Be the change, being a teacher, being me, building community, classroom management, punishment, rank, Student-centered, students

Let’s Discuss Class Dojo For a Moment

I get asked a lot about my feelings about Class Dojo and whether or not I use it.  I think it has to do with my very public stance on the use of public rewards and public punishment, which can be a component of this program.  So I am finally taking the plunge; let’s discuss Class Dojo for a moment.

I have never used Class Dojo, which is why I hesitate to give my opinion, yet that very opinion is why I won’t use it.  My first hesitation is cemented in the public ranking system that it uses. As a parent of a child who often has more energy than her peers, I can only imagine how she would feel if her name was constantly shown to be on the bottom because she is that kid that talks out of turn or gets out of her seat.  Ranking her would not help her curb those behaviors, nor make her more aware, she knows already, she works on it every single day, and yes, she feels bad.  She is also 6 years old and can only focus on so much at a time.   As a teacher who gave up public punishment and rewards five years ago, I don’t see the need for any child to know how another child is doing in a class.  I don’t think it fosters community. I don’t think it makes kids feel good about their role in the classroom.  I know that some will argue that having a visual reminder of how they are doing, much like a public behavior chart, is just fine, yet the parent heart in my breaks.  Visual reminders of consequences is one thing, but having students names attached to the levels of behavior is another.  Yes, kids should be held accountable for their actions, but if we use a system that often ranks children and we don’t see a change in their behavior then that ranking does not work.

My second hesitation is the time factor.  I cannot imagine spending time in my day entering in behavior information for every child and handing them points for both good and bad behavior, even if there is an app for my phone.  I cannot imagine trying to track student engagement through a program, I track that through my eyes and my reading of the classroom all the time.  I teach 130+ students, if I had to enter points or take them away every time they did something good or bad, that is all I would do.  Plus, in my own experience with point systems, I almost always forgot to award good points which meant that once again my focus was just on the negative behaviors.  Praise, in my opinion, should be delivered immediately and be sincere, not entered on a computer.  I have seen kids light up because I noticed something they did, and I have seen praise spread from child to child just because someone said something.  While behavior is an essential part of our day it should be an undercurrent, constantly running, not a major focus all day, every day.  I wonder, does this program bring behavior into the spotlight so much that it takes up more time than it needs to?

My third, and final, major hesitation is the direct communication to parents through the reports.  I am a huge believer in thorough parent communication, but I wonder whether parents need to be able to check on their child’s behavior every single day, every single moment.  I think back to my own school days and my “off days,” where I was glad that my mother didn’t always know.  Not because she would punish me if she did, but because it gave me a chance to have an off day and still be ok.  To change my behavior because I wanted to, not because I was told to do so by my mother.   I also worry about those few kids that do face major consequences from parents if they are seemingly misbehaving.  Those students where any small infractions causes physical harm or deprivation in their home environment.  Sure, this does not happen with every child, but for some it does.  Class Dojo highlights it product with this line “Get parents informed and on your side quickly and easily.”  Yet, I didn’t know parents weren’t on our side, or that sides even had to be taken?  If parents are on our side, who are we fighting against?  The kids?  Finally, as a parent, I would not want to know how my child does every single day.  I trust that she is having good days unless I am told otherwise.  She is often the first one to tell me if she gets in trouble, which leads to a good conversation about choices.  If I knew every single day about every single thing, I wonder how hyper-focused I would become?  What would my focus be when my kid came home from school?

Yet, within my doubts about the positives of this program, I have also met good teachers that have implemented it in a meaningful way, where they have not used the ranking, nor made it public, but rather used it as way to track behaviors within the classroom.  I have discussed it with teachers that have made the program their own and swear by it.  I am not here to judge those teachers, but instead start a discussion.  So if you are one of those teachers, please add your voice, because in the end, I wonder whether a program like Class Dojo is good for students?  Not for teachers or for parents because that is not who school is for, but for students?  Is this program, or something similar, re-engaging students in their classrooms, creating positive learning environments for all, and creating permanent changes in behavior?  Or is it one more tool to punish those kids that already have enough negativity associated with schools?  What do you say?  What is your experience?

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

63 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Class Dojo For a Moment”

  1. I don’t know much about Class Dojo but based on what you said here I don’t want it in any school my grandchildren go to. I would rather uses approaches to motivation that fit with Pink than Skinner.

