Sunday, May 20, 2018

Let's Fix PBLA!

This is the video response to those who say we teachers who have problems with PBLA should step up and make it better.

What would you add that I forgot to say?


  1. You are such a great speaker - you do speak our (many of us) mind. Do you sense anybody in the PBLA decision-making power league is listening and reflecting on what they hear or they are willing for it to stay our own ESL/LINC version of "The Handmaid's Tale"? Dystopia?

  2. Anonymous 11:58 AM,
    The closest I have come to seeing that has been the willingness of some to bring our concerns to the table during meetings with the power brokers, but even then my feedback has to be cut up and redacted in order to make it more palatable. And then I never hear back regarding how the feedback was received or whether any action will be taken. It disappears into a black hole, basically. --KM

  3. I wish I could sign my nameMay 21, 2018 at 12:42 PM

    Thank-you, Kelly for your courage, your honesty, and your generosity of spirit. Thank-you for providing one of the few places where LINC teachers can connect and share our thoughts about PBLA.

    I wish I could sign my name but I need my job.

    1. Dear "Wish I Could Sign My Name,"
      Thank you so much for your kind words. Let's all, in whatever way we can, work toward reclaiming a profession where we are all free to give honest feedback and point out flaws and violations of rights or unreasonable work expectations without any fear of reprisal. Wouldn't that be a wonderful day? --KM

  4. I had a rare evening off the other night, and I realized that I've forgotten how to do anything but teach and prep, teach and make modules, teach and create assessments. You are right, we shouldn't be asked to give everything, all the time.

    1. Christine,
      Good to hear from you again. Agreed. It's not healthy. It's not fair. It's a recipe for stress and burnout. Our students, our families, our coworkers and WE all suffer when we burn the candle at both ends for weeks on end. --KM

    2. Thank you for mentioning your rare evening off.

      I went for a walk for the first time in months this long weekend. That was my "break". There normally is no time for a "break" or fun activities since PBLA has hit my school.

      I used to have a clean house. I used to cook nutritious meals. I used to have friends over to eat those meals. I used to do fun things that required planning but now I can't because every day has PBLA work that needs doing.

      I used to do crafts, read and learn things not related to PBLA.

      I used to garden. This is the first year of my life that I did not plant a garden on the Victoria Day Weekend. I did plant last year but PBLA kept me so busy that I had no time to tend it so it turned to a weed bed.

      I didn't have time in the winter to plant seeds, so there are no seedlings to plant. And I didn't have time to shop for seeds, so there are no seeds to plant. But I also didn't have time last fall to clean up the mess from last years weed mess so I still need to do that, but there is no free time since PBLA. The single most important way for me to eat in a healthy way has been taken away from me because there is no time to do it.

      I used to have a job that brought me joy, was manageable within the time that I was paid and the rate of pay covered my expenses. I had to do things like sew my own clothes or tailor secondhand clothes to fit, I shopped in bulk and grew a garden. I ate A LOT of OATMEAL. But it was ok because I was living. I no longer live. I do PBLA.

      It is not fair that this is continuing. I don't want to FIX PBLA. I want to FIX MY LIFE. My life is broken. I don't know who to blame but I feel that IRCC and CIC are at the root. Did they foresee the mess? I don't believe that at any point would they thought employers would take advantage of their employees. I sometimes think that IRCC and CIC forgot that the employers are able to impose what they want on us thanks to a few clauses in PBLA. Some employers seem to be requiring more from their employees than other employers are. Some people call the employer "SPOs". The organization doesn't provide the service, the instructor does. And the instructors are tired. Very tires. Exhausted actually. AND that is not right.

      I am not burning the candle at both ends. I am on fire. I am burning up myself. I am no longer myself. I am a PBLAer. I am no fun. My family doesn't like me, my friends don't like me because I am no fun. I have no time to be fun.

      If management is reading this, it is REAL. This is no joke. PBLA has caused damage to people's lives. So IRCC and CIC, if you are reading this post PLEASE do something over the summer to fix this. WE CANT. YOU CAN. If you don't , what does that say about you?

      I want to exercise again, garden again, sew again, thrift shop again, clean my house again, cook again. If I am paid for a 5.5 hour day, that is what I want to work. If you want to pay me for a 7.5 hour day that is what I will work. Maybe IRCC and CIC need to listen to the ideas on here and tell the SOP's to make some changes. Someone on here suggested $38 an hour and 7.5 hours a day...I would love that. Don't even ask me what I make per hour as you would pity me because my wage is so low compared to others.

      I just want to do a good job, work a full day and be paid a fair wage. IRCC and CIC, you have allowed the abuse that is happening and it is shameful that a government funded organization can get away with it.

