ClassDojo has seriously outdone themselves...
They've taken an already outstanding model for classroom management, differentiation, and student engagement, and they've applied that same conciseness into improving teacher/parent/student communication.
So... lets cut to the chase.
How it works (in 5 steps):
Step 1: Sign up FOR FREE!
Sign up for ClassDojo if you haven't already. (iPhone and Android versions are available as well)
Step 2: Congratulations, you're done!
You now have ClassDojo Messenger.
(Wasn't that easy?)
Step 3: New Feature
As soon as you log in you're going to see a "New Feature" This is the new ClassDojo Messaging option.
Step 4: Get parents signed up
If parents have already connected with your classroom via the ClassDojo app or through the ClassDojo website, then you can already message them. If not, you can remind them with downloadable Class Code's specific to your classroom.
Step 5: Start building relationships
Now that you've connected with your students and their families, there are some important points to mention.
- Send ‘Direct Messages’ to individual parents
- Send a ‘Broadcast’ message to all the parents in your class
- Know when parents have read your message with ‘Read Receipts’
- Keep your phone number and email address private
Alright, so if you're aware of how I write my blog posts then you know what's coming next. However, since this improvement to ClassDojo's already awesome system is so new, I'm going to call my critiques by a more suitable name. I'll will refer to them as, "opportunities."
Opportunities for Improvement:
1. Multiple Language Support
This would probably be the biggest improvement I could ask for. I work in a school where 96% of the students come from homes where english is not the first language. In fact most of the families possess little to no knowledge the english language at all. This presents a serious problem for me in using this service, as I'm sure it might for anyone in the same boat.
2. Option to block parents (Or parents block certain teachers)
This is a less pressing matter, but with all of the stress that comes with teaching, the last thing you might want is a helicopter parents hounding you for information obsessively about their children. And conversely, if you're a parent you might not want your pocket to vibrate every hour with updates while you're at work. I can see this being an issue that arises very infrequently, but if it does... what do you do?
3. Image Messaging
I put this one last because in education, taking pictures in class can be a serious can of worms. But, if you're a teacher that exercises any discretion whatsoever and the appropriate forms have been filled out; I can think of a few parents that would love to see pictures of their children doing experiments (I'm a high school science teacher). Or possibly seeing a picture of a test with a BIG A+ on it... that would brighten up any parents day.
What's the verdict?
I've gotta say... I thought ClassDojo was already an amazing piece of software. In terms of classroom management, it's the best. You can keep track of student behavior and analyze quantitative trends over a short or extended period of time. You can create groups, differentiate, or hit the random button when the students decide that they don't know the answer to some of your guided questions (They do know the answers because you just taught them... they're just being lazy, shy, or both).
At this point I would say that I'm very accessible and I still don't get a lot of conversation with parents. This is partially due to the district I'm in, I have a lot of students who don't have computers at home, or the parents don't speak english at all. I can see this bringing more parents with smartphones into my virtual class dojo, and possibly having a meaningful conversation about their child's progress beyond back to school nights!