in the room who might be thinking the same way.


An example I use for predatory environments is a story about how I myself don't always consistently reinforce prosocial behaviors in my 7 year old son. Henry has become a negotiator of all things. I think this may serve him well in his adulthood, but for now, it's not looking like a behavior I want more of in our lives. Each summer my husband and I give each of the kids $10 to spend at the pool concession stand. We were heading to the pool one afternoon to meet four other families, we were each bringing food for all to share. I told the kids that I didn't want them to spend their money today as there was plenty of food out. Henry came to me several times throughout the day asking to "spend just $1 on four crabby patty gummies." I said no each time. At the end of our day together I was feeling pretty good as all the kids got along and we were all going home worn out and ready to go to bed. Henry, who had done a beautiful job of getting along and listening to his siblings, came up one last time and said, "Mom, can I please get just ONE crabby patty before we go? I was so good today!" This happy mama said yes and off he went.

This habit of asking over and over until mom caves served him quite well here. It won't, however, in a classroom with just one teacher and 25 kids. And this habit will surely begin to bother his siblings and friends as they spend time together in groups where there isn't necessarily an adult to sort things out.


Oct 16, 2018

@pachinkathleen I would love to have this information: Really looking at each of the four parts of nurturing environment and how each one looks in a classroom setting would most likely clear up any misconceptions about it being too "soft" for both the participant and others in the room who might be thinking the same way. Since many of us are not classroom teachers, we think we know, but a "cheat sheet" from our teachers would get all of us on the same page and have a consistent response (obviously with some variety based on our audience). thanks

Oct 17, 2018

@jbaldwin1 Hopefully this helps:


Increasing Psychological Safety and Flexibilty through PAX Vision allows all students to know what to expect from eachother and what's expected of them, both generally and throughout the day (predict, monitor and reflect). Having expectations isn't "soft" it's nurturing. Also the Ok/Not Ok cues still allows for individual monitoring and self-monitoring, but in a nurturing, non-threatening way.


Reinforcing Prosocial Behaviors is probably the biggest "switch" we ask of teachers. Giving PAX Roles, looking for "the good" and GWPs might be a big change from what teachers are used to doing. I would encourage trainees to "just try it" and see that it really does work and that prosocial behavior becomes contagious.


Reducing or Minimizing Toxic Influences looks and feels like a peaceful "workplace" for teachers and students. It's not "soft" as the students are responsible for keeping PAX Quiet, Hands and Feet, PAX Breath, etc.


Finally, once teachers realize that they can Limit Problematic Behaviors with all of the kernals (and this is the part of the training where I can give real, honest feedback on the program, or ask for someone in the room who knows someone who uses PAX or uses PAX themselves with success) it's a bit easier to see that we are not being too "soft" on students, they are responsible for their own self-regulation as we teach it.


Hope this helps!

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Sep 30, 2018Edited: Sep 30, 2018

Reflection and Response 1

I'm very interested in PAX at mid school/high school. This spring I stumbled upon a lecture series by Brene Brown (one of her earliest books). In it she demonstrated what being "cool" feels like. She had the audience laugh, then sing, then dance, then "look cool". With permission from her staff, I incorporated this into my presentations at the Ohio Summit. Specifically, I wanted participants to understand that resistance by mid/high school teachers and therefore the students is not necessarily developmental, i.e. the students are too old for harmonicas.


What I have learned is few adults are willing to dance which distresses me greatly. This dance phobia is for another discussion. But they do laugh and sing and smile and video me dancing wildly but the point is made that being cool is tantamount to being shut down. This gives me a point of reference for everyone to have experienced the lightheartedness -nurturing experience vs. the non-nurturing, shut down cool pose. Then we can have conversation about how all of us regardless of our age need joy, laughter and silliness and that never detracts from one's position of authority.


I think this speaks to teachers and administrators we meet who are worried about the lack of consequences or what Dennis has said in being too soft. If we don't have rigorous, explicit consequences how will anyone learn to behave? When in fact, engaging in a Granny's Wacky Prize strengthens learning. This strengthens a student's concept as a competent student and a teacher's concept as a competent teacher and reduces the need for heavy handed implementation of consequences.


I've learned to also let participants know that they don't have to implement PAX in the same way I would. I would never expect an experienced math or science mid school or high school teacher, who has been successful, to completely change their style. I do think we are asking teachers of any grade to put on some rose colored glasses and notice more of the prosocial skills demonstrated by their students and to worry less about the negative behaviors. Not easy, but a worthy endeavor.


PS I have no idea if this gets to the point, I hope so.

Oct 2, 2018

Trina, Thank you so much for the reference to Brene Brown. I love her!! I am going to incorporate her explanation of empathy in an upcoming presentation.

