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This Teenage Life is not affiliated with This American Life, but of course, we are huge fans — inspired and grateful for their work!

About Us!

This Teenage Life: About Us! from Molly Josephs

What we believe
With their originality, zest, and fresh perspectives, young people see old things in new ways. Rather than perpetuate the status quo, youth are often more committed to their values and to creating a just future. In school, young people are frequently considered consumers of information rather than producers of new knowledge. By contrast, we're creating a community where youth boldly express their identities, tastes, and interests through creative digital storytelling work, including through the podcast, This Teenage Life.

The Podcast
This Teenage Life (TTL) is a podcast about the ideas, stories, and unique perspectives of teenagers in the middle of their own growth as humans. The episodes that you’ll hear, and people you’ll meet, are meant to offer a a sense of connection. For us, it's a way to process what we feel and think.

It can be easy to think "I'm the only one with this issue," but hearing other young people share their experiences can normalize conversations around sensitive subjects and make the world feel less lonely, less big, and a little more loving. — Cloe Moreno, This Teenage Life artist and contributor

The Educational Approach
TTL supports young people in connecting with themselves, each other, and caring adults through meaningful conversations around personally relevant topics that are not traditionally explored in middle and high school classes. The podcast itself offers a model for how to have these kinds of conversations authentically, safely, and empathetically. Our discussion & activity guides provide support to help listeners engage in similar dialogues.

In our guides, made collaboratively by teens and educators, we provide journaling prompts, conversation norms, facilitation notes, and original activities that can lead to all kinds of storytelling projects— podcasts, writings, zines, multimedia projects, short films, etc.

Our educational resources and podcast are particularly well-suited towards helping educators build communities while meeting with students remotely.

Outcomes
In our own group, we've seen that our program can lead to the development of a tight-knit community greater mental health and wellbeing, increased confidence, and the growth of skills connected to active listening, empathy, self-awareness, storytelling, and the facilitation of challenging converstions. Furthermore, through the making of the podcast, young people develop capacities related to design thinking, audio editing, self and group management, writing professional emails to adults, project management, and executive functioning.

Who runs this?
This Teenage Life was founded and is run by a team of inspiring teenagers and an adult named Molly Josephs. They came together while Molly was working at a project-based high school called High Tech High in San Diego, California.

Molly has spent the past decade teaching middle and high school biology and computer science, and designing project-based curricula. Since studying biology at Brown University and school leadership at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, she’s worked in independent, public district, and public charter schools including High Tech High, The Dalton School, Codman Academy, and The Healey School. She also spent three years on a team working to start a new kind of in-district, project-based high school called Powderhouse Studios.



This Teenage Life Podcast Episodes & Resources



Season 3:

Body Image — With all their hip dips, pimples, stretch marks, and fat, bodies are cool and beautiful because of everything they do for us. How can we learn to love them despite societal critiques and unrealistic standards?

In this episode, we talk about specific insecurities, the comments and comparisons that have helped foster them, and the practices we've developed to love our bodies just the way they are.



Processing Divorce — In this episode, inspired and hosted by listener-turned-contributer Lydia, we process feelings around parents' divorces. Check out Lydia's independent work at wildflowerszine.com



Exploring Femininity — For better or for worse, how feminine or unfeminine we are can define how we're treated in the world — and how we think about ourselves. In this episode, Olivia discusses her relationship with femininity.



Juneteenth — President Biden signed into lawthat Juneteenth is now recognized as a national holiday in the United States. This Teenage Life contributors shared their feelings about Juneteenth and it's importance to them, especially in the context of black history being recogized as U.S. history.



Thank you, Next: Becoming my Best Self — I felt invisible and was bullied in high school and now I'm moving on. This is my story.



