Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Troll Poll

Here are the characteristics of an internet troll.

To take the Troll Poll, you do not have to leave your personal info or email. I am relying on the honour system and the assumption that teachers are far too busy to go around sitting at multiple computers just to skew results.

Multiple times over the past two years or more,  I have wanted to set a rule for this forum so that only those whose opinions could get them fired or reprimanded are to use cover of anonymity.
The only reason I ever allowed for anonymity in commenting is that this blog is the only forum in Canada where teachers are free to express their opinions of PBLA without fear of reprisal. I never intended the anonymous commenting feature to enable PBLA defenders to snipe without revealing who they are, which in turn  would reveal any conflicts of interest or ulterior motives for coming here. There are plenty of other venues where we can go if we feel like being attacked on an uneven playing field. If it's up to me to make the decision, I will not publish comments from PBLA proponents who do not identify themselves.

But it's not just my blog, it's your forum. So I'm leaving this decision to you all. I hope you'll take the one-question survey.



  1. Hi Kelly - I'm anonymous, sigh, but do not wish to be. The link to survey monkey doesn't seem to work. If the question was do we need or want pro PBLAers on here, I vote no we do not. I for one get enough stress, negative looks and comments and patronizing scoldings from those people at my place of employment. I teach ESL because I love it, and care deeply about my students. I find it offensive to hear a pro-PBLA person on here making generalizations about ESL teachers. I say go away to her if she is indeed a real person. If I have to keep reading stuff from people like the recent pro poster, I'll just stop coming here. I feel like it's a nice quiet room with like minded individuals. I need kindred spirits to get me through the hell that is PBLA.

    1. The poll stands at 58% in favour of making the anonymity feature available only to those whose comments could put their jobs at risk. I like the idea of this being a safe space for kindred spirits. --KM

  2. Very interesting, Kelly. I see that our new very self-assured poster (isn’t she ever so proud of herself?) fits most if not all the troll characteristics in the link you provided. Your posting does make me wonder why she’s chosen to remain anonymous. Unlike the rest of us who have received the message that it is risky to share our identities, what do pro-PBLAers have to lose? It makes me wonder if they have a stake in PBLA continuing at all costs, at the expense of students and on the backs of teachers. While I totally get Anonymous 12:23’s desire to have a safe space to support one another, I am loathe to suppress any viewpoints. We’re all being suppressed as it is—incredible that this is happening in my Canada! I think I will just choose not to feed the troll. I hope that will help to take care of the problem.


    1. That is exactly what I ask myself. What does a pro-PBLAer have to lose in posting under a real name / Google account? Why would they even want to come to this forum in the first place? What do they have to gain? What is the motivation?

  3. I have noticed that some SPOs post resources and share publicly to help others with the overwhelming demands of PBLA. And following that vein, I have met good and happy people from those places. There are some SPOs that share nothing. Actually, they actively hide their resources. I am sure that the employees at SPOs where sharing is the culture feel free to praise or condemn parts of PBLA. I am as sure that employees at SPOs that share nothing do not feel free to praise or condemn parts of PBLA. Some people are givers; others are fearful hoarders. Some people accept the possibility that a shared resource will field some criticism; others hide that fact that they have created nothing original but have copied (plagiarised) from others,so therefore they have nothing to share but lots to hide. Even now a furtive rush to create resources isn't enough to undo the damage. The attempt to avoid notice or attention because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble is causing isolation and distrust. I suggest that the bravado and arrogance of the PBLA "experts" has caused harm that cannot be reversed or repaired. There will be no trust after this until some people slink away into retirement.

    “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” Sigmund Freud Let's all do better. This fiasco started a decade ago; and it isn't getting any prettier. Too many people have been hurt because of arrogance and pride. The people who caused the problems in PBLA implementation know who they are and they should be ashamed of what they did to the beautiful field of ESL where good people helped fragile people rebuild their lives and recreate a bright future.

    A certain group of small minded, bitter and self-righteous people should consider retirement or a new career so that this PBLA mess can be cleaned up.

