A middle school English teacher from Oklahoma is giving her students a very valuable lesson.

On the first day back at school after the summer break, Karen Loewe, who has been teaching for 22 years, invited her seventh- and eighth-graders to write down some of the things they were struggling with in life on a piece of paper, scrunch it up, then chuck it across the room.

The students were told not to include their names so they could be as honest as they liked.

During class, one by one students were asked to pick up a piece of paper and read its contents aloud. Karen then asked if the child who wrote the problem down wanted to share about it more.

“I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up about and shared with the class,” wrote Karen on Facebook. “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.”

After all the pieces of paper had been read, they were placed in a plastic bag hung by the classroom door. Loewe plans to keep that bag for the rest of the school year to remind students not to dwell on the negative.

“The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough,” Karen said. “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.”

“They leave it at the door means like don’t let that past define you,” Loewe said, “let it, you know, it happened, it made you who you are, but don’t dwell on it forever and ever, you’ve got to move past it.”

Karen explained that the bag was hung to show that while we all have baggage, “we will leave it at the door’ and have a good day learning.”

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