Monday, December 10, 2018

Where is Our Ally?

Well, that's pretty embarrassing. Last week I accidentally posted to my classroom blog instead of here. Oops. This is what I'd written last week:

Sunday I took myself out on a date. I dressed up and everything. As I sat down to enjoy my fig yogourt shake and bakery item by the sunny window in my favourite cafe, the woman at the table behind me stood up and came over.

"I know you're Kelly," she said.
I remembered having seen her at local PD events over the years. She said she had gotten out due to PBLA. "An integrity thing," she said. Was I still teaching, she wanted to know. Yes, but also advocating. I mentioned the newest research.
"What can I do to help?" she asked.
What do YOU readers think this former teacher with some time on her hands can do to help? Can we put together a page of names and contact info for people to refer to when they have time to write letters? What else could be helpful?
But perhaps it all worked out for the best, because we continued to get powerful testimony in the comments on the previous post. I find it alarming that one school board or service provider organization (SPO) can follow the spirit of the law when it comes to the PBLA support coach's role (and LIMITS of that role) while others can get it so wrong.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that I believe PBLA does more harm than good to our profession and students, at least I can be grateful that at my SPO the PBLA support person / coach is just that. She helps us figure it out. She is there if we need ideas. She is there for us if we have questions. Yes, she checks a sampling of our student binders (they are not even true educational portfolios, we now know thanks to researchers like Yuliya Desyatova), but the result of that checking is just "you are doing great" or "you have this, this and this down; next term you can shoot for mid-term goal check-in." It's coaching. It's support. It's not someone else passing or failing my students' binders. It's not being threatened with firing.

Good Lord, what sort of Frankenstein have we let loose on the TESL / TEAL world? Petty bureaucrats are full of themselves, having been given a bit of power to use well or abuse. How many are abusing it?

And the bigger question: what can we do? Sure, let's put together a page of email addresses. But that probably won't prove any more effective than the petition. How can we band together to make our voices heard when we are in various unions and no union?

A colleague of mine in a different part of Canada sent me this video because s/he feels like the lion. But where is our ally? (Trigger assessment for animal lovers: it ends well for the lion.)

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board 1 877 339 3335. Also started researching possibilities of suing the federal government. This is starting to remind me of Erin Brockovich....being fed toxic waste from our govt masked as something good. We've exhausted all other options. Unions have gone as far as they can. We need a unified approach. Will be calling lawyers and starting research for a class action lawsuit against this putrid abuse. Others welcome aboard. Remember: you have a right to do your job without being harassed. This is Canada, after all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Some of us are desperate. It is very bad. Every instructor needs to be interviewed without fear of repercussions.

Anonymous said...

We've tried unions, public petitions, talking directly to our management. Has anything changed? All I've experienced is a cyclical cycle of broken promises and reinstated harassment. The only option I see left is the legal route. There is power in numbers but change can only happen if we collectively make the same complaints and direct them to the right listener .. and at this point, I do believe that's the courts.

claudie said...

A “trainer” who you see as “a coach”, “a support”. O Kelly, how does the Koolaid taste? Mixed with a little Lillet does it go down more easily?
For me EVERY Trainer is a Quisling. It may “soften” the betrayal when they portray themselves as “coaches”, “supports”, huggers, but as time goes by and resignation sets in (teachers have to feed themselves and their families) the “Trainer Class” (now repackaged as PBLA support persons, LINC Team Leaders, etc) becomes more distanced, powerful, more selfserving, more superior, more convinced they are doing God’s work, (wish I knew who this God is) and more resistant to resistance. I see PBLA “coaching” in this godforsaken experiment as the betrayal of the magical profession (teaching). I see PBLA coaching as the creation of assembly line SLA educational workers who are “coached” to follow a false checklist formula for the goal of what? Accountability?Standardization? Certainly not the transmission of the gift of language nor the true development of skills that will allow newcomers to more quickly and successfully integrate into Canadian life. I see PBLA “Trainer” “support” as participating in the conspiracy of pedagogy of the oppressed (roll over Freire) and “Trainer” support as perpetuating the stereotype of immigrants as inferior, needing to be taught “organisation”, disrespecting their value as thinking human beings.
Oppression and subjugation and loss of teacher and learner voice and autonomy exists in ALL PBLA environments...it is just a matter of degree.
I salute that teacher who saw getting out because of PBLA as “an integrity thing” - but I think that was the easy way. Harder is to stay in to defend truth.

Anonymous said...

Those are pretty harsh words to describe people who are just desperately trying to keep their programs going and hold onto jobs—their own and those of their colleagues.

Please share how you are handling PBLA so much better than the rest of us.

This is what I hate most about PBLA—the division it has caused. Don’t let them do that to us.

Anonymous said...

Posted on the CCLB PBLA Support Forum:

13 December 2018, 10:49 PM

IRCC is in the process of doing in-depth research on LINC classes across the country - all of the language classes they fund, not just the ones using PBLA. They want to know what's working well, what's not, what the gaps are, and how they can be fixed. It's a major process.

