Magdalene Lampert inducted into 236th class of The Academy of Arts and Sciences

4.20.16 By Jesse Solomon

We are thrilled and proud to announce that Magdalene Lampert, BPE’s Director of Documentation, Design, and Development for Teaching and Learning, has been inducted into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  This year’s class is the 236th in the Academy’s history and includes some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, and artists. Members of the class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, the Fields Medal, and the Grammy Award and National Book Award. These are really cool people like Wayne Shorter, Colm Toibin and Carol Lee!

Magdalene and I started talking about teacher education over five years ago when we met at a conference. I told her how much I enjoyed her terrific book and appreciated her approach to teacher education. What I most admired about Magdalene was how she had been willing to place her own teaching of fourth-graders, and those students’ work and thinking, at the center of her teacher education work. I was ecstatic when Magdalene accepted my offer to spend a couple days with us at BTR to help us think about our work, and even happier when she said she wanted to come and work with us on an ongoing basis.

Magdalene concentrates on the critical question of how to support novice teachers to teach ambitiously. This question, it seems to me, is at the heart of any profession. Can we structure the preparation and entry into a profession such that new members can perform at high levels? In teaching, the answer has always been, unfortunately, “sometimes.” Too many of us enter the profession in what is essentially a trial by fire, struggling through an incredibly hard first year which we scramble to get through. And once we make it through, we still need to figure out how to get really good – how to engage all of our students in grappling with rigorous material.

Magdalene’s observations as she researched and developed answers to this complex question led her to the design of Instructional Activities: learnable, teachable, repeatable ways of teaching that a novice could acquire and that hold the potential to engage all students in cognitively demanding material. Her work with Instructional Activities has had a tremendous impact on BTR, and on teacher education around the country. Our organization and the teachers we prepare have benefitted greatly from our affiliation and partnership with Magdalene.

On a more personal note, I am grateful to have collaborated with Magdalene for these past few years. She has pushed and improved my thinking on more occasions than I can count. She has provided us with an architecture and a path to deepen our impact.

Ultimately, I believe that Magdalene’s work is at the core of propelling teaching to become the profession we need it to be: a profession which makes foundational a common set of beliefs and practices upon which to educate all students.

We’d like to congratulate Magdalene for this momentous recognition of her accomplishments. We couldn’t be happier or more proud.

more from Jesse Solomon on the blog

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