Oct. 30, 2018

TAB in Germany: Q&A with Parminder Kandola

Q & A with Teaching Across Borders participant Parminder Kandola
Parminder Kandola
Parminder shares his thoughts about upcoming TAB experience

Each year, dozens of students participate in Teaching Across Borders as part of the Bachelor of Education program. During their 10 weeks abroad, TAB students experience the host culture through activities organized by the partner institutions and volunteer in schools up to 12 hours a week.

While the experiences vary by country, students often take language courses, participate in local holiday celebrations, and experience field trips and cultural outings, all while learning about another education system firsthand.

Currently TAB partners with institutions in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United States and Vietnam.

In this Q & A, Parminder Kandola shares his expectations for his time in Germany.


What do you hope to gain personally and professionally from this experience? 
Through TAB, I hope to continue building up my experience, skills, and confidence as a teacher in the classroom setting. 

The pedagogical theories we learn in our classroom instruction are important in understanding how education is growing in the modern world. However, the hands-on approach I will experience through TAB will help me learn how to implement those revolutionary, but also classic, educational ideas in the classroom. Only through practice will I be able to translate my education at the university into a reality in the classroom. The opportunity to do so in TAB, before I graduate, will prepare me to be an experienced professional more than my peers who did not get the same experience. That being said, there are many educational assistants, tutors, and retired professionals in the program who have an incomparable amount of experience in relation to me. Therefore, I also view the TAB opportunity as a method of catching up so to speak. 

The teaching skills I acquire from various teachers in various settings will make the transition from a pre-service teacher to a professional educator easier and faster. Immersing myself in the classroom of a foreign country especially, of which the culture I know only through media and books, will act as a catalyst for my transition, I hope.

What do you hope people in your host country will gain from your involvement in TAB? 
I hope I can make as large of an impact on those people I meet, as they will on me. Education is more than what we learn in classrooms. As I learn about the country’s culture, its people, and its history, I hope to share my culture and my history with those I meet. Specifically, I know Germany and India have had strong ties through history, so I would love to learn more about that history from the German perspective and also share my understanding of that relationship. 

But I also hope to bring my own learning on pedagogy to the practice of teaching. The pedagogical theories and practices are most likely different in Germany. I hope I can share my own ideas and approaches to teaching with the teachers and students I will work with to form symbiotic relationships.

How did you prepare personally and professionally for this experience? 
Living abroad on my own, although very exciting, seems daunting and difficult to someone who has never done so. Therefore, the two largest things I’ve been actively doing in the months leading to my departure date, that I believe will be crucial in me enjoying my time there, have been budgeting and doing researching into the culture of Germany. Because I’ll be abroad for an extended amount of time and unable to work, any money that I generate through work while at home will be all I have to spend while I’m there and when I return. It’s important to have a strong financial base so that I won’t be concerned about depleting funds that could hinder my ability to partake in activities, food, and travelling on the weekends. Financial responsibility was my biggest preparation. 

The second thing I thought most important in preparing to travel to Germany was learning as much about the culture as I could. I did everything from watching German films I got from the library to trying to learn the basics of the language using Duolingo (it was free). Some of the films I watched even revolved around the education system which was an added bonus! I didn’t want to be surprised or ignorant about the norms in Germany, so I thought this was an important preparatory step. Additionally, even though we learn about our placement schools late, I did as much research as I could into the school I would be attending. Sure, it wasn’t as extensive as I do for the placements here at home but still helpful nonetheless.

Why did you choose Germany for your TAB placement? 
Germany was my top choice because of my love for soccer. Germany’s love for the sport is ingrained into her culture and has one of the strongest football leagues in the world. Having the opportunity to travel to Germany would truly be a dream come true as I may get the chance to see some of the best players in the world play. A chance many people may never get their entire lives! Tickets to see Hamburg are as low as $15 CAD if you sit in the family area. 

Germany also has a strong cinema culture. During my first degree at Mount Royal University, I took 6 out of the 7 film courses offered at the university at the time. Germany is renowned in the film world because of their early contributions in the field with German expressionism. Having the chance to watch films in Germany would also be a dream come true. I personally believe the film industry in many European countries is far beyond Hollywood. 

The most personal reason I have for choosing Germany as my first choice is because of family history. When my Dad left India, he travelled through many countries to get to Canada, one of which was Germany. My dad spent 6 months in Germany between Stuttgart and Ulm. My dad always spoke of how respectful and helpful Germans were at a time when my dad was homeless and had no money. I want to pay homage to my dad and Germany and say thanks in this way.