As a new teacher I was lucky enough to have 30-35 students (constant roster fluctuations) in what was then called a C-level class. Oh yeah, it was 9th period which means that they brought a lot of energy to the classroom environment. Needless to say, I remember looking up at one point while teaching and seeing multiple groups of students socializing, reading the newspaper, spinning around in their chair, throwing paper and other activities that would put me at a one on the Danielson scale for classroom management.
Classroom management was one of the most difficult aspects of teaching for me as a new teacher. It was difficult for me to imagine the pitfalls of teaching and earning students respect, which is some right of passage at Hamilton High School West. At that time I was introduced to the “point system”. This was a method of calculating class participation based on classroom behaviors. The students began with a class participation grade and lost points for various infractions during class. It greatly improved my class and encouraged my student to behave, but did not increase their engagement dramatically.
In this article, I talk about the reasons why using ClassDojo, an online behavioral management tool can be effective for new teachers who are tryng to get their feet wet or for old teachers who are finding it difficult to implement new teaching styles into their lessons. I recommend ClassDojo because it seems to be the most used and therefore the most supported and will likely be around for awhile. If you are interested there are more links and tutorials at the bottom of the page.
A buzz in education relates to ensuring that students are engaged in the learning process. In the past this meant that students should be in their seats taking notes, raising their hand or working on classwork, but this has changed dramatically as the focus has shifted away from the teacher as the center of the classroom and towards the students in a more self-directed form of learning.
One of my most difficult challenges as a teacher was ensuring that students stayed on task in groupwork or during in class projects. As a student I remember using this time to socialize while little learning was done. A classroom management tool can help ensure that students are on task. Not only can the teacher take off points as they walk around and students are off task, but students or groups can randomly be asked to present at the start, in the middle or end of class. These can be opportunities for students to get instant feedback from the teacher as a model or from the class. Here mistakes can be discussed as other groups or individuals most likely are making the same mistakes and mini lessons can serve as positive interventions. Exemplars can be given extra points to promote positive behavior and postivite feedback.
One of the responses to classroom management tools is that they promote negative feedback to students. I agree that this may be a trap and if the teacher uses these tools only to punish bad behavior than they are not using the tools correctly. Does this mean that we cannot give negative feedback? I believe that it is part of the learning process. We need to learn from all of our mistakes as long as there are opportunities to remedy them.
Furthermore, at Hamilton West there is not a history of student-centered instruction. The model of teaching is set around a classic model where the teacher is the center. Often teachers get frustrated when they try new projects because it is difficult to keeps students on task during a long project. By allowing students to have more deliverables (more feedback) and tracking thier behavior using ClassDojo will make it easier AND more productive.
For More Information
21 ClassDojo Tutorial Videos – Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne
Includes links to a YouTube Channel for tutorials, but honestly it is not that difficult to understand or learn.
ClassDojo Launches a Messaging Service to Help Teachers Keep Parents Informed – Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne
A new service that ClassDojo provides that helps links all the student information to interested parents.
Class Dojo – Cybrary Man’s Educational Website – This website has links to all that you would need to know; probably more than you would need to know.
Another Tool To Check Out
ClassCharts Offers Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence in Classroom Management – Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne
A new tool that I have heard a bit about and offers some different features including pictures of students instead of avatars. If you are interested be sure to check it out and give me some feedback.