    1. The days of not sharing are coming to an end. IRCC has added a clause to the service provider agreement stipulating that each SPO must upload two resourced to Tutela in a contract year. --KM

    2. Wondering about Tutela2/16/2019 7:56 AM

      Kelly, do you have a link for more information on this? Is the expectation 2 resources for each SPO or each teacher/level/class in an SPO? And how are "resources" being defined? Are there any quality controls? As a classroom teacher, I am not privy to any part of the decision-making process.
      I find it difficult to find resources on Tutela and (more importantly) when I do find resources, the quality varies so widely. Despite the labelling, I find some are not level-appropriate. Some are PDFs which makes adaptation for my context difficult. Many are content-specific for a particular province. Professional teaching resources are not Facebook memes; using "Likes" is not an appropriate way to vet course materials.
      Tutela has not fulfilled its promise as a national repository.

    3. Dear Wondering about Tutela,

      I hear that you are complaining about TUTELA. The people who post to TUTELA are brave. They are trying to help. Leave them intact. By asking in the first paragraph if there are quality controls, you imply that what you have found lacks quality. Be kind. The people have tried to help.

      Anyways, I happily "like" everything on TUTELA because they have tried.

      Stuck in the worst PBLA environment possible pretending to represent the "Gold Standard" of trash.

    4. Wondering about Tutela,
      I don't have a link. I'm not even sure I should have shared that. I know it's a clause in my SPO's contract and thus assumed it is so for all IRCC-funded programs. The wording I laid eyes on did not stipulate PBLA-compatible or of what quality. No details were given other than "two resources," and it was per SPO, not per teacher.

    5. Anonymous 9:30,
      In my opinion, we can appreciate the effort, yet recognize the work may not be CLB and/or PBLA-aligned. It may also lack validity and reliability—simply because the training has been inconsistent and contributors are not expert assessment developers. I do not blame teachers for any of these issues. And I do appreciate their contributions. But the fact remains that tutela is largely unhelpful bevside the content is not consistently reliable or valid.

    6. bevside should be because (typo)

  4. For me, it’s not my workplace that is threatening. It’s the whole system of contract work that LINC runs on. If you’re seen to disagree with this major part of the program, how will your organization be seen at proposal time? Will you be remembered as the “trouble child” program that is not able to or is unwilling to follow the rules? Will it lead to a rejection of your proposal and loss of funding? Who knows? That’s the fear.


  5. lol Norma. I had written this earlier but not sent.

    My son, the programmer, taught me "Mom. DON'T FEED THE TROLLS."
    What is a troll? When you see one, you'll know.
    Just don't respond.
    Respond to honest outreach and balanced dialogue.
    I'm against censorship so unless people are really hurt I think I would have to go for not restricting anonymity- or even blocking as I thought esrlier - those who seem to have no self monitoring or reflective skills - for whatever reason. Who are they? Does it really matter? I think I’d rather not know. I have guesses as to some of those that criticise - feel some “speech patterns” are familiar. But this is not a forum for personal barbs. So I reserve the right to silence. I try to mind my own manners and am quick to apologise if someone has been hurt by something I have written.

    Kelly I trust your judgement to know when someone has gone too far. As the owner and moderator of this award winning blog and as a TESLOntario Spark of Excellence yourself I have confidence in whatever steps you take - will back up whatever decisions you make. You have that prerogative - responsibility really. It applies to ALL of our posts. However unless someone is exhibiting outright flagrant indecent, cuckoo, hurtfull behaviour I’d say more is to be lost than gained by setting conditions. Petards have a way of hoisting themselves...

    1. I don't wish to censor. Pro PBLA folks are welcome to comment here if they are willing to do it under their real names. The poll stands at 58% in favour of allowing anonymity only to those whose jobs could be at risk if they signed their names to their comments. --KM

  6. I agree with Claudie. I also completely trust Kelly to moderate with the wit and wisdom she has always shown.

    Grateful for you and this community, Kelly.
    - Norma

  7. I am looking for ESL teaching ideas etc.
    I clicked on the button on your home page because it said VISIT MY BLOG techniques, sharing...