Sep 30, 2018

Reflection and Response 2

I think the over-the-top responses teachers have to student misbehavior is often the result of 1) reaction to childhood experiences, or 2) habituated teaching behaviors. I know when I was in the classroom, when I was tired or hungry or not at my best, my mom's voice or sayings would come out of my mouth, practically unbidden. Sometimes that was good, she was very funny, but often it wasn't as she could be very acerbic and biting.


I find this to be a common experience with adults either with their own children or with their students and by sharing my experiences with the participants I'm letting them know their involvement with children will be imperfect and sometimes messy. Regardless, our students need our teachers as whole adults not just- 100% correct, 100% of the time -arbiters of justice. One of the many things that draws me to PAX is the willingness to let teachers implement as fits their personalities while at the same time we are drawing them away from a focus on the negative.


Which brings me to #2 habituated teaching behaviors. I think many teachers believe that if they didn't focus on the negative and have a system in place that delineates the increased consequences of a behavior, they lose their position of authority and they are not doing their job. Surly, if a student does X there must be a consequence.


Of course, there is lots of nuance here, but if as a new teacher I got a quick response from my heavy handed classroom management, then I am going to think that is the way to go. Our job is to help them see that there is a way to get the academic gains they are feeling the pressure to deliver and still maintain a sense of fun, lightheartedness and ease even in the face of the difficult task of learning new skills or synthesizing or integrating prior knowledge into something new.

Oct 5, 2018

I love this statement from Trina: One of the many things that draws me to PAX is the willingness to let teachers implement as fits their personalities while at the same time we are drawing them away from a focus on the negative. And this one: Our job is to help them see that there is a way to get the academic gains they are feeling the pressure to deliver and still maintain a sense of fun, lightheartedness and ease even in the face of the difficult task of learning new skills or synthesizing or integrating prior knowledge into something new. I try to focus on the increased learning time and the opportunity of having kids (and adults) laugh and smile in the classroom.

Oct 2, 2018

Response to Prompt #1

When challenged, in general, I always make sure that I gather enough information to fully understand what the participant is asking or saying. In this case, I would ask them to provide more information on what they mean by soft. Once they have had a chance to explain, one approach I have used is to share Terry Chadsey’s work on Kindness AND Firmness. I would agree with them that we don’t want children to experience what I believe they are referring to as being soft. Being soft would be what I call Kindness without Firmness or being permissive. I would go on to explain that a nurturing environment is not one without standards for behavior. In fact, the expectations/visons for behavior created in nurturing school environments typically hold high standards for what we want to see, hear, feel and do each day. At this point, I would invite the participant to talk more during lunch. I want them to know that I value their comment and that we most likely agree. It may just be the approach that is different than what we have typically used in schools.


I like to use two stories based on the pictures in “Inconsistent Limits”. The first one is the mom giving the screaming toddler a treat. I like to “throw myself under the bus” as much as possible when providing examples. This is one of those where I like to share that this is why my husband won’t take me to pizza parlors. I have a very difficult time controlling my urge to help parents when I see inconsistent limits in action. I will hear a parent say “no” and then after some fit-throwing the child getting a reward or what they wanted in the first place. I explain that this behavior becomes problematic and there are several strategies that will help but at the foundation is the Vision. By identifying PAX and Spleem behaviors, students can clearly understand what is always expected and in turn rewarded. The second is the boys playing a video game under the covers. I tell a true classroom story about a teacher asking 1stgraders how many sneak video time at night and then share how a classroom meeting using “What would a PAX Leader do” was so powerful in the discussion of the topic.

Oct 2, 2018

Response #2—

I use my own story of when I was earning my degree as a secondary teacher, I was 21 years old and my professor told me when I was hired and began to teach my own classes, I should never smile at the students until Christmas. I took this to heart and began my first year as a curmudgeon. It was ridiculous!! I was quick to write referrals, gave lots of nasty teacher looks, and was short with students asking for help. Luckily, after only a couple of weeks, I realized that I was angry and the students’ behavior was getting worse not better. I didn’t have many tools in my tool belt for teaching behavior skills but I knew that “not smiling until Christmas” needed to be removed from the belt. Through this story, I convey that we survive by using the tools that have been given to us. It was only over time that I discovered new tools that actually worked better for me and the students. The important point is that we are always curious and remain students of our practice.


I like to use my daughter’s journey (and I mean journey) of learning how to ride a bike. My husband and I thought the day would never arrive when she would be able to ride her own bike down the path with us. I explain how we started young with a trike, then progressed to a pink bike with training wheels. How we spent countless hours walking behind or beside the bike holding it because the tipping to the training wheels scared her and how we finally took her to a parking lot (level) to practice every night. It was the parking lot with the repeated practice where we finally experienced success. Now imagine if we had not provided training wheels, let her fall and then took the bike away because she couldn’t ride it without falling off.

