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Education in Malaysia is an on-going effort towards further developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God. Such an effort is designed to produce Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and competent, who possess high moral standards and who are responsible and capable of achieving high level of personal well-being as well as being able to contribute to the harmony and betterment of the society and the nation at large.
In line with the National Education Philosophy (NEP) of Malaysia, co-curriculum activities have been given an emphasis to be taken a vital role in shaping and molding students in the cognitive and psychomotor domains (CDC, 2001a). It is believed that education and co-curriculum activities have interrelated relationship as they will determine the character and quality of a student. A well-educated and physically fit student is the ideal product of Malaysian education policy.
Generally, a secondary school student has to enroll him or herself into 3 categories of co-curriculum activities throughout the academic year. The categories are formed into uniform, club and sport. For instance, a secondary school boy is the member for Red Cross Society, English Club and Badminton. He will then get himself actively involved in the three selected co-curriculum activities throughout the academic year.
Having said that, who are to guide or teach the students in any particular activity? School teachers are the ones who will be the teacher advisors for all kinds of co-curriculum activities as government schools generally do not have sufficient funds to hire instructors or trainers for all kinds of sports that are being offered in school. The only rich resource that a school has is the staff of school teachers (Kowalski, 2008). They are the ones who will train and provide support to the students in any co-curriculum activities. As stated by Behrstock (2010), the US school districts started the adoption of "a more comprehensive and strategic approach to securing a sufficient number of effective teachers". School administrative team has to utilize and maximize with the teachers they have in running co-curriculum activities more effectively. Hence, this scenario sparks my curiosity and leads to my study. Creswell (2005) supports that a research problem is an educational issue, concern that the researcher investigates.
This case study intends to investigate how the five school administrative personnel select and delegate teachers' co-curriculum portfolio in a sub-urban Malaysian school. In the ultimate goal, it provides an insight for any school principal and the administrative team in managing teachers' portfolio particularly in co-curriculum. It is believed that having to place the right talent into the right co-curriculum activities will bear fruitful results in achieving high performance in co-curriculum activities (Lund & Tannehill, 2010). Since local study in how school administrative manages teachers' co-curriculum portfolio is still lacking and also some principals are a bit skeptical on discussing how they position their teachers into different posts, it is imperative to take an insight into it.
METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH
A qualitative research method was used as the main data collection technique in this single study. A semi structured interview method was carried out as a guideline that focused on the interview topic. According to Merriam (2009), this is to ensure "specific information is desired from all the respondents" Through this method, school principal and the administrative team could express their opinions, views, experiences, and also their thoughts freely (Burns, 2000). They could talk freely on the area of the topic too. At the same time, immediate follow-up and specific clarifications were done during the interview where a few questions were rephrased and asked on the spot in order to gain more information on the topic. Creswell (2005) suggested that it is more rational to use audio tape recorder to record interviews than to jolt down notes. In this study, the data was obtained through an Mp3 recorder and the recorded files were then transferred to computer. Subsequently, the five interviews were transcribed and analyzed thoroughly in order to gather specific themes and categories in reporting final findings.
Validity and Reliability
The validity and reliability of this study were determined by gradually building good rapport and relationship with the participants. Data and documents could be easily obtained should there be high rapport between the researcher and participants (Ary, 2010). In relation to this, a few related documents were obtained through the co-curriculum senior assistant in supporting the study. The documents were evidence of co-curriculum activities been carried out throughout the year and also served as an evaluation method on co-curriculum teacher advisors in school (Kowalski, 2008) After analyzing and interpreting the interview transcript, draft report of findings was given to the participants to read and get their consent to allow for public viewing.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
This school has a principal along with 4 senior assistants. There are 96 teachers under the leadership of the principal. In co-curriculum sector, there are 11 academic societies, 12 hobby and recreational clubs, 12 sports and game clubs and 9 uniformed unit. Each club and society has at least two teacher advisors, one for the morning session and another one in the afternoon. Findings showed how the school juggles with a total of 44 types of co-curriculum activities with only 96 teachers. The five respondents were the school principal, curriculum senior assistant, student affair senior assistant, co-curriculum senior assistant and afternoon senior assistant with the label given R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5 respectively.
The criteria in selecting and placing teachers as co-curriculum advisors.
The school principal, R1 practices liberal approach in selecting and placing teachers as co-curriculum advisors. According to R1, teachers were given the choice in pre-stating their interest and talent whereas R2 indicated that "If the teacher does not say anything, (she will) just give anything". R3 said that he would allocate teachers according to suitability then discuss with afternoon senior assistant to consult about afternoon session teachers' portfolio, afternoon senior assistant is one who oversees the total of 37 afternoon teachers. R4, the co-curriculum senior assistant had a strategy in managing co-curriculum portfolio, she would pass a form with three columns for teachers to fill in what and which clubs and societies they prefer. After that R4 would refer to the co-curriculum 'wish list' and delegate the posts. However, R4 would not follow every 'wish' that a teacher desires. Steven Covey's Habit 4 in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 'Think Win-Win' approach was used. R4 would try to place teachers according to their 'wish' but at the same time leveling and full-filling all requirements in co-curriculum. The afternoon senior assistant, R5 has another point of view which was to observe her teachers' character and types of personalities only she would place her teachers with posts. According to R5, she would place a 'tougher' teacher in handling uniformed unit like the Scouts.