  5. Precisely. Stop telling me to do something I don't believe in. I am never going to believe this is right. Just because you say something, does not mean it's true. I don't have to make this work. It doesn't work. Donald Trump goes on twitter and makes blatantly false statements and his base believes him no matter what he says. He could tell the world that yellow is purple, that up is down, that left is right, and while intelligent, wise, experienced, 'thinking' people know that he's wrong and call him on it (to no avail since he now holds the most powerful position in the world - he used to be a cartoon character!) , he has his base and they would rather believe a falsehood than let go of him. Frighteningly, I feel like the promoters of PBLA have the same kind of tenacious grip on ESL teachers. Make it work. Suck it up. Do it (like a parent to a child - why? because I told you so that's why!) Test mark record test mark record test mark record pass fail fail fail FAIL you FAIL... All the extra work we've done for years making our schools a welcoming place, spending our own money, fixing broken paper cutters, bringing in supplies, making displays, creating a welcoming learning environment - all the sacrifices we've made without whining or complaining, working without benefits, surviving the summers just barely financially (unable to leave the country while collecting e.i.) , - everything that we have done just because we love our jobs and our students - is gone. My chosen career is going to end soon, and rather than leave with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, knowing the good I've done and cherishing those memories and moments , I will be slipping out the door with a dark cloud over my head and saying good riddance. It's like this. You spend years renovating your house and making it a beautiful home and living space. You put your heart and soul into it. Someone buys it and brings in a bulldozer, tears it down and puts in a suburb. Paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum. Dismantled the ESL programs, took away the joy and love of teaching, and passed them on to robots after removing the final ounce of humanity from them. Maybe that's the next step. I keep trying to say what I feel and believe but keep coming up against a brick wall, like management telling us the students just love the binders!!! No. They don't. They hate them, but they come from cultures where going against the government or management will land you in hot water or maybe even prison, and they've only just arrived here for crying out loud. Of course they're going to nod and agree when asked a direct question from a manager. In Turkey if you tell the leader they're wrong, they throw you in jail. Many teachers are the same, whispering in secret that they hate PBLA while smiling at meetings giving the false impression that they think it's okay. Thanks Kelly. I'm on your side.

    1. Yes, Used to Love My Job, the patronizing tone is part of the problem. In Belgium, they started with the classroom teacher and with the students, partnering with them at every step of the way--from conceptualization to execution and many phases of adjustment along the way. And in the end adopting TBL was made OPTIONAL! I think schools agreeing to adopt it received incentives like extra funding, but everyone had the right to opt out. What a difference THAT would make! Oh, and they didn't roll out until all resources were published and ready to go. Sigh. --KM

  6. “Students love the binders”...well, yes, and no. Which part do they like. Five students have come to my class with PBLA binder...covers. They had thrown the contents away.

    1. Claudie,
      Yes. And we've heard about the piles of abandoned binders. Today I went into the room (formerly the boys' change room of our gym) to get a new CLB 1-4 binder for a newly arrived student and had to push aside the boxes and boxes and boxes of binders being stored for students who "forgot" to take them with them when they transferred out to another school or wherever they went. If students consider these binders to be so valuable, why do we have mountains of abandoned ones? --KM

  7. CCLB E-learning Portal


    "PBLA courses are currently only accessible to individuals working with and referred by a government-funded program.

    To register for any of the PBLA courses, LINC/ESL Program Administrators should contact - CCLB does not accept self-registration of classroom instructors/teachers at this time." So the administrator who suggested that LINC instructors train before applying for a LINC job hasn't been informed of the process. All of this is bad.

    PBLA Training Courses

    IRCC Introduction to PBLA for new Classroom Teache...

    PBLA Application Phase for Lead Teachers – January...

    MCI Self-directed course

    IRCC Introduction to PBLA for new Classroom Teach...

    PBLA Implementation Support Forum Cohorts 1-4 (IRCC)

    PBLA Implementation Support Forum Cohort A and B (...

    PBLA Forum for MCI Administrators

    PBLA PLAR Library


    PBLA Learning Modules

    PBLA Foundations for Lead Instructors – Cohort Fou...

    PBLA Foundations for Lead Instructor Lead Instruct...

  8. When I was studying to become an ESL teacher, my professor warned about "teaching to the test". Yet is that not exactly what PBLA expects..."teaching to the task"? Conscientious teachers have the added burden to ensure that basics of grammar, phonics, etc. are included... even if they are not related to a given task at hand. Breadth and depth are compromised too. There is not enough time when you need to acquire 8-10 artefacts, for each language skill.

    1. Dear Anonymous May 22 5:47,
      That is exactly what this has turned into! I am an artefact designing machine, an artefact collection machine, an artefact marking machine, and everything we do must lead up to getting that precious artefact so I can meet my quota. All the time I spent in my TESL course learning SLA theory and later at workshops over the years (paid for by the taxpayer via IRCC) was in vain because there is no time left to apply any of what I learned, nor energy. --KM

    2. These posts make me sadMay 22, 2018 at 6:10 PM

      There's a post here from earlier today that makes me want to cry. Please, please, take care of yourself! We all must take care of ourselves; I know we are all stretched to the breaking point but we all need to put on our own oxygen masks first, before helping others. We all need to say, "This is not working. This cannot be done in the amount of paid prep time you have given me. This is not helping students learn."