    1. i am a student who has a teacher who uses Classdojo and for me it was a great way to behve better and improve

    2. I just started using Dojo this year. I do not log the negatives, only the positives. I also do not show the class how many points other students have. I praise students and remind everyone that the class is earning Dojo points. I chose the option where parents only receive positive comments. It takes seconds to award points to a student or the whole class. It comes with pre-set categories and teachers can also create their own. This system also includes wonderful educational videos on empathy, growth mindset, and more. Parents love it and it has a much easier communication tool than email. So, to be fair when I didn’t know what it was, it seemed cheesy. Now that I know the system, I think Dojo provides wonderful positive reinforcements to children and great communication with parents. It is all in the way the teacher chooses to use the system.

      1. How does it work for you to keep the points private? I want to do that but I also want students to be able to see the points they have individually.

    3. I absolutely LOVE CLASS DOJO! I have 2 girls, one in 4th and one in the 3red grade and have used Class Dojo every year. On top of the facts that I love their school and its amazing staff, principal and teachers are passionate and appreciative of parent involvement, implementing the Class Dojo as a tool really supports all of the above people’s efforts in providing education to each student in a positive and happy environment. There’s no public show of “status” other than positive accolades posted on the home page running bulletins where things like student of the week or month, completion of programs like Lexia or moving up a level, contest winners and things like that, which in my opinion, should absolutely be acknowledged. The points given or deducted from each individual student may only be viewed by the parent and of course the issuing teacher. I think it’s great to know how out children are doing each day/week in school NOT for tje purpose of punishment, but to keep track of behaviors that may be in need of attention be it disciplinary action, parent council or heart to hearts and simply addressing any issues or feelings the child might have that may otherwise have been missed or unattended to. For tje purpose of being present and mindful of how our children are doing in life and securing their happiness and ability to learn and grow to their very best potential. We are all so busy with things pulling us in every direction throughout every day. Its wonderful to get notifications and reminders of everything happening with school from ordering yearbooks and school shirts, picture days, fundraisers and special events and plays and ceremonies. Also the staffs ability to get the word out for help, donations and volunteers is easy and effective! The teachers can simply tell the student to add or subtract their own points as it happens via a class tablet and as far as other kids being aware, well they’re already aware of another student being disruptive or misbehaving and knowing such behavior will cause accountability is needed for their integrity. It’s done and over and all move on. Positive behaviors may be audibly acknowledged and this is also needed for young minds in developing good character and integrity as well. There are probably several more great things I could go on about but I think that sums it up for me. Thanks for reading. (Gold star for you!😁🌠💫⭐😉

  2. I’ve used ClassDojo for the past couple weeks – not as in-depth as what you described here. I enjoyed the random selector aspect of it and my freshmen enjoyed that they each have a monster and it was more fun than my previous selector tool for different activities. I pretty much just use points to positively encourage behavior, and it’s been a fun thing during our Romeo and Juliet unit because the kids are split into the family groups and they’ve been competing for behavior, participation, etc against the other groups.

    I am definitely in agreement with you on the public ranking system being negative and the over-use of this product. It’s not attached to any of my grades or parent contacts – typically just for a fun interactive tool. Thank you for always being focused on what’s best for kids.

      1. I totally agree about reporting it to others. I don’t display points or notifications or sounds for negative behaviors, I started that way but quickly realized like you have that displaying “points” or behaviors publicly is not the right thing to do. If you don’t display it all you have is a record of behaviors, similar to how a teacher or any other professional might be evaluated by a supervisor. Then that supervisor would start a conversation during an evaluation.

      2. Does your principal pull you aside daily and say, ” I liked the way you gave the students a choice in project assessment, but the way you handled Tommy’s tapping during instruction needs to be improved.” Daily. Daily.

      3. If my principal was observing me every day then I hope that she would give me feedback on how I was doing, otherwise what’s the point of her being there? Luckily I am there everyday for my students so I can give them feedback on a daily basis. Unfortunately I’m in a large middle school and my principal can’t get to my room very often. I wish she was in my room more frequently, I like having other professionals in my classroom observing and giving me feedback. In fact, the math coach at our school just did an observation of one of my classes and afterwards we reflected on what went well and what could be improved, a really healthy and helpful process. Everyone makes mistakes and can improve in different areas, and I like to encourage students to reflect on that just like I do. No one is getting pulled aside for “Daily. Daily.” conversations, but the observations and data are there for students and me to reflect on.

