Sunday, September 24, 2017

Classroom Management with Class DoJo

When I transferred to Former School in the fall of 2010, we began the process of implementing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). Prior to that, Michigan had a program called MiBLiSi (please do not ask me what that acronym actually stands for because I have no clue! haha). MiBLiSi essentially morphed into PBIS. 

It was pretty neat to be part of the planning and unfolding of the whole process, mostly because I think there is a ton more buy-in from staff when they are part of putting things together. The principal we had at that time didn't always see eye-to-eye with me (I have since realized it's probably because we are much more alike than we realized), but one of her biggest strengths was her ability to create teams and really build a culture where everyone came together to work together for bettering our students. (I can say without hesitation that we lost that when she retired.) 

At that time, however, we had a school wide system where we used Levels to help us track student behaviors. Level 4 was the highest and Level 1 was the lowest. Students moved down levels for various infractions (basically any time they earned a referral they were supposed to move down a level), but could also move back up a level when they turned around their behavior. It wasn't a perfect system but it wasn't horrible either. My biggest issue with it was that the students who were ALWAYS on task and doing the right thing just sat at Level 4 with no real recognition. It was then that I began using my clip chart. It has 7 levels and everyone starts in the middle. They can move up or down accordingly. I know if you scour social media you'll see all kinds of posts about how horrible clip charts are, but I disagree. It is how they are USED that can be horrible. Should you use them to shame children? Of course not! And that is what some people do with it, which is why others hate it. I found it to be a great tool, especially for guest teachers and/or student teachers to learn how to help support the class toward managing their own behavior.

Add in my Restorative Circles that I began in the spring of 2015 and my classroom management as never stronger. My clip chart was just another part of our class and I never once had a parent question or complain about my chart. They appreciated the documentation to know how their child was behaving in class. (I have noticed over the years that at parent-teacher conferences, after I present what I need to about the kiddos, the first question 99% of parents ask me is "how does my child behave for you?" so being able to share their child's progress with a color-coded behavior sheet was very helpful.) 

This year, moving to New School, I had to let go of my beloved clip chart because they use Class DoJo. Some teachers were using it before but this year, as part of PBIS, it was decided it would be used school-wide for consistency and because it is all electronic based. A bonus is that parents can connect and it provides an easy way to communicate if they have a question or concern. 

I wasn't sure if I would like DoJo to be honest. My clip chart was always visible so I could utilize it well. Now, I have to remember to award and take away points but this isn't a terrible thing because it also forces me to be much more intentional in the points I give or take away. 

My team used DoJo last year too so I just copied what they had for their positive behaviors and their needs work behaviors. After a week or so with kiddos, I adjusted to meet the needs of my class and myself (you best believe one of my awardable behaviors is "Being Fabulous" haha). We do have the ability to project it up on the screen but I do not do that. Never have and I don't plan to start. I actually like that it's more private than my clip chart. The kids don't necessarily know who is losing a point but they all sit up a bit straighter when they hear the sound that lets them know a point was taken away from someone. 

My student teacher is just starting to take over more and more of the subjects so she is also getting on board with DoJo. We have an iPad mini that is for the teacher(s) to use so I keep DoJo open on that and she can use it when she is teaching too. So far, she tends to award only positives by pointing out students who are on task or following directions and it is helping her without having to take points away. 

One of my favorite things about it now that I've used it for several weeks is that it helps me monitor my positive to negative feedback ratio. I reset points every two weeks when we have our Swag Stickers celebrations. I am able to customize the reports for that two week period and print out a report to send home to parents to show them how their child has been doing. As a bonus, it automatically saves as a .pdf on my Mac (no idea if it automatically downloads on a PC as I haven't tried it) so I have instant documentation that is saved on my computer so I can always go back in case a parent says they didn't get the report. 

I have students for the last two weeks who have a 100% positive feedback rating, which tells me these friends are the shining stars and role models in my classroom. These reports will show me what students are up for nomination for student of the month for behavior and then I can check that against academic requirements (homework and classwork completed on time, etc). It's really helpful and valuable. 

It also allows me to see which students are having trouble and in what areas. This is perfect when needing to bring a child up for Student Success Team (child study) because it's all documented and I can show what areas are concern areas and we can make a plan to address those. I didn't necessarily get that level of information from my clip chart unless I took time to write down why they clipped up or down (and really, who has that kind of time?).  This is so much easier in terms of documentation.

Additionally, since most of my students speak Spanish at home, it can be difficult to communicate effectively with their parents because I am not anywhere near fluent in Spanish. I can say a few random phrases in Spanish but I can't understand what anyone says to me in anything but English. Class DoJo's messaging feature allows parents to communicate with me and I can instantly translate it and vice versa. I had a parent ask me a question last week and we were able to communicate through the Google Translate feature. It wasn't a perfect translation of course, but it is enough to help us know what the other person is saying and to me, that is gold. 

This past week I sent a message to a mom to ask her to meet with me about her son and we were able to instantly set up a meeting for the next day. It is absolutely amazing to have this level of communication because email isn't always an effective way to get in touch (I have found that my emails tend to go to parents' spam folder which is so weird!). This way, there is no worry about that because it is all in the app. 

Not all of my parents are connected right now but at conferences, I do plan to get the rest of them signed up and show them how easy it is to keep track of their child's behavior and also keep in touch with me. 

While I still have some love for my faithful clip chart, I am sold on using Class DoJo to manage my class. It's about as private as I can make it since I don't ever display it for kids, but still allows me to reward the behaviors I want to instill in my students and provide reminders for behaviors I do not want them to do. The ability to track my positive to negative feedback ratio and communicate effectively with all of my students' parents is a huge bonus. 

1 comment:

  1. I just started using it this year, after always using, but not loving, my clip chart. I agree with the data for parents and the ease of communication through the messaging instead of an email which seems so formal.