Getting Vaccinated — Access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world is still unequal and that needs to change. But in the US, despite the spread of some misinformation, vaccination has continued. Excitingly, sometime this week, 12-15 year-olds are set to be approved to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

In this episode, we explore our feelings about differences in vaccination status between already-vaccinated older teens vs. younger ones and we interview biologist, Dr. Lillian Cohn to answer some questions we have about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Here are some RESOURCES if you want to learn more about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

What do you want to be when you grow up? — In this episode, we explore the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?", and share the anxieties it evokes in us.

A Year in Quarantine — It has been just over a year since our quarantining and social distancing began on March 13th, 2020. We have experienced feelings of grief, loss, isolation, and now — with vaccines coming out — some hope. In this episode, we combine conversations from over the past few months with journal entries to reflect on our first year experiencing a global pandemic.

Morning Routines — Because of the pandemic, we're no longer waking up and getting ready to go to school in the same way. What do we do instead? In this episode of This Teenage Life, which was inspired by a listener from Missouri, we talk about our morning routines.

Text Etiquette — There are all these weird implicit social rules while texting. Should I add an exclamation mark? What does their “ha” mean? In this episode of This Teenage Life, we explain some of the norms we abide by while texting.

Hair Reflections — Hair can be a huge part of our cultural identities and sense of ourselves. However, as authentic, inner confidence grows, it can also become less important to us. In this episode, Cami and her mom reflect on hair loss and the connection between hair, race, and culture. Their conversation, while ostensibly about hair, also reveals a lot about the admiration and love between a mother and a daughter.

Hair and Identity Expression — There's so much tied up in hair - cultural significance, identity expression, and more. On this week's episode of This Teenage Life, we're talking about our experiences with our hair.

Quarantine Daydreams — We might be stuck inside during a global pandemic, but in our heads, we’re going places. We're rockstars, comedians, novelists, and boxers. In this episode of this Teenage Life, we discuss feelings of burn out and where we go to escape those feelings: into our daydreams.

Feeling Disconnected & Hoping to Reconnect — We cherish connection but in the pandemic, we’re struggling to foster the kind of closeness that comes from casual interactions with people. In this episode, we talk about our feelings of disconnection and how we’re trying to reach out and reconnect.

Our Fragile Democracy — Today was a historically jarring and upsetting day — a mob raided and vandalized the U.S. Capitol.

This isn't a normal episode. We made it in the last few hours and it's several of us processing our feelings and the surreal nature of today, trying to make sense of it all.

Loneliness — It's a particularly weird holiday season. A lot of us are feeling particularly isolated right now. In this episode, we talk about our feelings of loneliness — when we feel lonely and what we do when we get these feelings.

Body Insecurities — Clear skin, slim thick bodies...we’re often taught to associate our self worth with how we line up with societal expectations about beauty. In this episode, we speak openly and honestly about our body insecurities, where they come from, and how we are working on them. Below are awesome resources that help to cultivate more self-love. Here's:

  • A video and article about what body positivity is.
  • An incredible video by Dove that shows how the beauty industry sets completely unrealistic expectations about bodies.
  • A This Teenage Life blog post about acne and an article about acne positivity.

Pretend Adulting — It can happen when you're filling out a form or checking out at the grocery store: an imposter-syndrome feeling that occurs when you're doing something "adult, while inside, you're still feeling like a total child. On this episode of This Teenage Life, we talk about feeling like awkward "pretend adults."

Civil Tea: Engaging in Dialogue Amidst Conflict — What does it mean to reach across the aisle and try to understand "the other side?" In this post-2020 election episode, we hear from two young people who founded a company called Civil Tea that's working to bring young people together to engage in dialogue.

Election Anxiety — We’re on edge. It’s a historic election, an extremely divisive moment in US history, there’s a pandemic and a climate emergency. We have all kinds of feelings as election day approaches. On this episode of This Teenage Life, we talk about our feelings about the 2020 presidential election.

Allyship — Structural oppression is just that: structural. So without structural change, can our actions make a difference? In this episode, we discuss individual approaches to allyship and how these practices connect with our desires for a more just society.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode and here are the civic self portraits we made inspired by this conversation.