      4. My guess is that reflection upon classwork is not entered into Dojo, but instead, is communicated directly to the student via oral or written comments. It’s behavior; which means to extend the analogy, your BEHAVIOR would be logged almost daily. We all want feedback to improve, but sometimes our student feedback is negative. If a student doesn’t respect you, daily behavior checks become demoralizing. They may be appropriate for inmates or behavioral problem students, but doesn’t recording daily behavior in a permanent record not sound demeaning and unnecessary to you?

      5. Wow I don’t think we could disagree more which makes for a really rich discussion, I think that’s terrific!
        I think behaviors like effort, focus, participation and work completion are the key to successful learning. Those are the types of behaviors that I keep track of in Class Dojo so that students, parents and I can reflect on them and see if we can draw a correlation to those behaviors and how much a student is learning. I find if students can work on improving those behaviors then the learning of mathematics takes care of itself.
        As for the analogy you extended, I think it would be completely appropriate for my principal to keep track of whether I put effort into my lessons, if I was focused during class, if i was completing my work on time and if I was participating during my lessons. As long as there weren’t rewards and punishments tied to it, it’s just there to reflect upon and to use for self-improvement. It’s the same for my students, they aren’t getting rewarded or punished based on that data, it’s just there to reflect upon, It’s very similar to a grade book, students don’t get rewarded or punished with grades, in the words of Wormeli they are just a report of the learning you accomplished (assuming the teacher is *fingers crossed* keeping behaviors out of the grade book).
        To answer your final question, I don’t see how keeping track of whether a student was working hard or completed their assignment in a permanent record like class dojo is demeaning, I find it completely necessary for multiple reasons. Like I said earlier, these behaviors are what’s going to determine (to what extent depends on the individual student) how much math a student learns in my class.

      6. I disagree. In my experience, behavior tracking becomes petty and don’t you think a child knows if he’s giving his best effort? I’ve definitely used systems like this, but found I had a better relationship with my students without it. Maybe some people would like to have a daily observer and provide feedback, but it would become quickly overbearing and unnecessary. I guess I just enjoy autonomy and found my students appreciated owning their own progress or failures. Best of luck to you.

      7. Yes you are correct that a student knows when they are giving their best effort, but I find that my 12 and 13 year old students don’t always make the connections between their daily effort, participation, and work completion and their assessment grades. i know it took me a long time as a student to truly make that connection even though it seems obvious. If a student does poorly on a test it gives us a chance to review their behaviors during that unit and see if we can make a connection between the two.
        I also consider completing homework a behavior choice and enter it into Dojo so that parents can see if their students are completing homework, do you think it should be kept a secret from parents if their students aren’t completing their work? Would you feel more comfortable if that was kept in a traditional “grade book”?
        I think you’re right that if it’s misused it could harm relationships with students. I’ve not found that my relationships with students have been harmed at all by class dojo, I’m the teacher who uses it the most yet students often cite me as the teacher they feel most comfortable with, so I guess that’s really going to depend on a case-by-case basis.

        If a teacher is not a “daily observer” then what are they? Should I be a “weekly observer”? monthly? As a parent (or student!) I believe I would prefer to be able to see how my student is performing on a daily basis. Not that parents have to check daily, but the option is there. Pernille made a similar comment in the original post and I’ve heard teachers say similar things like “that’s too much information for parents” or “that’s too much detail”. My question is, what are we trying to hide? So if a parent wants to know how there student is behaving or performing in class I’m supposed to say “well I’m only going to tell you once per week or per month, until then you’ll have to just wonder.” To me that doesn’t make sense. I know parents understand that students will have “off days” just like we all do, so again what are we afraid of sharing with them?

        Cheers to you, Atlas, I’ll be sure to check out your blog. Do you have a twitter feed I could follow?

      8. Oh I almost forgot to mention, the whole point of this system is to encourage autonomy and ownership of behaviors.

  3. I agree. I have seen student have negative scires with a range of 30 in the classroom.

    I don’t mind token economies for behavior management but if you use them only award points. Never take them away. Displaying them for public display isn’t right either.

  4. I use Class Dojo to take attendance as well as random chooser. I do not have the time in my day to constantly be rating the positive and negative behavior of my students using the points system, but I have tried using it with one or two students to change behavior. The student would meet with me after the first half of the day and we would discuss what went well and what could be improved and both of us agreed on how to score. This was repeated at the end of the day. In this way, the parent was kept informed of their child’s behavior and there was a sort of visual record of points. It has been a useful program for me at times, but I have to say, I am not a regular user.