    Regarding your TROLL POLL
    My suggestion is to maybe rebrand this part of your blog for what you want to read here. For what is allowed.

    I ended up here thinking it was something else.

    1. True that this blog has evolved into something other than what it started out being. In the beginning it was classroom reflection and announcement of new free resources. But then PBLA took over our classrooms and this space became the defacto hub for activists to communicate with one another. I don't regret that but will consider the rebranding / warning idea. --KM

  8. I don't like PBLA too much. There should be expert content developed and maintained. (I know that attempts are underway.) Explicit grammar is o.k.... and not everything has to be themed constantly or tied exclusively to "real world" English use... plus some standardized testing should be made available (and kept current or altered to avoid overuse, etc. by some central dedicated group).

    Yes, PBLA does not work well, at least in its current manifestation, for lots of situations and thw focus on quantity is not helpful for anyone really (students also).

    The demands of PBLA are such, teachers should be paid for at least an hour of prep time for every 6 hour block of teaching.


    I have enjoyed your blog and some of your resources too. I hope you can transition into doing something with your developed talents, such as e-publishing.

    But I have not enjoyed the extreme negativity (at times) expressed with comments at this blog. My mother always taught be to be careful about "the extremists". I have found myself avoiding your blog, etc. for long stretches, this past year. But then I get curious from time to time.

    In the past, I told everyone I could about you, among my network of teachers. Now I hear them moaning more than ever. The situation is worse in a way... with all this collective complaining. (Really I wanted them to know about the excellent resources you have created!)

    Incidentally, I've often wondered why you somewhere stated that your favourite movie of all time was "A Serious Man". I love that movie! (Although for some reason one of my faves of all time is "The Third Man".) Thanks for being a positive and creative force yourself!

    1. Serious Man lover,
      Thank you for sharing the website and resources. I hope you can continue to enjoy www.kellymorrissey.com with its free resources even though you may not wish to pop over here to the blog. I acknowledge that at times the forum becomes quite heated and even downright nasty at times, but often there are apologies that follow. I love it for the messy but necessary space it has proven to be. I'm going to look up The Third Man. --KM

  9. "collective complaining" - a term written by someone else in the above post

    I agree with that phrase and what this part of the blog has turned into or is actually about... ??? I am confused.

    Is that the purpose of this VISIT MY BLOG portion of your full blog Kelly? Can you explain what it is you want to be commented on here and how you want it to look. Can people share their thoughts both negative and positive about pbla or do you just want it to stay anti-pbla only?

    I too have told others about this blog in the past with all the wonderful resources and teaching techniques like BACK TO THE WELL etc. but this area is something extremely different and I no longer recommend it to others. As a reader, I find it very negative and spiteful in nature at times. I sometimes cringe when I read some of the nasty comments that anonymous and even those who sign their names write. I also check back monthly and this is my first time writing BUT... ?

    1. If you are mainly interested in Back to the Well resources, you can just stick to the website www.kellymorrissey.com. I'm not doing much with that anymore. The blog here has morphed into a place to update each other on the state of PBLA activism. I suppose the situation between my website and my blog is a lot like my relationship with the colleagues where I work. They know they can all come to me anytime for resources and I will share freely, open my file drawers and start spreading stuff all over the tables for them. But they also know not to get me started on how I feel about PBLA unless they want to get me worked up. Some do, others don't. But no, the short answer to one of your questions is that no, I don't only want to SILENCE those who believe in PBLA. I just don't agree with their taking advantage of the anonymity feature, which I only enabled because without it many of us could not come here to comment AT ALL. Without that feature we could not share what is happening from agency to agency. The anonymity feature was never intended to allow anyone to come here and dismiss our fight as "grumbling" without revealing who they are, as we would like to be able to identify those whose cheerleading for PBLA stems from a vested interest in promoting it. --KM

  10. Why can’t Kelly’s blog serve more than one purpose? If you don’t like this particular part of the blog, skip it. I for one will miss reading different/opposing views, but nothing will change if we all play along and pretend everything is OK. It’s not. Yuliya’s work shows plenty of documented evidence of that. We must speak up. For our students. For ourselves. For our profession.

