A thirty-year career in education – both as a secondary school teacher and a university lecturer – and a commitment to enhancing the student experience has seen Monash University’s Dr Margaret Plunkett named as Australia’s Teacher Educator of the Year.
Dr Plunkett, who is a Senior Lecturer in both primary and secondary school education at Monash University’s Gippsland campus, was announced as the winner of the prestigious award during the Australian Teacher Educator Association’s annual conference held in Adelaide.
Designed to encourage and recognise innovative practices in teacher education at a university level, the ATEA/Pearson Teacher Educator of the Year Award is presented to the tutor or lecturer who has been judged as having made an outstanding contribution in promoting learning, understanding and development among their students.
Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University’s Gippsland campus, Professor Helen Bartlett, said the award reflected the lifelong commitment Dr Plunkett had shown to teacher education, especially in terms of increasing and improving the experiences of students in regional areas.
“Through her unwavering dedication and passion for education, Dr Plunkett has established herself as one of Monash University’s most recognised teacher educators,” Professor Bartlett said.
“Dr Plunkett’s enthusiasm and knowledge of teaching has seen her achieve overwhelmingly positive feedback from students. In many cases, this has included extensive feedback on the support and guidance Dr Plunkett has provided to distance education students unable to travel to the Gippsland campus or students who have been at risk of failing their studies.”
Dr Plunkett said she was humbled to have been named as Australia’s Teacher Educator of the Year, saying her teaching style was often based on her own experiences as a disadvantaged student and her work as a teacher in both big cities and small country towns.
“My personal experience underpins my philosophy of attempting to draw out the best in all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, and helping future teachers respond to diversity and difference in the most positive way possible,” Dr Plunkett said.
“The key for me as an educator is to support and guide each of my students in a way that best meets their needs. Irrespective of their abilities or preferred ways of learning, I aim to create an educational experience that models the approach I hope my students will ultimately take into their own classrooms.”
In addition to her teaching commitments, Dr Plunkett is a widely-published researcher in the area of teacher development and gifted education, and has presented her research at national and international conferences.