School navigation

Teacher Education

Eric Toshalis

Assistant Professor

  • Profile Image

Rogers Hall

For over two decades, Eric Toshalis has served public education in a variety of roles including middle and high school teacher, coach, mentor teacher, teacher educator, union president, community activist, curriculum writer, researcher, author, and consultant. Recognized as Teacher of the Year by his school district in Santa Barbara County in 1997 and awarded the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching by Harvard College in 2002, Eric has long focused on what it takes to educate adolescents and adults who bring a diversity of cultural, ethnic, gender, linguistic, racial, sexual, and socioeconomic insights. Eric received his B.A., teaching credential, and M.Ed. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. He completed his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2007, and served as Assistant Professor of Secondary Education at CSU Channel Islands from 2007 to 2011. With Michael J. Nakkula, Eric coauthored Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators, which was published by Harvard Education Press in 2006. Thrilled to call Portland home, he enjoys spending time with his partner and their two cats, and hiking, trail-running, backpacking, snowboarding, climbing, and paragliding in the mountains and canyons of the western states.


In this brief video, Toshalis discusses the paper “Motivation, Engagement, and Student Voice.” It is part of the larger “Students at the Center” project that advocates at the national level for placing students at the center of our educational decision making. The full paper and executive summary are available here.

Personal Statement

My work in schools, with educators, and with youth begins with the recognition that public education tends to reproduce rather than remedy social inequity. Consequently, I favor pedagogies that enhance students’ and teachers’ capacities to understand and resist dominant assumptions about what constitutes valid knowledge, appropriate behavior, respected authority, and valuable contribution. This strategic turn toward resistance allows me to persist in believing that public school classrooms can be vital, hopeful spaces in which critical democratic orientations toward difference may be developed, and it fuels my commitment to building and sustaining culturally responsive classrooms that enhance both student and teacher agency.

Areas of Expertise

Adolescent Development, Classroom Management & School Discipline, Teacher Education & Induction, Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, Anti-Oppressive Pedagogies, Critical Ethnography

Current Research

Eric’s research is situated at the intersection of adolescent development and teacher education. He investigates factors that promote the academic success and psychosocial flourishing of both students and teachers, paying particular attention to teacher-student relational understanding, disciplinary interactions, developmental trajectories, processes of identity formation, pedagogical strategies, whiteness, and anti-oppressive pedagogies. 


Peer-Reviewed Articles
Online Publications, Blogs, & Webinars
  • Toshalis, E. (2014). “Motivation professional development module” (Ed.). Research-driven, practitioner-tested, curriculum project supported by Jobs for the Future, Students at the Center, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
  • Toshalis, E. (2014). “Engagement professional development module” (Ed.). Research-driven practitioner-tested, curriculum project supported by Jobs for the Future, Students at the Center, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
  • Toshalis, E. & Nakkula, M. J. (2013) Motivation, engagement, and student voice toolkit. Professional development curricula for middle and high school educators, part of the Students at the Center project..


Scholarly Presentations
  • Toshalis, E. (2014, April). Making sense of “no”: A taxonomy of adolescent resistance in the classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA. 

