Teacher's emotional 'baggage activity' for students goes viral: 'You are touching so many young hearts’

A middle school teacher in Oklahoma is gaining attention on social media after she shared a new project that’s gotten her students to open up about their mental health.

Karen Loewe has been a teacher for 22 years, but according to a Facebook post on Friday, she just had her “most impactful” day in the classroom. The seventh and eighth grade English and language arts teacher at Collinsville Middle School in Collinsville, Okla. introduced a new activity to her students called “The Baggage Activity” where she asked each of them to think about something that was weighing heavy on their heart. Each student anonymously wrote it down on a piece of paper before throwing it across the classroom. Another then picked it up to read it.

“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,” Loewe wrote in her Facebook post. “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 day wasn’t just emotional for Loewe. She writes that students shed tears while reading the notes, and some were even inspired to share which note they had written.

Ultimately, she writes the exercise had a deeper intent.

“It was an emotionally draining day,” she wrote, “but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.”

Now, a plastic bag holding all of the crumpled up notes remains hanging outside of Loewe’s classroom as a reminder of the baggage that every individual in the classroom leaves at the door when they walk into school.

“As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back,” she wrote.

Hundreds of people have since commented on her Facebook post to praise the middle school teacher and her impactful activity.

“What an amazing and inspiring message you gave each of them to carry for a life time,” one person wrote. “You may have eliminated some of their heaviest baggage just by having them share it!!”

“No wonder those kids love you even after they leave you. You are touching so many young hearts and minds,” another commented.

And even while many others, including Loewe’s former students, insisted that the teens are so lucky to have her as their educator, Loewe says that she is the lucky one.

“I am honored to be their teacher,” she wrote.

Loewe did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

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