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Class Dojo: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
posted by: Alana | October 03, 2016, 07:58 PM   


Since the dawn of the industrial age, teachers of all grades and subjects have been using technology to reimagine the classroom and communicate with students on whole new levels.


Some of these ideas have been quickly embraced as revolutions in education, others have fallen flat on their face, and even more have had mixed reviews.


Take the idea of ClassDojo for example.


ClassDojo is a free app for smartphones and tablets that claims to "connect teachers with students and parents to build amazing classroom communities." Each student has a profile – complete with their own avatar – to which teachers can assign positive and negative points (or 'dojos') throughout the lesson.


Theoretically, the app aims to give students a voice, share moments with parents, and create a positive culture in the classroom through sound recognition, up-to-the-minute progress visualization, and even the gamification of basic classroom behavior management. Teachers have the ability to give students digital high-fives or reward students with points for a job well done, and parents can get immediate feedback on the projects their child worked on in class or their child’sbehavioral needs.


But it has not come without criticism and doubt.


Concerns regarding student privacy, the psychological impact of public displays of student success on sensitive students, and the potential to reduce the amount of face-to-face communication with parents are all just a few of the cited concerns among critics of the app.


Perhaps there's no one perfect system. And while this tool may work for some, others may have a completely different experience for a variety of factors from the students using it to how the educator actually implements it. In the ever changing American classroom, innovations like ClassDojo still reign supreme.



Do you use a class dojo?

Tell us how it works in your classroom in comments below!


Comments (21)Add Comment
written by Rayne Lancaster, SC , October 04, 2019

The system ideally is a good idea, but my son is 5. And he acts like children that are 5. He's hyper, he's talkative, and he plays. I don't believe he should be punished for acting like a child should act. He clips down, he loses recess and that only makes his behavior worse. ????????‍♀️
written by Jessica , September 13, 2019

My son just began kindergarten this year. I wanted to wait until he was 6 since he has a late birthday (June). The first few weeks were great but now he's gotten a negative Dojo point 3 times now for stuff like making noises during a lesson or playing on the rug. I don't need to know every little thing he's doing that is wrong in your eyes. Just correct the behavior and move on. Then again, I also can't stand the entire clip system that some school's use. It would be nice if school's implemented a different way of dealing with behavior.
written by Sandy, Versailles, Ky, August 20, 2019

My school district has been pushing this app for a few years now. At first, it seemed nice to be able to see good reports and pictures from class. Then, I got into second and third years with the app and adding a second child. I will say, this app is glitchy, not user friendly, and tends to encourage teachers to use it as a cop-out for forgetting more reliable methods of communication.

If you switch your email address or try to use a different device, you will run into problems. I am constantly getting notifications in my email that I have messages, updates, etc. but when I log in, if I can log in, there is nothing there. For a while I could only see updates from certain teachers on certain devices even though it's the same account. Now I can only see messages from the new teachers (even though the old teachers are still sending them) and with more than one student all of the updates run together in the same feed, which makes it hard to follow when you start adding in not just the main teacher, but art, science, the principle, other administrators, etc., etc. Then I'll see last minute reminders here for something I've never even gotten a note about yet.

Just no; there are better ways to do this.
written by Anne Whyte, June 10, 2019

I've used Dojo for a few years, and really do like it. I think the best feature is communication with parents. Messaging parents is simple and easy. I never use negative points, nor do I project the points to the class. I tie the points to the character traits my school recognizes on a monthly basis. My students love the videos as well. I find the negative aspects of clip charts and negative Dojo points humiliating and counter productive.
Used it for four years...
written by Josh , April 17, 2019

And it's functionally useless. Both my son and daughter were between 97-98% on behavior, yet neither got a "Dojo of the Week". Many of the points (positive and negative) are "full class", with negative what you'd expect (not paying attention, keeping hands to self, etc.). In summary - it's a total waste for good kids, and not firm enough for disruptors.
Teachers are not always fair
written by Ellis , January 13, 2019

Dojo can easily be abused by teachers. Students can get discouraged. I am an 8 year old student who tries hard to win but sometimes my points are taken away by something another student did. I finally won last week and I was happy but it took over a semester for me to win. I have gotten stressed out about it. One girl in the class wins a lot and the teacher is good friends with her mother. It does not seem right.
I hate it
written by Rhonda Scott, January 07, 2019

It is a joke. I want access to homework assignments and how well my child is performing. Not pictures of babies being posted or see personal comments from teachers that should come from a principal.
Disappointing reward system
written by Deadre Mesa, Az, December 08, 2018