  • Toshalis, E. (2013, April). “You don’t even know me!”: Interpreting teacher and student (mis)understandings in the classroom. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Future Educators’ Association, Orlando, FL.
  • Toshalis, E. (2010, February). Be careful: Symbolic violence in preservice teachers’ care rhetoric. Paper presented at the 31st Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. 
  • Toshalis, E. (2009, April). Growing their own: How states/districts/schools prepare youth to teach in their home communities. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.
  • Toshalis, E. (2007, April). Disciplining preservice teachers to do discipline: Agency and relationship in training teachers as classroom managers. Poster session given at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.
  • Toshalis, E. (2007, February). Induction as discipline: How are we mentoring preservice teachers to manage their classrooms? Presentation at the New Teacher Center’s Symposium on Teacher Induction, San Jose, CA.
  • Pollock, M., Carter, D. J., Graves, D., Martin, T., & Toshalis, E. (2006, April). Race wrestling: Struggling strategically with race in educational research. Panel Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
Consultations in Schools and Non-profit Organizations
  • Toshalis, E. (2013, December). Student risk-taking & resistance: The logic of withdrawal & refusal. Presentation to groups of teacher-leaders and facilitation of curriculum development in the Learner-Centered Professional Development Project in Cromwell, Connecticut. Supported by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and Jobs for the Future, and sponsored by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
  • Toshalis, E. (2013, October). The learner-centered professional development project. Two days of co-planned presentations and work sessions in Cromwell, Connecticut, to support secon-dary teachers as they create and pilot professional development modules for their colleagues that will promote and enhance student-centered instruction in middle and high schools. Supported by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and Jobs for the Future, and sponsored by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation
  • Nakkula, M. J. & Toshalis, E. (2009, September). Knowing and being known: Understanding sociocultural influences in adolescent development & achievement. Presentation with Dr. Michael J. Nakkula of the University of Pennsylvania, to Pima County teachers, counselors, and administrators in Tucson, AZ. 
  • Nakkula, M. J. & Toshalis, E. (2009, July). Developmental alliances in middle school leadership teams. Co-consultation for all middle school leadership teams in the Austin Independent School District, at Garcia Middle School in Austin, TX. 
  • Toshalis, E. (2009, April). Findings from the study of TECA students’ evaluations, motivations, & aspirations. Report presented to faculty at the Teaching and Educational Careers Academy at Pacifica High School in Oxnard, CA.
P-12 Community Presentations
  • Toshalis, E. (2014-2015). Student (dis)engagement: The causes, contexts, and consequences of an activated learner. A series of seven professional development sessions across the academic year, designed and implemented in consultation with the administration and leadership team at Roosevelt High School in the Portland Public School District, Portland, Oregon. 
  • Toshalis, E. (2013, Spring). Revising Portland Public School District’s teacher evaluation instrument. A series of presentations and facilitations in which I worked closely with a group of PPS school administrators to revise their teacher evaluation instrument to better attend to race, ethnicity, cultural difference, social justice, and equity issues in the classroom.
  • Toshalis, E. (2013, June). One in ten: Discussing career concerns of queer educators . Convened/organized/hosted a panel of Portland area LGBTQI educators to discuss various interviewing, employment, and induction recommendations for gender and sexually diverse preservice and inservice educators. Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Lewis & Clark College, June 12, 2013.
  • Toshalis, E. (2012, December). Collaborative inquiry: Using a Video Protocol to Analyze Classroom Practice. Multimedia professional development activity for all faculty at Grant High School, in Portland, OR.
  • Toshalis, E. (2012, November). Making things happen: Risk-taking and resistance in adolescence. Half-day training session for the Oregon School Psychologists Association.
  • Toshalis, E. (2012, August). Connecting & correcting: The indispensible teacher-student relationship. A half-day series of presentations and professional development activities for all faculty and administrators from one of Lewis & Clark’s partnership schools, Grant High School, in Portland, OR.
  • Toshalis, E., Tollefson, K., Itkonen, T., & Quintero, E. (2007-2009). “Testy Times”: Community dialogues on No Child Left Behind. Co-planner and presenter, with CSUCI colleagues, of a series of four events held at the university and in the community.
  • Toshalis, E. (2008, May). History-social science partners event. Planner and presenter of collaborative event involving Ventura County social science educators and members of the history, political science, economics, and library faculties at CSUCI.
  • Toshalis, E. (2007, December). Standardized intentions, sub-standard impacts: What we’re losing when we reduce assessment to the norm-referenced test. Presentation given to the CSUCI/P-12 community as part of the “Testy Times” series of community dialogues.

Academic Credentials

Ed.D. 2007 Harvard University

M.T.S. 2001 Harvard University

M.Ed. 1997 University of California, Santa Barbara

Teaching Credential 1993 University of California, Santa Barbara,

B.A. 1992 University of California, Santa Barbara

From the Newsroom

45.445122971482; -122.671580079346