• Monica Gupta Mehta

Baggage Activity: Building Empathy

This activity is one that has gone viral, but I was hesitant to post at first. I love the incredible empathy this teacher developed through this activity, but I think it is very important to understand there was a strong framework she first set up. Doing this activity without a lot of groundwork and support in place could go very wrong. I'd even go so far as to consider having a counselor on standby in case students bring up something disturbing or overwhelming, or at least spend time thinking how to make your students feel safe.

From the teacher: "I want people to know that there is so much more that went into this than what I posted," she said. "My original post was just for my friends and people that know me. They said 'You need to make this public,' so I did, but I didn't change anything. If I knew it was going to blow up, I would have said what went into it ahead of time."

Loewe's kids have written classroom contracts, had discussions about how what happened in the room stayed in the room, and done other trust-building exercises. Since then, she's had the students engage in several follow-up activities, like conversation starters, worksheets where they have another opportunity to share their "baggage," and giving feedback.

"I've had so many kids come in that are just thankful, I think, that somebody's listening," Loewe said. "I think they're liking it."

Teacher's back-to-school 'baggage activity' spreads to schools worldwide

SEL Core Competencies: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills


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