The researchers are going to 10 different providers across the country spending time collecting detailed data from administrators, teachers, and students. To give you a clearer idea, they were just at my school for three days and met with the administrator, the program head, the office manager, the PBLA leads, the employment class lead, a PBLA instructor, an employment instructor, the employment counsellor, a part-time instructor, a focus group of 2 students from each PBLA class, a focus group of 2 students from each employment class, and all of the full-time instructors together as well as the program head for the high school program that our polytechnic offers because it accepts students graduating from our CLB 8 classes. The meeting were long, 1-2 hours with each person/group, and they asked all sorts of questions. As a PBLA lead and a full-time instructor, I met with them for a total of 2.5 hours.

As part of this research, they'll be back in January to do some milestone testing with our students. They'll also be sending out surveys to reach a much wider audience of IRCC clients and non-clients. In addition, they're using data from iCARE and HARTS. In the end, they'll be compiling all of the data into various reports for IRCC and we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I should add that this was posted by a PBLA Lead Instructor in response to an original post asking for research evidence to support PBLA implementation.

Anonymous said...

Where did this "research" happen? Which province?

Anyways.

What published resources are available so this work can be made manageable? That is what is needed. I want a list of acceptable resources so my "leader" will shove off!!!!

I have had enough. I just want to have resources so I can do my job without stress.

Come on. This is ESL not university.

Kelly said...

Fascinating! Thank you for telling us. —KM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:37, Do you know about this site: realworldtasks.ca (password: instructor)? I know it's not enough, but at least it's something to start with. So, we can all hopefully get some more sleep and have a life!

As for the research--I'm hoping that it's in response to our concerns and that finally, someone is hearing us! And the fact that it's not being done by the CCLB is a good thing. They cannot be impartial.

Signed,
A Disillusioned Lead

Anonymous said...

Yes. I know it. Yet, where I work it is not considered a valid resource. The tasks are not being allowed as the employer says that they are not aligned to the CLB. If the tasks are used, the students will be denied progress. We cannot win. We were promised resources yet the employer is not producing resources. When resources are created by others, like the conestoga rubrics, the employer has created a "copycat" which we need to use...nothing is good enough for the employer I work for.

It is hopelessly miserable and unworkable. The stress level and workload are at capacity. AND EVERYONE IN ONTARIO KNOWS WHO THIS GOLD STANDARD EMPLOYER IS.

Please help. Please please help. CIC and IRCC please help.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence to support PBLA. PBLA is a heartbreaking experiment that is ruining peoples lives. It must stop. The small minded self interested creators of PBLA mean to build themselves up and tear others down.

Anonymous said...

PBLA is NOT fascinating though. IT HAS RUINED MY LIFE

Anonymous said...

Does your employer know that a CCLB Regional Coach led the development of the new task bank? I have found issues here and there with them, but there are word docs in addition to the pdfs, so they can be edited. Has your employer tried to implement PBLA her/himself? I doubt it. Can you band together with other teachers and have a conversation around support and flexibility? You may have already tried that. I'm sorry. I sincerely feel for you. I know how hard it is to do all this work with a supportive employer. I can't imagine how hard it is with someone who works against you. I hope things change for you soon.

DLT

Anonymous said...

"What can I do to help?" In response to this question by the retired/forced out teacher in your posting, Kelly:
It would be great if you could share your story with anyone in power: your M.P., the CCLB, etc. Tell them why you felt you had to get out. Tell them how people are suffering. I can't imagine how teachers with young kids are managing. Tell them how betrayed we are that a government that purports to support women, to elevate them, is actually abusing and taking advantage of them. Tell them how all honest discussion is being squashed, repressed. Like we live in some repressed country in the developing world. Sigh. It's like an alternate universe. Good luck!
-DLT

Anonymous said...

IRCC please investigate why students are leaving one large program in a southern ontario city to go to a LINC program in the same city. I wonder what could be so wrong in one program to make students leave to go to another program. could it be how PBLA is being implemented?

claudie said...

A. IRCC IS the culprit. IRCC is investigating itself. IRCC through the Integration Department (I understand) gave CCLB the mandate to “manage” PBLA but IRCC managers are the “powers that be” that dictate to CCLB what is to be done. CCLB personnel are not independent. The Parliamentary Committee on Immigration chaired by Rob Olifant, M.P. “oversees” IRCC...Until I am shown otherwise,by Rob Olifant the people that are conducting the survey are (as the commenter wrote) IRCC. So the police are policing the police. THE DESCRIPTION YOU GAVE OF THE RESEARCH CERTAINLY DID NOT POINT TO ANY KIND OF GUARANTEED ANONYMITY FOR ANY PARTICIPANT..NOR DID IT SOUND LIKE IT IS THE WORK OF AN OUTSIDE, INDEPENDENT ENTITY SO HOW CAN IT BE VALID? The Milestones Test? Created under the aegis of CCLB...AGAIN - serious questions of any kind of validity or reliability. Just a big waste of taxpayer money that gets more bewildering and convoluted every day.

B. To the person who wrote that my words about the leads and trainers were harsh - I was restrained. I was asked and had the opportunity more than once to become a trainer. No thank you.
Train the Trainer was a HUGE misstep...inappropriate, ineffective and has created the two tiered divided instructor community we live with today. (And please don’t think I do not mourn the loss of friendships. I do. It is sad. People I loved and respected have become “them”.)