Oct 3, 2018

I agree that not smiling until Christmas was ridiculous advice! Dr. Embry talks about how young adolescents, and pre-adolescents, are extra sensitive to adult cues (facial expression, tone of voice etc.) that may be perceived as hostile - including neutral expressions. I can attest to this with my 12 year old daughter. She often asks if something is wrong even if I am simply distracted, in deep thought or worried about something completely unrelated to her. I notice that her behaviour often tends to regress if my 'perceived mood' is not clarified. If not, I find that I become snarky as a reaction to her poor behaviour and the cycle begins. It might be good to have some of the scientific reasons for this in our back pockets when this comes up in trainings.

Oct 17, 2018

@tim Hostile attribution bias research about children who interpret social situations as hostile, particularly if they have been abused, is also interesting when thinking about peer interactions and teacher-student interactions. Practical implications when thinking about PAX!

Oct 2, 2018

I love the picture of training wheels. It provides a great visual that many of us share.

It‘t the perfect picture of how we want teachers to grow in their implementation of PAX. Training wheels first then speeding down the hill with the streamers flapping (I loved my streamers almost as much as the playing cards clothes pinned to the spokes).

Oct 7, 2018


Reflection and response 1

I would start by thanking the participant for speaking up so we could talk about this important concept he/she and others might also have. My answer would probably depend on where within the workshop it occurred. Was it at the beginning, when limited knowledge of PAX is evident, or later after we have talked about the kernels and game? Claire and Tim had great responses that I will probably use if put in this position. Let’s define the 4 components of a nurturing environment and emphasize “nurturing” as positive, not “soft”, and helping the children be successful students so they can learn.

I want to talk about inconsistent limits on problem behaviors. I have a student teacher with a kindergarten student that hits, bites, refuses to work, and yells. Mom admits they let her do what she wants at home because it is just easier on the family. The student teacher is PAX trained and used PAX in her summer job. With this little one they brought out the OK/Not OK card and used it consistently for about three weeks, with a consistent schedule and consistent expectations for doing school work. I went back to the school about three weeks later and the teacher sees me and grabs my arms to tell me they had a good day and they got three pages of the math workbook done because of that consistency for weeks. (No, I don’t like workbook pages for a K student, they don’t either, but that’s the curriculum. My student teacher is working on making it more hands-on).

Reflection and Response 2

I feel an over the top behavior management strategy is the “clip chart” – and it doesn’t matter if it’s a 3 color (green, yellow, red) or a 5 color, the concept of moving your clip has never been proven to work. The ‘good ‘ kids are always on green, the ‘bad’ kids are on the red before the first hour of school is completed, and they have nowhere to go or nothing to lose by being “good”. The clip charts can also be dramatic/traumatic for some students, who are always “good”, but something happened and they got moved to yellow. Their anxiety level just sky rocketed to out of control and they will not be able to concentrate on school work as they are on YELLOW! If teachers routinely moved kids back up the charts, they might not be so bad (still bad), but I don’t see this ever happen.

How would I convey this to a teacher in a non-threatening way? I would acknowledge how difficult it can be to be a teacher when there is “one of those kids”, but I would also try to get them to strategize as to when and why this happens. Let’s go back to the function of the behavior (not do an FBA, at least not yet), but why is the kid doing what he is doing. I would then suggest the use of non-verbal cues (a picture schedule if the issue seems to be transitions and not knowing what is next), the OK/Not OK card to help catch them in the beginning of positive and not-so positive behavior and work on that self-regulation skill. Hopefully this can become a PAX classroom and the teacher will use Mystery games and people to catch him being “good” and be a hero in the class.

Oct 11, 2018

Those clip charts are very very common. I try to ask similiar questions to help gently ease teachers into realizing that they just don't work. As a teacher myself I've used themso throwing myslef under the bus is easy here!

Nov 14, 2018

Clip charts make we want to cry. I hope to keep approaching things with the data. Look at data and see if it really makes a difference. Even what we think can be coddling or over-giving of trophies can have unintended consequences. I heard a study yesterday that showed " A study found students who were awarded for perfect attendance went on to have more absences than their peers who weren't given the award." (https://www.npr.org/2018/11/13/667285010/how-can-schools-better-persuade-students-to-show-up-for-class) So too harsh or too soft, we need to always keep assessing what we are doing. What is the evidence showing what works or doesn't work? I think having an example of both sides of the approach that didn't work and did work can earn credibility that we are not just blowing soft steam. Data driven decisions over gut feelings and assumptions.

Oct 11, 2018

Response #2

Recently, my second grader came home from school upset because he forgot his library book on library day (it was August, he hadn't even gotten a good handle on his special days like gym and library). He told me he had to miss his whole recess the next day. I asked him some questions and learned that he would have to stand on the wall, and that he hates his teacher for "doing this to him." He wasn't making the connection between a late book return and recess, even in his little brain this was clearly not a logical consequence.

I bit my tongue and told him but put his book in his bookbag for tomorrow and do some wall push-ups and squats during his time on the wall. Turns out that isn't okay, he literally had to just stand there for 25 minutes.


