Before I get to the freebie, allow me to take a moment to give you an update on the results of my digging. Anytime you find information that could be helpful to others who are struggling in Orwellian work environments, feel free to email me with that info so I can add it to THIS PAGE.
Those who follow The Joy of ESL Facebook page have probably already seen this email I received:
Thank you for raising your concerns with how the Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) is being implemented. We will be sending new Operational Guidelines for PBLA to all language training providers in the coming weeks. These guidelines will clarify many of the issues raised in your email and we will encourage all language training providers to consult the guidelines regularly.The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of PBLA in Ontario. You are welcome to add email@example.com to your website for instructors who have questions about PBLA or who require additional support. This is a more appropriate point of contact than MCI staff.
The CCLB is undertaking a Practice Review of PBLA to gather feedback from Administrators, Classroom Teachers, and Lead Teachers on how PBLA has been implemented and to ensure that PBLA is implemented in a consistent manner. If you would like more information you can visit http://pblaepg.language.ca/…/pbla-practice-review-framewo…/…
Program Design Unit
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
The reason I was referred to MCI and not IRCC is presumably because it was my local MPP's office answering me. Anyway, I was hoping for a NAME that goes with a FACE to put on www.kellymorrissey.com on the PBLA support page, but I suppose firstname.lastname@example.org will have to do. That email inbox is monitored by someone on the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks Board, I assume?
In any case, the advent of this document, "new Operational Guidelines" could be a good thing, no? When it comes out, we need to get our hands on a copy and read it cover to cover to see if it is of any help to us as we face drastic inconsistencies in expectations from school to school. Some employers are implementing PBLA in a way that does not create a hostile, toxic work environment with unreasonable after-hours workload expectations, while others... well, you know. (Don't even get me started on how PBLA is not resulting in consistent assessment around the country. That's another can of worms.)
At the same time, I've been in communication with someone who has advice for those of us in unions, but I am just waiting for that person to advise me whether he/she wants to be identified when I share that advice or not.
As for those of us who are NOT unionized, I did get a an interesting bit of information this past week when we had a speaker visit my morning class from Community Legal Aid. She spoke mostly about Community Legal Aid, but also a bit about Legal Assistance Windsor, whose offices are in the same building on Ouellette over the fitness centre next to the post office. She said that the law students at these two organizations can assist workers who are concerned that their employers may be violating labour standards. To be eligible for this help, you would need to a) not be a member of a union and b) qualify for their free services based on income. The threshold is somewhere around $25K per year for a family of two and around $21 K per year for a single person. She said that even if you don't meet the threshold, it is worthwhile to stop in or call them because oftentimes where they cannot help directly, they can make a referral.
This week I had two opportunities to talk to teachers at other SPOs around my city and both times I learned interesting things.
- Some employers do not give teachers any paid PBLA prep time. I think all teachers deserve to be aware of what is happening around the province and country when it comes to the PBLA roll-out.
- One teacher was overheard saying, 'if they hold up London as the gold standard, I'll quit my job tomorrow.' Watch out, Thames Valley. You have a reputation for how NOT to implement PBLA. 🙁
- Some SPOs do not require the collection of 32 artifacts between promotion periods. They recognize that as untenable, especially for those with very large classes.
- Some employers understand that worker wellbeing is more important than PBLA. Implementation needs to be done with a heavy dose of common sense and compassion for instructors, as well as by providing paid time for teachers to accomplish training and to meet expectations for the creation of lesson plans, materials, module plans and assessment tools.
Oh, and I've contacted Yuliya Desyatova about my need to update the status of her project on my website. She will update us as soon as she can. She has to do things in a certain order since this is her PhD research project.
As for the freebie, here is a 3-page list of free and low cost things students in Windsor's downtown core can do this summer. Feel free to edit.