Four Steps to a Fantastic First Class!

Grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey!

You have made it through the hiring process. You have opened up your schedule to get VIPKid bookings. You’ve done all the normal prep work. And it worked!  You’ve been booked! If you are like me, there will be a point of panic when you realize that you will be talking to a little human across the world in just a few hours, and everything you learned during the hiring process has disappeared from your mind!

Don’t worry. That feeling is normal, and it won’t last long. Below are four simple steps that will help ensure a fantastic first class!

Award all five stars during class.

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out this post that outlines the Types of VIPKid Rewards.

For some reason, many new teachers don’t know about stars, so let’s get that out on the table. There are many different ways and styles of rewarding stars, but to get off on the right foot, make sure you give them out.

Review the lesson materials in advance.

Before my first class, I was trying to find a way to print out the lessons and make notes on each slide. That’s not necessary. But it IS important that you review the lesson (maybe even a few times.)  You can review it in the teacher portal by clicking on “materials” or even on your phone app.  As you review it, be thinking about the following things:

  • Objectives: What are the primary goals for this lesson. If a student is struggling or you are running out of time, you want to allow the most time for the activities directly related to the objectives.
  • Songs: Are you familiar with the tunes for the welcome and goodbye song? (If you’re not a singer, don’t worry. Even songs I know by heart are usually unrecognizable for me, and the kids are very forgiving!) But it does help if you know what the song is supposed to sound like!
  • Teacher Tips: Read the teacher tips that are usually above the slides (or occasionally printed on the bottom.) These give you instructions on what to do on each slide. They are difficult to read during class and will take your eyes away from your student, so it’s better to review them in advance.
  • Reward: Will you be using the built in reward? Do you want to bring your own?
  • Props: What types of props will you find helpful? I generally make a list (and I keep them in my Feedback Panda templates, but for your first few lessons, just jot them down on a notecard or a piece of paper.
  • Pronunciation and Grammar: Do you know the correct way to do everything in the lesson? I know this sounds crazy, but for me, my phonics were pretty rusty. And I screw up present progressive verbs EVERY SINGLE TIME. So be sure you brush up on how to correctly complete the activities in the lesson!

Review the student info.

Just like the lesson materials, this can be found in the teacher app or also the phone app. It will show you how old the student is, how many classes they have taken, and (sometimes) tips that other teachers have left. I will warn you – take the tips with a grain of salt. Some teachers leave lengthy, personalized tips, some leave none, and some copy and paste what they send to the parent. And remember that every teacher/student combination is different. My very first student had very negative comments left about her. I was terrified. But she has ended up being my most regular student since that time. Just because a student didn’t mesh well with another teacher does not mean they won’t become your favorite student! You can also sometimes glean hints about what the student enjoys so that might help you plan out your rewards!

Have fun.

BY FAR, this is the most important advice I can share with you for your first class. I vividly remember sitting in front of my laptop at 5 am, TERRIFIED. But once I got into the lesson, I realized how fun this was going to be, and nothing else mattered. Remember, if you have fun in class, your student will too. If you want a chuckle, you can read my account of my first class here: My First VIPKid Class.

So grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey! If you have other questions that I can help with, please let me know in the comments! If you haven’t yet applied for VIPKid and you’re looking for a mentor, I’d be happy to help get you to this point. You can start by applying here using my referral link.

Happy teaching!

 

Photo by GiselaFotografie

VIPKid – Teaching on the Road

My VIPKid journey has been filled with milestones. In fact, we earn different badges to celebrate the big ones. So far, after 1.5 contracts, I’ve earned a few:

  • 30/100/180 days as a teacher
  • 1st, 10th, 100th, and 500th classes taught
  • 1st, 50th, and 100th 5-apple ratings
  • 100th student taught

This morning I celebrated my own personal milestone: teaching my first class remotely. One of the most amazing benefits of teaching with VIPKid is the ability to teach from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Up until now, I just haven’t taken advantage of this.