My 6th grade daughter has been looking forward to the rewards of making it to 6th grade. She suffers from test anxiety, has been bullied and has trouble just keeping up with homework. She’s smart and has no learning disability, just harder for her at times. She’s lost so many points due to the actions of others (whole rotation loses points due to someone or several being loud or disruptive) and a horrible math teacher who has brought students to cry and HATE math, she won’t be allowed to go to Science camp. Something she’s heard about for years.
There was no point system when her siblings got to go. Every special BIG field trip for 6th grade is controlled by these points! If she’s one day late turning in homework, if the kid next her is loud, if she didn’t participate. It’s caused her more anxiety at home, she’s sad, she won’t talk about school at all. HATES MATH! Hates she probably won’t be able to go to anything because she’s just shy of making enough points.
I appreciate teachers communicating but this is punishment for good kids.
She brought her math grade up from an F to B-! But that’s not good enough for the horrible Mrs Castle. She tells kids who aren’t behaving to stop and she still loses points.
She’s been called names, received mean texts, no one came to her birthday party... the last 2 years have been hard for her, yet these 6th grade teachers could care less. I truly believe only a couple of them really want her to succeed.
Unfortunately all this has shown me is a teacher can be a passive bully towards a child. I could understand if SHE WAS failing her classes, disruptive, disrespectful and mean but she’s not. She’s a 12 year old trying her best in the 6th grade. Where mean girls and boys exist!
They should only use these points for small events. Not the field trips they’ve looked forward to for years. The real last year of childhood because we all know 7th grade can be the start of something great or a life of hell for too many kids.
Very Discouraging In My Opinion.
written by Ben NC, November 07, 2018

It's one thing to encourage students by giving positive points, but my daughter struggles in school. She has slow processing speed, so everything she does, she does slow. It's not that she is stupid or that she doesn't get things, she just isn't capable of doing things as fast as other students. As a result, I keep seeing negative points on this app. Frankly, this app isn't really positive and the last thing I want for my daughter is to think she is not good enough. I'm going to delete this app. Who needs negativity all the time. Being positive helps encourage students. Two thumbs down.
I dont like it
written by Patricia DeFreitas, October 31, 2018

I do not like this app.
Very small letters in faded colors.
Does not show date of the posts.
The "settings" does not set anything. It's is able only to cancel the account. Really a bad school app. The worst of all I have used so far.
I'm older than 50, my daughter is seven. I'll convince her next teacher to not use ClassDojo.
PS) If my message has to be change in any aspect I do not allow to keep my name on the posted comment.
A cautionary tale
written by Lee Sullivan, October 14, 2018

I'm a teacher and used Class Dojo for a number of years with mixed success. I have used it in a variety of ways. The most recent addition is the use of class portfolios. Unfortunately the way the classes are setup any student can log in and add to any student's portfolios. They can also change other student's monsters and it does create a culture of bullying. On the first day I had to remove every student's accounts. I tried again to run it with another setup as recommended by the Class Dojo community. Yet again, the same issue arrived on the first day.

Horrible app and horrible new feature.

It used to be so good.
I am a preschool teacher and LOVE Dojo
written by Keri, October 01, 2018

I teach 3-5 year olds in a classroom that has 10/14 students that are ESL. Most of my parents aren't able to communicate to me. Dojo has helped build a bridge to change that. Parents are able to send me messages instead of tracking down a person to translate. They can use the pictures that I post to start conversations with their child. I only use the dojo points for good, not for bad. I don't take away points. I honestly don't think most of your have an issue with the app itself, but the teacher behind the app. Have a conversation with your child's teacher and express the concerns you are posting on here... maybe you will see a change in your child and the teacher. Teachers don't know what parents like and don't like if they don't voice their opinions!
I've given up
written by Melissa K., September 24, 2018

Three weeks into my son's kindergarten year, I'm already dreading any notification from this app. The only thing I hear are private messages about what he's done wrong. My workday is spent dreading the notification from this horrible application, and I feel so defeated about school already. I can only imagine what my son's feeling, despite my constant reinforcement to make good choices, to try his best, and to listen to all instructions - and that ultimately, I love him and he's a good kid. I see him already giving up on school.
written by Dima Maila, August 29, 2018

My daughter school started using the DOJO two days ago and I am already enough with it. My daughter is a straight-A student, good behaviour and the teachers have only great things to say about her. Just in two days, I have seen a negative impact on her, she came home worried about her points, asking what can she do to get points just this morning she asked if she could not go school because she was afraid she would make a mistake and lose points, this is a six-year-old.
Dojo is great
written by Bob, August 24, 2018

I have been using class Dojo for three years now and I think it is absolutely fabulous. Parent communication is at an all time high in my classroom because of this tool...that lets me essentially text back and forth with parents at any time during without using my personal cell phone. Parents love to see the activities their children are doing in the classroom. It gives them a picture of what their child is learning and what their school day looks like. With that said, the point/reward side can be used in a way that would not support students in a positive way. If a student losing points all the time especially when the other student's see that student losing points...that's not so great. I would suggest teachers pull students aside and speak privately with the student about why they are taking a point and discuss the behavior without an audience. Also, there can be a privacy issue. I have assumed that if parents sign our publication rights form....they are ok with me posting pictures of their student on our class story. It is certainly necessary to make sure parents are ok with you posting pictures of their child. Class Dojo is an altogether wonderful tool to encourage students and connect parents.
written by Claudia Isela HernandezClaudia, June 13, 2018

It is not fair for people who have not utilized this very helpful and POSITIVE tool to judge it. I am a middle school teacher of 15 years in a pretty tough area AND a mother of 5 children- one of which is Autistic.

