Monday, November 5, 2018

Okay, Okay, Let's Talk PBLA

My blog only gets comments when I talk about PBLA. So let's talk about that.

A lot of my friends and colleagues in the field made it to the TESL Ontario conference last week. Everyone I spoke to said it was worthwhile. Yuliya Desyatova was given a room that seats about forty (typical for a research presentation), and there was standing room only! My coworker who attended came back very fired up by the findings. She found it very validating to see charts and graphs and quotes from veteran teachers confirming things she already knew to be true.

Another friend said that there was a noticeable change of attitude from the bigwigs. Instructors' critical comments were not always met with that same old brick wall of dismissive or patronizing retorts and platitudes.

On another note, I've decided not to restart the newsletter. It had been on hiatus over the summer along with the blog. There are two reasons I've decided not to continue it. For one, it's redundant. I was not using the newsletter for any purpose other than to recap what was published here weekly. There are plenty of other ways for readers to be reminded of blog posts. The lowest tech, most old-school way to do it is just to mark your calendar. Ha! The second reason I want to let the newsletter go is that I've just agreed to rejoin my local TESL Ontario affiliate chapter in my old role as techie. When I take on something new, I always ask myself how I'll fit it onto my plate. What must I cut out? The newsletter offered no added value. It was simply another one of those things that I did because I'm an experience junkie. I started it just to see if I could do it. Hmmmm. I wonder how many of my life's endeavours fall into that category?

As long as I'm updating you on my continued efforts to maintain work-life balance, I'll say that it's going really well this term. My laptop died over the summer and I've still not replaced it, as I'm saving up for another MacBook. That means that for now all blogging and other computer work is done outside my home. Know what? I'm finding this routine to be in many ways healthier than when I had easy access to my work emails, work server, shared drive with materials and my lesson planning templates in my living room. Now I am forced to compartmentalize and contain. Home is for sewing, cooking, sleeping, playing. This building downtown is for lesson planning, photocopying, and getting things ready for another work week.

I like it.

What are you up to this week? If you're in Ontario, did you attend the conference? What did you think? If you're not in Ontario, can you tell us about your annual TEAL or TESL association's conference?

12 comments:

claudie said...

Let’s put the “before PBLA everything was loosey goosey...people only taught grammar...people only taught content ” rationale for PBLA to rest. (This - a bit paraphrased except for the loosey goosey” was a comment from an audience member at Yuliya Desyatova’s presentation “Teacher Learning in PBLA: ACritical Analysis. “Batting the Pinata and Swallowing Camels:” Teachers Learn to PBLA”. She was obviously a PBLA aficionado.
Another member of the audience challenged her by reminding us that in LINC we were all OCELT. If we were certified before PBLA then what we were doing was according to professional standards. Those who were not professional? Well that would be a local managerial issue to identify and remedy. (Somewhat paraphrased)
When I criticised PBLA to a CLB staffer at the CLB booth she asked me “What did you do before PBLA?” (code for “I guess what you were doing before was all loosey goosey.”?) I told her for assessment I used On Target, Peel Practice tests, 5-10 Exit tests, and my experience and observation”. I didn’t say I taught communicatively, and taught “functions” (what we used to call tasks...) - but I did. Of course we taught “content” - relevant topics. Just as all this week we are reading about Canadian History and learning about Remembrance Day. Back in the day in ESL learners DID English AND were helped to integrate. Maybe more so then than now in the era of artefact collection.
I’m not going to spoil the hilarious explanation of Desyatova’s subtitle..it was apposite.

PBLA said...

Funny PBLA still hasn't been "fixed"? Somethings are beyond repair. If the CIC/IRCC/CLB people really wanted consistency they should have left out the clause that SPOs could change requirements. Really, this just opens the door for abuse.

Anonymous said...