If I was teaching one of my children how to make macaroni and cheese, I wouldn't stand by and watch as she put the butter and cheese in before draining the water and say "Nope, not that way." If that is the only "help" I've given her she still wouldn't know to drain the pasta first. I wouldn't say "too much butter" if she decided to add a whole stick or "you're doing it wrong' as she adds enough milk to make it soup. Error response wouldn't work in this situation, just as it doesn't work in academics. I would then ask some trainees to offer up different ways of teaching the art of making mac-n-cheese and help make the connection between this skill and self regulation skills.

Oct 15, 2018

Response 1

I tell this story about “expose to toxic influences” during my training. I had a student that told me one day how his dad took him to the movies over the weekend. I was so happy and actually quite surprised because Dad came in and out of this student’s life. He sometimes showed up for events but most of the time had some excuse for being absent.

I said “that must have been fun”. “What movie did you see?” Thinking maybe something animated or possibly the latest super hero movie. “Well we went to see It

If you are unfamiliar with this movie it is a very graphic, scary, and bloody movie that even I would never want to see.

I usually continue with story to say “the good news is this student spelled the word It correctly on his spelling test”. “The bad news is he decided to play killer clown during recess and talk about the movie constantly”.

This exposure led to inappropriate interaction with peers and an understanding of his own behavior in the classroom.

I would recommend using “I’m A PAX Leader” activities with this student so he could be praised for appropriate behavior and peer interaction. I would encourage the student to recognize the PAX he did and the PAX in others.

I would also use the OK/Not OK cards to give private feedback for behavior. This would help the student understand PAX and Spleem behaviors at the appropriate time (behavior guardrails)

Granny’s Wacky Prizes would also allow the student the opportunity to practice appropriate interactions with peers in times of excitement. We would review the vision with wacky prizes and practice how to start and stop appropriately in a safe environment. The student would then be praised for effort in demonstrating PAX Hands, PAX Voices, and self regulation.

Of course… Tootle, Tootle, Tootle!

I bring up this story because we may think of exposure to toxic influence as physical violence, drug usage, poverty, hunger. This student was experiencing toxic influences through an inconsistent home life and exposure to violent images and language.

Oct 15, 2018

Response 2

Anytime I talk about retribution or error response I throw myself under the bus. I talk about how when I would take students to the restroom I always had the same student that would constantly touch the walls as we walked. I would respond "J quit touching the walls. " "Stop touching the walls buddy." "Remember hands off the wall". "We talk about this everyday no touching the walls".

Now I was really good at telling him what I didn't want and how many "squirrels" do you think I had coming back from the restroom? Yep, about 6.

I realized I was really good at telling J where I didn't want his hands but I not once told him or modeled where I wanted them.

I would drawing so much attention to the error that the children that were actually doing it correctly weren't reinforced. There was no pay out for doing it right.

Oct 17, 2018

This is great! I also love to debrief about the lunchroom video where the student models the right way to sit at lunch.

Oct 17, 2018

* * Reflection and Response 1 ***

For teachers who are concerned about PAX being “soft” as it relates to the nurturing environment, I find it beneficial to reiterate that a nurturing environment is not an environment free from expectations. Similar to what Kathleen has shared, I then discuss that clear expectations (established through Vision and reinforced through predict/monitor/reflect) are nurturing because clear and consistent expectations help to increase psychological flexibility. This puts teachers at ease when resistance stems from fear of the teacher losing control over the classroom etc. I also find it helpful to have teachers share some of the current practices they are using to promote nurturing environments and help them to realize that they are already doing so many things that are PAX. Validating their current strategies as nurturing helps with resistance during this part of training.


When talking about limited reinforcement of prosocial behavior I talk about how the “class clown” is reinforced for acting out or being silly at inappropriate times when their peers laugh. The disruptive behavior continues because students continue to laugh and I explain that what we pay attention to will increase. This is a great example of a student who needs some reinforcement for prosocial behavior and needs behavior specific praise. If I can create more opportunities through Tootles, GWP’s, Ok/Not Ok for the class clown to get reinforcement for showing PAX or being a PAX leader, then I will likely see more PAX from that student.

Oct 17, 2018

* * * Reflection and Response 2 ***

When I want teachers to reflect on their current practices for addressing behavior I like to give the example of a student who always gets recess/gym time/rewards withheld for behavioral consequences and discuss how delayed gratification cannot be taught through denying gratification. Jeanette gives a chocolate donut example which I have used – I cannot expect a student to work hard for something they have never had the chance to experience. This connects nicely to scaffolding and making sure that everyone gets the chance to participate in GWP’s, especially during early implementation as well as making sure everyone has a chance to be successful before increasing PAX game time etc.


