Have you ever dumped out a child's desk? I had a parent get mad with me today for this...child went home and made it sound much more dramatic than it actually was and like all the other kids were standing around laughing at him, which they weren't, and that I was screaming at him and making him clean all his stuff off the floor, which I wasn't. This is not something I do routinely. This particular child had been found with items that did not belong to him so his desk needed to be checked out. I've also occasionally dumped out a desk if it's really, really messy. I guess I'm a horrible, mean teacher.
"clean" desks every Friday! I really don't care how they "organize" they just need to be able to locate the needed materials at the appropriate time- They learn quickly how important it is to be ready and every now and then the "desk fairy" visits and may leave a "surprise"- they love the fairy dust she leaves behind!
I have to agree with Ima Teacher, dump sounds a little dramatic. When I had desks in my class, I'd tell them they needed to get them cleaned out, and they could dump their own.. but I don't recall ever dumping out someone's things...
to be dumped, then I will do it and will not apologize to anyone for it. No, I won't scream at them while they pick it up, but if the kid or parent doesn't like it, then the kid either needs to stop stealing or stop being such a slob. Either way, what on earth is the matter with parents who get mad over that? Doesn't this parent wonder what would cause you to do that?! They should be questioning their child and demanding answers about the child's behavior, not getting mad at you. But I certainly would NOT apologize.
BTW, I believe the OP stated the child was caught with items that did not belong to him. In my world, he just lost the right to clean out his own desk. I would dump it, and if he didn't like it, well, he and mom both need to get over it. But the apology wouldn't be happening.
I have conferences on Mon and Tues and I'm thinking the parents should take a look in their child's desk before they go. If there are a lot of loose papers, I'm thinking i'll send all of them home to be placed appropriately in the student's binders (which they should have brought home with them Friday night).
I have not dumped desks like you described (although I know teachers that do), but I have kept kids during lunch time (eat in the classroom) or library or whatever to clean their desks it the situation is bad. I have also moved the entire desk to the hall (along with the recycle bin and trash can) and had the student clean it while we watched a video or whatever - now that was a dire situation indeed.
I have also been known to sort through a kids desk - it's amazing what you can find in there.... all kinds of papers not in the right place (stuff they need)... all kinds of work that was never completed and just shoved in there.... homework slips that were supposed to be taken home to be signed.... toys and tools of destruction (un-bent paperclips)....things that should have been thrown away..... that missing calculator and pair of teacher scissors you were looking for....
I wouldn't dump a child's desk. I think that's sort of disrespectful and harsh towards the child. Just my opinion. I would ask him to remove everything himself and lay it on top of a table. I'd then let him sort through all of it. Once he has done all of that and thrown away at least half of the stuff (I'm sure he needed to do that), then he'd probably see why it's important to keep things in order. I'd also monitor him from time to time just to be sure he isn't becoming a packrat again. I will agree with others in that you need to have a routine scheduled time when kids clean out their desks so that they don't become so messy.
I'm sure you had good intentions, but I think that dumping the desk is sort of dramatic, and we can have kids do desk cleaning without drama and, perhaps, hurt feelings.
I do not think it helps the cause to dump out a child's desk when other children are in the room. You want the child to take responsibility for his own belongings and behavior, and by turning it into an "event" where there are peers witnessing it, now the child has a "story" to share with the parent and the focus shifts to your behavior and away from his. Even if no other child says a word, it's embarrassing to have one's belongings emptied out on the floor in front of one's peers. If you suspect stealing or other misbehavior, you wouldn't want to have that talk with the child in front of his peers either. You'd never get an honest answer about how those items got there with the entire class listening.
I know how I would feel if someone took my things and dumped them out for me to clean up in front of my colleagues. You can bet my first thought wouldn't be how disorganized I am and how I need to take responsibility for being neater.
is that just one child's desk was dumped and it was public. Even if conditions warranted it, like potential thievery, it could be the public nature of it was what caused the child to go home and explode the incident out of proportion. Although I'm not really sure from the OP -- were other kids truly around or was that just the story the kid went home and tried to sell?
Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it. My son's fifth-grade teacher used to make every child in the classroom dump his desk on Friday afternoons. Everyone spent 20 minutes cleaning and organizing, and got a fresh start on Monday morning.
I don't desks, but like a PP have lockers and binders. (Would someone please invent a binder with a zipper that doesn't break after a month or two! ) We periodically clean them out and the kids actually seem to relish the task. Except if they've discovered a month-old sandwich hiding somewhere. That's usually a good argument for a more frequent clean-out <grin>
I think the word dump sounds harsh but I have done it. I don't apologize for it either. That being said we clean and organize desks every single Friday. I have dumped desks when kids lie and say they have cleaned them or when kids haven't started yet so I dump it all on the floor and have them get to it.
Usually after repeatedly asking a child to clean it out without success. I have usually stood and directed or helped sort it out, depending on what there was inside. We have breakfast in the room. I refuse to touch other people's half eaten food, candy wrappers, lunch sacks, tissues, etc. Otherwise, I get my hands into the mix. Of course, I didn't make the mess, so...
I do not apologize either!
I don't dump desks. When I consider how to handle a situation, I try to think abou how I would feel if it were me. My desk at school can become quite cluttered at certain times of the year and need a dire cleaning. Sometimes I can't find what I need at the exact instant that I need it. Would it be O.K. then for my principal to come in and dump my desk? Absolutely not. In the same thought, I think it is quite disrespectful to dump a student's things.