  11. Collective complaining can make positive change. One person complaining is an outlier but when enough people stand up and make noise e.g. over 700 who signed a petition protesting PBLA and the many teachers interviewed by Yuliya, then people pay attention. We complain because we're frustrated and don't know how to solve this problem. Sometimes I do the same with my husband (it's called talk therapy). My father always taught me to do what I know is right, but when doing the right thing is seemingly impossible venting helps me. It also makes me feel that I'm not alone. I don't think of myself as a negative person, but PBLA is not working for me or most of my colleagues.

  12. Are we allowed to have different / opposing views here? Really?
    Because if you read anything from anyone with a different viewpoint than Yuliya or Kelly or Norma or Claudie - They are shut down and ridiculed and called a troll etc. This is why Kelly posted a Troll Poll - or is it?
    Please correct me if I am wrong. I may be. That is why I ask. Reading what has been said to others, I would never say anything positive about PBLA here and what is happening now in ESL. And I always look for the positives... and can find a few. I would never share something that worked in my ESL classroom - not worth the risk.

    1. Thank you for that. I do recognize that sometimes people come on here to share something positive and get shut down. This argument --about the purpose of and rules for this forum-- is starting to remind me of similar arguments over whether men should be allowed into a women-only space and whether minorities have a right to have meetings in which members of the ruling class are not allowed to join. We who want to fight to end PBLA or radically reduce its sphere are not in positions of power to do so. We are the underdog in this fight. So in that sense I do think it's fair to create a space where members of the power structure and those who ally themselves with it must identify themselves in order to participate. I hope that makes sense, but I totally get it if you want to just stay away. --KM

  13. When did pbla start? How long have you been collectively complaining? Have any changes been made due to the complaints? If so, what are they? What is it exactly that you want?

    Signed: seriously curious

    Please don’t tell me to read Yuliya. I did. It reads like what it is intended to be - a study. What do you want?

    1. With each article that Yuliya writes, she increasingly concludes the study with recommendations. So yes, I will continue to point you and others to Yuliya's articles about her research and to other writings to which I link on my PBLA activism page. https://www.kellymorrissey.com/pbla-activism.html --KM

  14. What do I want?

    I want a condensed version of PBLA to be presented. At the moment, I am expected to be all things PBLA without a clear picture of what PBLA is. Administration can ask me to do whatever they want in the name of PBLA, even if it doesn't align with the Emerging Practice Guidelines.

    I want the PBLA lead teachers to stop suggesting improvements for themselves, rather than efficiencies for PBLA teachers. Too many people are listening to the PBLA lead teachers rather than to the PBLA teachers.

    I want RESOURCES. I want the funders to hire people to create resources. I want all agencies to share the resources they see as fit, and I want other agencies to grant said resource validity.

    There is a ragtag group of admin and PBLA leads that are causing a lot of problems.

    I would like CCLB to speak out against said admin and PBLA leads.

    From what I hear, PBLA was not meant to make whipping posts of instructors; yet, instructors are being punished for not doing PBLA well enough when PBLA isn't even a "real thing".

    I may call my self a seamstress but have you seen the mess that I sewed. I think all the creators of PBLA should ask themselves if the mess they have created is anything like what they expected. If they see problems, they should speak up to correct them.

    PBLA is broken, and it is causing untold damage to instructors. Please, stop calling me a whiner. I am hopeless and think about ending my ESL career every day. But you know what, I actually love the students, and am willing to continue to fight to make improvements. People in power are listening. The gravy train may be ending for some PBLA "gurus".