In order to help illustrate the importance of teaching behavior as a skillset, I have used examples of children learning to tie their shoes. They have to be shown exactly what to do and we have to model for them many, many times before they get it right. When children do not get it right, we do not tell them to forget the shoes and go barefoot forever – we are patient, we practice, we model and we keep trying. I also like to connect the concept of teaching behavior to discussion on predatory or non-nurturing environments. Many times, I have told students to be quiet or I have told students they are being too loud; however, this is not helping them to understand the appropriate voice/noise level. I have assumed that students know what I mean and can meet my unclear expectations. It was not until learning about childhood trauma that I realized that students might come from an environment where the voice level is always 10-foot with family chaos and yelling etc. The opposite can be true as well where some children are told they are to be “seen and not heard” and they may have trouble asserting themselves or advocating for themselves. Using PAX Voices to teach children about appropriate voice levels is just one more way to tie everything back to a skillset.

Oct 19, 2018



Typically, I have found that when participants challenge the idea of a nurturing environment it speaks to their own experiences and perspectives of the world. Because of this I usually won’t challenge them or put them on the spot. I typically say something like “thank you for your perspective, I think as we move through what we mean by “nurturing vs predatory environments” we will all have a better understanding of how we aren’t talking about coddling students but rather creating a place where all students can thrive despite some children’s considerable adversity” and then tell the heckler (ahem…participant) that I would be happy to discuss the differences in more detail at break.


One example to demonstrate the impact that inconsistent limits on problematic behavior/toxic environments can have in a school is really very simple and pulled from my own childhood. As I kid I did not have parents who were attentive to my needs. Often times, as young as 7yrs old, I would be left to “fend for myself” when it came to dinner, bath, homework – typical nighttime routines. This often meant I ate junk food or went without dinner, I stayed up too late, and I do my assigned homework. In elementary school this usually left me irritable at school because I wasn’t physically prepared to be in the classroom and also behind academically. However, as I grew older and more competent at the skills needed to care for myself my behavior shifted. By 5th grade I had developed an “attitude problem” at school. Today I think I would have easily been labeled “ODD.” I was especially sensitive to redirection. My perspective was I have to be the boss at home and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get bossed around by some teacher at school. Often times it felt more like an attempt to embarrass me in front of the class. I think that if I had been afforded the opportunity to do a PAX Vision I could have expressed my needs and given the teacher some insight into my world. I also think the OK/Not OK cards would have helped me immensely when it came to redirection.



I get a lot of push-back surrounding clip charts. Although I know that there is no solid research on clip charts being effective I have found that participants get very defensive if I use that as my retort. Instead, I usually frame something that goes like this – “let me ask this [to whole group], is it fair to say that your students did not all get the same ‘early human training’ [a term I use throughout training in reference to the behavioral/social norms we expect children to receive]?” Most participants laugh and agree that their students often do not learn these from their home environments. I then, to the whole group, go on to say something like “so would you make a student clip down for missing a question on a quiz or not knowing all the sight words on the assessment? Because we agreed earlier in the training that behavior is a skill-set that must be learned so aren’t we essentially doing the same thing? Penalizing the student for a skill they have not learned or a skill they are working to develop?” In my experience it goes over gently and somewhat playfully and it easy for the participants to digest. I continue to say that, aside from the possible emotional and/or trauma reaction to the very public display of clip charts, what is it teaching? Moving a clip may work in the short term (although it likely causes more long term issues than it resolves in the short-term) but how is the student learning the appropriate behavior? How do systems like clip charts teach the replacement behavior?


My daughter just entered kindergarten and has to learn something like 80 sight words before the end of the year. We can easily spend an hour a night doing homework and working on academic skills. I am not skilled at teaching (I’m not a teacher) phonics and I have thought to myself more than once “this must be how teachers feel about dealing with behavior in their class.” It’s not my sandbox, I’m forced to spend a lot of time on it, and it gets exhausting for both me and my kiddo. We have both ended homework time in tears more than once. How much more effective do you think my working with her on sight words would be if every time she got one wrong I took away 3 minutes of playtime or maybe I could put a dry erase board on the fridge to display the number of sight words she got wrong so that her dad, her sibling, and any visitors to the house could see it and know how poorly she is doing with this particular skill.

Oct 25, 2018

Francis, that's awful for both of you! Talk to Bridget or me for some painless ways to learn sight words. I'll send you a link I found.

Oct 20, 2018


Reflection and Response 1

I would also like to echo an appreciation for Claire's response on the focus on the four characteristics of nurturing environments. But also the importance of viewing predatory/nurturing environments on a spectrum as Tim mentioned. I like to actually put a visual up displaying "predatory" at the far left and way at the other end on the I display "nurturing". When focusing on the characteristics for nurturing environments I actually direct them to the manual on Page 9. I ask my participants to closely look at the diagram. Notice the four characteristics written in bold. Circle the characteristic they feel is the most important in building a nurturing environment and think why they feel that way. I then say we will use PAX stix to share a few out. This is a real nice opportunity from the get go to establish an open forum for discussion (trust), participant involvement, use of kernels, and provide first hand examples of how many of them are establishing a nurturing environment currently in their classrooms. I discuss how these are the PAX strategies we use daily to help create peace, productivity, health, and happiness ..a nurturing environment. Then I direct them to notice where the various kernels come in to play and their importance for each characteristic. This visual also does a real nice job of showing how all the kernels then feed into the GBG. So my focus indirectly moves the participants away from the "soft" concern by redirecting to the Nurturing environment with established characteristics and kernels.