My husband needed to come to New Orleans to renew his passport, so I tagged along for the ride. I actually closed my early morning times so I could sleep in, but I have my normal Monday morning 7am class (Rosie) who books like clockwork several weeks in advance. Today she had a mid-unit assessment scheduled, so we took the show on the road.

It just so happened that this was a very easy lesson for props. What did I bring? One ziplock bag that included:

  • My mini-whiteboard and a magnetic marker
  • Uno cards
  • He/She/It magnets

Because I was teaching a student I was very familiar with, I did not hang a special background. I sat in front of a blank wall with a picture on it. I was in front of a large window that offered plenty of light, plus I dragged a lamp nearby.

The results? An easy, effective class.

If you are thinking of taking your own classroom on the road, here are some suggestions:

  1. Consider using digital props and rewards. Google Slides is a great option for both, although there are other options available.
  2. Create a grab bag of versatile props that you can grab and take with you. I would suggest:
      A small, magnetic whiteboard and marker
      Magnetic stars that can attach to the whiteboard
      A small pronoun chart or print outs of pronouns
      Flash Cards (ABC’s, animals, numbers/math, and shapes)
      Key characters (Meg, Mike, Dino, and maybe the level 1 characters if you teach it)
      A simple backdrop (This could be a shower curtain, a blanket, or even a colorful gift bag that could be hung from the wall.)
      Some external, battery powered lighting (just in case.)
  1. Have fun! Just like with your classroom at home, if you are engaged and enjoying class, your students will too!

I also let Rosie’s mom know in advance I would be on the road so she wasn’t surprised. When I got set up, I sent her a picture of the day’s “classroom” on WeChat. After class, I got the sweet message below from her.

So, even though this isn’t a milestone “officially” with VIPKid, I consider this morning a success.

Have you taught successfully from the road? What’s your go-to list of traveling props? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! If you would like to keep up with my future trips I’ve started a dedicated feed on my instagram. I hope you will check it out!

If you are looking for an opportunity to have a job where you can travel as well, I’d love to help you get started with VIPKid. The first step is to apply. You can get a preview of all of the steps in the process here: VIPKid Application and Interview Process (Updated May 27, 2019). I would be happy to help you through the process. Just let me know!

VIPKid Unit Assessments

Unit assessments have gone from one of my most feared classes to my favorite.

Just when I thought I had my pacing mastered (1 slide per minute = a 25 minute class,) I opened my schedule and saw it…

a unit assessment!

What is a Unit Assessment? It is an assessment that gauges how well the student has mastered the information in a unit. These are introduced at the halfway point and in the last lesson of the unit. (In level one, that means they have an assessment in lessons 4 and 8. In all other units, the assessments are in lessons 6 and 12.)

As a new ESL teacher, the unit assessments lead to a number of questions:

  • 50 slides? How will I cover 50 slides in 25 minutes?
  • What if I get done early?
  • What if I can’t finish?
  • What is the project? Do they know about it?
  • Do I still need to have a secondary reward?
  • Should I help them if they don’t know the answer?
  • How do I grade them?

In today’s blog post, I thought I would tackle a few of the most common questions for you.

UA Timing

I think this is the most common question I hear. On one hand, there are almost double the number of slides as a normal MC lesson. On the other hand, 100% of the material is review, so often kids can fly through it since there is less “teaching.” Here are a few tips to help you master the timing of a UA.

  • Don’t panic. Many of the slides are section breaks with no discussion required.
  • Review the UA in advance. Get a feel for how many sections there are and how many questions are in each section. I tend to monitor my pacing by sections rather than slides with the UA. For example, if there are six sections, I should be finishing up section 3 when I am halfway through class. BUT – remember, not all sections are created equally. If you have a student who did a really complex project, you may allocate more time in that section and less in another.
  • Be ready to extend. Don’t wait until the end of a lesson to find out you have a lot of extra time to kill. That won’t be productive. If you see that your student is well prepared and doing well in the assessment, extend as you go. This has three benefits:
    • You will keep them engaged throughout the lesson.
    • There’s less risk of mom and dad complaining that you finished the lesson too early.
    • It provides great content for your feedback. (“Not only did Bao Bao answer the assessment questions about XYZ correctly, but he also demonstrated his understanding with new examples I gave him in class!”)
  • If you have a student who is struggling with the content, do your very best not to skip slides. Instead, move quickly through the section breaks. Don’t spend much time on the “game.” You read the storyline rather than having the student read it. But always try to complete all of the actual assessment.