The excuse that people are just trying to hold their programs together is a variant of “I was just following orders”. I sort of understand because the pressure is real,the intimidation is astonishing, implementstion draconian, has people’s livelihoods are threatened. By IRCC? By LINC administration? By Administrstors who repeat the mantra “The Funders Want it” but are secretly thrilled that they can “see what the teachers are doing” (quote). ( The LC Binder,especially the Portfolio section does NOT SHOW IN ANY WAY LEARNER LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND PROGRESS. IT SHOWS WHAT THE TEACHERS HAVE BEEN DOING. IT IS IN EFFECT A TEACHER PORTFOLIO. NOT A STUDENT PORTFOLIO....) 2,000 plus teachers. 2,000 (x32!) differently designed assessments. NO UNIFORMITY....

The training is a farce. The material would never stand up to serious academic scrutiny. The thrown together confusing and confused mishmash makes no sense and worse was never substantiated by serious research (PLEASE do not refer us to to Manitoba pilots, or surveys not done under conditions of anonymity.) Laughingstock just not describe the 10 Modules adequately. They do NOT prepare teachers to be expert assessment creators; the trainers refer parrotlike to the prescriotions... explaining what needs to be done to the letter according to the 7.2 or 9.3.....because “ the inspectors might come” (well, looks like they are here, checking for adherence to the script). No professional assessment creating organisation (think the kind that creates TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, CAEL, CELPIP, MELAB etc tests and test questions) would accept “PBLA” training as professional, reliable, valid....They would be horrified to see what it actually looks like. The fact that EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ALIGNED to the (unvalidated by research) Canadian Language Benchmarks and the narrow perspective that Task Based Learning is the one and only methodology allowed surely need to be questioned.

C. Which brings us to the RWTAB. Sigh.
The lower levels look to be created by a single author so there is some consistency in style..(but there stil remains the question of value for all this “make work” to learners...) but Three up...each is different..and there are many many errors (Not just typos..I downloaded and printed about three quarters of them to date). Sorry. Can’t say they are reliable, consistent, valid...Lots of hard work. The effort to help teachers (or rather to help the PBLA project) is obvious...
But if teachers still have to edit and change - where’s the saving in unpaid work time? And with no supporting teaching materials teachers are still back at square one...
Boy, this is all surreal......

Anonymous said...

Claudie, it’s incredible that you are comparing teachers to a Nazi collaborator who sold out his country to the Nazis and was convicted and hung for high treason. Do you hear yourself? How dare you. Any arguments you make after having said that (and I don’t disagree with your points about PBLA), don’t matter. You will be seen as hysterical and having lost all credibility. I only ask that you do not speak for teachers (if you have been) any longer. You will only damage our cause. Talk about traitors. It is YOU that is betraying teachers. Unlike your Lead Teacher(s) as you have described them, my colleagues and I are ALL trying our best to work TOGETHER to bring about positive change to this unsustainable and problematic new system. Sheesh.
- DLT

claudie said...

DLT- I represent and speak for no one but myself. I have stood up at the government panels at TESLOntario conferences to publicly criticise PBLA and always made clear that I represent myself. I am a long time ESL Professional and I use my experience and expertise to evaluate - and criticise. But you are right. I am outwardly fine and functioning. But inwardly trembling and hysterical. Does that hurt my credibility? I speak out openly and forcefully so others that see this as I do may not feel so alone. Frankly I think it makes me more credible. I have experienced the hurt of PBLA and it has left me shaken.

More than four years ago I commented on Tutela that PBLA is not the way to teach (or learn) language. I remarked then about the issues with Train the Trainer. But I had no idea how awful it was going to be (although one look at the training protocols and the Change Cycle with its ominous criticism of those who gave “negative feedback” as laggards and resisters” who may “have to be fired” said it all for me. I could never imagine myself in a position where I would possibly be the tool used to get other teachers humiliated or fired.)

I accept (and forgive!) you your characterization of me as a traitor. You are entitled to your opinion. It does hurt, of course. As my extreme wording and criticisms of colleagues who collaborate in this experiment probably hurt (definitely annoyed) you.

Someone commented on this blog that PBLA hurts everyone. It’s true.

I opposed PBLA from the gitgo on purely theoretical, academic, “SLA” language acquisition grounds (also seen from the vantage of one who has learned six languages, been an immigrant) In the beginning I criticised the process rather than the people. But as the years went by and the implementation became more draconian, the intimidation more overt, individual stories of abuse came to light I came to realise that if colleagues, members of the same bargaining unit in some cases, had not been so quick to collaborate, had said “no”, we would still be one body united, not a “them” and an “us”. (A friend said: “I don’t see it that way, Claudie”. “Of course you don”t. You’re a Lead”.)

I respect that you share your opinions. You say that you are doing your best to bring positive change to this unsustainable and problematic
new system. I believe you and am sure you have been an effective and respected voice.

We differ in that I think PBLA is so flawed, so impractical, so ineffective, so wasteful, so wrong that it cannot be tweaked, made “lite”. It has to be scrapped (wouldn’t be the first government project that started off looking positive only to be discovered to be unsustainable.)

I hope that IRCC is working on Plan B. At the end of the day the politicians, policy analysts, managers have the same goal as we do - to give newcomers the gift of language to open doors to better integration to life in Canada.



Kelly said...

