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.