The UA Project

The UA Project is “homework” that is done outside of class in levels 2 and above. This is a topic I’ll probably go back and write an entire blog post about. For today, I just want to touch on the basics.

  • Yes, the students already know about it. It is first introduced in lesson 5. It is also reviewed in lessons 6 and 11. The students and their parents also have information about the project in their materials from VIPKid.
  • No, not all students complete the project. In fact, I would guess that most do not.
  • It’s possible that some have uploaded it in the portal already. There is a “Project Demo” button that gives them that option; however, I’ve only seen one student ever use it. In most cases, just ask the student to show you their homework, and they will hold it up to the camera.
  • If they did not do it, you have a few options. In order of my personal preference:
    • You can have the student complete the project live with you in class. They can draw or write on the blank slide or a piece of paper and do it quickly. If I do this, I generally give them half credit for the project.
    • You can wait, and if time allows, have them complete it at the end of the class. This is good because you run less risk of taking up too much class time; however, I sometimes forget to return to it.
    • You can give them zero points and move on. I usually use this only as a last resort. Realistically, these kids do so much in their lives. They often have 12 hour days in school plus extracurricular activities. Then they learn English on top of that! As a momma, I know some weeks we simply couldn’t get everything done. I might choose the English homework too.

UA Rewards

It’s never required by VIPKid to have a secondary reward. However, I do recommend it. For UA’s, you can use their built-in game concept or do a reward of your own. I personally like to make a game board on my whiteboard using UNO cards. If I have time, I will print custom stars that match the UA theme, but often I just use my tried and true Dino stars. I also LOVE the UA maps in Google Slides. These usually follow the theme of the UA game, but at the end of each section there’s a cute gif or picture. My flow is simply “Yay! Good job!” I hold up my phone and show the animation to display the gif and go to the next level; then say “You get a star!”  I stick my star on my game board behind me and move on to “Level 2 – BEGIN!”

UA Grading and Progress

I always do my best to grade accurately (but positively.) They aren’t trying to get into an Ivy League school with these results, BUT I think it’s very important for parents to understand how their child is progressing.

Here are a few things to remember about grading and progress:

  • If they are struggling, you can absolutely help them. Our primary goal is to teach, so consider these assessments “open book” (or at least “open teacher.” 🙂
  • Every exercise has a sliding scale for grading, and most include an option for “Student completed XYZ with teacher assistance.”
  • The only times I give zero points are when the student fails to participate on a slide at all, or perhaps they still cannot complete the activity, even with teacher assistance. It is very rare that this happens. Usually, the student is able to complete the activities with help.

Unit assessments have gone from one of my most feared classes to my favorite. I love the flow. I love seeing the progress that my students have made. And I even love the cheesy game stories!

How do you feel about Unit Assessments? Do you have other questions you would like to see answered? Let me know in the comments!

game board

VIPKid Student No-Shows

Other than the required time to wait in the classroom, there are not a lot of hard and fast rules from VIPKid about student no-shows.

You’re awake! You’re caffeinated! You’re prepped! You are ready to begin class. But where’s Bao Bao?

Sometimes your student will not show up for class. It happens to all of us.  When this happens to you, here are a few things to remember!

Should I “start class” even if the student is not there?

Yes! Always start class a few seconds before your scheduled time to ensure you get credit for beginning on time.

How long do I need to stay in class if my student is not there?

For all classes except trial classes, you must stay in class for the full 25 minutes unless a fireman has contacted you to tell you that you may leave.  For trial classes, you must stay in class for 15 minutes.

