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The Baggage Activity: How A Teacher Made Her Students More Empathetic By Talking About Their Emotional Baggage



kind teacher baggage activity

The relationship between a teacher and a student is a special one. However, strict the teacher might be, they may turn out to be a role model for their students to follow. They not only educate students but also help them build up a character. That’s why teachers are respected all over the world. They carve the path on which the future generation will walk on. Hence, teachers should be responsible for what they are teaching or portraying in front of their students. Karen Loewe, a teacher in a school in Oklahoma, has shown how important a teacher is for the emotional development of a student. Her achievement: The Baggage Activity.

Karen Loewe teaches the kids of grades 7 and 8 and has been doing so for about 22 years. But recently, she initiated a new kind of exercise for her students: The Baggage Activity. It is an exercise on the subject of empathy. Her mission was to make her classroom a safe space where anyone can freely express themselves and be respected for it. Hence, she openly asked her students what emotional baggage was for them. She told them to pen it down on a piece of paper and keep it anonymous. No names were asked.

Once that was done, the students were asked to read what their anonymous classmates penned down by taking turns. They could also own up to their writings, if they so desired.

Read: Why You Should Never Tell Your Child to Stop Crying

The reaction was so emotional. The kids who read through their classmate’s troubles were moved to tears while reading the tough situation. The few children who confessed to their writings cried too. There were so many things happening in their young lives: the death of a pet or a close person, suicidal thoughts, cancer, loneliness, drugs in their family, etc. The day was emotionally draining for sure. But Karen believes it will make the kids much more empathetic about others.

When she wrote about this on social media, her amazing post exploded. It went viral and was shared over 500,000 times. Teachers from all around the globe really liked this innovative idea and wanted to implement it too. They even ask for the results.

It turns out that the students respect each other a lot more nowadays. They don’t talk down to one another or interrupt when someone is speaking. They have just transformed into really good human beings.

Karen has kept all their confessions inside a plastic bag so that if the students ever forget about their activity in empathy, they could spot the bag and remember. The bag hangs by the door and can be easily spotted when they walk in the class.

When the students left after the exercise, Karen told them that they were not alone and that every one of their friends had their back.

Read: No, Don’t Ever Compromise Your Self-Worth Just To Please Others

Maybe that’s all the motivation an adolescent needs. Even an adult would probably benefit from this wonderful experiment: The Baggage Activity.

Image Credit: Karen Wunderlich Loewe/Facebook

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