After my online presentation at the Reform Symposium this summer, Usamah Chaudhary (@usamahc) contacted me about a classroom management system that he helped design. The beta version of ClassDojo is being used in a number of classes now, and Usamah was looking for some feedback on this system. I was initially hesitant to give it a try. After reading many blog posts by Chris Wejr (@mrwejr) and conversing with him through Twitter too about the negative impact of rewards, I didn’t want to try a system that to me seemed very “reward based.”
After Skyping with Usamah though, my opinion changed. Yes, students are getting points/badges for their positive behaviours and losing points/badges for their negative ones, but these points are not earning them anything. To me, these badges are just visual representations of what they are doing right and what they need to continue to work on. They are bridging the gap between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. And this I love, so I was more than willing to give this a try! Best of all, these badges match up to the Learning Skills that we have to assess on our report cards, so ClassDojo helps me track these learning skills too.
If you asked me back in August though if I would use ClassDojo the way that I’m using it now, I would have definitely said no. I’ve changed my approach though. As the school year started, I started to think, why do teachers need to be the only ones responsible for classroom management? What if the students could hold this responsibility?
Now instead of me giving positive and negative badges, I let the students give their own. After our small group centres and during various full group activities, one student comes up to the SMART Board, and he/she goes through the class, asking individual students if they deserve various badges and why. This only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s definitely helped my students take control over their own behaviour and accurately assess how they’re doing too. They know what they’re doing right, they know what they’re doing wrong, and they know what they need to continue to work on. They are building an intrinsic desire to work hard and help others, and this management system is just visually representing and tracking their hard work.
Below is a short video clip demonstrating how my students lead this self-assessment process:
(Important Note: I do apologize for the sound quality, as I was sitting by the open window, and you can hear the phys-ed class outside in the background. Speakers should help with the volume though.)
What kind of management system do you use in your classroom? What role do students play in this system? I would love to hear what you have to say!
A special thank you as well to Usamah Chaudhary and the rest of the ClassDojo team for being so receptive to teacher feedback and so eager to create a tracking system that works well for a large variety of students! Your system has helped me change my approach to classroom management.