Do I need to contact the fireman if my student isn’t in the classroom at the scheduled time?

No.  While some parents do like this (and would like for VIPKid to call them if their child is not in class) it is not required to contact the fireman. The only time I call the fireman is if it’s a very regular student who rarely or never misses class and I’m worried.

Do I need to screenshot the classroom for a student no-show?

I recommend it. Usually, I take a screenshot every 2-5 minutes while waiting on a student. So far I have never had to use them, but should there be any discrepancy in finish type, I can prove that I was in the classroom for the full required time. I usually type in the chatbox “Waiting on student – X minutes.” at each interval.

Can I leave the classroom while I am waiting?

No. You are being paid, and there is always a chance that the student may arrive late.

Can I cover my camera while I am waiting?

There is no formal VIPKid policy on this. Some teachers choose to turn their camera off. Some have created a screen cover that shows an image but not their face. I personally choose to leave my camera on. I don’t ever want there to be a discrepancy where a parent claims I am not in my classroom and I was. Personally, I find it a great time to check out the AR stickers in the classroom and spend some time blogging!

Should I send an e-card to my student after they do not come to class?

Again, this is a matter of personal preference. I usually do. There is a “missed connection” e-card that’s perfect, but if you prefer the free ones, there is also a generic one. I generally say, “I missed seeing you in class, Bao Bao! I hope everything is ok and I will see you soon! Love – Teacher Amelia”

Will I still get paid for a student no-show?

Yes! For trial classes, you get paid 50% of your class fee. For MC or Supplementary classes, you get paid the full amount. If you would like to minimize the chance of a trial class no-show, you can opt into the trial class rebooking option that allows a trial class student to be replaced up to 15 minutes after the beginning of class.

If a class is marked as “finished” before it ever begins, do I need to enter the classroom?

No. Parents are allowed to cancel a class up to 24 hours before the class with no penalty. However, if they cancel within 24 hours, they must still pay for the class (and you will still get paid for it!) In that situation, the class will be marked as “finished” and greyed out on your bookings calendar. You do not need to attend class in those situations.

Other than the required time to wait in the classroom, there are not a lot of hard and fast rules from VIPKid about student no-shows. I hope you found this helpful. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments!

If you are looking to get started with VIPKid and want someone to help walk you through the process, I would be happy to be your mentor.

Happy teaching (or not, if they are a no-show!)

martin 6-26-19 - 8 minutes

Your VIPKid Bio

There are 60,000+ other teachers out there. You want your bio to be short, direct, and easy to read.

The old saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” With VIPKid, your first impression to parents is your bio, video, and profile pictures.

In this blog post, I’m going to share a few tips to help make your bio stand out to prospective parents and students.

Qualifications & Basic Info

Put your unique information at the beginning of your bio.

What do you think sets you apart from other teachers? Is it your classroom experience? Are you a zookeeper who likes to bring animals into class? Whatever it is that makes you special should be highlighted at the beginning of your bio. Remember, everyone who teaches for VIPKid has a bachelor’s degree, so unless it is in a field that could specifically relate to teaching their child English, I would place it at the end. (Mine is in communications, so I left it toward the beginning.)

Limit the information you share about your university.

I don’t think most parents are very familiar with the states, much less all of the universities within them. Unless you have a degree with from a very well known, internationally acclaimed university, I would stick to the basics.

Avoid nicknames.

You should use your show name (so parents can find you again) and your classroom name (what students will see in class.) I started out thinking that my nickname would be easier for a child to say. While this is true, if they don’t see it anywhere, it will be hard to remember, and they might also get confused.

Grammar & Punctuation

Use simple but precise words.

Spend some time thinking about the exact meaning you want to communicate.  Many parents may not speak English, so it is important that the words translate correctly.

For example, one teacher said, “I like to make my students smile and laugh.” In one translation, that turned into “I like to make my students smile and smile.” Perhaps a better sentence would be “I like to have fun in class,” which translated to “I like to have fun in the classroom.”

