New VIPKid Teachers: The First 48

… The first 48 hours can set you up for success in what is sure to become a successful journey with VIPKid.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired as a new VIPKid teacher! Now what?

On the television show “The First 48,” the title sequence said, “For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don’t get a lead within the first 48 hours.” With VIPKid, the stakes aren’t nearly as high, but those first days and weeks after you are hired are still pretty important.

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about what you should do while you are waiting to begin teaching.  Here are the first three things you should do within the first 48 hours:

  1. Open Your Schedule
  2. Schedule the New Teacher Kickoff Workshop
  3. Assemble a basic set of props

Step 1: Open your schedule.

I say this with a big disclaimer. You will not get booked immediately. You will most likely not get booked within your first week. There is no single formula to tell us when you will be booked. For some, they get booked in days. For some, they get booked in weeks. For some, they get booked in months. It is different for everyone. But one thing is absolute. If you do not open your schedule, you will not be booked.

If you are like me, you would rather wait until you are “fully prepared” and have reviewed every single lesson you could possibly teach. Even if that were possible (which it’s not) it would take FOREVER, so just rip the bandaid and open up some timeslots.

Remember, parents book their classes 2-3 weeks in advance, so while you are welcome to open up timeslots immediately (especially if you are willing to try Short Notice 24-hour Bookings) you will have the most success opening slots following the booking frenzy for the week after next. VIPKid also recommends that you open slots for at least 3 weeks in advance to allow the highest chance of re-booking immediately following a class.

For more information about how to open your timeslots and when, check out VIPKid Booking Schedules.

Step 2: Schedule the New Teacher Kickoff Workshop

Jumping in to your first class can be exhilarating, but also terrifying. Even if you passed your mock class certifications with flying colors, there’s something about sitting across from a real little person across the ocean that is just so much more! The best way to make sure you are prepared is by attending a new teacher kickoff workshop. The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Help you prepare for your first class.
  • Learn more about the VIPKid life.
  • Find out all about the awesome workshops and other resources available to teachers.
  • Learn a bit more about how to “run your business” in the platform.
  • Get some precious tips from experienced and super-friendly mentors.
  • Get gifts especially made for new teachers.

The workshop lasts 1.5 hours, and they schedule at least one on MOST days. I would suggest checking your calendar and getting one scheduled within your first week. Once you get a taste of what’s out there, you’ll want to schedule more, so the earlier you get started the better!

For more information on where to see the schedule and how to find this workshop, check out my overview of the VIPKid Library and Certification Center.

Step 3: Assemble a basic set of props.

Don’t go crazy. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. In fact, I’m certain that you already have much of what you need right around the house! Depending on what levels you are certified to teach, you may want to adjust, but here are some basics:

Free Props (or things you already have)

  • an apple
  • stuffed animals or pet toys (I use dogs, cats, elephants, foxes, and pigs the most for some reason.)
  • a ruler
  • game pieces (dominos, dice, colorful paying pieces, play money, or UNO cards are a few of my favorites)
  • your smartphone (There is a whole wealth of digital rewards and props available in the Google Slides Facebook group. Or you can always pull up photos or gifs on your phone that you find relevant to the lesson.)
  • printed or drawn props (Meg, Mike, and Dino, He/She/It, alphabet flash cards, printed stars to award during class, happy and sad faces)

Inexpensive Props

  • a small, handheld whiteboard
  • flashcards
  • a toy microphone or other musical toy for songs
  • a bag of balloons (great for colors, counting, size, weight, and more!)
  • some inexpensive educational decorations for your backdrop if you didn’t already decorate for your mock class certifications
  • a simple reward system (The options are endless here – pick out something you think is fun and cool, because if you like it, your students will too.) For ideas, see Types of VIPKid Rewards.

You will be amazed at what you can find to use in a lesson just lying around your house. One of my go-to props is a packet of Ramen noodles and a set of chopsticks from a restaurant!

I want to stress that it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on props. It’s also not necessary to have every single prop planned out in advance. But I know from experience I felt more comfortable knowing that I had a few trusty items I could grab if I needed to!

If you had visions of your first 48 hours with VIPKid being filled with classes and students, I’m sorry to disappoint you. However, know that those first 48 hours can set you up for success in what is sure to become a successful journey with VIPKid.

