Class Dojo Isn’t the Problem, We Are if We Choose to Run it Poorly.

ClassDojo-IconClass Dojo and I met last summer. I learned about it at a tech conference, checked it out, quickly and readily got acquainted, and began using it in my Tech classes. It went well in Tech, so I decided to create Dojos for my 5th grade class as well.  Since I started using this behavior management program, I haven’t read anything about Dojo – no need to; my relationship with Class Dojo has been good and strong. Well, the other day I came across a tweet (that led me to an article) that perked my ears up and got me thinking.

reject dojo

I do not think ClassDojo is the problem. Plainly, I like Class Dojo. I see many benefits to the program, but I also see how it can be misused by teachers, which yes, is a problem. Personally, I’m loving my classroom management system and I like how Dojo fits in. I’ll repeat that – I like how Dojo FITS IN.  Class Dojo is a part of my classroom management system, not the whole shabang. Class Dojo shouldn’t be utilized as the sole behavioral system in a grade level classroom. I understand the negative culture that this could unintentionally create.

If you’re unaware, get with it! Juust kidding. If you’re unaware, Class Dojo is an online behavior management program that allows the teacher to award points for good behavior. Each student is assigned a Dojo (or monster) at the beginning of the school year, and each student’s Dojo collects points.  In my class, the students enjoy this program and I find it to be a positive and helpful tool. I use this program primarily for positive reinforcement, but I will, at times, also use it to document negative behavior and multiple warnings.

I use Class Dojo, Positive Discipline, and take-home communication (weekly reports) in coordination with each other. It may sound like a lot, but it’s not. I take the good I see in each program and use it. Each part has a different purpose and they fit together beautifully.

Classroom Management (1)

Here’s how I utilize Class Dojo in my classroom, along with some suggestions.

Class Dojo

  • Used to award points to students for arriving to school on time, good behavior reports in specialty classes, setting a good example, participation, etc.
  • RARELY used to record negative points. If I choose to use it, it may be because I’ve given multiple warnings to a student and I do not feel the behavior warrants a clip adjustment (parent notification). I’ll record the negative point because I want it on record that it was an “off day”.
  • If recording a negative point, TURN OFF THE SOUND on your computer and make sure it is disconnected from Smart Board. This will be a pain if you frequently record negative points. In my opinion, this is incredibly important. There’s no benefit to shaming students. You can have a private conversation that will be much more beneficial. The negative point should be for documentation purposes only.
  • If I’m at the point where a negative point must be recorded, I’ve probably already conferenced with the student. BUT, I will conference again to help guide the student back on track. Negative points and clip adjustments always come attached with a conference in my class. We meet discreetly, and by using many methods from Positive Discipline, conferencing/discussions/listening is so common that the other students don’t pay any attention to it.
  • In my class, Dojo is for behavior only. I do not mix academics and behavior. I recommend keeping it strictly behaviorally. No negative points for late homework, poor effort, etc – there are better, more purposeful systems for that.
  • I do not give individual rewards.
  • I add a new Dojo class each trimester, so students start new each time.
  • Each trimester the entire class is working towards a total class goal. For example, the class may work to receive 2,500 points during the trimester.
  • The reward isn’t a thing, it isn’t tangible; it is an experience. My favorite class reward (and a huge hit with students) is an independent study day. If the class reaches the goal, then we will have a day where students decide what they would like to study/create. I’m given a week’s notice, so I can create individual lessons and make sure I have the materials. Students can do anything from create a personal website to having their own “read-in”. They can do anything they choose as long as it will work in the classroom environment. I’m able to find academic benefits to all of their choices. Independent study days are a reward for students, a valuable learning experience, and a pleasure for me to facilitate.

Students are encouraging of one another in my classroom. They are not competitive with Class Dojo. I believe this is because I set the standard and use other systems in coordination with Dojo, they are not working towards individual rewardsand I’m running a safe and healthy class environment.

Bottom line, Class Dojo can work. Class Dojo can be used in a positive manner where students find it fun, appreciate the positive reinforcement, and support one another. It isn’t all bad. Class Dojo isn’t the problem, we are if we choose to run it poorly.

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