Class Dojo is a classroom management tool that is so much more than just a behavioral monitoring tool because it is engaging, visibly appealing and allows you to build student portfolios, share information with parents and document academic skills as well as behavioral issues. For me Class Dojo is an easy way to send friendly reminders to students to refocus their attention or a way to reward students for using academic skills we have learned like annotating or citing text evidence when speaking in class.
And yes, of course it is also a behavioral management tool. It forces students to take ownership of their behavior because instead of using class time to rebuke or explain behaviors to students you simply tap the screen and notify the projection of their avatar losing points shows the student to refocus. It is a benefit to have parents be able to see that not only was their student a great participant in class today but they can see a detailed view of the behaviors practiced by their student like being a "power writer" or being "on task" or "being kind to another student". The benefit is that these behaviors are also tailored by you customized to the class you're teaching. You can focus on different skills or behaviors in each class you set up. What's important in my classroom may be different than what another teacher is looking for. This is a tool with a tremendous amount of flexibility.
Believe me, I was skeptical when I first used this tool. After years of teaching just twelfth graders, I was tossed into a tenth grade classroom in the middle of the school year. When it came to their history class, I was their third teacher that school year which meant that they had experienced little stability. The scenario was new for all of us. So I looked for tools that would help me manage this large class quickly so that we can focus the majority of our time on our learning. While I was open to trying this new tool that a colleague told me about, I wasn't sure that it would work. The reality was that it got my students excited. We set class goals that led to chocolate bars or extra credit points and very quickly I saw my rowdy classroom of thirty fifteen year-olds transform into a room of engaged historians. Of course I credit the classroom environment, the daily task-lists and the engaging study of Global History with much of that as well but I certainly saw how Class Dojo monitored what we did during the class day.
Last year in my tenth grade Jewish History class I also aimed to use Class Dojo as a way to set clear expectations of positive and negative classrooms behaviors. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement that my students had and how eager they were to learn. While Class Dojo helped us transition into our class norms in the first days of school it became clear that it was not a tool that we would need to use on a daily basis. In fact, it was one of the best school years I've ever had. I'd like to credit this change in attentiveness to the meaningful curriculum we were now delving into but I also know that it was the nature of the students in the classroom.
We are just a few short months into the school year but I'm already beginning to whip out Class Dojo on a daily basis having had to reintroduce the tool to my newest tenth graders. This is the reality of teaching. Every class, every group of students that walks into your classroom interact different with one another, each has its own set of experiences and stories that they carry into your classroom, each has its own set of talents and academic needs, and therefore each needs something a little bit different from you, the teacher. I encourage you to keep experimenting, keep finding what works. But at least give Class Dojo a look.