10 Simple Tips to Make Dojo Classroom Management Work for You
There’s nothing more frustrating than being expected to use a technology platform or classroom management system that frustrates you and doesn’t seem to fit with your teaching style. If you’re struggling to manage behaviors and feel exhausted at the end of every day, I have Dojo classroom management tips to save the day.
You really can make Dojo work for you! (PS – I’m not a salesperson, nor do I make any money from this post).
Plus, administrators will be blown away by your motivating and positive classroom culture. I figured out how to make it work in my own classroom, and you can, too!
The Benefits of Dojo Classroom Management
There’s something about the ease of use with Class Dojo that’s unlike any of the other online tools I’ve ever used. It’s a great way to create a powerful positive feedback loop that boosts kids’ self esteem while reinforcing the behaviors you want to see.
The funny thing about praising your kids constantly is that it will make you happier, too. I always found that the days when I gave out the most Dojo points and coupons, I ended the day more at peace and less exhausted.
Class Dojo is 100% free for teachers and families. I used a Dojo points system to let students earn coupons for special rewards in class, and none of them cost me a dime.
Most parents at this point are familiar with Class Dojo as well, making it an easy transition to make as a class community.
Never Give Negative Points for Negative Behaviors
When a child is behaving poorly, it can be tempting to take away a hard-earned Dojo point. To preserve the magic of Class Dojo, please avoid doing this and choose another method for administering consequences.
After all, if a child earned a point for a good behavior or great effort, the fact that they didn’t listen well or was rude to a classmate doesn’t negate what they’ve already accomplished.
Yet, when you take away points, it’s de-motivating for them, especially for the kids who have a harder time behaving in the first place.
Focus instead on using Class Dojo only by giving out positive points for positive behaviors.
This will ensure that Class Dojo is only a source of happiness. This will serve you well in the long run, I promise!
Monster Avatar Fun
At the beginning of the year, you can increase student buy-in by allowing them to choose their own monster avatar. These adorable monsters represent each individual child in the class.
Beneath the monster is their name, but having a fun little critter to call their own is a special bonus.
Each student begins the year with an egg.
There are several ways to hatch the eggs: 1) getting parents to download the app and open it at home or 2) logging kids onto Class Dojo at school to use the portfolio feature or 3) automatically at the end of the first four weeks.
If you don’t want to use Class Dojo in that way, and you’d rather not wait four weeks to hatch your eggs into monsters, you can manually hatch eggs from the teacher account.
Most kids get so excited when their egg hatches into a monster.
Incorporate Reward Coupons
You can use Dojo points with any existing classroom economy that already works for your class. This is a very flexible behavior management system.
Many lower elementary teachers will use a treasure box. Those who like using a treasure box with Class Dojo will allow students to accumulate points all week, and then select something from the treasure box at the end of the week.
If you decide to use a treasure box, this could also work well with Dojo dollars. There are several problems with the treasure box option, in my opinion.
Treasure box never worked for me for three reasons: 1) It gets expensive. I would rather put my money elsewhere. 2) It can be annoying to manage the toys that students collect when they want to playing with them in class. 3) Many kids can’t maintain their motivation all week, and need a quicker response to their efforts.
But if you’re not using anything yet, I recommend creating coupons for special rewards that students can redeem in class once they hit a designated threshold – in my case, they got to choose a coupon whenever they hit 10 points.
Read more details about how I used reward coupons (and even use my free printable) here.
Use the Reset Points Feature After Every 10 Points Earned
You remember the old behavior clip chart that used to be found in every elementary school classroom, right? And then, people started saying what we all knew all along.
It’s not right to publicly embarrass kids for their behavior. It’s also not very effective or motivating for kids to be “on red.” Once some kids begin to tell themselves, “I’m a bad kid,” it’s hard for them to start acting otherwise. Clip charts are outdated.
Similarly, Class Dojo can also be a source of embarrassment if used incorrectly. I used Class Dojo by projecting all their monster avatars and points on the board. Each time a student earned a point, they would all hear the “happy ding” sound. I never used negative points.
When students reached 10 points, I would let them choose a coupon at the end of class while everyone lined up and tidied. I would then “zero out” their points so they could start over.
Often, if a kid only had 1 or 2 points, it was because they just recently earned a coupon. Therefore, there wasn’t anything embarrassing about having a low point value. Students in my class tended to earn a coupon every 3-10 days.
Avoiding Vocal Interruptions with Class Dojo
As a writing teacher, I found that kids often worked best with very a very quiet room and few interruptions.
I created a “coffee shop vibe” with a Spotify playlist and special writing lighting. Students knew that when that music started and the lighting changed in the room, they were expected to write without interruptions and with a voice level 0.
I found that if I turned down the volume on my SmartBoard, I could use the quiet happy “ding” on the Dojo dashboard in place of my own positive narration. Students received real-time feedback on their writing without my voice interrupting the kids. It seemed to be less disruptive, but it also motivated kids to keep working. When teachers talk, students love to talk back, and that would throw off our whole writing vibe. Dojo points had a positive effect.
Ways to Use Class Dojo for Classroom Management
There are a variety of ways you can assign points to manage your classroom with Class Dojo. I used the point system all the time in my class, and my students reacted so positively to the constant reinforcement.