  5. Class dojo doesn’t have to be a public display, kids and parents can only see their own behaviors. It becomes a public display when a teachers displays it for everyone on the projector. I power of class dojo comes from the positive behavior features. How often do you call home when students do small acts of kindness in the class? But using something like class dojo allows parents to see these things and that goes a long way to helping students. Just some thought here.

    1. Also, if you use the IPad app it can be very quick to add behaviors. You can also go back and take away negative behaviors as you evaluate how the day went, you can also add the positive behaviors you see in the hallway, cafeteria, etc.

    2. I see some of your points, however, we do positive postcards once a quarter for each kid plus other communications so as a team we have found ways to make sure parents know we see the small acts of kindness and the growth.

      1. I’m sure parents enjoy getting those postcards, but didn’t you raise the issue of time? It would take me a long time to produce postcards for each student to send home, and that’s only once per quarter, not exactly timely feedback. I can take a few seconds and enter something positive a student did into Dojo and the parent can see it that day.

      2. Neal, Yes, the time factor is big, however, I worry about the time it would take to make sure I enter something in every day for every kid, or even once a week. Plus, I am still not sure that parents (or at least me as a parent) need that much feedback about my kid, hmm, this is good, it is making me think.

      3. You wouldn’t necessarily be entering something everyday for each student, at least not something “special” or out of the ordinary and that’s ok. But when my whole class is working hard and everyone is generally “on-task” I take 5 seconds to hit the “select all” button and hit “on-task”, then I verbally tell the class that I’m proud of them for working hard and staying on task. It’s not a time sink. Those unusual or special behaviors do come less often, but they certainly come at least a few times during a quarter so you’d be doing fine as far as the post-card-per-quarter goal is concerned.

        I also find entering “homework done” or “homework not done” gives parents an easy way to find out if their student did their work for that day without mucking up with gradebook with zeros for late grades for HW’s when the gradebook should be reserved for grading evidence of learning, not behaviors like HW completion.

      4. You’re right, this is good, and it’s making me think, too. Especially as someone who tends to mentor other teachers who are getting started on Dojo at my school I’m realizing I don’t emphasize enough that teachers shouldn’t be displaying the data

  6. I absolutely agree with Mr Adam. Take a look at my blog post about using Class Dojo in a time efficient and effective way. The random button allows me to reward students for positive behaviour that might not get recognised otherwise. I also align the behaviours I reward with our school’s core values. Each week I reflect on my use of the app: Class Dojo tells me how many positives and how many needs improvement I have awarded. In every class I might give out two or three ‘needs improvement’ out of the 100 or so positive behaviours I acknowledge. Like you I teach around 130 students and I find it a really effective way of engaging with the quiet students who are doing the right thing almost all of the time but rarely get the acknowledgment.

  7. Great discussion! I’ve been Classdojo all year with all three of my 6th grade classes and it has been going very well. The parents who use it, love it. Not every parent has signed up for it and of those who have there are those who even communicate with me using Classdojo. I’ve been noticing that it’s more convenient for them than email and Remind didn’t offer parents a way to message me, until now, so Classdojo was the best way to ask me questions.

    The way I use Classdojo is only for parent communication. The thing I hear year after year form parents is that they don’t want to be surprised by something their child is doing in class. During the beginning of the year kids were checking their Classdojo accounts but those who were always getting positive feedback stopped because they already knew they were doing well and those who were getting negative feedback, in other words, things they could improve upon, didn’t check their accounts because they either knew they weren’t doing as much as they could or they didn’t want depressing news. So I never show the class other student’s feedback. I have however, at first, shown the class the whole class report that shows how the class is doing as a whole, like this:

    I only give feedback to all or most or even only some students two to three times per week. I do it when it’s convenient, obvious or necessary. By obvious I mean when I can see what all or most kids are doing well, I give everyone that feedback. if there were some kids who struggled, I give them that feedback too. Just as Neal pointed out, there are kids who don’t connect doing no work and doing poorly in my class. They often make excuses such as, “I don’t get Science,” or, “I don’t like Science,” or, “this is hard.” We are a standards based school so if a students meets standard I don’t care if he or she did any work leading up to it. Why make a kid do work on content or skills he or she already possesses? On the other hand, for kids who don’t meet standard, they and their parents benefit from knowing if the reason they aren’t meeting standard is that they aren’t doing the work. That’s way different than a kid who does the work and doesn’t meet standard. I can help that kid learn but for the kids who aren’t working it’s a purely behavioral problem because we don’t know if the kid could meet standard if they tried to learn it.