Reflection and Response 2

As a former physical education teacher I was always bothered by the teachers that responded to errors by assigning "laps" to students who didn't complete their homework, missed an assignment, or some other lapse in making a "correct " choice. On the same line of reasoning assigning writing 100 sentences for poor choices. The student immediately begins to relate laps to negative behavior rather then a healthy option for mental and physical healthy and writing sentences as negative rather then a creative way to express themselves or relax through writing.

As for the non academic skill set...I'll use myself as an example. For me it was learning how to drive a stick shift car. It was something that needed to be broken down into bite size pieces..yet I had to do everything at once. Learning how to hold the brake down while releasing the clutch and not too fast otherwise my father would get whiplash. Oh and when on any kind of an incline such a challenge...and my dad patiently talking me through what to be ready to do...knowing when to shift from the 1-2..or and reverse was another story. I'd try to park the car so I never had to try to find the R...Every step of the way I needed to be reminded..practice..and guided. My dad had to basically scaffold this entire process for me 45 years ago before scaffolding was ever even heard of.

Oct 24, 2018

* * * Reflection and Response 1 ***

A nurturing environment and a soft or coddling environment are not synonymous. One main difference between these terms is that a nurturing environment is developed and reflects trust between a child and adults (and others) within his/her environment. It is essential that in a nurturing environment that there is capitalization on teachable moments. That is, instead of a “pound of flesh” or simply wanting to enact a deleterious “consequence” for a child who exhibits an error in behavioral learning, there should be a skills-based approach to competency development. This issue came up at a recent training whereby a participant thought that a neutral response to spleems meant “no response”. People often tend to respond to behaviors in schools as they remember it happening; the strategies used may or may not have been based on evidence-based approaches and sound trauma-informed perspectives, as reflected in Claire’s response of students being sent to sit in a hallway. As educators, we must “do no harm”, as a professional expectation. Ensuring that participants have a sense of nurturing environments, and neutral responses to behavioral errors, as being part of the teaching and learning process is essential for buy-in, as the importance of a nurturing environment cannot be over-stated because they can literally alter the trajectory of a child’s experience in school as well as life outcomes.


Exposure to toxic influences can be pervasive for many students. I like to address the notion of code switching, whereby a student may have developed a set of behaviors for survival in some contexts, yet those behaviors are not needed and unwanted in certain settings. For example, aggression towards peers or yelling/talking back with adults begets more conflict and disrupts the classroom environment and school climate. Using PAX Vision can be extremely helpful in having students identify with the teacher what expectations are for specific activities, transitions, etc. This ensures that everyone is on the same page at least in the context of that situation, which helps with cognitive flexibility.


* * * Reflection and Response 2 ***

As a PAX Partner, I encountered several teachers who were seemingly wedded to their clip charts. I realized over time, that the clip chart was a strategy that they knew because they had seen it or had learned of it from someone else. In higher education, teacher preparation programs do not address behavioral support. Hence, teachers begin and continue their careers in this area using practices that may or may not be effective. It is essential that we broaden the tool kit for teachers beyond these less effective strategies, such as the “don’t smile until Christmas” mentality that Teresa mentioned. The clip chart was retaliation. The student was shamed into moving the card (if this directive didn’t cause another power struggle) based on when the teacher’s tolerance threshold had been surpassed or strategic reserves were low. We must be strategic and instruction focused for skills to develop or our approaches quickly devolve into respite for the teacher rather than instructive for the child.


This prompt reminds me of the tongue and cheek phrase common in workplaces that states: “the beatings will continue until morale improves!” At home, when the double sink of dishes is full, I am triggered by the sight of it based on the setting event that I don’t feel as though I have time right then and there to address it. From there, I engage in an unsolicited speech at my husband about how “we have a dishwasher so there’s no excuse, etc.” That nagging has not been sufficient to cause behavior change (surprise, surprise!). Function-based thinking and problem solving must ensue.

Oct 24, 2018

I think you all did an amazing job responding to these questions and there isn't much to add. I appreciated Kathleen's response around understanding the pressures/stresses that today's teachers are under. We need to be real careful about our responses and not "blame/bash" teachers for some of their skepticism. I love how many of you tell stories of your past mistakes. We don't want to tell our non-examples using other teachers as examples. It can come across as superior and judgmental. Throwing yourself "under the bus" helps teachers relate to your experiences. I tell many stories of my teaching days both with and without PAX during my trainings and all of the non-examples are about me. I'm not saying all teachers do this, but when I was a teacher attending a PD on classroom management/SEL/Trauma-Informed/etc. I would determine rather quickly if the presenter could actually handle my classroom. If I thought they couldn't it was hard for me be attentive, which is why I think the value of real life experiences with implementations are important to engagement.


