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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 logo






“A Trusted Space: Meeting the Moment” is a free and accessible docu-training series comprised of six films designed to reach educators, students, and all who care about and serve our young people. Included are materials designed to support education leadership in their ongoing effort to support their staff and students as recovery, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, remains elusive and challenging. 


Building upon the award-winning film, “A Trusted Space: Redirecting Grief to Growth,” “Meeting the Moment” expands upon the urgent need for California's schools to create trusted, healthy spaces for all students and the staff who support them. Educators do not need to be healers, they simply need to create atmospheres where healing and learning can happen naturally. 


The series brings together diverse voices from the frontlines of education to take a deeper look at the social, emotional, mental and academic challenges that persist in a pandemic recovery environment. Through a comprehensive examination of scientific research and expert insights, the series offers free and practical, no-prep-time strategies to support educators in addressing these pressing issues.


blueprint for hope

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Episode One:
Meeting The Moment

An exploration of this moment in the US education ecosystem. Offers an introduction to Building Trusted Spaces.

amplifying student voice



Episode Two:
Beyond Worksheets

Ep. 2 - Beyond Worksheets

A candid dialogue-starter, shedding light on the solutions to social isolation and angst in these complex times.

the intersection of neuroscience and behavior



Episode Three:
Decoding Behavior

Ep. 3 - Decoding Behavior

Behavior is a statement of need, and educators also need to maintain their authority.

A TRUSTED SPACE: Navigating Storms | Understanding Mental Health logo



Episode Four:
Navigating Storms

Ep. 4 - Navigating Storms

Understanding mental health is the first step to conquering it. This episode is here to help students navigate their storms.

embracing the village



Episode Two:
Beyond Worksheets

Ep. 5 - Power of Community

Parents, Educators, and Students are the Three Legged Stool. Without each one engaged, we all fall. 

a new era in education



Episode Two:
Beyond Worksheets

Diversity is the strength of a generation. How can we harness this strength for positive change?

Ep. 6 - Standing Together



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.
Debate & Discourse: A Vital Part Of Education

Debate & Discourse: A Vital Part Of Education

In today’s educational landscape, the ability to engage in meaningful debate is not just beneficial—it's essential. Dr. Raghu Appasani highlights a concerning trend: our growing hesitation to engage in open discourse. This hesitancy threatens to undermine our educational foundations, stalling personal growth and innovation. Debate equips students with the tools to analyze complex issues, understand diverse viewpoints, and articulate their thoughts clearly. These skills are foundational not only for academic success but for lifelong learning and effective citizenship. Dr. Appasani reflects on his high school debate experiences, pointing out how defending ideas he didn't initially support broadened his perspective and deepened his understanding of others. Rigorous academic research underscores the value of debate in education and these studies indicate that students who engage in debate show improved critical thinking skills, are more adept at problem-solving, and possess a greater ability to empathize with others. These are not just academic advantages but are qualities that students carry into their future careers and personal lives. The digital age brings unparalleled access to information but also new challenges in how we communicate. The risk of public backlash on social media can make students reluctant to express unpolished ideas. Dr. Appasani stresses the importance of creating safe spaces in educational settings where students can explore and debate ideas without fear of retribution or ridicule. At All It Takes, we believe it is imperative for educators to integrate structured debate into curricula, providing frameworks that encourage respectful and productive discussion. Schools should aim to cultivate environments where mistakes are seen as a natural part of learning. This approach will help students become not only better learners but also more thoughtful and considerate individuals. We have a responsibility to encourage a culture of curiosity and open-mindedness. Let’s champion the cause of debate and discourse in our educational systems to prepare a new generation of thinkers, leaders, and innovators. Join us in this vital mission to ensure that our students are equipped to face the complexities of the world with confidence and compassion.


Raghu Appasani, MD

University of California San Francisco - Addiction Psychiatry Fellow, TrPR l Psychedelic Psychiatry Clinician

Gigi Crowder

Executive Director NAMI Contra Costa

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD

Neuroscientist, Human Development Psychologist, USC Rossier School of Education

Marcy Melvin, MA

Speaker, Mental Health and Educational Consultant

Dr Raghu Appasani
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang EdD
Gigi Crowder
Marcy Melvin MA

Pedro A. Noguera, PhD

Sociologist and Dean USC Rossier School of Education

Caroline Lopez-Perry, PhD

Counselor, California Association of School Counselors

Executive Director California Association of School Counselors

Loretta Whitson, EdD

Lori Woodley-Langendorff, MS

Founder of All It Takes,
School Counselor, Writer,
Education Consultant

Pedro Noguera PhD
Caroline Lopez-Perry PhD
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. 




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