About Teresa

Teresa Cooper is a 30-something wife, mom and teacher from Havelock, North Carolina. She has a Masters of Science in Education for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Walden University and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Creative from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having struggled with anxiety and depression most of her life and later having birthed a child with autism, she is passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance of mental illness and autism and has been writing for Embracing the Spectrum since 2011. She also writes for The Mighty, The Huffington Post, and The Educator’s Room.

In the words of Sheryl Crow, “every day is a winding road.” In the classroom, the road can wind back and forth like a rollercoaster sometimes. You’ve got students who won’t listen, parents who want to know everything, and administration watching your every move. How can you make everyone happy when everyone is ready to pounce like a lion? As I say sometimes, “Jamaican me crazy!” But, Class Dojo has the power to make the craziness stop just little bit. Here are four ways that Class Dojo has helped me with the wide variety of students that I encounter on a daily basis!

The Student Who Won’t Listen

Oh, you don’t  want to listen? Sure, sit with your chair on two legs. Lie on the classroom carpet. But just be quiet when I’m teaching! Class Dojo makes it easy to set up points for whatever you want. Safety, Listening, Respect, Coming Quietly into the Classroom (for those rowdy ones)…the possibilities are endless. Just don’t make them too endless, because then it becomes difficult to find the points speedily. And not only can you take away points because Johnny won’t stop making fart noises, but you can leave a specific note after you take away the point so the parent knows exactly what Johnny lost a point for. You can also GIVE points for good behavior, which is the rewarding side of things. I suggest giving points at the beginning of the day when the kids are getting settled just for getting out materials, getting started on morning work, and coming in quietly. This way, not all the points are negative even if you have a Johnny in the classroom.

The Helicopter Parent

Don’t tell the helicopter parent to fly away! Simply give them class stories to enjoy. Take pictures of what’s going on in the classroom. This not only keeps the parents happy but keeps the kids on guard about how to behave while learning in a classroom. Nothing says “Gotcha” like a picture of little Suzy with her head down on her desk when she’s supposed to be doing a project. Trust me, most students get busy when you get your phone or iPad out to take a picture. And parents? They love knowing what’s going on in the classroom through Class Dojo. Make it a great adventure for them.

The Needy Student

You’ve got that student that needs constant affirmation. Like…constant. Give them points for what they’re doing right and suddenly they’ve received the affirmation they need without you having to tell them. Turn the volume up on your computer so the students can hear the dings and the dongs of losing and gaining points. Trust me, they know who and why the points were given or lost. Watch and see the classroom transform into a scenario where needy students know they’ve been acknowledged and naughty students know they’ve just lost points.

Getting Parents on Board

Sometimes it’s hard to get parents participating in the classroom or communicating with you consistently. It’s not a perfect system, but I’ve got 70% of my parents on Class Dojo. The key is bugging the snot out of them. Just kidding. Send them invites through email or through their cell phone numbers. If they don’t respond within a week or two, send out of the invite again. Make it easy for them to join! And parents talk (you know they do) so once they find out what you’re doing with Class Dojo, they’ll want to participate. Once they’re in, it’s like the mafia, they can’t help but get sucked back in over and over again. Send messages to the whole class when events are going on, or send a message to a specific parent about a child’s behavior (good or bad). Class Dojo also allows parents to send you messages, which is instant documentation of communication with parents. It’s a win-win!

Sanity Saved!

With Class Dojo, I’m no longer going crazy trying to reel in the students, satisfy the need for instant gratification, or get parents to talk to me. The administration is happy because I’m staying in touch with students, and I have documentation of conversations with parents. All seems well with the world. You can do it too. Class Dojo is super easy to set up and super free. Just send me some messages in the comments with any questions you have. I can point you in the right direction and help you save your sanity too!

Do you use Class Dojo in your classroom?

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