It’s worth mentioning here that I work in a Title 1 school where over 90% of our students live their lives below the poverty line. They are sweet, precious elementary school kids, but some of them have very difficult home lives. Perhaps that’s why my students’ behavior benefited so much on the stream of positivity that Dojo provided.
Here are some of the ways I assigned Class Dojo points.
Giving Dojo Points for Rigor
When students are working hard and doing their best to meet their academic potential, behavior challenges tend to slip away, too. It’s important to maintain the rigor in your classroom and hold high expectations of students. Student engagement is improved when kids are working at their max potential.
That’s why I avoided giving points for merely complying with my instructions – they can do more! I gave out Dojo points to individual students for answering in well-spoken, complete sentences, correctly identifying text evidence to challenging STAAR questions, and writing strong responses in their journals. I would even give Dojo points for correct answers, particularly when the question was challenging.
I also gave out 5 Dojo points each to the students who saw the most growth each month on their iStation testing. Since it only took 10 points to earn a coupon, this was very motivating to them.
Remember – avoid taking away Dojo points. This will only serve to demotivate them, and some students will even begin to rebel against the system, to their own detriment.
Give Points to the Whole Class
One way to offer immediate feedback to the whole class is by giving everyone a Dojo point. I like this strategy when you need to work on class culture elements.
Perhaps the entire class is quietly working hard on an assignment. Another option is to give out Dojo points to the whole class when you need to practice quick transitions or orderly movement throughout the building.
When an entire class group gets a point, it reinforces the teamwork culture that you want to be present in your class.
Specialist teachers can participate in this way, too, as long as everyone is on the same page about how Dojo is being used in the class.
Assign Dojo Points to Small Groups
Another way to assign points in your class is to groups. This can foster a healthy amount of collaboration or competition, depending on how you present the goal. Always tell the students what you’re hoping to see, and then be generous with your points.
- “I love how Alex used such good manners when he was taking turns partner reading.”
- “Here’s a point to the green table for using good leadership and following to get the task accomplished quickly.”
- “Table #5 – you get a point for being the first group to get started writing.”
Utilize Dojo Monitors as a Class Job
This strategy works great in elementary school, when it’s considered cool to be a teacher’s helper.
One of my coupons was “Dojo Master.” If kids earned 10 points, they could choose the Dojo master coupon.
When I pulled a small group to my table, the Dojo master would turn in their coupon and get to skip independent work. They would get to monitor the class while they worked, and assign 5 Dojo Points to the classmates who were working the hardest – one for each of the 5 friends.
The Dojo dashboard was up on my interactive whiteboard, so they could easily just tap the names of friends who earned the points. This was one of the most coveted reward coupons because they all loved getting to “play teacher” and notice classmates who were meeting their potential.
I had a mini lesson at the start of the year. The kids knew the expectations and what to look for as they assigned points. I only had to mention one time that we don’t give out points to our best friends unless they are truly doing high quality work.
Keeping Track of Student Behaviors
If you want to be specific about the behaviors you’re seeing in the classroom and need a layer of documentation, you can assign points for certain things like “working hard,” “using text evidence,” “quick transitions,” and more.
Whether you want to give special focus to rigor or behavior management, Class Dojo lets you completely customize the labels you put on your points.
If that’s a level of detail that seems too much to manage, you can skip this step.
Using Class Story for Family Communication
Class story is such an easy way to message families and feel confident that they’ll see it. It’s one of the simplest methods I know to improve school communication.
Class story works like texting, but it’s basically an announcements feature. Parents can message teachers back, but other families won’t see the message. Therefore, it’s less overwhelming than messaging platforms like GroupMe.
With Class Story, you can send out text, video, and photo messages, attach links to PDF files, and even post events.
Using Digital Portfolios
Digital portfolios allow students to showcase their work to families. They can take photos of their completed assignments with any iOS device, Chromebook or other laptop. Then, when they submit it to their Class Dojo portfolios, teachers can approve it to be visible to families.
Digital portfolios can be very motivating to some kids, and it’s a great way to build student ownership of learning and to incentivize high-quality work product.
Using the Mobile App
You can download the Class Dojo mobile app on any mobile device from your app store. It’s a safe way for teachers and parents to communicate with one another.
One perk is that you can also set “quiet hours,” so when parents message you at inappropriate times, it will warn them that you won’t be responding right away. You won’t receive the notification until your “office hours” resume.
Dojo Classroom Management Toolkit
Dojo has extra features that are also really helpful: timer, randomizer, attendance, group maker, noise meter, directions, today, think-pair-share, and music.
I absolutely love that all these features are integrated into Dojo, because it saves you from having 8 windows open. Some of them are more useful than others (as with any other toolkit).
My favorite is the randomizer, because it will randomly choose a child from your class list, preventing you from being either the good guy or bad guy.
Having a timer right there is helpful, too, as these are often added to my slides.
The group maker feature is nice when strategic groups aren’t required for academic purposes. You can also create groups of kids who can’t be together.
I really enjoyed using Class Dojo with my students. While most people rely on Class Dojo for communication, I found it most helpful as a behavior management tool. Nothing worked quicker to build a positive classroom community, and it was so easy to maintain and integrate with my other classroom systems. I hope it can help you, too!
The main thing to remember is to avoid using it in a negative way. If you can just focus on the positive, it will make everyone happier and more productive.
For more information, check out the Class Dojo website.