Learning about teachers' resilience : perceptions, challenges and strategies of policy implementation in two secondary schools in Malaysia : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand
Between 1996 and 2010 the Ministry of Education in Malaysia implemented several
policies to ensure that the education system in Malaysia was able to fulfill current
national and international demands. The Ministry argued that the policies being
implemented had many potential benefits. However, changes in education also
create new challenges for teachers because, while concentrating on teaching and
learning, they are also required to focus on implementing the new policies.
These unavoidable challenges can influence the nature and quality of teachers’
practice. To ensure the success of important policy changes, the Malaysian
education system needs resilient teachers, who are able to face all the challenges
successfully. In the school context, educational leadership is expected to play a key
role in supporting teachers in this challenging situation.
The intent of this study was to explore educators’ and parents’ views and experiences
in these areas, including educational leadership practices which aimed to ensure that
teachers sustain their resilience in times of facing real pressure. Data was collected
through interviews with (i) members of Senior Management Teams (ii) selected
teachers and (iii) selected members from committees of Parent and Teachers
Associations in two secondary schools in Malaysia. In total 46 participants were
involved in this study. Data analysis was carried out through analytic categories
based on hermeneutics philosophy. The findings indicated that teachers faced
various challenges during the implementation of national education policy, but
teachers’ own inner strength, the role of PTA members, colleagues’ collegiality and
the location of teachers’ schools in their hometown assisted them to sustain their
resilience. All groups of participants claimed that educational leaders, as represented
by members of Senior Management Teams at their schools, have played the main
role in assisting teachers to face challenges and, indirectly, sustaining their resilience.
Five approaches were utilised by the educational leaders: they provided a congenial
working environment that did not place undue pressure on teachers, eased the burden
for teachers in implementing the policy, provided encouraging monitoring, showed
continuing appreciation; and promoted school success.