Kernels and Cues

How should I respond if I notice another staff member using kernels and cues inappropriately?

Respond carefully, in a PAX way, and not in a way that would embarrass or shame or belittle that staff member—especially in front of the students or others. I prefer to ask permission from the person to notice something.  For example, I might say something like: “I noticed you using PAX Quiet yesterday, which is really great. Would it be OK if I gave you a tip on how to make it work better?”  When you ask permission like this, most people will say yes, and they won’t feel so defensive that they can’t hear your advice.

Can I delay the prize until it is a more convenient time to give it?

At first you need to give the prizes immediately, to “hook” the students. You can then start to delay the prize to the end of the lesson or a convenient stopping point.  Remember, the very short prizes of ten seconds can do wonders for reviving the children’s attention, as voluntary control over attention takes a lot of brain energy. See what works for your kids.  If it works to delay the prize, that's fine. Delay becomes easier to manage as the students get older. It can work well to do the prize during transitions.

How do you manage peer-to-peer Tootles so that everyone gets some?

Create a list of randomly paired (with some direction on your part if needed) Tootle Buddies for the week or day. Each student is supposed to look for, notice, and write about his or her partner’s PAX behaviors.  Many teachers put up a word wall of character traits or PAX Behaviors to notice—to sharpen the skill of discernment in students about the diversity of PAX behaviors for peace, productivity, health, and happiness.

How long should the prizes be?

Generally speaking, shorter is better. Sixty seconds, for example, for some really exciting activity is likely to be too long—with the kids not being able to come back down from the excitement. Remember, we are using these exciting prizes as a way to teach self-regulation under conditions of excitement.  Now, banked prizes can be much longer. For instance, students may be banking their smaller wins to “buy” a bigger activity, such as a wearing pajamas and slippers to school on a Friday.

Which kernels can be adapted (e.g., replacing PAX GBG words with words that are already used school-wide to identify unwanted behaviors or to signal quiet)?

This is a tricky question to answer and one that you will have to test empirically. If you eliminate the words PAX and Spleems, the entire strategy will not work as well because those words are chosen to prompt generalization and maintenance.

What are the most important kernels and cues to use?

All of them, but PAX Quiet is absolutely essential. Hand clapping, whistles, chimes, gongs, shouting, etc. are simply not as effective. Beat the Timer is essential for playing the Game and awarding the prizes. The use of the terms PAX and Spleems is essential. And PAX Voices works better than other voice cues, especially compared to “ssshhhhiing” and telling children to “be quiet.”

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