DLT,
I want you to know I respect and appreciate Claudie so much. She does her homework before she speaks. In comparing this project to some early (1950s and 60s) psychology experiments in which peers were made to turn on each other and inflict pain due to pressure from authority figures, she is bringing light to the situation. I wish I had her courage, the courage to continue to speak truth to power over and over no matter who tries to silence us or shame us or dismiss us. —KM

Anonymous said...

Kelly, I respected Claudie as well (and defended her and was in awe of her) until she compared teachers to a Nazi sympathizer and collaborator on this very blog. Does that not concern you? I’m a forgiving person and was hoping she’d retract that comment. Surely, she would? But it looks like that’s not going to happen. So, that’s where I’m drawing my line in the sand. I won’t stand for it. It minimizes what Quisling did and demonizes teachers. It is so over the top, that it borders on illness. I no longer feel this is a safe and respectful space for discussion. And that saddens me.
All the best,
—DLT

Anonymous said...

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Someone needs to speak out against the division that PBLA is causing. I have never seen anything like this. Where are the funders? Who is watching this experiment?

Anonymous said...

You know what? In the spirit of Christmas, I’m going to choose to forgive that remark.

Merry Christmas all!
—DLT

claudie said...

I absolutely retract the quisling remark - and apologize to all. Using that particular word was overreach and an inappropriate unkind comparison and I AM sorry I made it. Yes minimized his actions.
Wish I were a child again and could sit on Santa's lap and ask for PBLA to go away.
We lit the eighth Hanukkah candle last week and asked for freedom from oppression for all peoples. Hope Canada truly remains free from oppression. We need to guard our freedoms.
Happy holidays to all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you all walk in peace. Goodwill to all.
Love, Claudie

Anonymous said...

I couldn’t agree more, Claudie. Hear hear to freedom from oppression and peace for all peoples. May we all have that in 2019 and beyond.

Merry Christmas,
—DLT

Anonymous said...

Claudie, I’d also like to retract the suggestion I made about you coming off as “hysterical” or unwell. Clearly, I was disturbied by your comparison, but it is no excuse for responding in that way. My apologies.

Best,
DLT (Disillusiioned Lead Teacher)

claudie said...

Accepted gratefully. Thanks.

Kelly, I was wondering for the start of the new year if you wouldn’t mind creating a practical blog post about ways to deal with the perpetual stress and tension, especially in those minute by minute interactions we have (“The binder failed?Whaaat!” “The assessment was no good? Why?”) Invite others to share. I’m going to need something as we start “implementation”....Being in constant PBLA crisis mode is unhealthy for us all...

Anonymous said...

Re: Claudie's strong language. I'm tired of silent complicity stress job ruining life sucking useless non functioning PBLA. Claudia is gutsy and brave. Her anger is real and entirely appropriate. So is mine btw. I'm glad she's not pussyfooting around and it angers me that we are mostly women being forced into this crisis with no way out terrified to speak out . A similar group of men - says my husband- would have been vocal from the start but who are these women allowing themselves to be treated like this? I don't need or want an apology from Claudie. She's telling it like it is. I work with many women who whisper these things behind closed doors. Let's hear it loud and clear from the trenches we are in. Go Claudie!

Anonymous said...

I'm an intelligent adult with over 25 years experience teaching ESL and I'm tired of pretending. I'm disillusioned and sad because there seem to be two possibilities here. a) a whole bunch of teachers are pretending b) a whole bunch of teachers don't really know what good teaching is or care if their students really learn the language. I'm not going to smile quietly and behave and I'm glad Claudie is not 'behaving'. I am a musician as well as ESL teacher and would never dumb it down and pretend to know only 3 chords. I know how to teach a language. I resent being asked - told - to do PBLA. Maybe Claudie would like to quit her job and start a rock n roll band. She's got the right stuff. I admire her persistence and resilience and attitude. Look at me commenting anonymously. Still gotta pay the bills and if my micromanaging management heard my true feelings it just wouldn't be worth the grief. Signed : flying under the radar but happy that Claudie is not.

Anonymous said...

Claudie had no reason to apologize for using a word that in modern usage is a byword for "collaborator". Really, Claudie is owed an apology. Without the open candour and fearlessness of Claudie I may have quit my job long ago. ESL is a passionate field which encompasses settlement, social adustment and language much the same as parenting a young child to school age does. Would that we could return to the ESL that taught me what it meant to be Canadian-helping my neighbour shovel snow, and having chats over the backyard fence, exchanging recipes and strategies for getting babies to sleep, going on field trips to museums, and art galleries, and taking the bus and train to learn how, and using grammar books to learn the mechanics of English while quizzing each other for spelling bees. I learned English in a church basement, without PBLA and now teach with PBLA. My students are the losers.

claudie said...

Kelly’s blog is about the Joy of ESL and about the learners and about providing them with the most winning positive experience possible.... if we keep that ideal front and centre - we will weather this.
To: All of you TY for the support. But you give me too much credit. I am able to be forthright because I have the privilege of age and experience. I have the luxury of being an empty nester. I have the absolute courage of my convictions. I am bouyed by the intelligent voices I found here. Anon Dec 17 - back at you! I might have quit my job (especially in June - August 2017) if it had not been for something you or others had posted here...which conveyed the urgency of the moment and spurred me and others on. My courage comes from your courage.

An apology was offered to me and gladly accepted.

