Grit? Risk taking? What behaviors should you encourage in your classroom?

If you use ClassDojo with your students, you’ve probably noticed that most of the behaviors you want to encourage or discourage are already embedded in the program, but did you know you can add your own? How do you decide which behaviors to add? It helps to think about what kind of classroom culture you want to foster. I felt really strongly about encouraging risk-taking in my class, so I added “taking a risk” to the positive behavior options. If you decide to do something like this, make sure you have a discussion with your students about what each of these behaviors looks like and why they are important.

It’s easy to say you want students to exhibit grit and perseverance, but what exactly do those look like? The first criteria for adding a behavior to ClassDojo is measurability. When I decided to add “risk taking” to my list, we had several discussions about what this would look like with my class. The general consensus was that students should receive a point for risk taking if they stuck their neck out, and stepped out of their comfort zone for the sake of learning. This means if someone was called on and was unsure of what to say, if they said something in an attempt to participate rather than exercising their right to pass, they earned a point. This approach opened up a larger dialogue about the importance of taking a risk and not being afraid to fail. It became a part of our classroom culture and we talked about it every day. These are the types of things you should add to your behaviors list to help develop these traits in your students.

You may be tempted to add every desirable human quality imaginable, but I recommend starting slow. Keep it simple. Add one at a time and use it consistently. If you notice you are never using a particular behavior, remove it. The great thing about this feature is that you can adapt it to each individual class. Last year I had a particularly disruptive class, so I put interrupting on my negative point list. In general, I like to use positive encouragement whenever possible, but in moderation, correctional type of feedback is also very useful.

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