Limit compound and complex compound sentences.

Sometimes these will translate fine. Sometimes they won’t. If you can communicate your idea in multiple simple sentences, it will be easier for your parents and their students to understand.

Avoid parenthesis.

If something is worth mentioning, it’s worth having it’s own sentence. I am particularly bad at this and I use them far too often. (I really do.) I’ve read that if removing the parenthetical phrase changes the meaning of a sentence, then the phrase should not be in parenthesis.

Avoid slang, excess punctuation, or other things that could cause confusion.

Remember, your readers do not know American culture. They do not know our slang. Things that might make a sentence cute or add emphasis to a native-speaker could just confuse someone with English as a second language.

For example, if I were writing to someone who lived near me, I might say, “I grew up in the rolling hills of Missouri, but I have lived in Mississippi for the last 11 years, y’all. Hotty Toddy!!!”  There are a few problems with this for my bio:

  • Parents probably don’t know where Missouri and Mississippi are, nor can they visualize the lovely rolling hills of the Ozark mountains. So for them, it’s just extra words that could cause them to lose interest.
  • “Y’all,” though endearing to those in the south, is probably going to confuse them. It’s slang and would require explanation, at best. It could also be seen as incorrect grammar unless you happen to live in the south. 🙂
  • “Hotty Toddy” is an even more select form of jargon. If you aren’t familiar with the University of Mississippi, you probably won’t even know what that means, so it comes across as jibberish.
  • The extra exclamation points could be seen as punctuation errors, not enthusiasm.

If I were writing something for a local audience here, the above example would be fine. But I’m writing for parents in China who want me to teach their child correct English.

Other Tips

Keep it short.

There are 60,000+ other teachers out there. You want your bio to be short, direct, and easy to read. If it’s too long, your prospective parents may lose interest.

Let your parents know what to expect.

If you have been teaching ESL for a while, maybe there is something that parents would like (or not like.) By including it in your bio, you are more likely to attract parents whose styles and preferences fit your own. I chose to include that I use technology in my classroom because I’m a big fan of Google Slides.  I also included that I write detailed feedback. If a parent doesn’t like those two characteristics, it’s better that they find another teacher. There are plenty of parents who do appreciate this!

Run it through a Chinese translator and back again.

No, I don’t do this with feedback I write, unless I have something that is an unusual sentence structure or wording. But for something as important and lasting as a bio, I do. Sometimes when English is translated, the words change just enough to change the meaning of what you are trying to convey. I worry less about grammatical errors in the translation because these are sometimes very difficult to correct. But I want to ensure the meaning is accurate. You can use any online translator. I usually use google translate just because it’s so easy to use.

To give you an example of how I’ve put these into play with my own bio, here’s an example of my before and after:

Before: Hello! My name is Amelia, but your child can call me Teacher Amy! I am happy to meet you, and I’m excited to get to know your child. I have a bachelor’s degree in communications from Missouri State University, and I was a corporate trainer for customer service for many years. I love traveling, and have spent the most time in India, the Philippines, and Honduras. My favorite experience was working with children in Honduras. They loved teaching me Spanish, and I loved teaching them English! My goal is to help your child learn English, and to help them have fun at the same time. I look forward to working with you and your child!

After: Hello! My name is Amelia. I am very happy to meet your child! I have a degree in communications, and I have been a company trainer for many years. I like to travel, and I have spent the most time in India, the Philippines and Honduras. My favorite experience was working with the children of Honduras. They enjoyed teaching me Spanish while I taught them English! My goal is to help your child learn English by teaching grammar, pronunciation and conversation skills. I also hope that they can have fun at the same time, and I use technology in the classroom to help achieve this. I usually write very detailed feedback after class because I know that your child will continue to learn and practice at the end of the lesson. I want to help you continue to work with your child. I look forward to meeting your family! Thank you, Teacher Amelia U

I hope you found this helpful. What other tips do you have for writing great bios? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

If you are a new teacher and looking for someone to help guide you through this process, I would love to be your mentor!

