Wynne Kinder has a master’s in education, 16 years of classroom teaching experience, written 3 curriculum books on mindfulness for schools, created 3 online teacher trainings to accompany those curricula, and taught mindfulness in over 500 classrooms to more than 11,000 students. But it is her voice that children and teachers across the country recognize. Wynne is the voice of mindfulness for the hugely popular classroom program called GoNoodle. If you haven’t heard of GoNoodle, chances are you aren’t an elementary teacher in any state in the America or in 185 other countries.
According to their website, GoNoodle has reached over 14 million students, is consistently used as a classroom tool by 955,000 teachers and has been viewed by over 2 million families. Just one of Wynne’s most popular mindfulness videos is Melting on the FLOW channel. Through YouTube alone (the videos can also be accessed on GoNoodle’s site and mobile app) this video has been viewed over 800,000 times. That’s pretty amazing for a mindfulness video reaching kids.
Local (Lancaster, PA) teachers and students love these mindfulness videos and when they discover that Wynne is the voice (and writer), they go nuts and feel like they are meeting a celebrity. A 1st grade student once asked, “Wait! How did you get from GoNoodle to here, to our classroom?!”
“I hoped from the beginning of working with GoNoodle, that it would provide a very different way to get mindfulness practices out there, into as many schools as possible. I have a friend teaching in Nigeria who was able to access these practices with her students on a laptop. Giving so many teachers and students the tools they need to settle, focus and even manage the stress of their lives remain at the core of my motivation.”
Wynne has been writing content and lending her voice to videos for GoNoodle since early 2014, when she answered an inquiry on the Mindfulness in Education Network listserv. “I was used to creating mindfulness lessons for students, but having these accessible practices put into a digital format and recording my voice was a whole new experience; one that I am still getting comfortable with. If it weren’t for the vision and expertise of Abby Pecoriello, GoNoodle’s SVP Content Development and Production and Co-founder, I know these videos wouldn’t be so popular. Abby has a way of knowing exactly what the kids love and guiding me in the process.”
Mindfulness in education has been a focus of mindfulness leaders like Jon Kabat Zinn, Richard Davidson and Daniel Siegel, who have been speaking of the need of mindfulness to the classroom and children since before 2001. Schools have become keenly aware of the importance of classroom culture and healthy learning spaces. This focus is called Social-Emotional Learning. Mindfulness encourages a sense of openness and authenticity needed to approach social-emotional skills. As research continues to prove the benefits of mindfulness linked to learning, stress management, health, school success and well-being, organizations can be found from coast to coast. Wynne’s voice is joined by a chorus of leaders educating administrators and parents about the benefits of mindfulness.
GoNoodle is not the only place you’ll hear Wynne’s voice. She creates content and lends her voice to Mindfully ADD, a platform created by ADD coach Casey Dixon. The site provides mindful audio “exercises” to help the ADD-mind focus and manage life, as an alternative, or supplement, to strategies they might already be using.
Seeing the educational needs of the future, Wynne is putting her voice and experience into her own teacher-facing digital content: three online teacher trainings to accompany her curriculum books. These programs are for teachers who love the GoNoodle short videos and are also looking for a more comprehensive program to offer their students from Pre-K through middle school.
Her latest goal is to train and give teachers the support they need to teach each curriculum. “A classroom teacher might like the skills taught in the lessons or videos, but not yet feel confident in teaching mindfulness. Also, a critical first step in supporting teachers is encouraging their own well-being. “You can’t teach what you don’t have. I spend a good amount of time encouraging teachers to take a break for themselves - giving them the support, tools and permission to pause and breathe. This self-care piece is so important, since as teachers, we teach who we are.”
Wynne Kinder’s program, Wellness Works in Schools, has been widely adopted in schools (since 2001) in her area of Central Pennsylvania. Following the success and reach of GoNoodle, Wynne expects the books and online trainings will provide added support to teachers across the country and beyond. “I am inspired by what Parker Palmer (author of The Courage to Teach) said, ‘Teachers are among the true culture heroes of our time. . . daily they return to their classrooms, opening their hearts and minds in hopes of helping children to do the same.’ That is what we are doing, giving teachers the tools they need to open their hearts and minds more effectively and authentically.” Wynne will continue to look for and create opportunities to be the voice of mindfulness for teachers and students everywhere.