Snacks — Trader Joe’s meatballs in marinara sauce. Frozen grapes. Jalapeno chips. In this episode, we take a break from heaviness and talk about our favorite snacks.

Climate Grief — Climate change is the biggest issue facing our world today, and has a special significance for young people as the generations most in need of change yet often without the opportunities to make change. In today’s episode, Molly and Olivia discuss climate change from a young person’s perspective.

Too Muchness — Here at This Teenage Life, we’ve uncovered a phenomenon called “too muchness.” It’s a fear of being “too much” that can lead to self policing that holds us back from being our authentic selves. In this episode, we talk about our fears and critiques of “too muchness,” how it feels, and where we think it comes from.

Comfort — It's a tough time. Fires. A pandemic. Political turmoil. When we're at home and feeling sad, angry, or anxious, what are some strategies we use to comfort ourselves? In this episode of This Teenage Life, we discuss what we do to make ourselves feel better.

Remote Learning — Right now, many students and teachers are going "back to school," which looks very different this year. Many people will be experiencing school remotely, including us here at This Teenage Life. In this episode, we discuss our thoughts about remote learning, and explore our ideal scenarios for remote projects.

Season 2:

From Kabul & California: Talking Back — This episode was made in collaboration with a group of teens in Kabul, Afghanistan. Together teens in Kabul and California talk about times when they’ve “talked back,” and stood up for what they believe.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about stories and ideas related to the concept of "talking back."



From Kabul & California: Ideas of Beauty — This episode was made in collaboration with a group of teens in Kabul, Afghanistan. Together teens in Kabul and California talk about beauty standards and moments when they feel empowered and beautiful.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about beauty and beauty standards.

From Kabul & California: Resilience in the Face of Adversity — This episode was made in collaboration with a group of teens in Kabul, Afghanistan. Together teens in Kabul and California talk about perseverance and times when they overcame societal expectations that got in the way of their goals.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about resilience.

No Shame. Period. — Periods can be a sensitive subject. But at This Teenage Life we approach periods, and hopefully all things, with openness and curiosity. On this episode, we talk about our experiences of menstruation and our perception of periods.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations.

Cancel Culture — In this episode of This Teenage Life, we talk about the phenomena of cancel culture on the internet and share our critiques and reflections.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about cancel culture.

Communicating in Quarantine — It’s hard to replicate real life behind a screen. In quarantine, we’ve been trying to be ourselves and stay in touch with friends, but it’s challenging. As we end school and move into summer vacation, we’ve been learning a lot about ourselves, the things we’re struggling with, and the things we miss. In this episode, we give an update on our experiences being quarantined.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about communications throughout the pandemic.

Black Lives Matter — After 400 years of oppression and the brutal murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has swept the nation bringing people to demand an end to racist policing. In this episode, we share our feelings on the recent events and how they have impacted us. To all our black listeners: We stand with you and we love you.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about Black Lives Matter, identity, and moving away from bias.

Pets — Not all of us have a fur baby to cuddle up next to, but for those who do or have had one, I think we can say with certainty that they cause immense joy. During these times where we are spending more time at home, we get to be with them for a lot longer. Sometimes they love that, but some of them might get annoyed. In this episode we take a dive into our relationships with our pets from the past and present and how they are like a family member, vital to our changing realities.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about pets and the animals you know and love.

Personal Story: Mother and Daughter During a Pandemic — During these times, many teenagers are stuck at home with their parents, for better or for worse. In today’s episode, Olivia has a conversation with her mom about their relationship, motherhood, and what it means to be a mom during this pandemic.

13 — Adolescence can be messy. 13 is a particularly challenging time — friend groups can be tricky, puberty can be disorienting, and in general, at 13, a lot of people seem to feel insecure about belonging. In this episode, we talk about our experiences being 13.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about adolescence and being thirteen.

