Darndale teacher on new classroom games: 'The class is so much calmer, the atmosphere is so positive, I don't need to reprimand them'
Classroom based games that reward children for good behaviour can significantly improve the attitudes of students and bring about a more peaceful and productive learning environment in class.
A game-based programme which was implemented in 21 classrooms across Ireland in early 2015 has proven to be a success with many teachers claiming that it's the "most effective intervention" they have used in their classrooms.
The PAX Good Behaviour Games (GBG) trial was carried out on first and second class students in DEIS schools across north Dublin and the midlands over a 12-week trial.
Through the programme, students are taught to recognise the difference between negative and positive behaviours and the effect they can have on the classroom.
They're encouraged to examine the conditions that bring about negative behaviours, in an effort to generate self-management and self-regulation, and rewarded for demonstrating positive behaviour through classroom-based games.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive in the schools that took part with teachers reporting less disruption in classrooms, more engaged students and a more positive relationship between teachers and students.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Denise Carter, a teacher at Our Lady Immaculate Junior National School in Darndale in Dublin, said that she was shocked at how effective the programme has been.
"My students took to it immediately. They're so much more focused in class, so much more attentive and they're nicer to each other," she said.
Denise said that the PAX GBG programme benefits all students, regardless of their abilities in the classroom.
"They all love it, they're always talking about PAX in school and at home and you can really see the difference it's brought about.
"The class is so much calmer, the atmosphere is so positive; I don't need to reprimand them," she added.
The evaluation across 21 classes found 29 per cent of students demonstrating more challenging behaviour moved into the normal range after just 12 weeks. Students also appeared to be less stressed and less hyperactive.
There was a 43 per cent decrease in disruptive, inattentive and unengaged behaviours according to Professor Mark Morgan and Margaret O'Donnell of St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra.
The positive results have led to the organisations increasing the number of students partaking in PAX GBG to 2,000 with an additional 40 teachers being trained this term and 40 more in early 2016.
The researchers are now hoping that the PAX Good Behaviour Game (GBG) will be expanded to disadvantaged schools and evaluated in more detail over the next two or three years.