    The parents who love Classdojo benefit from knowing how their child is doing whenever they want to check. Classdojo sends parents a reminder email on Friday asking them to see how their child is doing so parents can check weekly or less often if they wish. Classdojo is so versatile that you can use it anyway that makes sense for you. I also enjoyed the fact that I can add behaviors so that the feedback I’m sending home is specific. My most often used feedback is the on task or off task one because middle schoolers are all about socializing, as part of growing up, and when they aren’t doing work they aren’t going to learn the material or the skills we’re practicing.

  8. I am curious how the courts would feel about student data being recorded out of the realm of the school district and passing through a third parties servers. Does this not violate student confidentiality?

    1. This is a concern, Gary. There are so many cloud-based programs we are having students use that record some sort of data about them. ClassDojo is FERPA compliant so as far as the courts go they’re all set.

    2. In many cases, how the information is stored is not the issue. The real issue becomes publicly displaying the points. Even when actual student work is displayed on one’s walls, the grade should (and in many cases legally must be concealed). Publically ranking students could be construed as a violation of a child’s rights.

      Secondly, (and in the case of my son) teachers have to be mindful of the consistency with which they are looking for behaviors for which to award points. If a child gets 5 points one day but only 1 point the next, a parent may take this to mean that their child was not behaving as well on the 2nd day. The truth may actually be that the teacher was not giving as many points on that 2nd day.

  9. I have been using ClassDojo for the past 4 years and love it. After reading this opinion of ClassDojo, I must say that the person writing this does not have all of their facts. I guess it’s hard to have them when you haven’t used the program.

    I teach 3rd grade. Yes, I use ClassDojo for classroom management and parent communication. I have never seen it as a public ranking system. I keep ClassDojo running in the background. I give points and yes take them away, but only as a last resort. Students only hear the sounds and that is all. Actually, one positive sound causes the rest of the class to follow directions and then they get points. I do post ClassDojo for my students to sign into the attendance part of it in the mornings. I do post it at lunch time so my students can check their points. As far as fostering a community, I feel it does. I have students actually helping others to earn points by helping them clean up, or reminding them of classroom rules. They clap for students who get participation points, they say, Good job,” to students who work hard to manage their behavior. I feel that ClassDojo is no different from a public behavior chart, except I DON’T have it up for everyone to see all the time.

    As for the time factor, what time factor? It takes about 15 minutes to set up a class. I use the App on my phone. I’m not standing there all the time giving out points. My students earn them and when they do I tap on their name and tap on the point category and its done. No time issue here.

    As for parent communication, to me there is no hesitation. I have 22 out of 23 parents signed up. They automatically get their student behavior reports delivered on Friday. They can see how their child is doing on a daily basis. It helps parents to chart their child’s behavior so that they can see when their child is having issues. I have had kids come in to class the next day with smiles because their parent saw that they got points for being helpful or on task and the parent was proud of the child. Parents can email me to ask a question and know that I will get back to them quickly. I have used it in conferences to show parents how their child’s behavior has turned around, 52% positive at the beginning of the year, to 83% positive halfway through. I send my Friday notes home through ClassDojo in English and Spanish. I send pictures of activities (no pictures contain the students faces) along with a question for the parents to answer in order to keep them active in their child’s education.

    I’m sorry that you have issues with ClassDojo and you haven’t even used it. I would suggest you try it at home with your child to see how she responds. I’m sure it will be positive. No one says you have to give them a reward. The points sometimes are reward enough for some kids. In my class I have it tied to our school wide behavior system. I love ClassDojo! And for the person who was concerned about privacy, you need to read the companies privacy statement.

    1. I am so glad that we have started this discussion, and this comment is exactly why. I did state at the beginning that I have not used it and therefore base my opinion on what I know, what I have witnessed, and what you can do with the program. I am so glad that it is not being used by many as a public behavior chart and that teachers are making it work for them.

    2. I couldn’t agree more with this reply. In addition I give rewards for a number of points so if students cash out their points they start over at 0. So when I do make it public in the classroom the students don’t know how long classmates have been saving their points. Parents only see their child’s progress. I signed up and a parent to a fake student just to be sure. I LOVE DOJO!