  15. Thanks. You sound very passionate.
    When did all of this PBLA start? Across Canada?
    Again: just curious

  16. Manitoba 2012

  17. Have there been changes since 2012?
    What I meant to ask is : Is PBLA across Canada in ESL?

    1. Piloting began in Ottawa several years ago and was followed by a series of "cohorts" receiving training over a period of at least a year before full implementation. Yes, it is a requirement of funding for each service provider organization that received funding from either IRCC or the provincial Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) and a condition of employment for any teacher wishing to teach at one of those agencies. That's my understanding; correct me if I'm wrong, anyone. --KM

  18. They are listening, our collective voices are being heard. As posted in a different page of this blog, IRCC ( NOT the CCLB) are conducting in-depth interviews of all stakeholders—students, teachers, Leads, admin—at 10 SPOs across the country. Before it was closed, 735 teachers signed the petition last year. If you need more, google “PBLA Norm Friesen” and from Dr. M. Hasrati (retrieved from the petition site):

    DEC 11, 2017 — 1) I am not aware of any research to justify the usefulness of PBLA in AESL classes. I had the privilege of working with Professor Dylan Wiliam, whose research is the basis of PBLA, for a short period of time when I first started my studies at King's College London, and I know that most of his studies have been on children learning content material in their first language. I think there are lessons to learn from Professor Wiliam's research, but advocating a 'strong version' of the PBLA that emphasizes and exaggerates assessment at the expense of teaching/learning activities is a great mistake.”

    There has also been other research...Claudie, can you help?


  19. Looking for ESL ideas, etc. person (Is that you, Linda?):

    Perhaps looking at it this way will help: Our house is ON FIRE. We’re not really focused on cleaning tips. It’s almost insulting to talk about cleaning tips. We’ve been fighting this fire for 5 years. We have priorities. We aren’t just fighting for ourselves. We see learning and learners suffering. We need to address the cause of that suffering. Students are loathe to criticize their new homeland and teacher. They assume this is how things are done. They’re used to testing. I was super keen on PBLA initially. Now, it’s just a mess and it breaks my heart. People are just testing and teaching to the test. We’ve all been turned into bean counters. This is a mess that is hurting a lot of people.

    The reason we are on the lookout for trolls is that those who are benefiting financially and otherwise from PBLA implementation have come here with questionable motives. Is it to divide us? To keep the gravy train going? I don’t know, but trust me, we aren’t fooled. I hope you’re not a troll because I am interested in what you have to say, your experience. Please afford us the same respect. We have been at this a long time. We speak of our experiences. We have that right. We have a right to this space (as long as Kelly agrees, of course) and our views on this topic, as do you. Please respect that very important right and responsibility to speak the truth. Burying our heads in the sand helps no one.


  20. Hullo Norma, Kelly, All Anonomi (?)
    I came home an hour ago after full day teaching my regular class and then supplying in a wonderful night school class (12 men, six women) so I’m a little smashed.
    Before I go to sleep just want to say this. We are all touching different parts of the whole. We all see things from our limited point of view. We’re all on top of the mountain looking at different views. So...knowing that the view I see is not what others see gives me an understanding of where they are coming from - not yet what they see....
    i wish I did see the whole picture - but it is really hard to grasp because, face it, we’re talking about an enormous endeavour. Across a vast country.
    I think it was “disillusioned trainer” a while back who said we need to come together to puzzle this whole thing out.
    I think DT was right.
    We have to find a way for win-win-win-win-win (Take that to mean all provinces and territories😊 All divers sectors and htoups and individuals..ESLers all. )
    Well - sleep on it. Then find serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, wisdom to know the difference. (The Serenity Prayer)

    There are some sources that can inform us about some of the milestones in the development of TESL, ESL, EAL, LINC, CCLB, PBLA...some studies, Some articles. It is an interesting story. This blog, your voices, pro or anti are part of it. I’ll try to collect the links I know by Saturday..Maybe others could post too...too bad Wikispaces closed down...Night, godbless. Cg

    I’m going to restrict my use of troll to the story of Billy Goat Gruff!!

    1. That would be me, Norma, the teacher previously known as DLT (Disillusioned Lead Teacher)! Got tired of being an acronym!

      BTW, I just remembered that Kelly has a page here with research links, I believe.