I also really thought jbaldwin1 response was important to realize where in the training this "soft" concern came up. Brooke's response is also where i would tend to reply to the concern. Teacher's already create a nurturing environment (even before they implement PAX). Also, just as Brooke said, a nurturing environment does not me an environment free of expectations and accountability. I appreciated how everyone helped support the teacher who asked the question.


Response 2:

The clip chart. Many of you gave the same evidence I do about the harm these cause. I also talk about the many inconsistencies in the implementation of the clip chart. Some of you may have heard my Shawn story when I used a version of the clip chart. During this story I tell my fist year teaching experiences and how the chart progressed from a baseball strike system, to a clip chart, to a clip chart with numbers, to a pocket color coded chart (yes all in one year-speaking to how these do not work). Then when I gave a break to a student (because of the situation), but the following Monday not giving Shawn the same break. Let's just say chaos happened. The story is very detailed (some would say humorous)when I actually tell it, but it illustrates the inconsistencies of the clip chart. I often also tell a story about my twin sons experiences with the clip chart how one came home on green and was crying and did not want to ever come back to school because he thought his teacher hated him (1st grade). Yes you read that right he was on green (meaning he did everything he was supposed to do). The problem was his brother was on purple (two higher than green). I also emphasize that this was the best teacher they have had so far and the teacher only used this practice because everyone else was and she never thought anything of it. When I told her this story, she removed the chart and no longer uses this system.

The two questions to ask: Are the same kids always on red? - They usually are which basically proves the ineffectiveness of the clip chart


If we don't do it for academics, why do we think it is okay for behavior? - We don't post reading levels (or other academic "levels"), why do we post "behavior" levels.



Nov 2, 2018


Response #1:

Claire seems to have summarized the “soft and nurturing are not synonyms” very succinctly. My thoughts are these: When a participant brings up a point, as one might do in ascribing the adjective “soft” to a nurturing environment, it’s important to acknowledge the participant’s contribution to the training or to the discussion, much as we acknowledge students’ input when we are teaching. I want to remember that when participants add, question, disagree, etc. in a training, it indicates that they are engaged. Now, maybe they aren’t engaged in the way we would wish them to be engaged and that’s where our skill as a trainer will come in. Many of you have very deftly suggested strategies how you might help them “frame their thinking” about soft vs nurturing. I appreciate these strategies as they can become part of “trainer toolkit.”

Others have written that when an attendee responds/adds to our training conversation, it provides a window into the way they are thinking. It might be inviting to the participant to acknowledge that our initial reaction to describing an environment as soft might be very reasonable. The trainer and audience could easily think of when nurturing is “soft, ” i.e. a parent cuddling his infant, compassion when a child has skinned a knee, a listening heart when a teen-age break-up has occurred, a father walking his daughter down the aisle. After the discussion of soft and nurturing environments, the trainer could turn the discussion when nurturing is not “soft,” i.e. setting boundaries when a child’s activity is likely to cause harm, teaching children to share, describing to your son why the comment/joke he made might be viewed as racist or sexist, explaining to your high-school daughter why she may not attend a frat party on the local university campus.

When teachers have not seen PAX in action or have just heard or seen bits and pieces, they don’t have the total picture and have not learned the background. When teaching the kernels, I think it’s vitally important to tie each the kernels back to the nurturing environments and help participants see that connection.

Nov 2, 2018


Response #2:

As I read the question, I kept thinking of the mantra I needed to use when I was teaching: Parents want to do a good job. Did they always? No. It’s the same with teachers. The majority – the vast majority – of teachers out there want to do a good job. Many of them want to do a very good job and think they are. And you know what? They are doing a very good job. Could they do better? You bet! I think it’s important to look at cause and effect.

When you’re in the classroom, there are the pressures of your 30+ students with their five languages and twenty of them qualify for Title 1 reading support, and your students have IEP’s and 504’s and one has petite mal seizures not infrequently and teaching is driven by the state-mandated test and there’s an assembly on Wednesday when you are taking the afternoon off. Bring in personal levels of stress: emergency dental work on Wednesday because your jaw is killing you, a disagreement with your beloved prior to leaving for work, a seriously ill older parent or perhaps worse, one of your children, someone in your house – a much loved person – ate the last of your yogurts and you don’t have lunch today, and you just found out your teen-ager went to a party last Saturday where the cops came and a bunch of the kids were “given” MIPs (Minor in possession).

Why do teachers engage in behaviors that don’t impact all students positively (clip charts)? Because they’re trying and they don’t know differently. Because the school or the school district has said, “We are doing ‘this.’ Because your principal comes around to make sure you are doing ‘this.’ Because you’ll get a nasty gram if you as the teacher aren’t supporting what the district/school has implemented. And maybe, just maybe, this form of behavior mod appears to be working with some of your students. Who’s it “working for?” Yeah, the kids who already know how to self regulate. The rule followers. The kids who like the teacher and want to make him/her happy.