My apology came because in reflection I think my word choice was in rather poor taste. My opinion that RCs, Leads, Trainers, turned/turn their backs on teachers, on colleagues, by definition of their task remains. It is an inconvenient truth. Something they did not realise? It is not too late to rethink.

I truly do not know where we go from here. I believe justice will eventually be done. But it may take longer than desired. And help may come in a form none of us want - cuts and closures. Perversely precisely because ESL/LINC now is not giving good ROI because of.....well...umm,missteps...So this is a moment to take a deep breath, hope for the best,expect the worst. And prepare options.

Old time countdown to last day of school...

No more Latin, no more French,
No more PBLA’s nasty stench,
No more binders, no more books,
No more of those dirty looks....

At least till next year....

Anonymous said...

There are no dirty looks where I work. We all despise PBLA, Leads included. But it’s a free country so you’re free to continue to generalize, judge, discriminate, hate. So, go at it if that’s what you choose. I’ll just be over here actually trying to effect change without all that division and hate, thank you very much. Why are you trying to paint all leads with the same brush? Do you do that to everyone that crosses your path?

Anonymous said...

Never mind. No need to answer. I give up.

Anonymous said...

Really? anon Dec. 17 at 9:25 pm? Sometimes you have to get good and angry to make changes. I think you're confusing courage with some of those other adjectives you used up there. If something's broken it has to be fixed and when no one will listen to backroom whispers it's time to get mad and vocal. Just saying words (judge, discriminate, hate) doesn't make them true. Politicians do that all the time. They try to silence people's anger by telling them they're hysterical or hateful and creating a false story. They also talk a lot without ever actually doing anything. Ever complain because you got bad service? Getting mad and vocal (for very legitimate reasons) gives you higher odds of success. I'm just wondering also, if the leads despise PBLA why are they volunteering to be leads? At our school the leads were asked to 'lead' and were given the choice of saying no. Many of us were asked and said no. In some ways the leads are in a better position to speak up as they are closer to (chosen by) management. They could start the ball rolling.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:21 - And what makes you think I’m not speaking up? I speak up EVERY CHANCE I get TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE. My point is how does it help to generalize and call all Leads traitors? Sure, I could give up my position. Believe me, I think about it ALL THE TIME. But then I wouldn’t have the ear of management and our IRCC settlement officer to advocate for teachers and students. Fair or not, when a Lead complains about PBLA, it carries some weight and gives people pause. Frankly, my colleagues don’t want me to quit as lead because I care about their well-being and we see ourselves as being on the same side. I DON’T check their binders or harrass them in any way. That is not in the job description. I get that may not be your experience. I’ve heard the nightmare stories. I’m just saying sweeping generalizations don’t help. Division does not help. If you don’t like what your leads are doing, speak up! It’s a pretty simple concept: don’t assume everyone’s who’s in this role is cut from the same cloth. I don’t assume that about you. Now I understand why NO leads ever seemingly participate on this forum. I get it. And I don’t need it. Thanks. Good luck.

Kelly said...

DLT,
Thank you for this insight into a different reason someone might remain as a PBLA Lead Teacher. That's one I hadn't heard before. I'm going to think on that, as we say in my home dialect. --KM

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kelly. It all goes back to your title: Where is Our Ally? Well, my feeling is that they’re all right in front of our noses. As teachers, we ALL need to be allies for each other and stand strong, in whatever ways we can. Sounds cliche, but it’s true. Divided, we fall. That I know.

DLT

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that the very idea of a 'lead' doesn't sit well with many teachers. We did all use to be equal and when you think of the notion of a leader (I mean leaders are supposed to lead right) it's usually someone who has greater authority and (perhaps) insight into what we're all supposed to be doing. It stands to reason then, that if we resent and dislike PBLA and think that it's wrong, then we also feel strange about having a PBLA leader whose job it is to promote and support it. Our lead truly believes in PBLA so it's hard to not feel strange about her presence in our lunchroom when most of us dislike it... it's a strange dynamic. It's not as simple as not liking what the leads are doing - and speaking up to them. It's the fact that there has to be a lead period, and that their job is to help us with something we think is wrong and unmanageable. I don't want to do PBLA. Our lead does. That creates a conflict. In our case our lead teacher has become a sort of "manager's assistant" and although she is a pleasant enough person, it's rather impossible to feel comfortable when she's in the room because our management is strongly pro PBLA.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I hear you. You make a good point. I am not comfortable with how some have latched onto that label with a little too much fervor and ugly appetite for power. I don't think it was meant to mean we're somehow superior, at least not to my mind. The title is "PBLA" Lead, to signify that PBLA Leads have received specialized training and are certified. They are not instructional leads or supervisors. That's always been made very clear. Having said that, I can see how it's a reminder that can make teachers feel "less than". I know it's a common feeling that all of our expertise and experience just doesn't matter anymore. True or not, people are feeling that way. I felt that way! That's one of the biggest mistakes they've made with PBLA--not acknowledging that teachers have been producing results long before PBLA. There was this sense that teachers were being viewed from a place of deficit, that they needed fixing. And that's a shame. I'm surprised that your Lead feels so positive about PBLA. I swear every teacher that I talk to, including Leads, sees huge problems. Because, you know what, there are huge problems with it. Hopefully the powers that be are waking up to what is so obvious to the rest of us.