Our Inner Monologues — We only know the voices in our own heads. But most people have some kind of inner monologue. Sometimes our inner monologue can go in circles or be negative, especially when we're alone. And we're alone a lot more these days. In this episode, we share what our inner monologues sound like, and what we do when we want to shift from being negative to having a more positive outlook on the world.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about inner monologues.

Beautiful Boredom — As the routines of our lives shift and we confront the reality of spending weeks, if not months, at home, we talk about how we grapple with and experience boredom and how we use it to start new hobbies and develop new creative projects.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about boredom and how to use it an inspirational force!

Small Acts of Kindness — Kindness matters, especially during this dark time, even if what you're doing doesn’t seem like a big deal. In this episode, we talk about small acts of kindness that we’ve noticed recently and how they’ve affected us.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations and spread some kindness!

TTL + The Virus So Far — COVID-19 is a global pandemic. We're grateful to be healthy, and are also grappling with staying at home, without school or social interaction with friends. In this episode, we video-chatted to talk about how our thoughts and experiences of COVID-19 have unfolded thus far.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about your experiences of the pandemic.

Teenage Reflections — Have you ever wondered what you'll think of yourself when you look back on your teenage years? In this episode, we hear stories from young(ish) adults in their 30s reflecting on their teenage lives.

Moving, Part 3 — Moving from one country to another can be especially difficult. It can be hard to grasp the nuances of a new culture and you’re often misunderstood. In our final episode of our moving series, we hear stories of international moves.

Moving, Part 2 — In this episode of our moving series, we hear stories about how people have adjusted or are currently coming to terms with living in a new place.

Moving, Part 1 — This is the first episode in our multi-part series about moving. In Part 1, a young woman shares her story of choosing her own path, moving 300 miles away from her home.

Impressions — Sometimes we’re overly self-conscious about how we’re seen by other people. In this episode, we explore how we change our behavior when we want other people to like us.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about the impressions you're afraid of making and the ones you want to make.

Queerness — In high school, exploring your gender identity and sexual orientation can be a part of constructing your identity. In this episode, we discuss our experiences with queerness.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about issues related to queerness and the idea of "coming out" in general.

Love in High School — Do you believe in love? Have you ever been in love? How do you feel about having a romantic relationship in high school? In this episode of This Teenage Life, we talk about love.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations and to engage in fun activities related to ideas about love and portrayals of teen relationships.

Lies Parents Told Us — Sometimes parents make stuff up. This is especially the case when we're little. From Santa to where babies come from, in this episode, we share stories about the lies parents told us as kids.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations and engage in some fun activities about lies parents told us or misconcepts we had as kids.

Season 1:


Fears about Adhulthood — What is adulthood? The idea of becoming an adult is exciting, but also scary. On this episode of This Teenage Life, we discuss our fears about adulthood.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations and engage in some really thoughtful activities about fears related to growing up.

Dreams — When we're awake, we may not be aware of the strange and surreal worlds in our minds. When we're asleep, they come alive. In this episode, we share stories of odd dreams that continue to haunt us.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about dreams.

Parents are people too— As kids, it’s often hard to see that parents are not just parents. They’re human beings who have their own needs, emotions, styles, fragilities, etc. In this episode, we talk about moments when we began to discover that parents are, in fact, people too.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about when you realized your parent(s)/guardian(s) are human beings.

Feelings of Power — There are times when you feel powerful, and times when you feel like you've lost your power. This episode is about small moments experienced by a group of teenage women; times when they felt like badasses, and others when they felt just the opposite.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about feelings of empowerment.

Middle School — Middle school can be rough. You’re trying to figure out who you are, while constantly paying attention to the opinions of those around you. In this episode, we share experiences from middle school that are still influencing us today.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about middle school.

Self-Doubt — This episode is about things we tell ourselves, our ideas about how others perceive us, and how these thoughts get in the way of saying or doing something that might actually be worth it.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations with your students, friends, or families about self-doubt.

