Monday, October 22, 2018

Limbo

I was very pleased to be asked by my local TESL affiliate to present at their fall PD event this past Saturday. It was fun, and I got a bit more mileage out of some slides that I had put A LOT of time and energy into creating--slides that had only been shown twice before.
TESL Windsor Fall PD Event
As happens at so many of our PD events these days, the subject of PBLA came up. "Cover Less, Uncover More: the Transformative Power of Slowing Down" was the title of my talk. (I offer apologies to the late great Leo van Lier, whose words I've borrowed.) How can I possibly slow down, one attendee wanted to know, when my manager is breathing down my neck to do one module after another and get those artifacts into the students' binders? Had I not got us back on topic, might the entire 90 minutes have been swallowed up by venting and commiserating among frustrated and disillusioned educators?

The annual TESL Ontario Conference is right around the corner, and for the first time in nine years, I'm not going. I'll miss breakfast at The Senator and hopping on the subway to get to whichever restaurant I've decided to try that year. I'll miss wandering up and down Queen Street West, stopping to smell the Johnny Fluevogs. But when I look at the conference program and see workshop after workshop after workshop on PBLA, my heart sinks. I miss the field as it once was and wonder what is to come for our profession.

It's absolutely wonderful that Yuliya Desyatova is doing her PhD research on the impact of PBLA, but what will become of that? Will anyone listen? Will they care? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? Speaking of that, I hope those who are attending the conference will attend her presentation. I certainly would support her in that way if I could go.
Seen on Queen St. West
In more ways than one, I feel I'm in limbo. Even my presentation felt a bit stale to me. I'm ready for something different. The conference used to offer that. Ken Lackman was always there with something to get my gears turning, like his C.A.T.: a Framework for Dogme. There were so many good workshops that I would lament not being able to clone myself in order to be in three places at once! I would return from Toronto on fire to try new things with my learners.

I'm sorry this isn't much of a blog post today, but I'm not feeling it.

How about you? Where are you at now?

15 comments:

claudie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yes: Frustrated and Disillusioned said...

Wow! I live and work in another province so attending the TESL Ontario conference is not possible for me, but I looked at the program and saw that PBLA comes up 154 times. 154 times! I know that there may be value in PBLA, but not in the way it has been rolled out, with no resources and no research. The workload for teachers is untenable. LINC students know nothing other than constant assessment. The binders are a massive waste of teachers’ and learners’ time and of taxpayers’ money. At least TESL Ontario still has its own conference; here in Western Canada, LINC people were all brought out to Edmonton in February for the blandly-named “Language Training Learning Event”, which was largely a lesson in compliance with PBLA - and again, to fly us all out to Edmonton and put us up in hotels for 2 nights must have cost a fortune. There is serious taxpayer money behind PBLA but no one (besides Yuliya) is asking questions or listening to teachers.

Anonymous said...

Good morning

How many hours a week do PBLA leads teach?
How many hours a week do PBLA leads do "pbla" admin?
Do PBLA leads share their created resources with other instructors?

Kelly said...

I’m thinking of a recently learned Russian proverb about now.

Kelly said...

One hundred fifty-four??? Thank you for counting. Sigh. --KM

Kelly said...

4:44 AM Anonymous,
I realize this is probably a rhetorical question. It would be great to know what a best case scenario looks like, though. --KM

Anonymous said...

There are some esl schools that don't have PBLA leads. There are LEARNING SUPPORT LEADS. What are they? What do they do? Who knows? No one. Does language.ca know that there are LEARNING SUPPORT LEADS and no PBLA leads? This is a rabbit hole.

Anonymous said...

sick to death of PBLA and everything connected to it
it's a waste of time and money
too late in the day to change jobs - what to do. i used to feel like the luckiest person in the world smiling in my car on my way to work. Now I feel like a factory worker churning out fake tests and crap to fill the binders. most days i wonder - how much $ could i live on? could i waitress again ? get a job as a singer in a nightclub? maybe i could just stay home and mindlessly mark papers on line for 20 bucks an hour. I used to dream of writing a book of cool stuff to do in an ESL class. That dream is gone. PBLA has stolen our imaginations, our desires, our hopes for our students, our enthusiasm for our jobs, our futures in our career of choice. what a miserable end to a previously great career. i'm incredibly disappointed that so many teachers whom i previously thought to be bright and sassy have fallen victim to this brainwashing / propaganda that tells us that this is how / what we need to teach. what is wrong with them? i mean 'drink the koolaid' has become a euphemism for 'pbla followers' . how weird is that? (think of the origin of that expression - yikes) maybe we'll wake up one day and find out that it was all an elaborate hoax and we can go back to being teachers again. P is for poorly thought out . B is for brainwashing. L is for listless students lagging behind academically and A is for aggressively shoved down our throats with no regard for the truth of what really goes down in an ESL classroom (i should use the past tense - what went down - before we became robotic stepford wives. i'm not going to the conference either.

Anonymous said...

Please EVERYONE contact your MPs, MPPs, Elected School Board Officials, YMCA Board of Directors, Association Boards of organizations that host LINC. EVERYONE needs to speak up about the fiasco that PBLA is. Just imagine if you work for any of the progenitors of this disaster. PBLA is awful. For EVERYONE. Speak up.

Kelly said...

Invite your supervisor and colleagues to Yuliya’s presentation in Toronto next week.

claudie said...

Postcard from TESLOntario conference. I had a great day yesterday. Found things things thst filled my needs. TOEIC poster presentation; lively IELTS “resources” presentation; VERY interesting LINC Works CLB/Essential Skills presentation (interesting because of the process and rollout of what looks like a thoughtful, thorough, methodical, openminded approach (complete with OER resources) in a four year IRCC project now in its second year), one “PBLA” (PBLA. What Works for Us. ISANS) Met up with old friends, met interesting teachers. Was inspired by their spirit. I’m looking forward to today. Wish you were here.

Anonymous said...

Hi this is such an inspirational blog. I started mine too at https://theeslgeektutor.blogspot.com/2018/11/what-teaching-esl-means.html see you there!

penny said...

Wouldn't it be funny if people just stopped going to their so called PD events, really pbla shove down your throat event? Just a universal no-show....maybe, they'd get the messgem.

Kelly said...

Penny,
The day may come when the scales tip and the vast majority finally understand that the next workshop isn’t going to be the magic bullet, just like the last one wasn’t. Teachers emerge from these PD events even more disillusioned than before. —KM

Anonymous said...

I have learned almost nothing from any of the pbla training events at my school because the leads don't understand it either. Even 5 years in, they stumble around like Keystone Kops, or at my other school, they are nazis who follow what they claim are the rules, to a 't'.