Happy teaching!

 

VIPKid Booking Schedules

As you get ready to open up your schedule for VIPKid, it’s important that you understand how the booking process works.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired! You immediately open up times for parents to book for the very next day, but… crickets. Where are they?

The answer is simple. They are in classes they’ve already booked with other teachers!

As you get ready to open up your schedule for VIPKid, it’s important that you understand how the booking process works. For maximum results, always keep your schedule opened for at least three weeks in advance, as long as you are certain you’re available to teach then.

What’s the standard booking window?

The “normal” booking process for most parents is two weeks out. The system opens up general booking at noon on Monday (Beijing time) which is overnight Sunday night for many of us.  You may hear this referred to as “the frenzy.”  At this time, most parents are booking not for THAT week, but for the following week. (See the picture at the beginning of this post for an example.) Immediately following a class, if you have time slots open in two weeks (this is three weeks after the frenzy) parents will be asked if they would like to book a class that week. That’s why it is in your best interest to open timeslots at least three weeks in advance, as long as you are certain you can teach then.

What are “interested students” and when can they book?

According to the VIPKid Support Center ,students or their parents can select up to five teachers, and their corresponding time slots, each week as “regular teachers”. If a student chooses you to be a regular teacher, you will see a notification on your Bookings page that you have an “Interested Student”. You will not see their names, just that someone has an interest. This will only be visible for timeslots that you have not yet opened up for the week after next. Bookings for your “interested students” will open four hours before the frenzy, on Mondays at 8:00 am (BJT.) The system will sort the student preferences and match them with your available timeslots. If your slot is open, there is a high likelihood that the time will be booked, either by one of your interested students or perhaps another student, although it is not guaranteed.

What are priority bookings?

Priority bookings are a way for students to request specific times from their teachers, even if those timeslots are not available. When you receive a priority booking request from a student or their parents, you may accept, refuse, or simply not respond and the request will expire.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have questions about your schedule or are looking for feedback, let me know in the comments!

You may also find these posts helpful as you learn more about scheduling:

If you are just getting started and would like help during the hiring process, I would love to be your mentor! Feel free to apply using my referral link using these VIPKid application tips.

I would be happy to help!

How to Take a Screenshot

Screenshots can be helpful to document student no-shows, IT issues, and much more.

If you are a teacher with VIPKid, you’ve probably been told at some point to “take a screenshot.” Screenshots can be helpful to document student no-shows, IT issues, and much more. But sometimes (especially if we are in the middle of a problem) it can be a challenge to remember how to take a screenshot!

Below are a few of the most common ways to take a screenshot. This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will help you find a method that works for you.

PC

  1. Snipping Tool: Most PC’s have a tool built in called a “Snipping Tool.”  If you search for this program on your computer, it will come up, and you can pin it to your taskbar or make a shortcut on your desktop for it.  The pictures can then be saved as a .jpg file. Instructions for how to launch and use the snipping tool can be found on the Microsoft support site.
  2. “PrtScr” Button: Somewhere near the upper right corner of your keyboard, there should be a button marked “PrtScr.” (It might be abbreviated differently on your keyboard. Press ALT+PrtScr, and this will take a screenshot of the active window of your computer. You can then open a word document, powerpoint, or paint and type CTRL+V to paste the image into a file that you can save.
  3. Partial Screenshot: Hold down the Windows key+Shift+S, and it will allow you to use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture. It then copies it to the clipboard and you can paste into the program of your choice to save.

MAC

  1. Snip: There is an app you can download from the Mac App store called “Snip.” It works much like the Snipping Tool for Windows.
  2. Full Screenshot: Hold down Command+Shift+3, and this will take a screenshot of your active window and save it to your desktop.
  3. Partial Screenshot: Hold down Command+Shift+4; then use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture. It will automatically save it to your desktop.

iPad/iPhone

To take a screenshot on either an iPad or an iPhone, hold down the sleep/wake button, then immediately press and release either the volume up button or the round home button. Your screen should flash, and your device will save the screenshot of the entire screen as a photo.

Android

To take a screenshot on an android device, hold down the volume down button and the power button for 1-2 seconds. The entire screen should flash white, and your device will capture the entire screen and save it as a photo.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have other suggestions or tips that work for you, let me know in the comments!

