Monday, October 1, 2018

Leading Research on PBLA Addendum

This is blog post one of two today.

Last week I gave an update on the work of Yuliya Desyatova, but I left out an important date. That's an upcoming webinar on Tutela open to members of TESL Ontario, I assume.

Here is the text of an email Yuliya sent out this week to update us all on her activities:

Dear Colleagues,
I hope you are enjoying what September has to bring.

Here is a brief update on the research project you contributed to.

New season of conference presentations is ahead, and I hope some of you will be able to join one of the events:
  1. Oct 3, 2018 – TESL London Annual Wine & Cheese, where I will be the invited guest speaker this year – PBLA Implementation: Did we achieve what was intended? Thank you TESL London for your interest in current PBLA research!
  2. Oct 24, 2018 – TESL Ontario Tutela Webinar on a similar topic
  3. Nov 2, 2018 – TESL Ontario Annual Conference, where I will be presenting on Teacher Learning in PBLA: a critical analysis.
The last paper is currently being peer-reviewed by an open-access Canadian academic journal, and I am optimistic about being able to share the link to the published article with you by the end of the year. More papers and conference proposals are in progress with the goal to ensure that all your voices are present in both the academic and policy-making circles.
I will also be sending an invitation to join me in submitting a proposal to present on whatever issue you find pertinent to language learning and teaching in Canada for the Metropolis Conference in Halifax in March 2019. The goal of this conference is to facilitate dialogue and exchange between researchers, government, and non-government (community and private) sector partners”, which might be a very good place for the conversation on PBLA and LINC/ESL in general. If you think you might be interested in presenting there, please let me know.
Last, but not least, the significance of this research project has been acknowledged by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, which means that this year I will be able to extend my invitation to your learners to participate and share their perception of PBLA. More details to follow.

Best regards,

In addition to my bringing you this update from Yuliya, a commenter on last week's post wants everyone to be aware of a Q and A on Tutela for cohort two administrators. It's on October 4th at 11:00 a.m., ensuring that teachers cannot listen in.

Ciao --KM


  1. Has anyone been threatened with a negative performance review by their employer if their "pbla-ing" isn't up to snuff? Can poor pbla-ing lead to dismissal? What if you just suck at pbla-ing? Could you lose your job?

    What would we, as a group of ESL Instructors, do if a colleague was disciplined for not being able to "pbla"? I think it is coming to this point in places. What are we going to do?

    1. Not sure I want to tread here. Anyone?

    2. Yes. OK. Here goes.

      We would have to know about it. So if this (has?) happened someone would need to share the information. Here?

      Anonymously? Perhaps this would be a moment for Anons to
      go public. Certainly the person should be open - she/he has a problem anyways.

      What could we do if we knew? What would be effective?
      Stand in solidarity. For sure express concern.
      Call on the person’s professional association to comment/act?
      Media story?
      Consult a labour lawyer?
      Consult with the Labour Board?
      If unionised - try to get OUR unions to get involved? Collective political action (I’m not holding my breath. I belong to two unions. Neither has advocated the way I think they should) But if this were not stopped it could happen to all.
      MPs, and MPPs? From what I have experienced - no power. Civil servants are flying this Junker. But, of course.. ask the politicians to ask questions.
      What would I want if this happened to me? I guess all of the above
      and more.

      This is not an idle question in a vacuum.

      The “Trainers” have the responsibility of coming into classrooms to observe teachers (under the guise of “mentoring”) and Administration is now expected to oversee the implementstion of PBLA . HOWEVER what exactly IS THIS “correct PBLA “ is open to interpretation. EVERYONE IS DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
      It is a recipe for disaster.
      PBLA is an unrealistic and ineffective “Revolution from Above”. Like Stalin’s Five Year Plan. Same mistakes.

  2. It all seems so hopeless (and an utter waste of time). The only thing anyone with good instincts who knows how to really teach can do is fake it when managers walk in - because it is wrong wrong wrong - (or argue about it constantly? SO stressful) and hope that in our lifetime of teaching, someone with half a brain and a bit of power makes the intelligent decision to can the entire experiment. If you were at my school, I'd stand behind you 100% . I was taught to be an independent thinker, to always do the right thing, to use my brain and do a good job and be PROUD of the job I'm doing. I still want to be proud and actually teach my students (as opposed to testing them 5 days a week so they can live with the illusion that they've learned the language by passing some 'task' I've created to fill the binders) so I ignore PBLA as much as I can (and the so called 'leaders' who are still promoting it despite its obvious failure) and teach to my students , not to the binders, not to the tests, not to some unseen 'funder' who obviously knows nothing about what we do or what students need. If they knew about or had any experience with teaching ESL, they would never have tried to jam something so wrong headed down our throats. I will never be convinced that this is what our learners need.

  3. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada new Operational Guidelines for Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA)

    So there is an update from the Spring. No one can get it. The MP where I live verifed it. And here is what they sent me.

    "We have verified the information you have provided on behalf of your constituent.

    Since your inquiry is related to a document issued by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board; in order to receive further assistance, we invite you to contact the school board authorities or the Ontario provincial authorities that legislates this school board.

    We hope this information is helpful. If you require more information, please do not hesitate to contact us."

    Let's all ask for it. Let's find it.

  4. My school definitely weeds out those who are not perfectly pbla compliant (actually they weed out anyone who even questions it mildly). You are attacked in meetings and thus, most who undergo such treatment quit. Or you are undermined by the administration and leads who tell the students behind your back that you are not a good teacher (one of my favorite students warned me that the lead would speak to certain students when I was on break who would thereafter be hostile to whatever I tried to do in class). It is an effective way to get rid of people without having to fire them. I was furious, but I had no direct proof that she had undermined my teaching.


Thank you for participating in this forum. Anonymous commenting is available, but is not intended to shield those taking pot shots at those of us challenging PBLA. If you are here to do that, please use your name.