I think it’s very important when we train to point out that PAX helps kids learn to self-regulate (and really point out to attendees the variety of times throughout the teaching of the kernels when self-regulation is being practiced by kids) while “other” behavior modification strategies are put on/laid on kids by adults. Self-regulation serves to empower our students vs behavior mod when we as the teachers are trying to regulate the students’ behaviors.

Wrapping this up, why did I use “assertive discipline” (Names with check marks and yeah, Angelo would get up to 13 check marks a day)? Why do teachers use clip charts? They don’t have any other strategies and they really are truly trying to do their best. As we all know, PAX provides a set of strategies for teachers to do a great job. We just need to reach these teachers.

Nov 14, 2018

And so way late, I finally get on here.


Reflection #1

I often get the question at trainings about the coddling or being too soft, and if I don’t, I bring it up because I know someone out there is thinking it. I go back to SAMHSA’s identification of Trauma Informed Care:

Trauma Informed Care means we seek to do the following:

1. Realize widespread impact of trauma and understands potential pathways for recovery.

2. Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system.

3. Respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures & practices.

4. Seek to actively resist re-traumatization


I explain that we have done a good job with #1 & 2 above so far in our culture. We REALIZE there are traumatized students. We are all VERY aware of that. We are even learning to identify the symptoms. But it is in #3 and #4 where our culture has not been well trained as of yet. We love these kids. We want to hug them and love them. But we know that is not enough and often don’t know what to do next.

But what we have been often been doing so far is loving them with “tough love” and telling them to “pull of their boot straps” or giving them punitive consequences in hope that we can scare them into a better world.


While that may “work” for some, it does not necessarily mean strong emotional health, social skills or community skills have been developed. Science is showing us that in many ways, the brain is biologically shutting down with our aggressive attempts to show tough love and may be producing anger, not more love.


It may mean only survival skills have developed. We want our children to have way more than just love and hugs. We want to give them SKILLS for thriving and that is what being Trauma Informed is about. To RESPOND with procedures and practices to GIVE skills to thrive, contribute to society and to RESIST re-traumatization. PAX GBG is intended to give teachers the tools to do just that.


As examples of predatory environments and how they might affect a child in the classroom , I pause with the slides in the training presentation of the predatory environments. I ask the participants to look at each individual picture and think of that child or someone on that home coming to their classroom the next day. For example, the awful, dirty kitchen sink- a child comes from that and we tell them to clean up their desk and get mad when they don’t. The boys under the sheet looking at the computer- how will they act in your classroom tomorrow?


Re: the dirty-sink home child: I would go with PAX Leader and the PAX Motto. I better myself and better my world. Ask the whole class about desks and how we can better ourselves/world at our desk. Then break it down. Maybe each day pick ONE part of the desk to work on. Give lots of thumbs up/ Ok to the student who had no idea of how or why to keep a clean desk. The conversation and project with the whole class (Tier One) gives purpose for all and especially with our Tier 3 (dirty kitchen sink) child without singling him/her out.


Then I throw myself under the buss and tell them that even “good” parents can’t prevent all predatory environments. Our Wii was off limits after 8:00 pm and in the basement. Our kids were in bed by 9:30. We had good limits, or so we thought. Until we found out a year later that after we went to bed, the boys snuck down into the basement and played on the Wii for hours a night. So even though parents do try, all kids have predatory environments.


Reflection #2

Teaching through error response: something that seems to kick in is to keep drawing a bunch of seeming random lines one by one and telling my “students” that when they see this line, then, this line, then this line, then this line…… and then a line cross this line, THEN they are to draw two circles on top of each other. 4+4=8


I draw each line separately and they don’t see the fours or plus sign until almost the end. Math can’t be learned that way, simply on memorization of when and how lines come together. They won’t learn to transfer mathematical thought elsewhere in life.


The point is, when we give kids a bunch of rules for the cafeteria, and the bus, and the classroom and the hallways and the office etc., it may seem like a bunch of random lines to them that they have to remember and try to remember the correct sequence for when to draw two circles.

That is how we teach behavior. Lots of rules to remember. In some ways, I think even PBIS does this in its most rudimentary form. And that is where I love the confluence of PAX and PBIS. PBIS helps adults vision for the entire school what a wonderful school could be.


PAX Vision give a toll for the teachers to teach purpose. With PAX Vision, teachers lead students to look at each situation within context and to think about how to better the world in THAT situation. They can guide the students to the uniform school expectations, but they are getting the STUDENTS to vision and think. PAX Vision avoids telling kids to memorize lists of rules in different situations. Then students can transfer that concept to many situations and learn to think for themselves to better the world and not be dependent on the PBIS matrix which isn’t always available.