Class Dojo is a behavior management system that tracks behavior, motivates students, and instantly connects with parents. It’s very simple, but very effective. I feel compelled to share my experience with Class Dojo with all teachers now, as it has changed my life as a teacher in the few weeks since I came across it while perusing the iTunes app store.
As a relatively new elementary specialist teacher, I struggle with classroom management. In many schools like mine, a culture has developed that teaches students (and some teachers) to think of their specials classes as something other than “real” school. It can be very difficult to change an idea like this. No matter how much written work I assign and how high my academic standards, behavior and effort issues need to be dealt with directly. But how can I do that with seven classes of students who are in my classroom for only 75 minutes per week and who all come from different classroom management systems where they spend the vast majority of their week? By using Class Dojo!
Class Dojo is a very simple system. The teacher sets up an account, imports class lists, and determines what positive and negative behaviors they want to track. Each student is assigned a very cute monster icon. When a monster is tapped on in the app (or clicked on if using a computer), the lists of positive and negative behaviors appear, the teacher taps (or clicks) the behavior that is being observed, and a point is added for positive or subtracted for negative behavior. The teacher can also enter comments about each behavior recorded, although only in an internet browser, not from the app.
The Class Dojo system automatically generates a unique code for each student and for their parent/guardians. Students can create their own accounts online, which will allow them to see their behaviors that were recorded, and even more exciting, will allow them to customize their monster icons. The parent accounts give viewing access to behaviors and comments that have been recorded regarding their child. If a parent has more than one child in this system, they can enter each child’s parent code to be able to see all of their children in one parent account. Class Dojo automatically emails each registered parent a weekly summary.
The system is so simple that it can easily be fit into any classroom’s discipline system. My school uses PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). We have three school-wide rules: Be Safe, Be Kind, and Be Responsible. When a student is caught showing exemplary compliance with any of these rules, any staff member can give him or her a “golden ticket.” The golden tickets are exchanged in the school office for a plastic coin, which all of the students love to have! Some classes collect them and celebrate in some way when they reach a pre-determined number of coins.
I combine Class Dojo and PBIS in my classroom. The students in each class are collecting Class Dojo points toward their class total. I use the “Select Random” button at least five times during each class period, and assess whichever student is chosen by the app and a point is either added or subtracted from the class total. If there is any exceptional behavior, I will record that in Class Dojo, whether or not the student is randomly selected. If all of the students enter or exit the room in a quiet and orderly way, everyone in the class gets a point. When a class total reaches fifty points, they earn a golden ticket. The ticket is traded in, and the coins are stored in the music room. When a class has collected ten coins, they earn a music fun day! We’ll spend a class period playing music games, dancing, or whatever other musical fun the class decides that they would like to do.
My only complaint about this system is the negative points. I prefer to only reward positive behavior rather than punish negative behavior, but as a music teacher, I have trouble finding consequences for bad behavior that I can enforce. Some classroom teachers will enforce consequences if they hear a report of poor behavior in music class (missed recess, less playtime, writing an apology letter, etc.), but others don’t. It’s great to have the support of classroom teachers, but I don’t want to have to depend on them. However, I have no way to create any consequences at all after their 25 minutes in my room. Although negative points are not ideal, they serve the purpose of providing a consequence for negative behavior.
The students love tracking their points and are very motivated to monitor their behavior. As of the end of this week, one of my classes has already earned their third golden coin!