Cheers,
DLT

Anonymous said...

pennyDecember 20, 2018 at 12:34 AM
If you watch an episode of employment hour in 30' on global channel Toronto, you will realize exactly what violations are being committed and exactly what course of action all Linc teachers need to take in order to rectify this situation. If multiple teachers took action for themselves, then ircc and its service providers would take notice. None of the anonymous decision makers or pseudointellectuals are interested in our experience or professional insight regarding Pbla. Especially Linc teachers who are not union members would be relieved to know that they are not in fact powerless or that they have to resign to hopelessness. We can in fact take back our power and stand up for our professional integrity. We have a duty to ourselves and to our students, who we are expected to teach about employment standards in the Canadian workplace.

Anonymous said...

Which episode to we watch Penny

Anonymous said...

Paradoxically because of the demands of PBLA very few of us have the time or energy to research, fight, find resolution etc. and I think that's one of the reasons we're all still stuck with this. I feel like if we were a large group of men none of this would have ever happened and I also feel like teachers - especially ESL - are so accustomed to 'working things out' that it feels strange and uncomfortable having to take action in such a ferocious (but necessary) manner. We are negotiators, compromisers and that aspect of our (collective for the most part) personalities seems to ensure that we simply go around and around in circles feeling we have nowhere to run. When we do have down time (so rare) we need to spend it catching our breath. It's such a convoluted mess. Notice how everyone comments anonymously? We don't know where to go or who to talk to. I did meet with Yuliya a year ago and expressed myself strongly and clearly with no reservation whatsoever and I'm astonished that , so far at least, nothing seems to have come from her hard work and research. I have rarely felt so sad and hopeless about a job I once felt so happy about.

Anonymous said...

Nation-wide day of action?

Anonymous said...

Yes PBLA Instructors, there is a Santa Claus

As many know , your MPs and MPPs are home for the holidays.

CONTACT THEM PLEASE. INFORM THEM ABOUT PBLA and how it violates labour law by making the work requirements stretch beyond paid time. The overwork has become a pattern now and people are resigned to working 10 hour days and being paid for 5 hours instead of 10.

So Santa, all I want for Christmas is my time back or more paid time. Pick one.

Windsor and London school board is bad because one supports the other. Any location that was influenced they these two has a problem. PBLA leads disappeared and are replaced by Learning Supports...learning for who...the Instructors. Please let us do our jobs...all leads should teach as the PBLA quidelines suggest and support this. So if you wonder what you should talk to your MP or MPP about, this is a start. Why are the rules applied onto the instructors but not the leads...I would love to see all PBLA leads with a full course load by 2019.

Non unionized work locations need to speak to board of directors to get them to help with PBLA. If that doesnt work then contact the labour board...they are all available over the next two weeks.

LETS USE CHRISTMAS BREAK EFFECTIVELY.

If your employer hasnt OKd all the available resources, then the labour board needs to know that too. And the MP and MPP and board of directors for agency should know that too.

So many wrongs and it all sits at the feet of a few people.

AND Disallusioned Lead Teacher (you are really an instructor in PBLA language) should have refused to supervise peers. No one should have accepted the role and we wouldnt have gotten to this place. CIC and IRCC would have had to listen to the problem. In truth, power hungry PBLA leads are at the centre of the issue. They all need to teach and many of the problems would end.

Anonymous said...

Yes PBLA Instructors, there is a Santa Claus

As many know , your MPs and MPPs are home for the holidays.

CONTACT THEM PLEASE. INFORM THEM ABOUT PBLA and how it violates labour law by making the work requirements stretch beyond paid time. The overwork has become a pattern now and people are resigned to working 10 hour days and being paid for 5 hours instead of 10.

So Santa, all I want for Christmas is my time back or more paid time. Pick one.

Windsor and London school board is bad because one supports the other. Any location that was influenced they these two has a problem. PBLA leads disappeared and are replaced by Learning Supports...learning for who...the Instructors. Please let us do our jobs...all leads should teach as the PBLA quidelines suggest and support this. So if you wonder what you should talk to your MP or MPP about, this is a start. Why are the rules applied onto the instructors but not the leads...I would love to see all PBLA leads with a full course load by 2019.

Non unionized work locations need to speak to board of directors to get them to help with PBLA. If that doesnt work then contact the labour board...they are all available over the next two weeks.

LETS USE CHRISTMAS BREAK EFFECTIVELY.

If your employer hasnt OKd all the available resources, then the labour board needs to know that too. And the MP and MPP and board of directors for agency should know that too.

So many wrongs and it all sits at the feet of a few people.

AND Disallusioned Lead Teacher (you are really an instructor in PBLA language) should have refused to supervise peers. No one should have accepted the role and we wouldnt have gotten to this place. CIC and IRCC would have had to listen to the problem. In truth, power hungry PBLA leads are at the centre of the issue. They all need to teach and many of the problems would end.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:08 am:

Actually I DO teach. And I DON’T supervise. I’ll be blunt: Stop making assumptions that what happens in your particular program is also the case across Canada.

And for the record, I agree with you that PBLA Leads should teach so that they have a full understanding of what teachers are going through. In fact, I think ALL CCLB Regional Coaches and leadership should try to implement PBLA in a classroom for at least a couple of terms as a “condition of employment”. That might make a difference. Don’t hold your breath though. They’ve already heard how hard it is. So, I can only conclude they don’t care and are only looking out for their own interests. If that’s the case, they’re miserable people. In any case, they’ve contradicted themselves so many times about the most basic of protocols, that they have absolutely no credibility anymore. I have no confidence in them.

