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In partnership with CalHOPE and the California Department of Health Care Services,  ALL California Educators now have free access to A Trusted Space, Angst, Stories of Hope, and more at CalHOPE Schools. 




Made to Spark Discussion with Students:
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Episode 2: Beyond Worksheets - Amplifying Student Voice 

Step into the next episode of Meeting The Moment, made to spark conversations with your students. In this episode, we confront the unspoken struggles of young minds grappling with unprecedented challenges—ranging from pandemic-induced isolation to the constant fear of school violence. This candid dialogue-starter includes students, educators, and professionals shedding light on the solutions to social isolation and angst in these complex times.


This short film unveils the immense value of emotional support networks and the power of collective student agency in affecting change. We underscore the need for trusted atmospheres within educational settings, spaces where students and teachers can bridge gaps, dissolve barriers, and connect on a human level. By doing so, we highlight ways the education system can evolve to serve the holistic needs of students, addressing not just academics but also their emotional and mental well-being.


Don't miss this episode if you're yearning for an education system that cares about its students as complex, evolving individuals. Spark the conversation by sharing this film with your students, and work together to manifest a more empathetic, responsive, and inclusive learning environment.


This episode is part of our ongoing commitment to bring forth substantial conversations that can drive positive change, made possible by CalHOPE and the California Department of Health Care Services.

three children

Featured In This Episode

Chris Fitzgerald

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Dan Pratt

Virtual Teacher, Golf Coach

Lori Woodley-Langendorff, MS

Founder of All It Takes,

School Counselor, Writer,

Education Consultant

Marcy Melvin, MA

Speaker, Mental Health and Education Consultant

Dr. Pedro A. Noguera PhD

Sociologist and Dean USC Rossier School of Education










Creating Space for Connection: The Power of Listening in Education

Creating Space for Connection: The Power of Listening in Education

Kids don’t often go out of their way to express deep feelings, so when they do, we must seize the opportunity for connection and community building! One day, Teresa Campbell, a middle school teacher at North Parkway Middle School in Jackson, TN, noticed her students were unusually emotional and distracted. Rather than pushing forward with her lesson plan, she made a pivotal decision: to stop teaching and start listening. This choice underscores a fundamental yet often overlooked principle in education: the power of listening. By simply listening, Teresa transformed not just the culture of the classroom but also created space for learning to truly bloom. Modern neuroscience reveals why making room for connection and creating space for vulnerability and expression is so powerful. When teachers truly listen, they engage more than just the auditory parts of the brain; they activate neural pathways linked to empathy and emotional processing. According to research from the University of California, Berkeley, creating an environment where students feel safe to express their emotions can significantly reduce anxiety and stress levels. This reduction in stress allows students to be more open to learning, fostering a deeper connection to the material and to each other. The benefits of fostering connection in the classroom are backed by solid research. A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that classrooms where teachers prioritize listening and connection see better student engagement, improved behavior, and higher academic achievement. By paying attention to their students’ emotional needs, teachers gain valuable insights into the challenges they face, allowing them to tailor their teaching more effectively. Listening is also crucial for building an inclusive classroom environment. This is especially vital in diverse settings where students might feel marginalized. When educators make space for students to share their experiences and emotions, it bridges cultural and social gaps, fostering a more supportive and harmonious learning atmosphere. This approach helps students feel respected and understood, enhancing their willingness to participate and engage. To effectively integrate listening into the classroom, teacher training programs need to emphasize interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. All It Takes Professional development workshops can equip educators with strategies for creating these connections, such as open-ended questioning and reflective feedback. Additionally, educational policies should support smaller teacher-to-student ratios and encourage the use of teaching aids that allow teachers to focus more on individual students. This ensures that teachers can respond to students' needs in real-time, rather than being confined to rigid lesson plans. Ms. Campbell’s experience with her classroom, in only her first year as a teacher, is a powerful reminder of the transformative power of noticing and responding to what students need in the moment. By making connection and listening a priority, educators can enhance learning outcomes, support students' emotional well-being, and create a nurturing educational environment. Moving forward, let’s champion the cause of paying attention to our students, ensuring that every student not only learns but feels genuinely heard. Life is messy, and sometimes the best teaching happens when we pause to truly listen and engage in real discussions.
When Paperwork Interrupts Learning

When Paperwork Interrupts Learning

School finance is notoriously complex. As Justine Fischer expresses, "Do you know how complicated school finance is to get anything done? It shouldn't take 25 different regulations to pay the electric bill." Her frustration truly captures a widespread challenge in education systems nationwide—balancing the necessity of regulation with the pressing need to focus on student learning. The layers of regulations governing school finances were largely instituted as responses to past mismanagement and legal challenges. While these rules aim to ensure transparency and accountability, they also come with a significant downside: they can divert attention from educational goals. Educators find themselves mired in paperwork, struggling to navigate a sea of bureaucratic requirements that can seem disconnected from the classroom. Research reveals the extent of this bureaucratic burden. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, administrative tasks consume about one-third of a school's budget—funds that might otherwise be directed towards enhancing student learning experiences. Moreover, educators spend countless hours on compliance tasks that could be spent teaching, planning lessons, or engaging with students. The question then arises: Could these processes be simplified without compromising accountability? Many experts believe so. Streamlining administrative procedures can free up resources—both time and money—for direct educational purposes. For example, integrating technology and automating certain financial operations could reduce the manual workload and minimize errors, making the system both efficient and transparent. Prioritizing children in the educational ecosystem means reassessing how administrative tasks impact teacher availability and student interaction. Schools need to ensure that administrative necessities do not overshadow the fundamental goal of education—enhancing student learning. Advocates argue for a shift in focus from stringent compliance to flexible policies that empower educators to make decisions best suited for their students' growth. This conversation about school finance reform is part of a larger dialogue on how to optimize educational environments. It ties into broader discussions about educational equity, resource allocation, and the effectiveness of current educational policies. As education systems evolve, finding the right balance between necessary oversight and operational efficiency remains a key challenge. Reevaluating and potentially simplifying the regulatory framework around school finances could have far-reaching benefits for educational quality and efficiency. By reducing the administrative load, we can redirect energies towards what truly matters: providing students with the quality education they deserve. As the educational community continues to debate these issues, the ultimate goal remains clear—putting children first, and ensuring they receive the attention and resources necessary to thrive in an increasingly complex world.





In partnership with CalHOPE and the California Department of Health Care Services,  ALL California Educators now have free access to A Trusted Space, Angst, Stories of Hope, and more at CalHOPE Schools. 




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