If you are looking for an objective critique of your profile (bio, pictures, video) you can also check out the facebook group VIPKid: Marketing Yourself Online.

It’s a great group of people who can give you constructive feedback as you look to improve your profile.

Happy teaching!

Attending a VIPKid Meetup

There’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone!

VIPKid has been one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done. And they pay me for it! But let’s face it, people just don’t understand it!  How many times have we heard:

  • Wait, do you speak Chinese?
  • You do it on your computer?
  • You sound like you’re talking to your students again…
  • That better not be another picture of a cute kid!

Even those who are most supportive of us just don’t understand what it’s like to form these bonds with students and their parents across the globe.

Because our students are not in a brick and mortar school, we can’t just pop into the teacher’s lounge when we want to talk to someone.  So where do you go for support, help, or collaboration?

Many of us turn to online communities, which are GREAT.  (I’ll list some of my favorites in an upcoming blog post.) But there’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone.

Fortunately, VIPKid realizes this and encourages teachers to participate in local meetups!

What is a meetup?

Straight from the VIPKid suport center, “Meetups are a great way for teachers to gather and share their ideas or teaching experience with one another. Attending one can not only improve your daily routine, but the useful tips and getting to know other teachers will certainly provide a boost to your teaching business that only require a positive outlook and basic social skills!”

How can you find a meetup near you?

VIPKid lists all meetups on their community events page. You can search by city/state or zip code to find a meetup in your area.

What can you do at a meetup?

Anything you want! In all seriousness, every meet up is different. Meetups are hosted by VIPKid teachers, and so they will be different based on personality, location, time of year, and attendees.  I have been to two meetups, and both were fun but very different.

My first meetup was hosted by Teacher Beth. It was hosted at a Mexican restaurant and we ate dinner. The atmosphere was informal, and it gave teachers (and a few prospective teachers) a chance to talk to one another, get to know each other, and share stories about their classes. Of course, there was a swag giveaway, and I won my first Dino!

My second meetup was just this month and hosted by Teacher Kimberly. This one was in a private room at a coffee shop. A few of the same teachers were there, but many new ones. This one included an icebreaker, plus some targeted discussions about tips for new teachers, the Teacher App, the application process, recruiting, and even a demo of Google Slides. Kimberly had made goody bags for all attendees, and –  you guessed it – there was swag! (This time I won a cute dragon Dino and a Dino-topped pencil!)

Both of the meetups resulted in new, local friendships and a lot of fun.

A few common themes that I’ve seen before include:

  • Prop Swaps: Teachers can bring extra or gently used props they no longer need and trade with others. It’s a great way to get new ideas for props or re-home some of your own!
  • Crafting or Painting Parties: These are fun, and they can serve double duty as classroom decorations after you’re finished.
  • Escape Rooms: I’m planning my first meetup in August, and it will include an escape room. Why? Because they are super fun! It’s also a good chance to work together and teambuild.
  • Meals: Of course, we all have to eat. Why not grab a bite and swap stories at the same time?
  • Family Fun: Theme parks, picnics, bowling, and parks can all make for a family-friendly day where everyone can have fun. Not only can teachers have fun sharing stories, but their kids can commiserate about mom or dad stealing their toys as props, and spouses can share their favorite (or least favorite) VIPKid tales too!
  • Festivals, Museums, or Tours: We all enjoy learning about other cultures. Often, teachers will get together for local Chinese festivals or others. It’s a great chance to learn and have fun with your fellow teachers.

Really, the sky is the limit. The goal is to have fun and enjoy spending time with your fellow teachers (and of course, get some cool new VIPKid swag.)

Can prospective teachers attend a VIPKid meetup?

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that they are designed for existing teachers, so if you are interested in an actual recruiting event or something that is designed for prospective teachers, Coaching Days might be more appropriate.

Like I mentioned, I will be hosting my first meetup in August, so I’d love any tips and tricks. I’ll be sure to blog about it along the way. And if you’re local, I’d love to see you there!

