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Turning Things Around

I almost titled this post “Why I Love ClassDojo” but decided that the above title was even more fitting today.

I’ve had a good week and a half in my classroom, and I believe one of the biggest reasons has to do with my implementation of ClassDojo, a behavior management tool that is internet-based and FREE!

I spoke of it a bit during last week’s Hodgepodge post, but after Friday’s talk with my second period class, I thought I’d post more details.

The way ClassDojo works is you set up your classes, add students, and create positive and negative classroom behaviors.  You decide how many points get added and deducted.  For ease of use, I accepted the default of one point per behavior.

After demonstrating with students, we began the strategy in earnest.

Students were fascinated with the sounds that both behaviors made when I awarded them.

At first, things were chaotic as students argued with me or with each other (when negative points were awarded).

Soon, though, something magical happened.

I observed how students began helping each other…and noticing.  Of course, they were quick to point those times out to me so I could give them points.

It’s evolved to the point where they know who and what a negative sound is for, and they give each other the “What For” look.

Accountability.

You’ve just got to love it!

I had to laugh yesterday when one of my girls, who had my permission to come late to class from Guidance, tried to enter the room.  One of my guys wouldn’t let her in.  When I admonished him, he said, “I was waiting for you to give us points for being on time before she came in…that way you couldn’t take them away.”

You see, I award the entire class (one point per student present) points for arriving to class on time.  If even one student is late, they do not get points.  It a huge chunk of points at one time, let me tell you, but well worth it.  The number of tardies in my classes has dropped significantly!

For the record, that student did let her in, and the class was given its points.

One of the neatest conversations happened yesterday during with my first class when, between class sessions (we have two 45-minute sessions per group of students), we began looking at their points and some of the reports available.

We began analyzing each week, reflecting on things that had changed.

This class had -4 points the first week we began doing this.

That hurt…especially because they could see other classes’ point totals.

They worked hard that next week and brought their total up to 99 points. They were pleased.

On Friday, they were up to 284!!!

They sat up straighter in their chairs.

This is not an exaggeration.

I wish you could have seen the look in their eyes.

They were proud of themselves.

I told them that we still have work to do, and how I could have taken away more points; however, I’d noticed how respectful they had gotten when I had been asking them to stop talking during class.

Students had been apologizing, and I could see the sincerity in their eyes.

To me, that was worth NOT taking points away.

That’s what I said to them, almost verbatim.

They nodded their heads in understanding.

I then explained that I sensed a growing respect between us.  They agreed as well.

Then, I asked if there was anything they thought I had done to help them improve their behavior.

They told me that I’d eased up the tension…in how I carried myself…and that they weren’t feeding off of that any more.

Talk about powerful…and humbling!

This is a group that is tough, let me tell you, but taking the time to get to know them, give them space when they need it, and hold them accountable through write-ups (yes, I have had to write some up for tardies and a couple of classroom issues) has made them realize that we are in this for the long haul, that I am going to be consistent, and that I am able to forgive their infractions and move on.  It’s what I hope they will do for me, for I admit that I am not perfect.  🙂

We still have a ways to go, but turning a corner has been the highlight of my week with these kiddos.  The mutual respect and genuine desire to do a good job reminds me that kids do care and do want to be acknowledged and appreciated for even the smallest thing such as sharing a pencil.

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One Response

  1. What rewards do they earn with their Dojo Points? I teach middle school and found you on the Florida Bloggers FB page. 🙂

    -Lisa
    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

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