ClassDojo – not a no go

Sometimes I think I’m far too serious to teach young learners. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I just don’t ‘get’ them. Perhaps I’m getting too old. Maybe I’m just not learning how to teach them properly. I don’t know. I feel at my least confident when I’m teaching groups of kids aged 8-10. I’ve never taught anyone younger. But strangely, people keep telling me that they think I’d be good at it, and I had some good feedback on the CELTA YL. Comments that I’m ‘a natural’ felt a bit far-fetched. I reckon that once I have children of my own the penny might drop. Until then, meh…

ClassDojo annoys me. I find it gimmicky. It’s got some good videos on ‘Growth Mindset’, but overall I find it a bit false and I don’t think it’s fostering the right attitudes among my students. ‘I can’t do it yet, but a few Dojo points for effort might keep me going’. I understand that positive reinforcement can work well, I just don’t want to rely solely on points and rewards to motivate my students. 

That’s me speaking a month ago. Since then I’ve got fed up with policing low level disruption, off task behaviour, lack of focus, etc. Every YL expert I work with recommended the same thing. ‘Do you use Class Dojo?’

I introduced it 3 weeks ago. Instant change. The threat of minus points for not listening to instructions makes my students act like attentive little meerkats the moment I signpost with my exaggerated ‘OOOOOOOHHHHKKKKKAAAAAY’. My countdowns are now arbitrary – all I have to do is hold the board pen next to ‘select multiple’, and (with the danger of points deducted) all eyes are on the board.

I took the Mickey a bit when I first introduced it. One kid turned up in a Spiderman shirt so I added a category ‘Cool Shirt, +1 point’. It feels like students are turning up dressed for the occasion now. They find out I like Star Wars, cue Storm Trooper t-shirt next week.

Look, it’s alright. I admit it. Class Dojo has a purpose. Had I known it would work so well with my Primary level classes then I would have introduced it much earlier. My pre-Dojo behaviour management now feels like I was trying to stop the flow of an ocean with a sieve.

Am I sold on Dojo? Hmmm. It has its place. As do my running dictations, back to the boards, stop the buses, etc. I want my learners to develop a genuine interest in learning English, but if they are more motivated by earning enough points to allow them to change their monster avatar then fine.

I know, it’s me. I’m boring aren’t I?

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.

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One comment

  1. I find Dojo really helpful especially with younger kids. Some students take it a little too seriously sometimes but that also provides a great opportunity to teach kids the valuable life skill that it is okay to lose. Another thing I find really good about Dojo is that you can create your own “awards” as you mentioned so I’ve been trying to create some to help my classes run more efficiently such as “helping others”, “keeping the classroom clean” and “listening to the teacher” among others which help lessons run smoothly, and is an incentive for students to work more independently and count more on each other that on the teacher and help you tidy up after craftwork and so on. Just a tip: I reset the points after every lesson as the numbers can get a bit too high and work the other way.

    Liked by 1 person

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