Teaser — Get a feel for Season One of This Teenage Life — who we are, some topics we discuss, and what's to come.



Death — is hard to wrap your head around. When we're kids, we tended to obsess about it. Now we're thinking about it less, but it's still there, obviously. In this episode, we talk about our existential feelings about mortality.

This episode was made a long time ago before we had an official podcast but here is the link to it on vimeo.



Missing Childhood — the lack of responsibility, the ignorant bliss. In this episode, we talk about when things weren't so serious. We talk about what we miss about childhood.

This episode was made a long time ago before we had an official podcast but here is the link to it on vimeo.

Here is our conversation and activity guide inspired by this episode. Use it to have your own meaningful conversations about childhood and what we miss about it as we're growing up.

Superstitions — is an episode about weird habits that we do but don't usually admit to doing, even to ourselves.

This episode was made a long time ago before we had an official podcast but here is the link to it on vimeo.



Educational Resources: Conversation, Activity Guides, PD Offerings



Here are our tips for centering youth voice and choice and using This Teenage Life in your school!
Swag!
Desgined by Cloe Moreno and produced by Molly Zucchet

Description:

Our current items include t-shirts in S, M, L, & XL and two designs of stickers — "mic-mouth" and "speech-bubble" — which can be put on laptops, water bottles, or whatever you choose!

Prices:

Stickers: 2 stickers for $7.50.
T-shirts: $20 each.
If you can't afford these prices, don't worry. Email us and we'll work something out!

Ordering:

To order or request new items we haven't produced yet, email the following to team@thisteenagelife.org

  • Your name and shipping address
  • Your venmo username
  • the names of the items you want
  • if applicable, the size(s) you'd like



Our Team!
Media Coverage + School Partnerships + Getting in Touch



This Teenage Life Articles (in other publications) and Features



TTL in Teen Vogue about graduation —

Here is a piece written by Molly J. and most of the teens on their feelings about graduating in a pandemic.

TTL in Teen Vogue about Loneliness —

Here is a piece written by Olivia Ho about how This Teenage Life helped her cope with loneliness throughout pandemic.

TTL in the Chicago Lab School's student publication —

Here is a piece about TTL's collaboration with the intersectional feminism club at The University of Chicago Laboratory High School

TTL on High Tech High's Unboxed Podcast talking about what schools can learn from after school —

Here is a conversation with teens, educators, and scholars on how classes can learn from club-like contexts.

TTL featured on YR Media —

Here is a link to an article that Olivia wrote for YR Media about self consciousness in Zoom classes and how to create learning environments that help young people feel more comfortable.

TTL on Facing History and Ourselves —

Here is TTL featured in a FHAO blog post on allyship.

TTL on the podcast High Tech High's Unboxed Podcast on remote learning —

Here is TTL's remote learning episode featured on High Tech High's Graduate School of Education's Unboxed Podcast.

TTL featured in the Marshall Memo —

Here via the Marshall Memo, TTL's dialogue work an article in Edutopia was featured in renowned educator's, Kim Marshall's, weekly newsletter.

TTL's approach to conversations on Edutopia —

Here is TTL's approach to dialogue featured on Edutopia, a website documenting best practices and innovative approaches to education in K-12 classrooms.

TTL on LOLA's blog, The Spot

Here are two pieces written by TTL teens on LOLA's blog The Spot, about parenting and first periods.

TTL Podcast on Expeditionary Learning's Model of Excellence —

Here is TTL's podcast featured on Models of Excellence the largest collection of high quality student work in the world.

TTL Curricular Resources on Expeditionary Learning's Model of Excellence —

Here is TTL's curricular resources featured on Models of Excellence, the largest collection of high quality student work in the world.

TTL featured on Seeds of Peace Blog —

Here is a link to a blogpost we wrote for Seeds of Peace about our podcasting work in collaboration with teens in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Schools using the podcast and activity guides in classrooms—




Email and Social Media