Happy teaching (and meeting!)

dino dragon 2

The Virtual Water Cooler: Staying Social While Working from Home

Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes.

If you follow my blog or know me personally, you know that I love working from home. I’ve written about The Five Secrets to Working From Home, and I apply them every day since I work from home for my main job in customer service and also my side hustle teaching English online.

However, working remotely, especially if you do “shift work” in early or late hours, can be very lonely. If you live by yourself, it’s easy to go days without ever seeing someone else. In my case, I live with my husband and one of my sons. If my husband is traveling for work, it’s not uncommon for my son to leave for school or work while I’m teaching in the morning, and come back after I go to bed at night.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to result in isolation or lonliness. I have three easy suggestions for how to stay connected socially in a work-from-home environment.

Meet up.

With VIPKid, teachers organize local meetups. There is a page posted in VIPKid’s online community where you can search for local meetups, or you can host your own. Many companies do the same, hosting Friday afternoon happy hours where remote employees can come together to bond. This is my #1 tip because there is nothing quite like face-to-face time with your colleagues. They understand what you deal with on a day-to-day basis and can relate to you better than most people. If your company doesn’t offer something like this, start it yourself! Perhaps you are the only employee in your area, so this isn’t possible. If so, check out meetup.com. It’s totally free, and when I signed on today, two different networking events related to my industry immediately popped up. You could also look for other types of clubs to participate in after hours. I am a big fan of Toastmasters International. It allows you to improve your public speaking and leadership skills while networking on a local, regional, state, or even national level.

Host a virtual lunch date.

If you can’t meet up face-to-face, you can still introduce some social time in your schedule. Do you get a lunch break? Have lunch with a friend over video! If you don’t want to eat on camera (I get it.) Schedule a 5:00 Friday video call. Work talk is banned. I did this with two of my closest friends from work. We scheduled it on our calendars as though it were a “real” meeting, and we caught up on our families and lives.  It was so much fun, and it was a great way to start our weekend. Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes. It’s important to nurture those relationships, even if we have to be creative to do so. If your company doesn’t provide video conferencing like OfficeSuite, Microsoft Teams, or Skype, check out a free software like Zoom and do it yourself!

Connect online.

My honors project for my degree in communications was predicting how the internet was going to change our tried and true communications models. At the time that I wrote it, we really had no idea just how much they would really change. (For perspective, this was pre-Facebook, pre-Linked In, and yes… pre-MySpace. I’m old.)

Today, there are so many ways to connect virtually. You can pick one based on your own personal communication style:

  • Linked In: This is my top choice for professional relationships. Not only can you “post” and share updates with one another, but you can blog, do recommendations, and join groups based on your interests.
  • Facebook: There are so many options on Facebook, and I bet you can find a group to fit any circumstances! I am a member of at least six different VIPKid groups and have even created my own (Amelia VIPKid – Teacher Central).
  • Twitter: My oldest son is a man of few words, so the idea of short and sweet messages has always appealed to him.
  • Instagram: If you are more visual in nature, Instagram is a great way to connect with photos and videos. It’s especially easy to connect if you use hashtags to target your audience and follow others.
  • Pinterest: It’s not just for crafters! You can find an almost addictive amount of ideas all neatly organized by enterprise on Pinterest.
  • You Tube: This is a favorite platform of many VIPKid teachers. It’s not my favorite because I don’t love how I come across in videos. But some people love it!
  • Snapchat: Yes, I’ll confess. I enjoy Snapchat. I don’t use it much but I get a kick out of the different filters. If you are a creative type, this can be a good way to bond and/or create content that your fellow co-workers can enjoy.

Ultimately, you need to find a method or a platform that works for you. Working remotely, it might take some intentional efforts to stay connected socially, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it.

Have you found other ways to stay connected while working from home? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Are you hoping to break into the “work from home” world? Let me know how I can help. VIPKid is always hiring and I would be happy to assist!