Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How ClassDojo Saved The Universe (Or At Least My Classroom)

Starting this year in my kindergarten class, I felt that I needed a very basic classroom management system...something that the kids could understand. I decided to go with your basic stop light pocket chart. Are you in green? You've obviously been good. Yellow? Watch yourself. Red? You've lost all control and are making terrible choices...punishment will be coming your way. This worked for a month or so. I wrote notes home to the parents of students who were misbehaving, and I only had a handful of students who ever reached that red pocket. The physical reminder of getting up, walking to the chart, and moving the card seemed to be doing the trick. I just didn't feel good about it.

Fast forward three months. With the encouragement of my principal, I started using ClassDojo for behavior management. Starting out, I gave students points for everything. You made eye contact...you get a point. You pushed your chair in...you get a point.  You did not talk in the hallway...you get a point. I felt like Oprah handing out her favorite things, except my favorite things were ClassDojo points. The kids loved ClassDojo. They picked up on it quickly, and loved collecting points. Especially when I attached weekly rewards to them: 20 points gets a sticker, 30 points gets a prize from the prize box, 40 points gets free iPad time, 50 points gets lunch with me in the room (oddly enough, this is the prize most sought after). Plus, the little monsters that they use as avatars are really popular (there's even a ClassDojo student app where kids can personalize their own). Behavior improved. It. Was. Amazing. I was able to reward the kids who were doing the right thing, instead of focusing on punishment for doing the wrong thing. Since then, we've adjusted, and settled into a routine of how the kids get points or lose them. I can't tell you how much better it makes me feel to be looking for the good things going on in my room, as opposed to being on the lookout for the bad things.

The Monster Magic is real, folks. Check it out here.

Now, ClassDojo offers much more than a classroom management system. I can track attendance, make behavior notes, and communicate with parents as well. Parents who sign up to use the ClassDojo parent app (using the code provided when you're logged into their website) can see their kids' behavior in real time. Little Johnny's helicopter parents can stare at that phone/tablet/computer all day, watching his points fluctuate up and down if they want. There is also a messaging feature, where teachers and parents can send messages to each other without exchanging phone numbers. This is useful for a variety of reasons ("How is Little Johnny getting home today?", "Little Johnny punched a kid and got sent to the office this afternoon." "Little Johnny forgot his glasses today, he will need to have them tomorrow."). Parents can stay in the loop, and teachers can avoid lengthy phone calls or notes home (not that I'm against those...but they are not needed for everything). 

ClassDojo turned things around in my classroom, as far as classroom management is concerned. It streamlined everything, made it easy, and made communicating with parents stress-free. It's a winner.

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