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