  10. I am a first year teacher who began to use Class Dojo after the first two weeks of school (once I had thought through what behavior changes I needed). I teach at a school with 80% free and reduced lunch population, and from the first day of school I quickly realized that behavior management was going to be the most important thing for me to get the hang of. Class Dojo has been a great resource for this. I give rewards for transitions, working hard, being kind, appropriate voice levels, etc. I give “teacher fines” (a negative dojo) very rarely for talking back, bullying, etc. (I usually only give out 1-3 per day, whereas I give each student 20-25 dojos per day). Students can use their dojos to purchase non-tangible rewards, such as lunch with me, taking off their shoes for the day, reading a book aloud to the class, buying a chapter book, etc. After about 2 weeks of this system, I had some of the best behaved students in the school.

    With that said, I do not believe that Class Dojo was my end-all that made me a great manager – it truly is how you use the resource. If I did not have a strong classroom community, mutual respect between my students and I, and a positive relationship even with my toughest kiddos, it wouldn’t matter how many dojos I gave or took away. Fortunately, I was just able to find a way to integrate Class Dojo into the fabric of my classroom. I am very grateful for this resource as a first year teacher because it gave me the structure I needed to figure out the basic nuts and bolts of how to manage a classroom. Will I use it next year? I am honestly unsure – but I really appreciate everything that it provided me so far.

  11. I used it last year for kindergarten. The students didn’t see their classmates’ rankings; I’d click for a positive behavior while commenting “I am noticing that Gavin is ready.” For negative, I’d click only after a previous private reminder and then I’d look at the student but not say their name. It’s a way to track behavior quickly and then watch for trends. When I was teaching guided reading, Class Dojo could improve students’ choices quickly and silently, without my having to break my stride.

    Based on the private Dojo points, I’d allow trips to the prize box. For kids that struggled (one little girl who was chatty, a boy with ADHD), I found ways to give them points and graded them on a curve, somewhat. I felt that it was a way to recognize positive choices and boy, did that positive recognition create a happy room!

    Yes, parents can get hyper about it. On the other hand, I could send notes to parents through it, more quickly and briefly than email, explaining a problem that occurred and I felt that saved me time and kept kids’ records in one private, organized place.

    It was time-consuming in that I’d review the day’s points during my break and make sure the quiet well-behaved ones were getting the points they deserved.

  12. I’ve used Class Dojo for 6 months now and my second grade students and parents love it. I don’t display the points publicly and use it for more positive behaviors then negative. Small acts of kindness get extra dojo points and the kids love their little monsters! Parents can message me easily with questions or concerns. And to be honest it has been rare to get one. It’s a great record keeper for one particular student who is being evaluated. He has not responded to any of the other reward systems, but he seems to respond to class dojo! The phone app is AMAZING and easy. I can give the entire class points with two clicks of a button for cleaning up quickly or participating during social studies.

    I understand how it could be a negative, but if done correctly, it is a time saver!!

  13. I am so thankful for all of the comments on here and the myriad of ways people use it that do not involve public shaming or ranking. I still am hesitant though, but it springs from my belief that any external system will not create long-lasting change. Behavior control has to be internalized for true change to occur and so I wonder whether it can happen when we have systems like this in place. That child that does well with it for one year; are they able to compact the lessons and carry them into an environment where this is not used?

    1. Even a small change can help to make a more intrinsic and long-lasting change. You never know what change can be created unless you try as many different things to see what works for the students in front of you. Have been using Dojo for a while now and truly believe it helps to develop positive behaviours in my students. Each student is different but am pretty impressed with how many people are using it around the world – especially with the in-depth responses on this blog post. Pernille, have always been a huge fan of your tweets and posts – I wonder whether though you might need to have a go with this – at the very least for market research 🙂 It really is fun and easy to use. My students have recently taken over partial ownership – nominating students for positive behaviours which are aligned with our school values. Looking forward to the continued communication with our parents and using it for our PB4L rollout in NZ 🙂

  14. I think that with any tool, it can be used both positively and negatively. Just because you disagree with how some people use it does not mean it should be dismissed as an effective tool in the classroom. My students LOVE being in school (they were borderline depressed when they had to leave for christmas vacation) and I use class dojo every day. Here are a couple reasons why it has a place in my toolbox:

    1. Tracking general behavior over a period of time (this doesn’t mean you will mark down EVERY positive and negative behavior, but it gives you a rough guide of behavior). It can allow you to see improvements or struggles in behavior and can help to red flag students that may need additional emotional support.

