We can talk all we want about what students should learn in the classroom. But the reality is that most teachers have to balance "academics" with a multitude of other lessons: how to be good students, how to be good citizens, and simply how to behave. Behavior management is actually a significant part of what teachers have to do every day, and while there's a wealth of information to help them with tips and tricks, there isn't a lot of technology in place to help them with the implementation of best practices.
There may be a solution with the use of tech -- at least that's what ClassDojo founder Sam Chaudhary believes. His startup is working on a Web and mobile app that will allow teachers to quickly and easily track class behavior. Those two things are key. Rather than filling out paperwork after a disruptive incident or trying to recall values to praise come report-card time when a child has no record of disruption, ClassDojo provides real-time feedback loops. ClassDojo hopes both teachers and students will benefit from this, and parents will eventually be able to tap into it, as well.
Currently, ClassDojo lets teachers track students' behaviors with an easy +1 or -1 system -- you can reward students for good behavior (participation, helping others, creativity, insight) or you can make note of negative behaviors (disruption, disrespect, tardiness). Reports can be generated per student or per class, so that teachers and students (and parents and/or administrators) can have a glimpse at what's happening in a class.
And while tracking this sort of data is, no doubt, important for adults, its impact on the students themselves is also something that ClassDojo wants to highlight. Students respond better to feedback when it's immediate -- both when it's reinforcing positive behavior and when it's aimed at correcting disruptive behavior. Teachers can project ClassDojo onto a whiteboard or computer screen so the whole class can see their status; but in addition to updating the site via a desktop computer, teachers can also use their smartphones or other mobile devices in order to quickly flag these behaviors.
Each student has an avatar, and ClassDojo plans to implement levels to encourage good behavior. But as Chaudhary makes clear, the startup isn't just interested in "gamifying" good behavior. It wants to foster instrinsic, just not extrinsic, motivations in education. How or whether that happens will be interesting to watch.