So, I can't reason why PBLA is still a policy as it doesn't work. Rigid PBLA practices, and PBLA Leads that don't have to teach as the guidelines suggest. And rules not followed. Crazy requirements that PBLA leads that don't teach and haven't for years evaluating binders. Are they being abused by the employer? What has PBLA ruined? Well, everything from peer relationships to belief in oneself. Really, why did the funders want this when they hired the staff initially. PBLA has seriously ruined ESL. The sad part it that it was created with the best intentions but the program has allowed abuse, and disrespect to blossom and bloom. IRCC and CIC and CLB and LINC manages, please rethink this poison. Step away from the plank that you are walking before you are charged as responsible for the harassing. Maybe remove any classroom managers from the lead roles as they are causing so much harm.

Anonymous said...

Yuliya has 70 and counting participants signed up for her webinar on tutela on November 21st. How long can 'they' ignore us? Why are they not interested in research?? Sign up, everybody, please!

Anonymous said...

I think that we must work in the same program. It is broken and getting worse. I remember when Kelly said that London has a bad reputation. Yes. It has. But instructors in London have an even worse work reality. I really hope that the abusers are outed. You know, maybe CIC and IRCC should interview each and every instructor for a true picture of the pain that London inflicts on instructors. Seriously CIC and IRCC, you are negligent if you don't interview all of them, and you may be held accountable if anyone suicides, self harms or harms others. Shame on London for allowing the terrible circumstance to develop. Shame on all levels of admin for creating the harsh conditions. Maybe admin should teach using the poor system that they created, and then maybe things would change. Please help us. Please make it stop. IRCC and CIC, please, remove all past admin, and recreate the mess of PBLA. Crap, crap, and more crap. The creators of PBLA should be held accountable and must account for the mess.

Anonymous said...

"The creators of PBLA should be held accountable and must account for the mess." Isn't that just Joanne Pettis? https://www.facebook.com/PettisPBLA/

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has involvement with PBLA should read this assessment of PBLA:
http://contact.teslontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/03Vanderveen-PBLA.pdf

Anonymous said...

Kelly, I want you to know that although you might not see any comments, I can tell you that people are reading your amazing blog, whether PBLA is the topic or not.

However, as the CCLB, “the PBLA Team” and IRCC seem uninterested in how their employees (indirectly that’s what we are) are being harmed by the onerous demands of this horrendously rolled out experiment, we are forever in your debt for providing the space for our voices to be heard. For a government that purports to champion women’s rights, they’re doing a truly terrible job of treating their employees with any semblance of fairness. I am grateful for your courage and compassion, Kelly. Thank you.

claudie said...

Actually Anonymous November 15 IMHO IRCC (Integration, infirmation) , CCLB (the (mis)managers), the PBLA Missionaries (misguided and lacking in logic, competence, and plain good old writing skills) are OUR employees. I see myself as a taxpayer first, supporting programs that enable newcomers to better integrate into Canadian society. Again IMHO - the whole experiment- starting with the incomprehensible NEVER VALIDATED “Canadian Language Benchmarks” is a frustrating monumental fail and waste of taxpayer money.
You are right though that many many people are following this. Those that we criticise (impractical, ineffective) (see above) ARE reading this - but shrug off what they deem “negative feedback” from “laggards”(or punish some who dare to voice concern). I do not understand the power structure that has such a tight grip on the minds of decision makers - and of the pursestrings....but I know from experience that they will fall hard.Because PBLA is a hoax. Like the Piltdown man.
For those that draw comfort and courage from Kelly’s blog - Thank the Saints for this. I do. I am sick of the snide remarks, the unfounded accusations and dark hints that I should quit because after all, IRCC pays my salary...I’m tired of threats that without PBLA we will return to “loosey goosey”. I resent the dismissal of my passionate, dedicated, effective hard work of the past eighteen years as WORTHLESS and all wrong.
So thank you Kelly for this sane place. It is the intelligence and guts of everyone who shares their frustrations here that keeps me going and gives me hope, optimism
EXCELSIOR!😊