As a teacher, it is almost an instantaneous change for the better. Yes, the students want to earn points they can then exchange for prizes and privileges, but most importantly the students start displaying kindness, collaboration, focus, attentiveness, and most importantly participation. Now I gave both positive and negative, but shortly thereafter the behavior had shifted so dramatically, it was almost all positive.

The parents were happy because most of them never really got a call or text unless their kid did something negative, and now they saw all the great skills they were exhibiting and pictures I posted of their great work on the class story.

As a parent, my autistic son really did much better behaviorally and academically when used consistently. Both of us loved seeing positive reinforcement and I felt better seeing him succeed in class not only through points but through the pictures the teacher took of him exhibiting great skills, behaviors. It changed everything.

The only negative thing I can say is that if used inconsistently ir will not only be ineffective but sometimes damaging to the child. My son had a teacher use it (mostly because I asked her to use it as it was a positive tool for my son) and in a month only gave him one point. When I asked why she told me if he had done anything worth a point, she would have given it. She was a horrible woman and teacher, but the fault was in her not Class Dojo.

I just know I was finally able to do what I teach and have kids listen.
written by LaTerra Worthy, March 23, 2018

I don't dislike it, but I hate knowing
What my is doing wrong 24/7. My daughter is 7. I don't need to know if she yelled out an answer before raising her hand. Then you look at the childs day and see all this red. It's discouraging. I deal with behaviors at home. That's my job. Your job is at school. Now if my child is screaming or hitting ot climbing on desk. Ok. Let's get concerned. But some things are regular normal preadolescent behavior.
Poor use of time that could be spent on education
written by Rose, Charlotte , February 23, 2018

As a person coming from a family of educators we dislike this app twofold. From a teachers perspective my mother with 35+ years of teaching experience said “this would ruin the teaching experience for me to have to waste so much of my teaching time assigning and taking away points nonstop to over 20 kids.” From a child’s and parents perspective I as a parent only want to know if there is a real issue, and I want to hear about it from the teacher through conversation and discussion. From a child’s perspective, getting the points is all fine and good however we have had countless sobbing sessions (we are supposed to discuss nightly their behavior as shown in the app) when points are taken away to the point we no longer discuss it with her when she loses points. Nine times out of ten the points were mistakenly taken away (which the teacher confirms but never actually corrects in the app) and my sensitive child is heartbroken to think she has done something wrong.
written by Kim walker, October 06, 2017

I am a parent, and I am having increasing concerns over the compliance of these kinds of apps with FERPA. I do not like my sons behavior data being persistently stored. Is anyone else concerned of the lack of oversight on district levels with these kinds of 3rd party apps?
As Good As the Person Implementing
written by Tonette Carroll, September 04, 2017

I have used Class Dojo extensively and successfully for years. Class Dojo is as effective as the teacher implementing it. When used as a positive tool it can boost class morale as well as increase class community.

I use this tool to boost class morale by posting pictures to share our class history with parents and students. Class story and messaging parents are the features I use most. I try to post at least one picture each day to share something that happened in our day to help parents feel a part of our class. When students share projects, I video them and post a link to their personal story page so that their parents can watch them present. I use the Class Dojo videos on Growth Mindset and other positive traits to encourage students to persevere and cope with stress.

Class Dojo is more than just giving and taking points for good or poor behavior. As a matter of fact, I have discontinued giving points for good behavior this year except for points given to the whole class, because we are a team and we win together or lose together.

The new features of casting are wonderful additions. You can cast music for your class to listen to as they work or post morning messages. Dojo can create cooperative groups for you and it can make it easy for you to choose random students.

Teachers who use Dojo to reward and punish students generally find the app less useful. In these cases, teachers only remember to reward students to spite students who were not doing well or take points to punish students who quickly disengage because they get the point that they cannot succeed at this game. I've heard of teachers allowing students to get up to -50 points! Why? Teachers who do these practices are also ineffective without class dojo. Use this app as a motivational tool, not as a destructive, point out all of your faults kind of tool, or a bribe students to do well tool, and you will get the most out of it.
Marginally Helpful at Best
written by Jan Stephenson, May 04, 2017

My school banned it. We had teachers displaying the "behavior" information....but this same information was covered in a student's IEP. So yes, they were displaying IEP information/data which was not a good idea.

My third grade class was OK with it but tired of it by October. So I discontinued use.

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