      And replying to the post made today at 5:47 p.m.:
      Yes, we are teaching to the test.
      Yes, we are conscientous professionals so we are trying to teach students the language they need beyond the 8 - 10 tasks.
      No, students in LINC programs are not developing the breadth and depth the need to use the language beyond the narrow, functional tasks of the CLBs.
      No, there is not enough time when when we are expected to create resources and assessments every day.

      I hope someone is listening.

  9. Oh Kelly. What a loss to everyone - Martha and those like her.

    We’re all rats in this experiment.

    We are feverishly scuttling about going down one blind alley, then another, trying to find a solution but getting more and more desperate and embittered and panicked because we’re trying to pick through the mountains of ignorance and incompetence and insults and binders and jargon and threats and injustice and fat cats and greed and malevolence and sadism and constant anxiety and dystopia and disappointment and fear. And all the while the “I’m all right, Jack” Perpetrators in their various roles are going about their day dismissive of the invalidity of PBLA and the pain it causes. MAYBE to assuage their conscience, or for convenience, they express concerns about the remuneration, or surreptitiously allow 4 instead of 8 ”artefacts”, or ask for “suggestions to improve PBLA” (takes the cake, no?) or assure us “IRCC and CIC are watching this blog”. But they do not acknowledge their part in the dissolution of the “ESL” social contract. They do not take responsibility for the acid eating through the once benevolent body of ESL professionals. They are to blame for the perversion of the once generous act of sharing knowledge of language with others who can then better their lives.

    This is as much an experiment about the potential for good people to become evil as it is about developing a mechanistic “evidence of competence” tool. (Really? Reliable, trustworthy evidence?” - the unreliable binder that is used as the sole arbiter to “progress or not” the hapless, faceless, voiceless learners? Mass psychosis.)

    Survival of the fittest - us? Truth will out? The worm will turn?

    To Oatmeal Eater.
    You have grit. Good things will come. Can I help? ( confidentiality and discretion guaranteed)

  10. LINC Instructors need the freedom to adjust the day to accommodate the living TRAUMA that immigrating is for most refugees/migrants.

    "Son overjoyed at the sight of his mom"

    The video shows what students are looking for. The relationships in the classroom are what leads to learning. A binder full of tasks does nothing to heal the heart wounds that students have from leaving it all behind.

    Kindness is needed not just for instructors but also for the students. Continual testing is stress causing for them all when all that is needed is a safe place, good resources and a good teacher.

    1. Dear Kindness,
      I could not agree more. --KM

    2. PBLA is wrong. I know it is. I can’t believe these people who created it actually think it is useful. Why do we accept it? Why are we so afraid to stand up and stop doing it? Why do we cower and capitulate to our admistrator’s unreasonable demands and create usless module after module? We do it because we are not free in democratic Canada to express our opinion because if we are caught telling the truth about the PBLA, we will be dealt with as if we were a heretic and summarily dismissed from our careers for daring to stand up to our masters. I for one became humiliated and demoralized. I have expressed my views and my job was threatened. WELL HEAR THIS. I am starting a new career. This career actually will pay me tons more money and it does not ask me to work for free by the way. After I escape the slavery of PBLA, I will call my MP and the minister of immigration and whoever else needs to know about this and I will badger and bother and inform these people for as long as it takes to change this system. I hate injustice and I will be a huge thorn in the side of these faceless people who have unjustly imposed their self serving will on good honest teachers and ruined their happiness and lives. I will stand up. I am a taxpayer and I don’t want my dollars to fund this money wasting program. I will tell the news. I will tell every taxpayer I know how much money is wasted on this program. Any IRCC people reading this??? You poked the wrong bear. I am relentless. I will make my voice and the voice of thousands of mistreated teachers heard. I hate injustice and I will stand up against exploitation. It is illegal by the way, your requirements contravene labour laws. I will make sure my MP knows about that too. I know this will change. By the way, I have had private talks with hundreds of students about the binder. I have given anonymous surveys to my students about the binder. 98 percent of them don’t enjoy it. I told them to stand up and complain about it or refuse to do it. I am going to get my students to resist it. Deal with that. This is what I will do. I won’t rest until this PBLA nonsense is abolished and we have a binder burning barbecue in my back yard! It will be one of the greatest moments of my life!!!!!! I hate PBLA. I hate nonsense. I hate abuse and exploitation! I love teaching but Goodbye esl profession! Hello new job!!! I will remain anonymous until I start my new career. I have almost passed all the requiremests to get my provincial license to do my new career. I will then make my name known and I will become politically involved to speak up against this. Actually I have already started. Sad that we can’t do this now openly. Stay tuned everybody. This is about to get interesting. I am excited!!!

  11. PBLA makes me dislike teaching. Teaching??? What is that? I am not a teacher. I am a PBLA assessor. Cold. Sterile. Lifeless. Who created this? What were they thinking? Do these people know how to inspire and motivate their students? They did not inspire and motivate me, Let’s join together and resist this system.