The Five Secrets to Working From Home

Working from home is a great way for employers to save money on overhead and employees to benefit from flexibility and time.

At the risk of revealing how old I’ve really become, I’ll confess that I have been working from home on and off for the last (gasp) 20 years. The first time I worked from home, I was in my twenties, and I HATED it. I felt isolated and disconnected, and I struggled to maintain an appropriate work-life balance. Today, I LOVE working from home, and I truly value the flexibility it affords. Over time, I’ve learned a few insider secrets that made all the difference, so I thought I’d share those with you today. Read on to learn my top five secrets!

About Me

Today, I work as a staff manager for Windstream Enterprise. I manage a customer service team that spans three locations (plus a few other scattered employees here and there!) I also have project management/process improvement role that allows me to work with all of our leadership teams in many locations. In the mornings before my “day job” begins, I also teach English to students in China through VIPKid. Though these two jobs are very different, both share one amazing feature: my commute is one minute to walk upstairs.

About Working From Home

Working from home requires dedication, consistency, and boundaries. It is very easy to lose balance when you don’t have a traditional brick and mortar time clock. Some people find that they work all day and all night. If your workspace is the kitchen table, it’s altogether too easy to “hop on” and work a few emails while you make breakfast or eat dinner. This can quickly lead to burnout, not to mention frustration from your family. On the other hand, you can also err in the opposite direction. If you are supposed to be focusing on work but you stop to fold laundry, clean house, or do any one of the many other things that demand your attention – your productivity can take a hit.

The Five Secrets to Success

  1. Have a dedicated workspace with a door that closes. Working from the dining room table might seem like a convenient option; however, I can tell you from experience it is not. It worked great until:
    • I had to throw all of my work supplies into a basket when it was time for a dinner party, and then couldn’t find anything for the next week.
    • My kids were out of school and my family was visiting, and everyone decided they wanted to come in and “keep me company” while I was working.
    • My husband, who also worked from home, decided he would pace while on conference calls, regularly making the path from the kitchen to the living room (right through my “office”).
    • Once I moved my office upstairs, it worked much better for everyone involved!
  2. Shower. Shave. Get dressed. Yes, we’ve all heard the siren’s call of “working in your pj’s.” I might or might not be writing this blog post in my bunny slippers right now. And OCCASIONALLY, this is probably ok. But as a general rule, you are being paid to do a job, and so you owe it to your company and to yourself to give it 100%. That means being alert, focused, energized and engaged. When I’m in my pajamas (or yoga pants, or sweats and a t-shirt) I’m in Saturday morning mode. Sure, I can go through the motions. But I just don’t feel “on” like I do when I’ve gotten dressed for the day.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t wear high heels and a business suit to work. I’m not sure I even own “professional” attire anymore. But I always shower, get dressed, and put on (minimal) makeup. Here’s my morning routine on  a workday:
    • 4:30 am – The alarm on my apple watch goes off. (It vibrates, so it doesn’t wake up Michael.)
    • 4:57 am – After 3 snoozes on my watch, I get up and turn off my backup alarm.
    • 5:00 am – Shower/Shampoo/Wake up.
    • 5:20 am – Get dressed, slap on some basic makeup, and put on the little jewelry that I wear.
    • 5:30 am – Grab a Diet Coke and head upstairs.
    • 5:35 am – Dry my hair while booting up my computer and checking facebook on my phone. Continue to Drink Diet coke.
    • 5:45 am – Set up my VIPKid classroom. Lay out the props I’ll be using in class, sign into the classroom, and make sure the classroom is working properly.
    • 5:55 am – Sit down in my classroom. Apply lipstick. Put on headset. I’m ready for class.
    • 6:00 am – Begin my first of three classes. Each class is 25 minutes, with five minutes in between to reset my classroom, write feedback, or grab another sip of Diet Coke.
    • 7:30 am – Finish my last class. Feed the dog, grab breakfast, and finish any feedback from my classes.
    • 8:00 am – Move my chair from my classroom to my office. Sit down in my office. Put on headset. I’m ready for work.
  3. Establish boundaries. For those of us who like routine (see above) this may be easy. My work laptop “lives” upstairs, so when I come down after work, I rarely continue to work. Sure, I can check my phone, but I won’t get sucked into a big project. Likewise, my laundry, housework, etc. is all downstairs, so I’m not tempted to work on other things during my work day. I don’t have a television in my office, so I’m not tempted to turn on any shows that might distract me. And my family knows that if my door is closed, they should not disturb me. With Windstream, I work with a great group of people who don’t mind the occasional cameo of a spouse or child on video behind me, so my door normally stays open.  But with VIPKid, maintaining a classroom free of distraction is paramount, so the door is closed during class. Those boundaries help me be successful in whichever job I am doing.
  4. Take breaks. In an office environment, there are natural “water cooler” moments built into the day. When I first started working at Windstream, my desk was right by the main elevator, so people always stopped by to say hi as they were coming and going. Now, it’s possible that the only one to come upstairs besides me is my dog!
    • Plan a lunch break, even if it’s just to go downstairs and make a sandwich.
    • Make an effort to leave the house. Walk around the block, go to the gas station to get a drink, or make dinner plans with friends.
    • Stand up between meetings or classes and stretch. Walk around the room or simply look away from your computer.
    • Schedule time for conversations. Two colleagues and I recently put a meeting on our calendars for Friday at 5:00. We jumped on a video call and did nothing but catch up. It was FANTASTIC! With VIPKid, look for local meetups so you can get to know other teachers near you. These are the types of interactions that you miss out on while working from home, but you don’t have to!
  5. Embrace (and invest in) technology. If you are going to be successful working from home, you MUST have reliable technology. If you provide your own equipment, be sure it is high quality and dependable. With VIPKid, I invested in an iPad to ensure that I have a way to teach if either my internet or power is out. Be sure you have reliable, high-speed internet that won’t be impacted if you and your hubby are both on video conferences (ahem, Michael.) or if your kids are in a Fortnite dance battle.  Find a headset that is comfortable and works for you. I wear a headset almost nonstop from 6 am until 5 pm. My preference is  a simple Logitech USB headset, but my husband prefers airpods. Whatever you choose, be sure you have good quality, reliable equipment and technology.

