Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ClassDojo: A School Approach

I have just started my second year of teaching at a small but very energetic school in South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  I was lucky enough to complete my graduate internship here in 2010 and this year will be my second year as a full time qualified teacher.  Last year I taught Prep, which is similar to kindergarten and in 2012 I will teach a multi-age class grade 5/6.

Throughout my years at university I was always interested in behaviour management strategies and their impact on students inside and outside of the classroom environment.  A big focus for me as a teacher is assisting students in developing understandings of how their behaviour impacts on others.  Last year I decided to work with my students on understanding and owning their own behaviour.  I have the belief that every behaviour a student displays has a function.  You can’t change behaviour, but you can assist students in developing skills to manage their own.

Like many teachers, ClassDojo has assisted me in providing students with a personalised behaviour management system that provides students with real time feedback on their decisions. In 2011 I implemented ClassDojo half way through the year and saw immediate changes in my students. (Read my story here http://bit.ly/w5QQwZ). 

This year I have the privilege of being the ICLT Coordinator for my school.   I have worked with the staff at my school to implement ClassDojo right throughout the school.  We discussed as a staff how the program can assist the behaviour management systems we already use in our classroom and have worked hard to tailor the program to suit each individual classroom.  So far the feedback has been very positive. 

Here are some of the steps we took when implementing ClassDojo across the school and in my own classroom.

1. Add the students into the system and negotiate their Avatars.                                                            
This was a great way to talk to students about what they wanted with their Avatars.  We found younger students loved when their own headshots popped up onto the screen when they got a point.  This was very personal to them and assists them to build ownership of their behaviours.  The older kids seemed to like the monsters.  In some classes they even drew their own Avatars, scanned them into the computer and the teacher uploaded their creations to ClassDojo.  Very personalised.

2. Negotiate the Positive and Negative Behaviours.                                                                                      
From the get go we believed as a staff it was important to negotiate what the positive and negative points were in each classroom.  We found that what was important in one classroom wasn’t as important in another.  We also found that students have a different perception of behaviours and how we word them.  When we all sat down and discussed with students what they wanted as positive and negative behaviours in their classroom. We found that they were very engaged in the process of building their ClassDojo system.  Children owning their own behaviour is a very powerful process to see.

Our Building Behaviours
Negotiating Behaviours is integral if you want students to own their behaviour.

3. We started with Positive points only.                                                                                                                              
During the first week we introduced and built the systems in each classroom with our students.  As teachers we decided that we would ease students into the process of real time feedback of their behaviour.  We started awarding positive rewards only.  Once students were comfortable with the systems place and function in the classroom we talked with students and began to award negative points as well as positive points.  We found this process assisted students in beginning to manage their behaviour.  This can be a tough process for children to grasp, but ClassDojo assists us daily with assisting students in developing the skills to do this.

4. Reflection and Review are the keys to success.                                                                                           
We are now in week four of Term 1.  Most teachers have continually talked with their students and reviewed the positive and negative behaviours.  Some have added more and some have taken some away.  We believe the key to promoting student ownership of their behaviours is involving them in adapting the system to suit the needs of their classrooms.

5. Have fun and reward students for their hard work.                                                                                   
A lot of teachers including myself have negotiated with students rewards for their hard work.  We believe that for students it is a massive task to own their own behaviour as well as completing every other task we throw at them throughout the school day.  We have negotiated with them a “cash in” system.  In my class we cash in points for time on the Xbox Kinect on a Friday afternoon.  In Prep they cash in points for free time in the school playground.

Even though our school year has just begun, ClassDojo is a major part of our schools classrooms.  Daily you can hear the sounds of positive points ringing through the hallways.  Our biggest success is assisting students in developing the skills to own their behaviours.  Watching it happen is a powerful experience, one that I’m very proud to be a part of.

Leave a Reply



Play some Tetris!

Or try some Pacman!