    2. Yes, on the website at https://www.kellymorrissey.com/pbla-activism.html

  21. Nope. Not me “Anonymous said / Norma / DLT”. Just quietly reading and taking it all in.

  22. It is Family Day Weekend in Ontario. Sorry, if your province or territory doesn't have a day off on Monday.

    I believe that I know who the "Linda" is,or at least who she represents. Some people have never had the joy of teaching a "real" ESL class that was genuinely lead by students needs and wants. I have and it is better than a PBLA classroom

    Many, many years ago, I began teaching in a church basement. I taught from pre clb to clb 7. All day. By myself. It was a grammar centred program with class textbooks for each level. There were VHS cassettes for each level and listening stations too. As I taught 8 levels there was no time for "individualised" lessons that met each learners goals. We were together to learn as much as we could in as little time as possible.

    Do you know what Linda? This whiner saw people move through from 0 to 7 in less than two years. Students were able to enter grade 10 high school credits at an adult learning centre and get their Ontario High School diploma in under a year for some and in a year for others. So in less than 3 years extreme beginners were able to meet their goals and find work.

    All with a Language Companion, no artefacts, no task lists, no SMART goals and no real world tasks. Just adventure and support and free access to resources. PS we had no computers but we did have an old fashioned set of encyclopaedia. Heck, we spent the first half of the day reading the paper and watching CBC or Kathy Lee and Regis. Seriously, we spent 5.5 hours a day as a big happy "family" that worked together to help each other learn English.

    Too bad PBLA/CLB/CIC have ruined language learning over the last 7 years. 2012 was a bad year.

    1. Absolutely spot on! I have also witnessed a withering of student abilities with the onset of pbla. At my school, students often spend a year in one level! One lead almost always fails all of her students in most assessments and has the gall to tell the rest of us that we don't know how to make proper tests!

  23. I know you mean well and miss the old days of esl but this comment does not help our fight against the changes that need to be made and sadly it may actually put teachers in a worsened and less powerful position than they are already in.
    All hail the gestetner

    1. I don't believe that remembering the past is negative. The past is our baseline. The present success rate is below the baseline. The PBLA binder holds a very limited scope of language necessary to succeed.

      Previously students learned faster, learned more information and were more agile speakers than the students that PBLA produces. CLB 7 PBLA students are not able to perform well in academic situations. This is a shame.

      Presently, the creators of PBLA may want to vilify the older teachers with decades of experience but they are doing so on the backs of immigrants. The only people benefiting from PBLA are the creators and non native English speaking teachers who may have a hard time managing an organic, holistic classroom in which an agile experienced teacher can teach grammar, and content, and tasks "on the fly". Sorry, PBLA is a poor replacement for language development. PBLA is a failure.

      I am powerful. I am not in a worse position. I am happy that I had the chance to see student success before PBLA

    2. Please explain your non native English speaking teachers comment before I and others discount everything you just wrote here.

    3. Anonymous 2/16/2019 1:40 PM,
      I want to go on record right now regarding the non-native speaker teacher comment. I am VERY uncomfortable with anyone making a distinction. Most of my best Spanish teachers (it was my university major) were non-native speakers. They were brilliant profs, far better in my estimation than their NS counterparts in the department. I am surrounded by excellent non-native speaker colleagues who set the bar for this profession in so many ways. Conversely, I know many sub-par teachers. Not a single one of them is a non-native speaker. I don't think it's a distinction that need ever be made. --KM

    4. This is Anonymous 1:40 pm.
      I was appalled by Anonymous 7:03am’s comment about non-native speaker teachers AND how easily she slipped it in there as part of her “I am a powerful anti-PBLA commenter” campaign. Now THAT is the type of comment that hurts our fight and makes us look ridiculous. Shameful.