An enforced cleaning, however, is a different story. It's not O.K. to take things that don't belong to them, and students need to respect our school books and be responsible for their things. I will surpervise a cleaning (usually when a student would rather be doing something else) and address the situation in a way that isn't intended to humiliate or demean my student.
We had a thief problem last year, and even though I thought I knew who did it, I could never prove it. Candy was taken and eaten and a prize from the prize box, given at the end of the day, was stolen. When another item disappeared, I gave them every opportunity to tell the truth. When noone did, it had finally got to the point where I had every child dump their desk. Sure enough the stolen item fell out of the child's desk that I suspected. That was probably embarrassing, but don't take items that don't belong to you, then you won't be embarrassed.
I agree, if the child had not stolen something from another teacher, there would have been no need to do anything at all with his desk . Mom was only concerned about the desk and what I had done . She insisted her child would never steal (in other words, I was making it up). BTW the other students were at P.E. They didn't see any of it.
Just yesterday I had my students take everything out of their desks. I have the kind that are open in the front. They cannot keep their hands out of them. Right now there is only one thing in their desks. We'll see if that helps.
If a child is really, really messy and disorganized, it's going to take that child so much more time to clean it up than you have time for if you're expecting him or her to do it him- or herself. That goes double for younger children.
I had a weekly clean out time when I taught first grade. Somehow there were always children who had a tough time with this. They just didn't know how to clean or sort no matter how specific I would be in instructing.
That is when I would go through each piece with the student or ask another neat student who finished cleaning quickly to help so and so.
As to the OP, I don't think there was any problem with what was done.
Many children have never been taught how to sort and clean.
Some children have not been taught that taking others' things is wrong.
I've never dumped a desk but I have taken everything out of a horribly messy desk! I either stack it on the student's desk, place it all on their chair, or place it in the BIG shopping bag with their binder and folders and make them take evrything home to organize! They REALLY hate that... but if they don;t clean and organize like they should, then they can take it home. One time of lugging it home and the offender works harder to avoid a repeat!
I got busted hard for it (although I think the mother overreacted and the father even said the mother overreacted) but I learned my lesson and have never "dumped" a desk again! I have been tempted to regularly, but now I just invited the child to come in on his/her recess time to clean it out!
If by dump you mean taking everything out of the student's desk for them, then I've done it too. It wasn't in an overly dramatic matter. It was more like on of those situations where if you take one thing out it all comes pouring out. I had ask the boy over and over again to clean out his desk, and he just would not do it. It was so crammed full of stuff. I bet there were ten of my books that had been ruined in his desk, much less food, and all sorts of junk. He had also stolen some of my things, and I knew it wasn't the first time. I didn't apologize for that, because he had plenty of chances. I eventually had to turn his desk around so that he could not put anything inside his desk, because he absolutely could not handle it.
are not to have loose papers in their desk and they are warned about this at the beginning of the year. Everything has a "home." If I walk by and a paper is hanging out I'll pull on it. If bunches of stuff fall out, "oh well." The paper goes into the recycling bin and the stuff sits there until they clean it up. And yes, they have often retrieved papers out of the recycling bin!
I've dumped many a desk!!! Only for those students that I have asked to clean their desks repeatedly and they don't. Yes it's dramatic and maybe embarrassing... Keep your desk clean or at least clean it when asked! I provide all of the tools, folders, and boxes needed to keep a clean organized desk. We spend much time talking about how to keep things organized and tidy. I remind students every time we put something away where it goes. There is no excuse for a junky desk... Do I dump desks in the middle of a tirade... no, not usually. We don't sit around laughing afterwards... In fact, it's usually a time where that student can find all of their missing work and turn it in!
are messy desks. I have a color coded folder system for every subject area. Messy desks are NOT an option in my classroom. If it doesn't belong in a folder, then it doesn't belong in your desk. I buy all of the folders so even if I did "dump" the desk, it's all my stuff anyway.
As for the OP, I don't think that she did anything wrong. The other students were not present. It's just another case of redirected anger from the parent.
Last edited by nicksgirl; 11-01-2009 at 05:12 PM..
Reason: subject/verb agreement
it's ridiculous to make a big deal out of "dumping" a desk. Good gravy. If that's all a parent has to worry about, they should count their blessings.
When I had desks, most of my kids "dumped" their desks themselves. It was just easier. I didn't have a problem with helping a student dump out their desk either. Some just organize better that way.
I never dumped a student's desk personally though. My second grade teacher did it to me (in front of the class) when she figured out I had been shoving my papers in my desk instead of completing them. I was mortified.
Don't worry, Just in case, I wasn't permanently scarred by it. Though it is a clear memory for me. lol
Dumping out a childs' desk can be something very humiliating. I am 28 years old right now, and I can still remember being in third grade and my desk being dumped in front of the class. Now granted, I will admit my desk was very very messy... However, dumping is not the solution. It only humiliates the child. I can remember being so upset, I started crying, cried all the way to lunch... couldn't eat I was so upset. Some of my friends at the time, attempted to comfort me. They tried to help me to go back to the classroom and pick up my belongings, book papers and other materials which were all over the floor. Still crying. By the time my teacher and the rest of the class returned, My things were picked up and neatly put back into my desk. Then I proceeded to get in trouble for returning to the class to pick up my things without permission of the dumping teacher. I am not interesting in shaming or blaming anyone at this point... But only wanted to say, there are better ways to go about teaching a child to be neat and orderly. Public shaming, especially, at such a young age will not help the child. These are the things that I remember still. I respect teachers, and the job you do... But just keep in mind young minds are fragile, and vulnerable. The lesson you want to teach them I'm sure was a good one with good intentions, but more often than not, that is not the lesson they will remember.