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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. 

CalHOPE Schools



Explore The Intersection of Neuroscience & Behavior
Access The

Episode 3: Decoding Behavior


The Intersection of Neuroscience & Behavior

This urgent and impactful docu-training film for educators explores the intricate connection behavior has to developmental science, offering an essential lens through which educators can decode escalating behaviors and declining academic focus.

The educational and inspirational film confronts the escalating indicators of the mental health crisis among students—soaring rates of suicidal ideation, disruptive behavior, and emotional distress. But it doesn't stop at just laying bare the grim statistics; it delves into the science behind them. Gain insights from leading experts who unravel the neurobiological mechanisms influencing behavior, demystifying the often misinterpreted actions of students.


Within the education ecosystem, where cognitive skills often overshadow emotional literacy, this film champions the imperative of a balanced education. It illuminates educators' vital role in creating trusted spaces—sanctuaries where students are empowered to express, connect, and evolve. By recognizing and addressing the neurobiological underpinnings of behavior, educators can cultivate environments that foster academic excellence and promote mental well-being.


This is a must-watch for educators invested in creating a more empathetic and nuanced approach to student behavior and mental health. Please share this film within your educational community to help create meaningful conversations and pave the way for systemic change.


Like its predecessors, this episode stands as a testament to the education ecosystem’s enduring commitment to fostering dialogues that can catalyze positive transformations. Brought to you by All It Takes in Partnership with CalHOPE and the California Department of Health Care Services.

child covering face

Featured In This Episode

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.


Raghu Appasani, MD

Gigi Crowder

Kathryn Dusek

Jim Fryhoff

Josh Godinez, M.A.Ed

Tom Hixon

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD

Ashley Jaron

Alexis Jordan

Dianne Large

Marcy Melvin, MA

Pedro Noguera, PhD

Maria Sandoval

Valerie Shapiro, PhD

Nicole Vitto, MA

Andrew Walanski

Lori Woodley-Langendorff, MS












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. 

CalHOPE Schools



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