    2. Gives an easy way to communicate with parents both through the class Dojo mail tool (much more efficient than email).

    3. Allows both parents and teachers to have a solid starting point with which to have a conversation with their learners about how grow as an individual. Along with this, Class Dojo can help parents to reinforce positive behavior in the home.

    4. Tracks attendance and tardies over a long period of time. My school’s system is highly disorganized when it comes to these things and class dojo is a lifesaver when I need to reference them.

  15. I use Class Dojo but I do not display it. It’s on my iPad that I have in the classroom and I have found that Class Dojo reminds me to focus on positives more than on negatives. I have a much easier time rewarding positive points and remembering to make positive comments when I use it. That being said, I do not use it constantly. They can earn/lose points all throughout the week, but sometimes when I notice them doing something positive they get a sticker or a skittle. My class works towards getting 80% positive points or better during the week (when you look at their individual breakdown/percentages). This way, students who are absent are not penalized, and they are still able to lose some points and have a bad day. They like working towards getting an incentive on Friday for having their 80% and since it is not displayed, they don’t know how many points everyone has. I had a very difficult time with behavior management and found Class Dojo mixed with other reinforcers to be the most effective for my classroom. I also like the randomizer on it for choosing students!

  16. As a parent of a child that has a teacher that uses ClassDojo I hate it with a passion. My son is 7 years old and a student in a Texas school that specifically teaches for the test. They spend only 30 minutes a day outside and approximately 30 minutes for lunch. The remaining part of the day is spent hammering information into my son’s 7 year old little brain. During that 6.5 hour time period he expected to remain in his seat focused and on task. Every minute that he is not on task she adds a negative point in ClassDojo. She has frequently selected 3 different negative categories in the same minutes (talking, distracting others, and not on task). To me if you are talking then I assume your talking to another person and not thin air. What is the necessity to ding a child three times in the same minute for behaving poorly. By the time he is able to earn positive points he is already in the hole with 8 negative points. It takes him the rest of the day to climb back out of the hole. She also attaches rewards to ClassDojo which has basically made my son completely give up on trying because he is never rewarded for the good things he does in class. He has no free time as school to be a child. Even with his thirty minute lunch he is required to eat and then put his head down on the table until the other kids are finished in his class. Were did being a kid go? Are we all suppose to be robots our whole lives? As a child you should be able to talk a little in class. Call out an answer. Talk to your neighbor. OMG! He is in first grade not a senior in high school or a freshmen at Columbia. Maybe the issue is the teacher but ClassDojo doesn’t help.

    1. Hi, Kenny. This is the root of the issue for me that has helped me gradually recognize how damaging “carrot and stick” systems in general can be (thanks in part to Pernille’s wonderful work). Perspectives can differ so radically among the experiences of the teacher, parent, and child, which is why in the end, what matters most is to cultivate relationships: listening, discussing, and seeking greater understanding/empathy. That’s the most time-consuming task of all, but the most critical and meaningful. It is messy and human, and I worry about any system that seeks to automate and generalize that process. I’m wanting to do a blog post on my perspective of ClassDojo–would you mind if I reference your comment?


  17. I am the parent of a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder that wasn’t properly identified until he was 9. His school didn’t have ClassDojo but had the colored/level system, and it pretty much did him in. He was unable to do what the teachers wanted him to do, he was not given the support he needed, and every day he came home from school so far in the hole on the behavior chart that there was no way for him to ever get out.
    We pulled him out of school after 2nd grade because by then he was vomiting before school and running away and physically fighting me when we had to leave for school.
    I am also a teacher/public school employee with 15 years’ experience in the classroom. I never used these point systems in my classrooms. I’ve been out of the system for a while (aforementioned homeschool) and have recently gone back to work to a school that uses Dojo. Every teacher in our building displays it publicly. Points are taken away for things like wiggling in line, or calling out answers, or for many other infractions that seem unrealistic for children as young as 5. So while I suppose I’m glad that it works for many teachers, I feel the way my school has implemented it is negative, shaming, and won’t result in better interactions. Instead of an app, why not focus on a relationship with students? It might not be possible in a middle school environment where a teacher has 130 students, but in an elem. school I feel it’s really the only way.