Ultimately, you need to figure out what works for you. This might be the most important secret to working at home. Everyone is different, and what works for me, might not work for you. What worked in my old house no longer worked once I moved. So try different things until you find a routine and a process that allows you to be effective, efficient, and engaged.

Working from home is a great way for employers to save money on overhead and employees to benefit from flexibility and time. I have grown to love it, and have transitioned from the occasional “work from home” employee to a full-time “Remote Home Office” status.

I would love to hear from my fellow telecommuters. What do you love? What challenges do you face? Let me know in the comments!

If you don’t yet work from home and would like to try it out, VIPKid is always hiring. I’d love to help you get started, so feel free to get started by completing the VIPKid application, and let me know how I can help!

 

Dragon Boat Festival and VIPKid

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that has been celebrated for over 2,000 years in China.

When is it?

The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month of the year. That means that the calendar date changes each year.

In 2019, the date falls on June 7, so the festival is celebrated from Friday, June 7 through Sunday, June 9.

What is it?

The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday that has been celebrated for over 2,000 years in China. There are different stories about the history of this holiday. Today, many people in modern China say that the festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and minister during the Zhou Dynasty. He was a member of the royal house, but when the king made an alliance he disapproved of, he was banished for opposing the alliance. During his exile, he wrote poetry, and after 28 years he was captured and committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. Legend says that local people who admired him raced out in their boats to save him, and thus originated the dragon boat races.

Aside from the legend of Qu Yuan, the fifth lunar month is surrounded by superstition, with some people believing that it’s an unlucky month. Some believe that natural disasters or illness are common this month, so during the festival people may do ceremonies to try to avoid bad luck.

As you might expect with a holiday this old, there are many other theories about the origin of the holiday, and how people celebrate will vary based on region and personal preference!

Will I get bookings or cancellations?

While this day is celebrated as a public holiday, some families celebrate and others do not. Some students will book extra classes, and others may cancel if they actively participate in festival events. Often, families who live near rivers have a greater opportunity to celebrate, so if you’re not sure, ask your student if they will be celebrating! As with most holidays, it’s best if you can open up short notice bookings and be as flexible as possible!