  24. I don't understand that last comment. How is it unhelpful to reminisce about the old days? To the church basement teacher, you just described my history of ESL teaching with the exception of a few years teaching in a university environment. This blog is called the joy of ESL. It's what we all want back. It is relevant that all of us who started pre PBLA are skilled at doing what we do; also relevant that we have done so under difficult circumstances. We know how to teach ESL. We are flexible and adaptable and think quickly on our feet. We were already doing needs assessments and were able to somehow take care of everyone - no one was left behind because of an absurd need to 'pass' 8 + tasks in all skill areas. The end result of our hard work, compassion, flexibility was success with our students. The point is, we were able to do this before and can still do it. When you say it's not helpful what do you mean? Getting rid of PBLA completely would work as most of us are that skilled (look at our history). Toss the binders, give teachers the job of figuring out what to do on their own. Almost guaranteed ESL programs would start to thrive again and the joy of ESL would be back. I find it interesting and quite sad that I teach my students about clarity. You want people to understand you when speaking or writing. Keep your sentences clear and concise. Say what you need to say. Don't use jargon. When you're speaking make sure every sentence has a subject and a verb. Finish your sentences. Be clear. This is the grassroots nitty gritty of teaching a language. Learn to be fluent. Make people understand you. How in any way shape or form can PBLA be useful with its jargon loaded pages, with teachers testing and testing and testing (testing what???) with students who have nothing but the fear of failing a test hanging over their heads? The time frame for success which is absurdly based on passing not even standardized tests but tests created by US - tests which take up so much time to create and mark that there is little time for actual teaching? The point of the previous writer's comments is to show that we used to be successful in language teaching - teaching students how to speak, read and write English. That is what we were trained to do. That is what we used to do. That is what we still can do. That is what we need to do and at the end of their time in class the students could walk out the door not exhausted and frustrated by their inability to pass a test, but smiling and ready for the world , ready for high school or college, ready for work, ready for whatever they want to do. We could focus once again on the individual students and if they were fast learners, we could scoot them through the levels and even send them to college or university. The slower ones, the older ones, the traumatized ones, the women who have been taking care of children for years, the refugees who have just left a refugee camp after 17 years, the wounded ones - they could move on when they're ready without feeling the pressure of yet one more failure in their lives.

    1. Read all that the “church basement / non-native speaking teachers in ESL” Anonymous writer wrote and you might then understand how this type of reminiscing is unhelpful to your cause.

  25. anonymous because I must be2/16/2019 7:42 AM

    PBLA has demoralized and divided the ESL community. I am grateful for this forum so I know that I am not alone.
    I cannot use my name as I need my job.

  26. In June 1992 the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission created the LINC program. In October the Ontario Regional office of CEIC began the LINC Curriculum project. TESLOntario was contracted to coordinate the project. The “Revised” guidelines came out in March 1997.

    I started teaching in November 1999!

    CERTIFICATION CAME IN IN 2000. That was a big step for the “normalisation of the ESL profession. Fairly decent Pay scales were set, TESL schools had to be certified. There was very generous support for LINC teachers to attend TESLOntario conferences.

    The CLBs and the “suggested guidelines” were part of my ESL practice from the start.

    There was a lot of accountability. We were observed by managers. I was lucky enough to work at Overland LC with a remarkable site manager and amazing teachers. There was money for resources, field trips.

    But there were also many problems with ESL/LINC.

    The new 2012 CLB document came out but at first pretty much everyone used the old descriptors IF THEY USED THE CLBs AT ALL. I went to an all day TDSB workshop on the 2012 document, got my own copy.

    We assessed using resources that had been field tested. I kept student work samples and copies of their tests in a work sample folder (one for each student). I still keep these as the binders don’t really show me student progress in the same way AND they are not in my control. Extra work but worth it.

    I can see that many instructors across Canada did not have the same experience I did. For them the huge “PD” experiment that is presented as “PBLA” MAYBE represents a welcome guide as to to “how to”. And is what they mean by “we didn’t know what we were doing before” and “I like the structure of PBLA”. “PBLA makes me more serious.”

    The greater part of the “PBLA” Training is PD about the CLBs, that 2012 CLB document, how to use it, and not about test (assessment) creation.

    So do they mean they like the CLB part of “PBLA”?

