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Aim of paper. To investigate teachers’ perceptions on the role that teachers’ associations play in their professional development, with reference to the Geography Teachers’ Association (Malta). This requires * definition of professional development for the purpose of this paper.

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aim of paper
Aim of paper
  • To investigate teachers’ perceptions on the role that teachers’ associations play in their professional development, with reference to the Geography Teachers’ Association (Malta).
  • This requires * definition of professional development for the purpose of this paper.

* an overview of activities organised by G.T.A. (Malta)

professional development
Professional development
  • “Professional development consists of all natural learning experiences and those conscious and planned activities which are intended to be of direct or indirect benefit to the individual, group or school and which contribute through these to the quality of education in the classroom”. (Day 1999)
about g t a malta
About G.T.A. (Malta)
  • The Geography Teachers’ Association of Malta was set up in 2000.
  • Its aim is to foster the teaching of geography amongst all sectors of the community.
  • It has 72 members including
    • Teachers of geography in secondary schools
    • Teachers in primary schools
    • Teachers in higher secondary schools
    • Subject coordinators
    • Education officers
    • Student-teachers specialising in geography
    • Others involved in education but not in geography
threats to geography in secondary schools
Threats to geography in secondary schools
  • New National Minimum Curriculum in 1999 established that:
    • geography lessons be reduced from two to one lesson per week throughout the five years of secondary schooling.
    • Geography, social studies and history should be integrated into one curriculum subject under the name of ‘Environmental Studies’.
g t a malta activities that may potentially contribute to the professional development of teachers
G.T.A. (Malta) activities that may potentially contribute to the professional development of teachers:
  • Publication of papers on geography and geography education
  • Organisation of talks on geographical themes
  • Organisation of field trips to areas of geographical interest
data collection
Data collection
  • A questionnaire was distributed to teachers of geography, members of the G.T.A. (Malta).
  • A response rate of 52% was achieved
is the g t a contributing to teachers professional development
Is the G.T.A. contributing to teachers’ professional development?
  • All respondents invariably agreed that the G.T.A. contributes to their professional development.
how is the g t a contributing to teachers professional development
How is the G.T.A. contributing to teachers’ professional development?
  • Field trips help teachers discover and learn about new natural and man-made landscapes of geographical interest. Geographers are invited to attend these fieldworks as active participants.
  • After familiarising themselves with these places, teachers then evaluate the potential of these places for fieldwork sessions with students.
how is the g t a contributing to teachers professional development1
How is the G.T.A. contributing to teachers’ professional development?
  • Papers published by G.T.A. circulate the results of local research in academic geography and geography education, particularly in view of the absence of any journals about the geography of the Maltese Islands.
  • Knowledge and insights gained from these papers allows inclusion of up-to-date examples in lessons for students.
how is the g t a contributing to teachers professional development2
How is the G.T.A. contributing to teachers’ professional development?
  • G.T.A. activities offer teachers the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with other teachers of geography and geographers.
  • Matters related to the geography syllabuses and national examinations are the most popular informally discussed topics during these activities despite these being the least focused on themes in G.T.A. activities.
how is the g t a contributing to teachers professional development3
How is the G.T.A. contributing to teachers’ professional development?
  • Three teachers sitting on the G.T.A. committee have been nominated by the association to attend international conferences organised by EUROGEO.
what other activities can g t a organise to enhance teachers professional development
What other activities can G.T.A. organise to enhance teachers’ professional development?
  • Seminars to discuss various aspects of school geography including syllabuses, textbooks and teaching aids.
  • Setting up a resource database or centre that facilitates the sharing of teaching aids amongst teachers.
  • Field trips to places outside the Maltese Islands.
  • Seminars inviting students to discuss aspects of the geography syllabuses that interest them or that they would like to change.
discussion of findings
Discussion of findings
  • Professional development has an impact on:
        • awareness
        • knowledge
        • skills
        • application. (Joyce and Showers, 1988)
  • An improvement in pupils’ learning should ultimately be the goal of teachers’ professional development. (Craft, 2000)
discussion of findings1
Discussion of findings
  • Teachers have agreed that G.T.A. activities:
        • raise their awareness,
        • update their knowledge,
        • help them consider new places for fieldwork,
        • provide them with up-to-date case studies for their lessons.
  • Thus, all four levels identified by Joyce and Showers (1988) are being reached.
discussion of findings2
Discussion of findings
  • The influence of teachers’ benefits on improvement in pupils’ learning is beyond the scope of this study, it might safely be assumed that an improvement in pupils’ learning is more likely to be achieved in classes where teachers bring geography at the research frontiers closer to their students.
discussion of findings3
Discussion of findings
  • Professional development of teachers can be effectively achieved by giving teachers the time and means to learn from one another. (Adey, 2004)
  • This feature is probably one of the strengths of G.T.A. activities – bringing together teachers of geography from different levels of the educational system, giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss issues that are at the heart of their day to day practice.
discussion of findings4
Discussion of findings
  • Adey’s (2004) concept of teacher-to-teacher learning indicates the direction that future G.T.A. activities should follow in order to enhance its contribution to teachers’ professional development- the G.T.A. should further capitalise on the strengths of all its members by encouraging participation in collaborative projects both between teachers within the same educational setting and between teachers from different levels of schooling at a national, European and international level.