    1. I totally am in agreement with you and I am a teacher. My admin expects us to use it. Take time to invite parents to have MORE dialogue than necessary. Parents feel good Im told. Well its really about the kids. Isnt it? I beleive it hurts their morale to be honest. And as another parent cited…a child might feel even more dispirited once he sees that he hasnt received as many good points as another and knows he is trying as hard as hell. The inordinate time it requires keeping track of a class of children’s behaviors (and it isnt a simple menu were talking about these days of just good and bad), takes time away from teaching. I also have a problem responding to a childs behavior every second of the day. Constant feedback isnt the real world either. This “lime light” activity alway turned on doesnt provide a template to develop skills. Is teaching our children to manipulate how they present themselves. So Im not sure that Class Dojo is providing answers for overall improvement in behaviors. I believe it makes the childs world so child centered that it keeps them restricted to the bubble of rewards and punishment…an obsession of sorts…themselves. How bout when a child is not behaving we just say so?? Instead of sugar coating it to : well you werent ON TASK but kudos for you for HELPING OTHERS. Its pure nonsense. Man up, pick up your bootstraps! You get accolades when you show that you remain listenting, respecting the rules and others and trying your best.

  18. As a parent whose older child was in a color card system and whose younger children are in the Class Dojo, I will say that I love Class Dojo but agree it is how it is used. As another parent said, the color card system did my ADHD but gifted child in on self-esteem. My younger children, one of whom is also ADHD and giftee, thrive on Dojo in elementary school. However, the entire school system has linked it to the system wide Positive Behavior system (PBIS) so the school culture revolves around using reward for self-motivation. My children work hard to earn Dojo points…they have taken charge of their own homework without reminders from me, for example…and they are proud of the certificates they bring home each month with their precentage of points. They tell me how they gained points or lost them, and we can then discuss those behaviors and circumstances at home. The school also holds a PBIS celebration every 6 weeks for all students who earned at least 85% of Dojo points that period..the PTO hosts it and they do random things like have a pajama and movie event, or bring in a petting zoo, or have a danceathon. Our school is a rural, Title I school where around 90 percent receive free or reduced lunch and the area is surrounded by poverty and hopelessness, and nearly every student is able to attend. The kids help each other out to get the points because teamwork and kindness to others are ways to earn points. Those things, as they practice them daily, are becoming ingrained values, as is the ability to self-motivate and to find esteem and pride in good behavior and self-discipline. It is very effective used this way, when the enature school culture is focused on the encouragement of establishing lifelong positive behaviors for success.

  19. I am a student who is working on a Project to convice my teacher to use this and what i have found is that it is a great way for us to know how well we are behaving and our parents to see that too. Also it encorages us to work together and much more thanks to the points awarder.

  20. My son’s 3rd grade team all use Class Dojo. Overall, I think the program sounds wonderful but after experiencing it, I can only say that it is only as good as the teacher(s) that uses it. My son’s teacher is sparse on giving positive points… or any points at all. She never seems to miss a beat when it comes to the negative, however. I don’t see how this is motivating to students. My son was super excited about 3rd grade and Class Dojo. For the first two months of scholl he would come home every day and ask how he did. Often he was disappointed or sad to see that the teacher did not recognize the many good things that he was doing but he would be surprised by the negative points. Half the time he doesn’t even know why they were taken away (or even that he received negative points). He has become sad and disconnected this year from school. I don’t know if it is the teacher or this Class Dojo. I stopped showing him or discussing it unless he asks me. For him, it is a visual reminder that his teacher does not see positive in him. That’s hard for an 8 year old.

    1. I’m a 4th grade reading teacher, and when I was first introduced to Class Dojo I was excited. But I quickly realized it would only be as effective as the teacher who used it. While it makes it easy to focus on positive behaviors of students, it also makes it easy for teachers to focus on the negative. We used it as a team and some teachers within the team took away way more points than they gave. (taking away points earned goes against best practice in my opinion). I tried focusing on awarding points for expected behaviors (bringing your library books to class, being on time, etc.) but this takes way more time than I want to spend each morning. Also using class time for students to spend their points was a pain! I like the fact that parents can join and get messages from me and class pictures were a hit, but I ditched the whole point system. Just wish the rest of the team would.

  21. Pingback: Literacy Lenses
  22. Intrinsically and extrinsically motivating students work. After 18 years of experience and 40+ years of life, neither one is fool proof. We have to delicately do both. It is hard to do and technology is helping us with it. TeachersInTouch is such a tool that balances privacy and a positive behavior system. It does more by helping the teacher to support the child via counselor and social worker referrals and Response To Intervention. It does all this while simplifying the classroom. Find out more at #TeachersInTouch #SoTeachersCanTeach

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