Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

I Dislike ClassDojo

on August 6, 2013

Look around Twitter, teacher’s blogs, and technology conferences and everyone is aflutter about how wonderful ClassDojo is.

Here’s the thing though; ClassDojo is just a high-tech behavior chart.

It has the ability to add points for behaviors you want to reinforce, and take away points for behaviors you want to stop, and gives you percentage graphs of “good” and “bad” behaviors.  It’a flashy behavior chart that does some math with the data you plug in.

I’m not a huge fan of giving rewards or punishments.  Both are their own brand of bribery, and students should do what is expected of them because it’s the right thing to do.  Not because they earn a sticker if they do, and they lose some of their recess if they don’t.

If you’re wondering how to get your class to behave, here are some better solutions than a behavior chart like ClassDojo:

  • Build relationships with your students.  If they know you care and really want to help, you will have earned their respect and they’ll be that much more willing to do what you ask or expect of them.
  • Be crystal clear about your expectations (even better if you gave valid reasons behind them), and stick to them.  Enforce your expectations, every time, by repeating the procedure until it is done correctly.  Expect it to take a lot of extra time upfront, but it will save tons of time all year once your class knows you will not accept less than their best.
  • Talk to your students about their choices when their behavior is unacceptable.  Try to get a sense of their motivation behind the behavior.  Was it just that they didn’t realize they were doing something they shouldn’t?  Were they testing boundaries?  Was it an impulsive response?  Was it malicious? (It happens, but in my experience, most kids don’t do many things maliciously.)  Use their motivation to guide you on how to handle the issue.  Talking about why something is unacceptable may be all a student needs.  For an impulsive response, helping to show a student how to take a moment and consider actions before doing something they may regret can be helpful.  Some situations may require some kind of consequence, and when that happens I prefer logical consequences (read my post about how classroom management has evolved for me over the years here.)
  • Remember that you are teaching human beings.  No one is perfect, and kids have had much less time to figure out what to do to be successful than you have.

You don’t have to take my word for it though, here are some other teachers who have blogged about firing their behavior chart and how it’s gone for them:

Miss Night at Miss Night’s Marbles

Matt Gomez wrote about his Reward Free Year

Edited To Add: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on Twitter for this post.  Some has been in agreement, some has been other educators telling me about how they use ClassDojo for tracking all kinds of things without using it as a behavior plan.  I agree that with a little creativity, this tool can be used effectively for other things.  My issue with it is the intended purpose and how it seems that the majority of teachers use this tool: as a digital behavior chart.  If you have a different use for it, I’d love to hear about it!

Read my follow-up post: I Dislike ClassDojo – And What I Do Instead

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10 responses to “I Dislike ClassDojo

  1. Mark Moran says:

    ClassDojo feels one step removed from a zap collar around students necks that teachers can operate with a hand-held remote. It is the ultimate proof that too many classroom technology decisions are not made with the best interests of students at heart.

  2. AMRedden says:

    I use it as a communication tool. I customize the behaviors with feedback that I want the parents to hear. It automatically emails them every Friday.

  3. Ian Williams says:

    The guy who made it is totally smug and full of shit – I wonder how long he actually spent teaching in the classroom – all of 5 minutes I bet!

  4. Ian Williams says:

    Hmm .. . ok . . so google it – The Bedley Bros. #EdChat Ep. 13: ClassDojo’s Sam Chaudhary

  5. So you don’t use any kind of behavior reinforcement or consequences in your classroom? I am genuinely curious about this.

    Also – just because one uses Class DOJO does not mean they don’t build relationships, reinforce their expectations, talk about behaviors 1:1 with students, or allow for imperfections from their students.

  6. So you don’t use any kind of behavior reinforcement or consequences in your classroom? I am genuinely curious about this.

    Also – just because one uses Class DOJO does not mean they don’t build relationships, reinforce their expectations, talk about behaviors 1:1 with students, or allow for imperfections from their students.

    • I do sometimes use consequences, but when I do, I use logical consequences and/or bibliotherapy to help the student see how their actions impact others. Really, a lot depends on the situation and what seems to have been the intent of the behavior. What it boils down to is that I don’t have blanket consequences of “if you do ___, your consequence is ____” regardless of the situation. I’m sure there ARE teachers out there who effectively use ClassDojo as a tool, but the obvious intended purpose is my issue.

  7. musingrunner says:

    I use class Dojo to reinforce the academic behaviors that I want students to display. It is also a great way to communicate with parents.

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