As much as I enjoy holding group lessons and camps they can be exhausting. More in the last 5 years then I ever remember. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe the kids don’t take authority as well, maybe it’s a combination of the two. Now mind you it’s not all my classes that I have problems with. I’ve noticed it’s usually due to particular high maintenance students being in the same group of each other. For example, I could have 4 different groups of kids totally getting along, totally respectful of the teacher and eachother, no problems. My lesson plan goes exactly as planned. We are able to get through everything. The personalities in the group just mesh perfectly.
Then I turn around and have a group that is a total disaster because of particular personalities feeding off of each other. It’s all about them, respect is lost, the volume is high, they can’t leave their hands to themselves and I’m lucky if I get through everything that I had planned. And let me tell you, those are the groups that I question if I ever want to hold another group lesson or camp again.
As hard as I try to prevent that second scenario from happening, chances are that there will be at least one group like this.
In comes Class DoJo!
I found out about this website awhile back, (I believe from TeachPianoToday.com). It is a behavior management software program FREE for teachers to use. While it caters to the school classroom teacher, it is perfect to use in any group setting. I was going to use it at my first group lessons this year but then didn’t because I figured I wouldn’t have any problems THIS time. Surely, it would all be fine. Well, you guessed it, I had one class full of boys (one girl- poor poor girl…) that was so bad that I ended up having to contact parents afterwards about it all. I have never done that before for group lessons and I never want to have to do it again.
So Christmas camp comes along and once again I was tempted that surely it would be fine. (How I forget so quickly…) Then I remembered the nightmare from a couple months prior and said no! This time I have to try it! And try I did. And guess what? It made a big difference! Why did I wait?! The kids that tend to be larger personalities were soooo concerned on how many points they had. I did have one student (10 year old boy) that had the “doesn’t care” attitude that he will do what he will do despite of it. There is always one of those and I just ignored it. Because he was alone in his quest to rebel it didn’t really affect the class as a whole.
Now keep in mind Class DoJo is geared towards elementary kids. I had a mix of elementary through high school in my Christmas camp groups, which was one reason I almost didn’t use it. (In my group lessons I try to schedule my older students separately) So I just told my HS to go with it and they were fine. Some of them got a kick out of picking their monster avatar.
Which brings me back to the Class DoJo program. You or the kids will pick out a monster avatar that represents them and will keep track of their positive and negative points. There are several behavioral tasks already in the system. You can delete what isn’t relevant to your class and add custom tasks to what is relevant. Or perhaps you only want to keep track of positive behaviors, then just delete anything that would be considered negative.
For example the behavioral tasks I had:
Positives- Helping Others, On Task, Participating, Persistance, Teamwork, Working Hard
Negatives- Bullying, Disrepect, Inappropriate, Off Task, Talking out of turn, Unprepared
During camp, I used it on my iPad since they have an app that you can download and log into your account from the app. It worked out nicely. But if you don’t have an tablet, smart phone or iPod touch you can just use it from a computer. Did I mention it’s free? On the website it says “We intend to keep ClassDojo free, forever, for early-adopter teachers like you! Sign up below now to join our early-adopter teacher community.” This tells me that while it is free and has been for a while, there is a possibility of Class Dojo charging sometime in the future IF you don’t take advantage of being an early-adopter and sign up for an account now. So even if you don’t do any group type classes now (or never will- more on that later…) but think you may in the future, I would go ahead and sign up for an account now. (Hopefully I haven’t scared you away from trying group classes and/or camps because they really are fun and worth doing. The goal is to get those behavioral problems down to none so they can be fully enjoyed by everyone who participates…)
Another neat feature about this program is if you choose to do so, ClassDojo can send you behavior-tracking analytics and reports that can be shared with parents. In addition, there is a teacher “decoration” pack that you can download to make Certificates, passes, posters, whatever you think would be fun to use to encourage good behavior!
Even though Class DoJo is geared towards classes, I would imagine you can adapt this to the individual student who has a hard time staying on task during lessons. Really, the possibilities are up to you and your needs! I would encourage you to visit the website, sign up for an account and start trying Class DoJo in your studio. I promise you won’t regret it!