As for my own role, when I accepted this assignment years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would roll out a new program without the appropriate supports. What on earth were they thinking? PBLA had been in the works for years. Why weren’t they prepared?? In any case, we’ve been told the role ends in 3 months time. The absence of Lead Teachers won’t stop them.
-DLT

Anonymous said...

YWCA Canada has sponsored a fundraiser to stop violence against women yet they are a major player in the abuse of instructors who are implementing PBLA .

It’s been a year of a new wave of courage to stand up and say #MeToo. ✊🏾

But countless women are still victims of violence, sexual abuse, and harassment.

Now is the time to give. You can make violence against women history.

Anonymous said...

Can we STOP turning on each other now? The responsibility for this failed and completely unethical and heartless experiment lies at the feet of the CCLB. And NOBODY ESLE. I don’t doubt that there are Lead Teachers (or Instructors, whatever) that are aggravating things. There are also those of us who have been put in this really difficult position and have chosen to turn it into an opportunity to help and advocate for our colleagues as much as we possibly can. Thank God my own colleagues completely understand the difficult position the Leads are in. Again, Leads are NOT supposed to supervise. That is VERY clear in the guidelines. Teachers don’t stand a chance if we’re not united. The choice is yours, of course.
—DLT

claudie said...

Historical perspective can help us understand how we got to here from there. See the link below. (But the planning started well before that report).

Time will tell where to give praise, where to lay blame.

Meanwhile we in the front lines are feeling the effects of the error in the choice if the inappropriate Train the Trainer model.

We are all victims of this experiment. Kelly referenced the Stanfoed Experiment I mentioned. That was abandoned prematuurely because of the harm it was causing. PBLA has to be abandoned. Yves St Germain and others at IRCC must be held accountable for the misstep. Yves - it is to admit to failure and to take responsibility for the mess. No more slides glorifying the implemention of PBLA (and presenting the RWTAB as the “saviour”. lol ) An aplogy would be in order.

I will attend the New Year Levee of my MP Rob Olifant and MPP Kathleen Wynne. I will wish them good health (real as well as political) for 2019. I will remind them that they are responsible for seeing taxpayer dollars are not wasted and that they are charged with protecting democracy. I will give them both a letter describing the problems with PBLA. I will ask Rob to make sure I get interviewed by those IRCC “researchers”. I would like to share my observations with them.

https://www3.carleton.ca/cimss/inscan-e/v24_se.pdf



claudie said...

In three months (as posted elsewhere) with all the “cohorts” “trained”, will Train the Trainer become defunct and will “PBLA” move to “Train Yourself” through CCLB online courses..... (IF PBLA survives the IRCC study..any bets?)
Will former “Trainers” ” morph into “LINC Team Leaders”, “Binder Orientation Instructors”, “PBLA Support” people? Will those who felt they were “in charge” feel deprived of status? (WITH REGARD TO MY GENERALISATIONS ABOUT TRAINERS I KNOW MANY WHO FELT COERCED WILL FEEL VERY RELIEVED). The task of enforcing compliance will move to managers and administration...

I will attend my MP (Rob Olifant) and MPP (Kathleen Wynne)’s New Year Levee and wish them health (real and political) for the coming year. I will again mention PBLA...and take a letter with an update. I am going to ask that I be interviewed by the IRCC team.....

Just a suggestion for all if you can...I got to meet with my MP after I had shaken his hand at the levee and intriduced myself and said there was something I needed to talk to him about urgently....

All the best to everyone for 2019!

Love to all.

Anonymous said...

Just call me , "Ready for PBLA to End"

I too have asked to be interviewed by the IRCC team, and was told that I have been too vocal and specific to be put forward as an interview candidate. I was also told that there are no problems with PBLA, just problem people. Also, that PBLA will save ESL, and if PBLA ends, then ESL jobs will be lost.

All I want for Christmas is the end of PBLA, in January 2019.

CIC, IRCC, CCLB, et al

You have created a nightmare that has ruined all of ESL and LINC

claudie said...

Dear “Ready for PBLA to End”. Write to Rob Olifant, MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and tell him your story and suggest that if the IRCC study is to provide Parliament with anything resembling a true and honest result EVERYONE should be interviewed. Explain that you need to be protected (anonymity).

Sad reality. This is a familiar refrain...heard it before from more than one source (right Kelly?) I don’t know who those persons are that claim “there are no problems in PBLA but just problem people” but the phraseology is so similar that it is beginning to sound like a suggested script....

Does this not alarm everone? (It alarms me).

Those who are steering PBLA and are in positions of influence and control are suppressing the truth....

Freedom of speech and democracy? Honesty and integrity? What do you think?
I think this PBLA thing is more malignant than we thought.

Anonymous said...

"Three years on, many Syrian refugees in Toronto find the path to Canadian citizenship is still stressful"
MICHAEL TUTTON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
PUBLISHED 2 DAYS AGO
Globe and Mail.

Heartbreaking quote:

"Lina Arafeh, a Syrian refugee who works as a translator in Halifax, said she had clients who are deeply worried about their struggle to learn the language.

