Saturday, September 7, 2019

What's the Standard Where You Work?

I received an email this week from a reader who is doing her best to advocate at her place of employment for reasonable PBLA expectations in the face of plummeting morale. She wanted to know if the submission of weekly module plans or lesson plans was required at my service provider organization (SPO). I answered her and asked if she wanted me to pose the question to you readers of this blog since I have no way of knowing what goes on at other agencies. She said she would like to see such answers, and I'll bet we all would like to know what the majority is doing.
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For an example of what is meant by a module plan, see Immigrate Manitoba's samples.

Since we are almost all posting anonymously, I suggest we answer the question after providing some basic minimal (yet still not identifying) info about the employer. For example, you could say which province you're in and/or whether you work for an IRCC-funded program or for a public school board, which would be provincially funded. We could also add whether we are unionized, though I'm not sure that's relevant. I'll start.

I teach at a community agency in a federally funded LINC program in Ontario that is not unionized. At my workplace, teachers spoke up in a unified manner at a team meeting and pointed out that module plans are: tedious, very time-consuming, not of great value to every teacher, and are in fact more of a hindrance to those teachers who like to remain flexible and in tune with student needs through the week. We pointed out that they are NOT one of IRCC's non-negotiables. We stressed the point that in light of how stressful, time-consuming and burdensome PBLA is, our admin should have us do only the bare-bones minimum as required by the funder and NO MORE.

Though it wasn't easy, we eventually won that battle and now do not have to submit module plans. We also do not submit lesson plans in writing at this point in time, though there has been discussion back and forth over the years regarding this. We do, however, submit monthly reports that encompass theme, topics, learning goals for the module(s) as well as objectives for each skill, resources used, methodology, challenges and success stories.

You?

15 comments:

  1. Short answer: I understand in my SPO modules ARE required AND there is talk about daily lesson plans. (My site has had personnel changes so we have not been strictly “monitored” up till now)

    Modules are NOT a “non-negotiable”.
    THANK YOU for that information although some managers and admin will counter with “Well, that’s what we want and CCLB says it is the employers who have the final say.”

    One of the major issues is that “PBLA” was “sold” to managers as “a way we can see what the INSTRUCTORS are doing” (Quote from a TESLOntario conference.)

    There are many highly skilled, experienced, practical, dedicated LINC/ESL managers out there who have earned and deserve their positions and fil them with smarts and heart. And there are MANY MANY who are not. Who should NOT be managers. Especially in a time of PBLA. Enough said right

    You are not unionized but in effect have MORE voice, more influence than a unit that is. Both the unions that I belong to refuse to deal with the actual implementation of PBLA, the invalidity of the approach, the demands for excessive “make work”. They focus on a little more pay and/or providing training for those that did not have it (CUPE 4400). They say “don’t work more than the hours you are contracted for”. LOL. SIGH. As someone commented - being unionized does not guarantee more pay, less “requirements”. Nor protection if you challenge the “requirements” and stop doing them...(comply first, grieve after)

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    1. I would say that modules should have the instructor's name and copyrighted given that we have all developed on our own unpaid time and been obligated to 'share' under the pretence of supporting each other and building a cross-Canada unpaid bank of resources since resources have not been provided. Claims that they belong to service providers is inaccurate, so mentioning the organization's name is redundant. I would say that IRCC, CCLB and service providers need to review intellectual property laws.

      Comic Tragedy

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    2. I am in Alberta working for two government funded LINC programs. One no longer requires module plans, but we have to upload assessment tasks which are shared on staff website. The other requires modules at the beginning of every module, tasks and resources. It baffles me how they out-right dictate what we do with our work. Both institutes pay for prep time. However, it is a fraction of the time needed to do everything.

      Comic tragedy

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  2. LINC in Western Canada9/08/2019 5:00 PM

    I teach in LINC in western Canada (sorry, that's as specific as I feel I can be) and we do not have to submit lesson plans or modules, although we are expected to have these.

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  3. Question:Are you required to develop multi-level multi-competency assessments in your programs?

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    1. Hi, 7:58 PM,
      In my program, we are expected to develop some sort of assessment tool for the productive skills. It can be a rubric, for example. In any case, yes, we are expected to assess the levels in our classes, which is why under PBLA there really should not be a span of more than 2 levels in the same class. But I know that in many rural areas, they have no choice but to put 1, 2, 3 and 4 together in the same class. I've been told of such scenarios. So in that situation, I believe the teacher would either have to make a multilevel rubric, such as the ones available in Rana Ashkar's multilevel modules, or would have to create separate assessment tools for each level in her/his class. I feel that this is one of the biggest unaddressed (skirted around) issues of PBLA.

