School can be hard on kids, especially if the feel like they can't be open about their struggles. Even though they're young, children can face some pretty serious issues that then affect their everyday lives. One teacher, Karen Wunderlich Loewe, knows just how true this can be, so she decided to run an activity with her students in middle school as they begin their school year.
Loewe posted about the activity on Facebook, and it's gone completely viral with almost half a million shares so far. The activity was to let the students get out their worries or struggles.
This starts my 22nd year of teaching middle school. Yesterday was quite possibly one of the most impactful days I have ever had.
I tried a new activity called “The Baggage Activity”. I asked the kids what it meant to have baggage and they mostly said it was hurtful stuff you carry around on your shoulders.
I asked them to write down on a piece of paper what was bothering them, what was heavy on their heart, what was hurting them, etc. No names were to be on a paper. They wadded the paper up, and threw it across the room.
They picked up a piece of paper and took turns reading out loud what their classmate wrote. After a student read a paper, I asked who wrote that, and if they cared to share.I’m here to tell you, I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up and about and shared with the class.Things like suicide, parents in prison, drugs in their family, being left by their parents, death, cancer, losing pets (one said their gerbil died cause it was fat, we giggled😁) and on and on.
The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough. The person who shared (if they chose to tell us it was them) would cry sometimes too. It was an emotionally draining day, but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.This bag hangs by my door to remind them that we all have baggage. We will leave it at the door. As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back.I am honored to be their teacher.
The post garnered a ton of attention, and people applauded Loewe's thoughtfulness.
"This is awesome!" one person said. "Love that you would take the time to do this in class. I’m sure it was very impactful for the students to see outside of themselves and know they aren’t alone. There is a reason why you are my kids’ favorite teacher."
"This is one of the most excellent things I've seen, Karen, but I'm not surprised that you thought of such a wonderful way to create a caring classroom environment!!" another said. "Keep up the amazing work! I'm proud to have worked with you."
"I love this so much and that YOU care about the kiddos!! Thank you so much Karen! Corey came home with some sad sad stories and he realized how some have things worse than him! He was able to count his blessings because of this!! Thank you for this!!" one of the parents of the students in Loewe's class said.
It really is amazing that a teacher would be willing to take on students' pain so early in the year. I'm sure these kids feel much safer knowing that they have a teacher who cares about their well-being not only in the classroom, but outside of school as well.