Many schools are elevating “Social-Emotional Learning” as essential to a child’s education—as essential as the academic side, that often seems to get front seat privileges. This important work helps consider the whole child. An important resource to parents and teachers has emerged in this space through Noah Glenn’s Like You podcast.
Noah formerly made dandy videos as Creative Director for City Leadership, Choose901, and Teach901 before embracing free lance work through Perpetual Motion. His work has moved beyond just video to now create this new podcast content for kids!
You’ll find Like You anywhere you download podcasts, and the description covers all the good things they do: Like You is a mindfulness podcast for kids. We use breathing, affirmations, music, and imagination to explore feelings, encourage self-esteem, and grow empathy, all while having fun!
Knowing the resource that it could be for our educators, we wanted to feature this story and hear more from Glenn about the genesis of the podcast.
Q1: What influenced you to begin this podcast - was it from a lack of children's content in general or more specifically children's social emotional/mindfulness content?
Glenn: A few things came together to influence me to start this podcast. With a background as a filmmaker and audio engineer, I’m always thinking of new creative projects, and once I had kids I started thinking more and more about creating children’s media. I thought first of children’s TV, and in fact I’m still developing a few concepts for TV I hope to make one day. But screen time is a hot topic for parents, and as I began listening to more podcasts myself, I noticed there wasn’t nearly as much for kids as there is for adults. I love that podcasts offer a screen-free option for kids, and I try to make my podcast as interactive as possible so kids are actively engaged, and not just passively consuming media. As my own kids were growing and learning to deal with new frustrations and anxiety that all kids go through, I found myself wishing for a podcast I could play for them that would teach them tools for calming down, for understanding their emotions, and for building their self-confidence. I couldn’t find what I was looking for already out there, so I decided to make it myself.
Q2: How did your experiences at City Leadership & subsequent engagement with Memphis-area schools help expose you to social emotional learning?
Glenn: I loved all the exposure I got working with education organizations in Memphis during my time at City Leadership. I’ve always been inspired by teachers and educators, and how hard they fight for high-quality equitable education. I’ve gotten to work with so many great educations orgs, that I’ll refrain from naming, because I couldn’t name them all, and I’d leave too many deserving orgs out. What struck me most about working alongside educators, was seeing how what happens outside the classroom is just as important to a child’s education as what happens inside the classroom. Beyond teachers and schools, beyond teacher training programs, beyond advocates and reformers, you continue to find so many people caring for the well-being of kids. There are early childhood centers, after school programs, mentoring programs, health and medical non-profits, poverty programs and the list goes on and on. Whether you call it wraparound services or holistic well-being, I was drawn to the idea of caring for every part of a child. So when I think of creating media for kids, I know there’s lots of great entertainment and educational content, but I’m most interested in social emotional learning, and how we are preparing kids to be confident, resilient, empathetic people.
Q3: How do you think Like You Podcast or other intentional mindfulness work can be helpful to educators and students alike?
Glenn: It’s no secret that the past year has been hard on pretty much everyone, and that takes its toll in ways we recognize and ways we don’t. Since different people have different ideas of what is meant by “mindfulness,” I like to use a really simple definition – stopping to notice what is happening around you and inside you. When you’re under stress or anxiety, your body responds in a lot of ways you may not notice until you stop to check in with yourself. Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, take three deep breaths. These simple changes can have a big effect on your mood, your focus, your emotions, and your mental state. But it’s not just physical. What emotions are you feeling right now? Why are you feeling those things? Do you like that feeling, or would you like to move on from it? If you’re feeling that way, how might others be feeling? These are some of the questions that mindfulness helps adults and kids work through. I first saw the benefits of mindfulness among friends and peers my age, who are often working through repressed emotions and questions of identity or self-worth, because no one ever taught them to listen to themselves, to understand themselves and others, or to be comfortable expressing their emotions. I thought if mindfulness can help adults, it can certainly help kids too. As I’ve worked out ways to make mindfulness fun and engaging for kids, I hope it has also broken down some barriers for adults who may have resisted mindfulness because it seemed too self-serious, or that they’re not “that kind of person.”
Also in a practical sense for teachers, I know that many educators are looking for ways to incorporate mindfulness in the classroom, either because it is required by their school, or because they personally see the benefit. I know how much teachers already have on their plates, and how many lesson plans they have to keep up with, so if playing Like You in their classroom helps them take one thing off their to-do list, I’m glad to help.
Q4: Having worked with you, I know that the cardigan sweater was a regular part of your wardrobe. What influence did Mister Rogers' Neighborhood have on you?
Glenn: Look, I’ve always loved to rock a nice cardigan, and yes, one year on Halloween someone mistook my regular office attire for a Mister Rogers costume, but I can’t say I intentionally turned to Fred Rogers as a fashion icon. Joking aside, he has been a big influence on me in many ways. I grew up on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but through my teens and 20s, I had more or less forgotten about it. It wasn’t until I had kids and started rewatching old episodes that I realized how much the things I care about were influenced by Fred Rogers. Then someone sent me a link to a Tom Junod article about Fred Rogers (the same article the recent Tom Hanks movie was based on), and I sort of fell down a rabbit hole reading Rogers’ books and biographies. My timing was fortunate coming just before the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor (shoutout to Memphis musician, Jonathan Kirkscey, who scored that film), and a flood of new books and a movie coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. So Fred Rogers has had a big influence on my work, but also on my parenting. And yes, we both love cardigans.
Q5: What are your favorite places to enjoy Memphis through curbside service; and what is something you miss that you haven't been able to experience during this current season?
Glenn: I miss a lot during this season. As far as curbside service, the restaurant loss that stings the most is Lucky Cat (RIP Pork Belly Donburi). My family is cooking at home a lot more, but it’s hard to go without treats from Muddy’s, so we’ve been sure to grab desserts there for birthdays, and sometimes just because. Even though I’m generally an introvert and a homebody, I really miss gathering with community in person, especially at Indie Memphis, Unapologetic shows, Creative Works Conference, and CLTV openings and events. But it helps to pick a few things to look forward to. Lately I’ve been excited to see my friend Ben Colar prepping to open a new cocktail bar, Inkwell. Can’t wait to grab a drink there with the virus in the rear-view mirror.