Dr. Toshalis's work with educators does not depend on "silver bullet" or "flavor of the month" reforms. Teaching and learning are too complex and too demanding to be well served by one-dimensional approaches, and professionals are understandably leery of the long succession of branded promises they've been told to accept. Eric believes that the knowledge we need to be successful in schools must therefore be drawn from multiple and often conflicting sources. Supporting professionals to make sense of and apply that knowledge in their work with colleagues, families, and students is what Eric does.
So then, whose knowledge counts in education, and for what purpose? Eric's work is driven primarily by what we learn from research and what we know from impacted stakeholders. This dual knowledge-base provides a solid foundation for reform and an ethical stance to undertake the challenging work of educating youth. When we access both knowledge-bases we realize that good teaching and positive educational outcomes depend on an interdisciplinary orientation, active curiosity, collegial inquiry, data-based decision-making, and an equity lens.
Like many leading scholars, Eric believes it is the integration—not the isolation—of social-emotional, cognitive, cultural, political, systemic, and pedagogical factors that offers the greatest possible impact on students' academic achievement and psychosocial well-being. By using research-proven approaches and leveraging both the knowledge of professional educators and the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, Eric builds the capacity for schools to locate and practice those classroom-proven techniques that inspire kids to do their best.
This knowledge-driven approach bolsters Dr. Toshalis's works with educators as they strive to build learning communities that serve the needs of all students, particularly those who have been historically underserved. Research and on-the-ground realities show us that students tend to thrive the most in schools where educators are also thriving. Consequently, whether he's collaborating with classroom teachers, administrators, district officials, scholars, nonprofits, parents, or community leaders, Eric's work is grounded in the struggle to:
- Understand and apply research
- Elevate academic rigor
- Improve school climate and teacher-student relationships
- Enhance cultural responsiveness
- Achieve equity