“I have interpreted for one person, he was frantic. He had almost a nervous breakdown. We would go to counselling and all of his answers revolved around, ‘What if I fail my English my exam? All of my friends are passing,’ ” she said in an interview.

Meanwhile, poverty remains an issue for many families."

Does it make anyone else sick that INSTRUCTORS are making migrants have nervous breakdowns because we deliver PBLA. "level 4" not achieved in three years but maybe next year. This is sick.

Please forward this to your MP

Anonymous said...

The then there was PBLA:

Refugees quicker to adapt to Canada than others says ESL teacher

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/refugees-esl-class-1.3338548

PBLA fs up everything for refugees and immigrants. Who wants ESL to take 7 years??? Not the tax payers

Anonymous said...

Newcomers illiterate in native tongue struggle to learn English

PBLA doesn't help illiterate learners.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/immigrants-refugees-literacy-programs-calgary-1.4586908

Kelly said...

Thank you, Erin Brockovich emulator. I'm adding this contact to the new area on my website that I'm setting up as a central place for us to find names and addresses. --KM

Anonymous said...

Which one of us is the “Erin Brockovich emulator” and why do you think so?

Kelly said...

Anonymous of Dec. 10 at 4:41. She or he said this is all starting to seem like Erin Brockovich. I’m just trying to give each commenter a unique pseudonym. —KM

Anonymous said...

Gotcha. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Amy Fast, Ed.D.


@fastcrayon
Follow Follow @fastcrayon
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If you’re a leader whose staff is on edge or fearful of getting in trouble, you’re creating a culture that undermines the mission. Nervous staff aren’t risk takers. They’re not innovators. They’re anxious. Cautious. They play it safe. And playing it safe doesn’t lead to greatness

I hope my SPO is reading. Extreme anxiety has started as I contemplate returning to work after the Christmas break. I am sure that admin will have thought of more ways to make doing my job impossible.

Anonymous said...

Again:

http://contact.teslontario.org/the-nature-and-impact-of-portfolio-based-language-assessment-pbla/


Please see the comments so far.

4 THOUGHTS ON “THE NATURE AND IMPACT OF PORTFOLIO-BASED LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT (PBLA)”

Jojo
DECEMBER 5, 2018 AT 11:40 AM
This article is a breath of fresh air! Congratulations for finally talking about this “hellish experiment” in your magazine. I agree with many of the points made in the article. Among my colleagues, we feel that PBLA is great in theory but not in practice. Some have even gone further to suggest it is nothing more than a make work project. It would have been better to take the existing LINC binders, revised and updated that than torment many of us with PBLA. I hope many more in our industry continue to raise this as not just a bad idea but taxing on teachers’ prep time which for many is not even paid. I also hope PBLA is on the way out!

REPLY
Mojo
DECEMBER 7, 2018 AT 9:26 PM
I agree completely!

REPLY
Ellen Chassé
DECEMBER 5, 2018 AT 12:56 PM
This is really an excellent assessment of the PBLA issue…it appeared to be a make-work project for a small group of people who managed to convince the government that it was worthwhile. With funding cuts to the LINC program and its disappearance in some places, I have to wonder why PBLA money is not being redirected to LINC and the far more useful IT2Teach computer moodle.

REPLY
Ashot Vardanyan
DECEMBER 11, 2018 AT 11:22 AM
Within a short period, this has been the second scientific proof of pointlessness, valuelessness, inefficacy, and finally — practical failure of this absurdist assessment system that brings about nothing but damage to the teaching-learning process. (The first one is a UoT doctoral student Yulia Desyatova’s study — see her webinar of October 24 at TESL Ontario). Little choice for the provincial and federal governments but to be less dismissive about this tool and to stop not only its implementation but also inculcation of its non-existent benefit for second language education.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelly, interesting that one of the notes on your blog by a former pbla teacher said that she got out of pbla due to 'an integrity thing.' Wow, that is exactly what I have thought about it. It is actually unethical to waste huge amounts of taxpayer money to achieve poorer results now than we used to pre-pbla. I was looking at some notes for an old class of mine and I realized that I am using a textbook for CLB6 that I used to use for CLB3!?! Shocking how poor pbla is in teaching students to speak English! Many of my students in CLB6 still struggle with the basic verb tenses and yet, I've been yelled at by incompetent administrators for teaching grammar, even though my students beg me to teach grammar in every needs assessment. Pbla is a failure, pure and simple!

Anonymous said...

Pbla is unethical. How else do you explain the fact that my school makes students repeat every level at least 2, 3, 4 times before they can move on. I told them that the students had enough artifacts in their binders, so why can't I move them to the next level? I was then questioned aggressively as to why I moved up more than 2 or 3 students in a class of 18. Even questioning why students should take 5 years to go from CLB2 to CLB6 has put me on the firing line. Ever since I questioned pbla very mildly, I have had a target on my back. At one staff meeting, a colleague and questioned the time commitment (we just asked questions) and we were attacked and yelled at. I almost started yelling myself, but instead almost started laughing because it was so ludicrous. The administrators running the program are basically incompetent and we have one lead teacher who is like a nazi. Fortunately, I have heard of leads who were far more understanding, but some of them take their position as a chance to make it their own fiefdom with no dissent allowed. Can anyone say 'toxic atmosphere'?