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The other side of that viral classroom 'baggage activity'—it's not as feel-good as it seems

Sometimes we can get caught up in a seemingly feel-good story and miss that it might have a dark side. An article I wrote recently praising a middle school teacher's "baggage activity" is a perfect, personal example of this. I saw that the post had been shared widely, looked at the activity through my own lens as a former teacher and current parent of teens, and missed the red flags that those trained in trauma saw in it.

The viral post, shared by a veteran teacher, explained how she had her students write down the emotional baggage they were carrying around, wad up the papers, and toss them across the room. Each student then picked up a random paper and read it to the class. Students could share if they wrote it or remain anonymous. The teacher described how the students were moved by the activity, and how she felt it helped them develop empathy for one another. The bag of wadded papers hangs by the door to remind students "they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other's back."


Again, I looked at the post through my own lens. My experience teaching middle schoolers was that despite appearances, they desperately want to be real—to share their struggles and have their experiences and feelings acknowledged. So many kids walk through the halls of their schools thinking they are alone, and I see value in letting them know that they are not. I also have a kid with mental health issues who has been helped tremendously by hearing from others with similar issues. And I've seen personal sharing activities like this have a positive impact on people in various settings, creating deeper connections with others.

RELATED: This teacher's viral 'check-in' board is a beautiful example of mental health support.

But in sharing the post and singing its praises, I missed some things—some important things. My lens didn't include personal experience with severe trauma. It didn't include the principles of trauma-informed education, which came about long after I left teaching in middle and high school classrooms. It didn't include how anonymous sharing of abuse creates a conundrum for teachers as mandatory reporters.

Like hundreds of thousands of others, I took the post at face value and neglected to dig deeper into potential pitfalls of the activity. That was a mistake.

As trauma-informed teacher and researcher Addison Duane wrote, "Research has found that asking students to relive traumatic events or emotional moments during the school day can exacerbate a problem. The student may not give off any outward indication but the internal effects, according to doctors, are long-lasting. In fact, child advocacy centers are explicitly trained in not asking a child for a traumatic story more than once, to avoid further traumatizing."

Other social workers, mental health experts, and education professionals have expressed similar concerns with the classroom baggage activity. While well-intentioned, it may have a negative impact on students dealing with trauma. And while the activity was intended to bring students closer together, it also has the potential to create fodder for further isolation or bullying.

In addition, serious emotional issues are better handled by professionals in the mental health field than teachers in the classroom.

"Our students are living through far more traumatic times than we did," says Kellie Cashion, a former middle school teacher and current school administrator. "We should not compound that trauma by asking them to relive it in their classrooms with their peers, led by a teacher not a licensed therapist."

RELATED: Finland is really good at stopping bullying. Here's how they're doing it.

Teaching empathy is important, and finding ways to do that is a challenge. While this teacher may have known her kids well and had a sense for how to make the activity have the intended effect, it's not a model to follow blindly.

Many of us got caught up in the feel-good nature of the story and our desire for human beings to connect on an emotional level—and in the process we neglected the good work of trauma specialists and professional counselors who are trained and equipped to help kids navigate those waters in a healthy way. I know I did.

Let this be a cautionary tale for all of us who are desperate for stories of human connection. Not all feel-good stories are as uplifting as they seem, and while we don't need to look at every story with a negative eye, we do need to use a wider lens. Our optimism and intentions can blind us to reality, so it's vital that we take the time to dig deeper before sharing a seemingly positive story that may actually cause more harm than good.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


A dad from Portland, Oregon, has taken to LinkedIn to write an emotional plea to parents after he learned that his son had died during a conference call at work. J.R. Storment, of Portland, Oregon, encouraged parents to spend less time at work and more time with their kids after his son's death.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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