TeachUP interview series: Desiree Scicluna Bugeja
What are, in your view, the main challenges teachers have to face in their new roles?
a. Challenging educational trends
Rapidly changing educational developments in technology are often envisaged as a challenge by educators. This perception is heightened if technological tools/resources are introduced without sufficient training and class support. Furthermore, educators who are unsavvy in technology feel insecure and concerned that their students might be more advanced technology users.
b. Mixed ability class settings
A mixed ability class setting is a major challenge to educators who strive to extend the potential of all students whether struggling, average or gifted. Moreover, students of different abilities have different levels of motivation that may manifest in unruly class behaviour. Educators often seek ways to diversify teaching resources and approaches, however this entails thorough planning that can impinge on teachers' time availability.
c. Collaboration with peers
Educators often end up working in isolation and find difficulty to engage with colleagues in professional pedagogical conversations. Conventionally teaching is an individualistic practice, and shifting to a culture of collaborative teaching entails a mindset change.
How can Teach-UP help to overcome these challenges?
Teach-UP can definitely facilitate teachers' on-going transformation through professional development online and/or blended courses that address these main challenges. Furthermore, Teach-UP can enhance teacher confidence and motivation through networking opportunities that allocate space for teachers to share and discuss their concerns and experiences. Mentoring teachers while undergoing professional development can also be considered as a valid opportunity of the Teach-UP project, aimed to strengthen teachers' diligence and competence.
Could you tell us a few words about your work, and how your organisation's experience contributes to Teach-UP?
My team's work within the Ministry for Education and Employment (Malta) aims to support educators and school leaders to provide positive, quality teaching/learning experiences for all students of different ability, culture, gender, race and religion. The role focuses on facilitating change and smooth implementation processes to the demands of our education system driven by globalisation, ICT development, competition, shift of traditional values and new paradigms. As a partner in Teach-UP, we contributed to the design of teacher professional training. National participation in Teach-UP through the valid course design and Country Dialogue Labs contributed to further development of a strong and skilled European teacher community.
And, finally, three words that best describe you?
I see myself as a determined, confident change-agent.