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you say Claudie and resent every moment spent doing something I know to be a waste of my time. PBLA is a failure from so many perspectives and on so many levels (assessments, students in class, teachers, management and so called 'leads' ). I remember a time when the stress I felt from work was as a result of normal teaching stuff and it was almost fun finding a solution to my problem. I remember spending hours of my free time, willingly and happily, trying to come up with interesting ways to teach an important concept, poring over my files (now rendered nearly obsolete?) to ensure the students would learn. I walk into my classroom now and look around me at the dismal piles of binders left behind and feel nostalgia for the good old days of teaching. The students walk in and ask if we're having a test today. (why call it a task?) They rush to the marked box to see if they passed or failed and if they failed, spend the rest of the day feeling like a loser. They ask when they can move on and ponder what to do with their lives knowing they have to pass not one, not two, but 8 (or more) tests in every skill area. The tasks have no consistency from level to level and students coming from the previous level have no concept of what a level two, three, four, five, six etc. class 'task' looks like because it's an arbitrary process in which teachers decide what a task is by (those that are 'dedicated' to PBLA) reading the CLB books and designing something they think resembles a task for that skill in that level. Then after they design the so called task, and administer it, they discover (because this is continuous enrolment ESL) that only 10% of the class passed because guess what? The levels are mixed EVEN if it's a one level class so fail fail fail - or whatever jargon we're supposed to use to make it sound like less of a failure (in the end the result is the same - they can't progress until they pass) Add to this the fact that half of the students are in school because: they are old and lonely and want to socialize, they are bored at home and want to get out of the house, they need to make some friends, they got laid off from their job and the govt sent them back to school, they're trying to get their citizenship and can't afford to take the test or know they won't pass it, they worked all their lives and have finally retired and now just need something to do so why not take a course? Does anyone think these people are interested in wasting time organizing a binder? Have you ever seen a 70 year old ESL student attempt to organize a binder (for what reason?) Is he learning by filing his endless tests in this clunky old binder which he will most certainly leave behind when he leaves? Better yet, how much time will he spend reading the (heavy) pages of convoluted information about the CLBs and what they mean, cross referencing pages to make sure that he is what he's supposed to be? How much time will he spend reading about government services when in fact he can pick up his cell phone - because modern technology has made so many things easier for everyone, even seniors - type in one word and find his answer? If the converse of PBLA is loosey goosey then I am proud to say that I was once an expert at loosey goosey and felt enormous pride in the fact that I could instantly assess a student and figure out what he or she wanted or needed by having a simple conversation with him or her, and giving them a sheet of paper to write a story about themselves. I could slip that person into my class seamlessly and make them feel instantly comfortable and ensure that they returned the next day feeling welcomed and comfortable, having made a few new friends. They would learn by interacting with their peers, and I would plan my lessons according to what that particular group of students needed - no stress to test them once a week on - on what? for what reason?

Anonymous said...

I"m not finished yet: YES we were loosey goosey and we loved it and to the teachers who dislike loosey goosey I might suggest that you are teaching in the wrong field. Continuous enrolment ESL is a special job for special people who don't need to (because we cannot!) follow a strict curriculum with clear results and punitive tactics. We are a bridge for our students. We're a place where they can catch their breaths, start to feel comfortable in this country, socialize, make friends and in so doing learn a LOT of English. PBLA has destroyed ESL. I am a veteran teacher with many years of experience.

Anonymous said...

"The creators of PBLA should be held accountable and must account for the mess." Isn't that just Joanne Pettis? https://www.facebook.com/PettisPBLA/

Hear, hear! Someone definitely should be held accountable for this disaster (Pettis, Holmes, etc.). If what was done before was 'loosey-goosey' then why were the results better then than now with pbla? Pre-pbla I was using materials with my CLB3 classes that I now use with my CLB6 classes! To me, the bottom line is that pbla is a miserable failure on teaching students how to speak English!