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  4. No one from "the funder" ever visits but admin makes our lives a living hell because "the funder" wants it. The people hired by the funder don't care what is in the binders. Every visit is just to check a box. PBLA is a misery.

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    1. IKR? We have actually had two visits, but for one Murray Nosanchuk just came around and spoke to a few teachers (leaving the ones he did not speak to pretty pissed off that they were not given the opportunity to speak to him after being told they would be able to). The other visit was by someone who had no clue, had just been hired as an auditor. She did not open any binders, just looked to see if they were present in classrooms. The rest of the time we have just been told that an audit is coming, which always puts our PBLA lead teacher in a tizzy trying to get us ready for it. That's when our lives are made miserable over the fact that we cannot follow students around 24/7 and stop them from losing papers, mixing up papers, etc. This whole situation is like a satirical novel I once read... A Confederacy of Dunces.

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    2. Has anyone contacted the lawyers?

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  5. I think the only thing the funder really cares about is if students are attending the classes. We have had visits by IRCC, but the people didn't seem to have a clue about what they should be looking for and the reports we get back are extremely poorly written, often with many spelling and grammar mistakes. It is the incompetent administration and leads who continually hit us over the head with on-going panic-stricken demands for this or that document or other requirement.

    My school recently decreased a few of the requirements (instead of 32 tasks per semester, we can do less, as most students will have to repeat the level again for a second or third time). When they told us, expecting to be greeted with rapturous thank you's, we were actually stunned because after beating us up for years over how we were not meeting requirements, suddenly we were being told in essence, 'that those requirements were not really necessary and, trust us, the new ones are the real ones'. And they expect us to be happy about how we were treated in the past (and nothing has changed since then). Attendance is the only thing the funder cares about! Thus, pbla is meaningless (as well as being ineffective, inefficient and incompetently implemented).

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  6. Yes, a Confederacy of Dunces is spot on, Kelly! I've never been treated so unprofessionally by any school as my current one and yet the administration and the leads are basically incompetent when it comes to teaching and pbla. With my years of experience, it is quite obvious to me that the leads and the admin have little understanding of how to effectively teach English. Pbla is not an effective way to learn English.

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  7. Ppppaaaathhhhhhetic......is what they are. What was the point? What is the point? All I know is that we had students who achieved three benchmarks per year until 2015 when we started implementing the impossible. Oh, I forgot.....how would I have known that? We didn't have self-made artefacts. Well, my students could speak, they read short newspaper articles at a clb 4 level and wrote summaries, expressed opinions and reported to class. After one year, they started working on some ielts and toefl materials. Now, there are people in clb 2, maybe, beginning clb 3 for one year. When I receive them in my clb 4 class, they are still not speaking in mostly, full sentences. They are still using simple form verbs, minimal vocabulary.its sad...

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    1. Hey, Anon 8:30 PM,
      You are definitely not the first instructor to report that the acquisition of English has slowed down since the intro of PBLA. I don't doubt it at all. First off, the teachers' time has been hijacked. Students' time has been hijacked (much of it now spent on clerical work). Teachers are too busy worrying about meeting the artifact quota to teach any grammar at all anymore. I do think contextualized grammar is helpful. I have studied ten languages and have become fluent in two of them very quickly, have risen to intermediate competence in another one or two, and I know that grammar instructions helps speed me up exponentially. Yes, vocabulary is key, but I want to know the structures into which I may plug the vocabulary. Some PLBA leads and supervisors are downright intimidating teachers out of going anywhere near a grammar lesson. I don't think the folks who conceived of PBLA ever dreamed this is what would become of it, but the fact is that you cannot heap an untenable amount of work on teachers and expect to continue to get good classroom results. So sad. --KM

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  8. YOU CANNOT LEARN A LANGUAGE WITHOUT GRAMMAR! PBLA IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY 30 YEARS OF TEACHING! EVERYTHING ABOUT IT - EVERYTHING - IS AWFUL. yes . i was shouting that.

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  9. Yes, I have students in my clb6 class who cannot even use simple past correctly and have only studied about 3 or 4 verb tenses at best. Most have not even seen all the tenses before and certainly have no idea about passives. Way to go pbla! What a success!

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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.