Is teachers' talent important?
When this question was posed to the 5 participants, all of them said talent plays a role as one of the main concerns in placing co-curriculum portfolio. R4 expressed that teachers' commitment was about 50% and talent 50%. This showed the school administrative team understands teachers' talent could be utilized into school management. This is further support by Lewis & Heckman (2006) that understanding of talent in an organization is much sought after since the past few years as the stakeholders are interested in beneficial contributions from the employees. So, in a school setting, it is noted that teachers are not only equipped with the knowledge to teach but also other talent in different fields. For instance, mathematics graduated and trained teacher has the competency and skills to train English Public Speaking for the students. If the teacher's talent is not highlighted or being known, it will be a waste of the teacher's talent being under-utilized. "Talent is often seen as the sum of a person's abilities, whilst often remaining elusive to measurement" (Michaels, Hanfield-Jones and Axelrod in Iles, 2008, p216). The participants have the same opinion that teachers have the ability to perform a task in a better way or more competent than others, a talented individual. It is not measureable but the talent target is obtained. Talent target means the achieved planned talent (Oracle, 2008) in any organization. It is also highlighted in the interview that a teacher has the talent in sports will eventually bring the success in sports.
How long does a teacher advisor hold a post and how to overcome shortage of teacher advisors?
It was interesting to know that this school allowed teachers to voice out their views and complaints in co-curriculum matter. If any teacher voices out uncomfortable and uneasiness in a post, he or she could just highlight it to the administrative team, particularly the Co-curriculum senior assistant, arrangement and amendments could be done for the benefits of the teacher. All five participants shared the view that the teacher advisors will hold the post as long as they like it till there is any adjustments made. Sometimes the reshuffling of posts need to be done if there are new teachers or some teachers left the school. However, R5 personally thought that it would be good to rotate the portfolio "every two years so that every teacher gets the feel of everything".
All 5 participants gave the opinion that teacher advisors need to record all activities that have been carried out in order to keep track on the progress of society. Yearly plan and yearly co-curriculum reports are to be submitted to the administrative team for yearly evaluation of the society and also teacher's performance. The principal took that into consideration while giving evaluation for teachers' yearly appraisal. Through yearly evaluation on teachers' performance, the administrative team could identify teachers with their unique capabilities. It is urged that it is imperative to identify effective and talented teachers as they do not necessarily have to be senior teachers with the pre-judgment of being more experienced (Pierce & Newstrom, 2008).
How to deal with less productive teacher advisors?
R1 said that she would terminate the society if there was no suitable teacher advisor. For instance, should there be no Cheerleading talent among the teachers; the society would not form anyway. Her point was because it was not possible to hire instructors for all the co-curriculum activities as it is not cost-effective as supported by Lunenburg & Ornstein (2004). All government school principals only have to juggle with the teachers that they have to manage the school. However, most of the time the teacher advisors could perform their task well given a whole academic year to learn to lead the society, it was said by R2. R3 and R4 shared the same view to give advice and the teacher would change their attitude in work. However, R5 commented to remove the less productive teacher to another post this was because it would be unfair for students if the teacher advisor could not lead the co-curriculum activities well.
The key factors for co-curriculum teacher advisors.
R1 and R3 commented that commitment is the key factor in anything a teacher does. One who is committed will take the effort to try and complete task responsibly. R2 added another factor which was discipline. She gave her opinion that a well-disciplined teacher would accomplish any assigned tasks. It was further supported by (Salfi, 2011) on teachers' commitment. R4 thus said it was 50 percent of commitment and 50 percent of talent that lead to success of a teaching profession. Nevertheless, R5 observed that involvement of the teacher advisors into the co-curriculum activities would boast up the spirit of the students. Students like teacher advisors who could mingle and communicate with them.
This was only a case study and it had provided an insight on how a secondary school administrative team select and delegate co-curriculum posts for the teachers. It serves as a platform to contribute to the knowledge on managing co-curriculum teacher advisors. The findings also suggested that no matter what a teacher holds as a post, if there is commitment, any task could be done. A Malaysian secondary school runs under the leadership of a school principal. From this study, it was also concluded that the principal practices transactional leadership in handling co-curriculum sector. Findings showed evidence that teacher advisors have the platform to voice out their personal opinion as teacher advisors. They could have a change of co-curriculum post if they wish but this does not apply to academic and student affair related posts. "In transactional leadership, leaders and followers exchange needs and services in order to accomplish objectives" (Sergiovanni, 2001). He (2001) also mentions that transactional leadership focuses on basic and largely extrinsic motives and needs. For future research, perhaps observation through how teacher advisors carry out their task would be useful to know the effectiveness of co-curriculum activities onto Malaysian students. Ultimately, all schools are to achieve the objectives in Malaysia National Education Philosophy.