For some people, teaching is not just a job — it’s a calling. These school teachers genuinely care about their students’ lives and problems and aren’t just waiting for the workday to end quicker.
One brilliant teacher who deeply cares about the kids in her class is Karen Wunderlich Loewe, an English Language Arts teacher at Collinsville Middle School, in Oklahoma. She cares about her students’ emotional and mental health so much, she tried out ‘The Baggage Activity’ in school, with astounding results.
Scroll down for Bored Panda’s interview with the teacher!
A teacher at Collinsville Middle School did ‘The Baggage Activity’…
Image credits: karen.loewe
…where students wrote their emotional baggage on some paper and put it into a bag. What happened next was intense but wonderful
Kids anonymously wrote down what’s hurting or bothering them (i.e. their ‘baggage’) on a piece of paper, scrunched it up, and put it in a bag. Then, they all took turns reading them out loud. Those who wanted to admitted that it was their emotional baggage they were talking about. The students’ stories were heartrendingly raw.
In class, you would rarely expect kids to talk about such emotional health issues as death, cancer, suicide, drug-use in the family, as well as parents going to prison. But that’s exactly what they talked about with their teacher Karen. This makes you realize the type of emotional weight that some school kids have to carry on their shoulders every day.
However, there were flashes of (dark) comedy to be found in the classroom as well. For example, one of the kids said that their gerbil died ‘because it was fat.’ Alas, poor gerbil, we hardly knew ye.
According to the teacher, this was one of the most impactful days ever
Image credits: karen.loewe
Bored Panda interviewed Karen about ‘The Baggage Activity’ and here’s what she had to say: “I needed to do something to make my kids realize that other people go through other things and some may be the same as them. I wanted them to be more kind to each other. The middle school age can be a difficult and trying time. I wanted to instill some empathy with them.”
She continued: “I don’t know if any other teachers in public schools or my area have done it. Since I’ve done this, I have had other teachers all over the world incorporate it into their teaching styles. My life changed because it went viral and people from all over the world contacted me. Lots of positive feedback along with a very few haters.”
According to Karen, the long-term effect of the activity was how helpful it was to come back to it if someone was ‘hateful to a classmate and then they quit being mean.’
“I would recommend this for adults as well,” she added. “We have even more baggage and things we have gone through as we get older. It helps to open up and realize you’re not alone. As adults, we pretend that everything is ok and we have it all figured out when in reality, that is far from the truth.”
The teacher had some advice for others in her profession who want to support their students: “They have to be genuine. Kids can see right through us. They know if we care or love them. If we don’t have a relationship with them, they won’t open up and trust us.”
However, Karen noted that ‘The Baggage Activity’ isn’t for everyone. “I have a personality that, thankfully, has blessed me to be a teacher who the kids open up to. I’m very up-front, to the point, but also show them some love. I sincerely hope others just do whatever is best for their kids. We, as teachers, know what is best for our students and no one else can tell you what will work best. It’s your call.”
Some people thought that the activity was brilliant
According to Karen, this was one of the most emotional days she’s ever had as a teacher. Lots of people were affected by her story. When she shared it on Facebook, it went viral and now has nearly a million likes and over 637,000 shares. Any teacher is able to follow in Karen’s footsteps, but it doesn’t necessarily mean doing ‘The Baggage Activity.’
Teach Hub explains that any teacher is capable of helping their students deal with difficult periods in their lives, say when their parents are getting divorced or one of their family members is seriously ill.
Teachers provide consistency and a routine that helps students have a firm foundation to stand on, no matter what is happening outside of school. So help bring some order to your students’ lives. Furthermore, the best teachers who are compassionate and reinforce their students’ strengths will help them flourish. This way, the kids will also feel important and wanted, not neglected.
However, others warned that such activities could have negative consequences
Image credits: msduane