    Unique and central to PBLA is the idea that non-expert test creators would create tests that would be used for high stakes purposes and the invention of the “artefact collection”/Inventory Lists (32) for promotion (or not. FAIL) to the next level. Seems that CIC/IRCC had the idea that 2,000+ instructors creating their own tests would somehow result in a Standardised panCanadian mode of English delivery. Take 10 binders from the same level from teachers across the country - you will see this is not so. Look at the RWTAB and you willl see the task assessments are not uniform, standardised.

    There are too many signs of non-professionalism, inconsistency, unreliability, invalidity for me to say this is an OK approach to SLA assessment

    The LC? My Canada and Useful English etc are maybe more useful to INSTRUCTORS who do not have this knowledge than to the learners (yes, I have seen this IS a reality.).

    PBLA has affected the way I teach - adversely. I don’t complain much about the time spent creating stuff. I have not lost my joyof ESL. But my head is buzzing with having to focus on the “artefact creation and collection” and NOT focus on. teach ing English authentically.

    Go in, follow the dots for “skill building”. Colour in the numbers for skill using. Present the tests. Mark. Notate. Write pretty meaningless “feedback”. File the papers and write in the tracking lists. Count how many you still need. Do it all again. Task assessment and rubric. Task assessment and rubric.

    Those who “fail”? Too bad. You’ll do another GTD “reading assessment” in a month maybe. Can’t get the CLB L4S4 certificate to APPLY for Citizenship? Too bad. Your problem.

    Provides needed structure for some?
    One of my students said “If you have an organised binder it does not mean you are a good student”.
    Does having this “PBLA” structure make you a good teacher? Are students learning more? Yes. Really? Then maybe IRCC is right. There WAS a problem. But maybe what was needed was to set stronger academic credentials for the hiring of teachers. And abandon the idea of noncredit courses.

    Sent from my iPad


  27. Sorry to be such a hog but it is Family Day in Ontario and I’m enjoying a leisurely Monday with time to think...

    I want to tell so many of the Anons how much I liked your posts. How much I appreciate your sharing.

    Tutela? Don’t forget, like pbla, LearnIT2Teach it is IRCC funded. All are doing their best withl limiited funds I guess, However professional standards are professional standards. A business would not get away with what is produced. Better than nothing? Of course. But caveat emptor.

    Norma. And those that wanted background...a few links. Mixed bag...add to Kelly’s links...hope the links work!

    https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1001891.pdf Ripley study - the study that “supported” introduction of pbla...

    https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/reports-statistics/evaluations/language-instruction-newcomers-canada-2010/relevance.html. LINC background...

    https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/TEAL-News-Winter-2018-FINAL-2.pdf Ripley second study. Page 16

    http://www.teslontario.org/uploads/paneldiscussion/Panel_2016.pdf Yves Saint Germain is Director of Language policy at IRCC (Integration Branch). Interesting references to accountability and to pbla...gives a picture of complexities of immigration integration. We appreciate how complex it is...

    https://teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/article/view/1220/1039 Tara Holmes on PBLA sustainability. INTERESTING list of her references - gives idea of “research” on which PBLA is based. For those that were asking..Don’t say we only post anti-PBLA stuff...

    https://ojs-o.library.ubc.ca/index.php/BCTJ/article/download/267/309/. Ditto. Ryan is a Regional Coach.

    (But watch Norm Friesen’s video for thought on academic underpinnings)..
    Just an opinion...

  28. I know (have worked with for many years) the author of the article in the KW record - the last link posted by Claudie. She's a great and experienced teacher admired and respected by her students and peers. This is significant.

  29. Bullying and harassment are the most common result of PBLA. Students bully and harass instructors for artefacts. In a workplace in southern Ontario, the employer bullies and harasses instructors by constant micromanaging and over policing. This system created by hyper PBLA implementation in a toxic environment.

    Staff are stressed beyond coping. New employees in all capacities are being poisoned my PBLA. It is a problem. FUNDERS, please stop the insanity train please.

    1. Agreed. My previous school used to be quite a nice place to work with excellent results by students, but with pbla it deteriorated completely (and student abilities plummeted). I moved on, but unfortunately, my new school has the most toxic environment I've ever encountered in 20 years of teaching, due to pbla. The field has been ruined by pbla.


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.