What can I do in class to celebrate?

Any time you can bring elements of a festival into your classroom, children and their families will appreciate your efforts! There are a few traditions that are easy to incorporate:

  • Dragon Boats (obviously.) This is a fun and easy thing to incorporate in your reward systems because they are so easily recognized. You could make rewards like:
    • Dragon Boat teacher vs. student race
    • Decorate a dragon boat
  • Zongzi. Zongzi is a rice dumpling. People traditionally wrap these in leaves of reed, lotus or banana in a pyramid shape. They might be filled with any number of sweet or savory fillings. You can incorporate this yummy tradition in your classroom with:
    • Free talk: Ask your student if they made or ate Zongzi.
    • Play Find A Star and they get different fillings or a star when they “bite” into their Zongzi.
  • Superstition. Especially if you teach older, higher-level children, this could be a good opportunity to compare traditions. Ask them to tell you about the special 5-chorded braids that are made to ward off bad luck. Share with them our superstitions about bad luck (black cats and walking under ladders.) Holidays are always a good opportunity to share culture!

What should I do to prepare?

There’s really not too much you need to do to prepare, unless you want to incorporate decorations or rewards into your classroom.  Be flexible, and be open to hearing if your students want to tell you about their own celebrations on this day. Most importantly, have fun!

If you are a current VIPKid teacher, check out this link for the 2019 Dragon Boat Festival workshop schedule and a free printable download from VIPKid!

If you have suggestions of your own, please let me know in the comments, or let me know how this festival has been for you in the past!

If you are just getting started and would like help through the hiring process, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to help you through the application process with VIPKid!

Sources:

TravelChinaGuide.com

Wikipedia

 

VIPKid Simplified Demo Lesson (May 27, 2019)

Effective May 27, 2019, the Simplified Demo will replace the VIPKid Interview and Full Demo process!

Effective May 27, 2019, some applicants are being offered the chance to schedule either a live or recorded “Simplified Demo Lesson.  This replaces the traditional VIPKid Interview and Full Demo for new applicants.

*Disclaimer* I have not known anyone to go through this yet, but this is based on my research and feedback from other referral mentors! (I’d love for you to be one of the first!)

Overview

This is very much like the VIPKid Interview and Full Demo, but the demo portion is shorter and more simplified. It’s based off of the “Me, Myself, and I” lesson and it is just a couple of slides and the demonstration is designed to take only 5 minutes.

What to Expect

If you choose the live demo, here is what you can expect:

  1. Question and Answer Session: Your interviewer will begin with a question and answer session, just like the full demo. This is a friendly discussion that’s meant to highlight your educational background, experience, and what you bring to VIPKid.
  2. 5-Minute Demo: You will need to be prepared to teach a short, 5- minute demo on the slides provided. You will need to:
    • Review the slides in advance and practice. It’s important to be comfortable with the material on each slide.
    • Use TPR. These gestures are a vital part of becoming a VIPKid teacher, so you’ll want to include them in your demo.
    • Build rapport with the “student” in your introduction.
    • Use props. Because there are only a few slides, you do not need to have a lot of props, but I would suggest at least two simple props to help illustrate the lesson.
    • Use a reward. You will want to reward your student for doing well when they respond appropriately.
    • Correct mistakes. Your interviewer WILL make mistakes, so you will want to be prepared. Be ready to encourage them to use complete sentences and correct pronunciation, and then reward them enthusiastically when they do!
  3. Coaching and Guidance: Based on your interview and demo, your interviewer will provide you specific feedback about how you might fit with VIPKid and what you can do to improve and prepare for the next step – VIPKid Certification!

If you choose the recorded demo, of course you will miss out on the interactive discussion, but it’s an easy (and convenient) way to get started.  You should receive your results within 24 hours, and it does give you the chance to record multiple times within a two-hour window. (Do-over, anyone?) If you don’t pass the first time, you will have an opportunity to resubmit.

If you haven’t already applied, this is the perfect time to take advantage of the new, easier options! The process is always being updated to make it a better experience for our new teachers, so if you would like some help navigating through the process, I’d love to be your mentor through the process.  The first step is completing the VIPKid Application.

Once you have applied and we are connected, I’ll reach out to you so we can get started!

Good luck!