When Karen Wunderlich Loewe’s 7th and 8th graders came back to school last week, they probably weren’t expecting this particular lesson.
To mark her 22nd year of teaching, Loewe wanted to do something different.
The middle-school English teacher began the school year with a lesson in emotional literacy, asking her students to write whatever “baggage” they carry on pieces of paper — from cancer to divorce to losing a pet and suicide — and leave them at the door.
The post, which shows a plastic bag filled to the brim with crumpled pieces of paper — has been shared more than 450,00 times and boasts nearly 680,000 reactions.
“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,” she wrote.
This starts my 22nd year of teaching middle school. Yesterday was quite possibly one of the most impactful days I have…
“The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough,” it continued. “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,” she wrote. “As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back.”
Her “emotional baggage” activity has captured the hearts of many who’ve applauded her big heart.
“No wonder those kids love you even after they leave you,” one person wrote. “You are touching so many young hearts and minds.”
One of her former students wrote: “You’re a wonderful human being and teacher! Some of my fondest memories are in your class,” while another commented: “This definitely needs to be shared. Many people, adults and children, can learn from this.”
Speaking with WFLA, the dedicated educator explained the significance behind the activity.
“The ‘leave it at the door’ means like don’t let that past define you… it happened, it made you who you are, but don’t dwell on it forever and ever, you’ve got to move past it,” Loewe said.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.