VIPKid Class Preparation

You might notice that I talk a lot about class preparation. That’s probably because being prepared is very important to me. My mom loves to tell the story about when I was a little girl, still crawling. One afternoon she noticed that it was unusually quiet in the house, so she tiptoed back to my bedroom and peeked through a crack in the door. I was practicing walking, holding onto a small table for balance. The minute I saw her watching me, I burst into tears and started crying, because apparently, I wanted to be perfect before anyone saw me walking!

To help you feel more prepared, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my typical process for class prep. If you have about 10 minutes, I created a video called VIPKid Class Preparation, and it goes through two specific examples – one where I walk through my prep folder for teaching a mock class on the letter “X” and one where I walk through my (recent) preparation for teaching my demo class for level 4 certification.

If you don’t have time for the full video now, here are the most important elements:

  1. Read the objectives. It’s very important that you are clear about the vocabulary, sentence patterns, and phonics that your student should learn. In a mock class or interview, they will be watching for these. In a real class, this is a pillar of your student’s success.
  2. Review your student’s background. Follow up on problem areas and encourage them on their strengths. This will also help you with timing, because if you know a student is a strong reader, you know the reading will go quickly. If there is a particular concept they struggle with, you can allow more time for this.
  3. Review all slides. This is pretty easy to do now using the teacher app, though I have gone old school before and printed them.
  4. Gather all props. This is the fun part. I know there are prop minimalists out there, but I LOVE bringing fun things into the classroom. (I now use Feedback Panda to help track my props, so it makes it even faster!)

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments! If you would like to use me as a mentor to help you through the process as you get your feet wet, please feel free to use my referral link.

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How I earned over $500 in my bathroom!

First of all, I don’t call it a bathroom. It’s my classroom. And I earned the money teaching English as a second language to children in China!

I have a full time job in corporate America, but a couple of months ago I decided I needed a more meaningful hobby – something that was different than my daily grind. The ability to earn money at the same time was just an added bonus! That began my journey with VIPKid.

Why did I turn my bathroom into a classroom? This was an unused area of my home off of a spare bedroom that I use as my home office. The countertop placed my laptop at the right level, and it allowed me to have a wall behind me that was in easy reach. The lighting is easily controlled, and it’s right next to my wireless router, so there’s a strong wifi signal. It was perfect! There were two previously empty drawers perfect for storing props, and the huge bathroom mirror also provides a surface I can use as my own personal dry erase board to write myself lesson notes!

My journey with VIPKid has just begun, and so far I LOVE it. The children and their parents are amazing. The hours are flexible, and the classes are fun. As you can see, the pay is pretty nice too!

In full disclosure, I expect my paycheck to continue to grow. I am a brand new VIPKid teacher, and so I’m still building my regular student base.  At the time I’m writing this article, I’ve been a teacher for 47 days. (I signed my contract mid-September, 2018.) It’s important to note that I ONLY make myself available to teach Monday through Friday between 5 or 6 am Central and 7:30 am Central. I need to be ready to start my regular job at 8 am sharp.

In this short time, though, here’s how my student base (and paycheck) have grown:

  • My first week I opened 10 timeslots (none short notice) and didn’t get any bookings.
  • My second week, VIPKid offered an incentive for opening up a certain number of short notice time slots, so I opened 25 available class times, and I got two short notice bookings. (Both of whom have booked multiple classes since then!)
  • The first half of October, my mom had surgery, so my availability to teach was limited, but I taught 9 classes with one trial no-show.
  • The second half of October, I taught 35 classes.
  • Looking ahead, it’s only November 3rd, and I’m already booked for 14 classes. (VIPKid only opens up two weeks in advance, so there are plenty more bookings to come!)
September 2018 – 2H October 2018 – 1H October 2019 – 2H
% of Timeslots Filled 20% 25% 92%
Pay $22.00 $84.00 $410.00

I cannot recommend this opportunity enough. It’s a good company with good training and a simple process to learn and grow your student base. It’s fun, flexible, and so far pretty profitable!  Whether you are looking for some extra holiday spending money, a second career, or a meaningful hobby, VIPKid could be a good fit for you.

If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact me. If you are looking for someone to help you through the process, I’d love to be your mentor, so please use my referral link if you are ready to sign up!

 

Class Prep: VIPKid Courses & Mock Class

I am a planner. I like nothing more than a color coded calendar with every hour neatly catalogued. So for me, it was important that I understand early how to prepare for a class.

Whether you are preparing for your interview, a mock class, or a regular class, the steps are basically the same.

  1. Review the objectives.
  2. Review the slides.
  3. Review key skills.
  4. Learn about your student.
  5. Prepare a list of props or realia.
  6. Practice.

To help get you started, let’s look at each of these individually.

  • Review the objectives. If you do nothing else in preparing for a lesson, be sure you review the objectives. These will tell you what your child needs to learn. If you are teaching the letter “a” there might be a picture of an apple on the page, but that could be just to demonstrate the letter sound. It’s not important that the student remember the word apple, nor is it important they know that an apple is red. If you are doing a lesson on food, learning about the apple might be an important part of the lesson. So read your objectives. Your interviewer and mock class mentor will be watching for this, and it will directly affect the results of your real students later.
  • Review the slides. You will want to scroll through the slides enough that you are comfortable with them. For new teachers, this could take several times. If you’ve taught for a while or done this lesson before, a quick once-over might be sufficient. You will not be effective in class if you are trying to squint and read instructions on each page during your interview or class.
  • Review key skills. This is extremely important, especially if you are not a current ESL or lower elementary teacher. If you are teaching a letter, be sure you know the correct sound the letter makes. Be sure you know the standard letter motion movements. You need to be sure you know how your mouth (and your student’s) should look when they make the letter sound. You might think that “Everyone knows how to say ‘R'” but if you aren’t prepared to correct a “ruh” to an “rrrrr” you will be in trouble. If you are interviewing, your mentor is sure to mispronounce something to test you. With real students, missing timely error correction can build bad habits and result in poor feedback from parents.
  • Learn about your student. In a mock class, VIPKid will provide some basic information about your student. They will provide their age and some prior vocabulary. Score bonus points if you can work some of these into your lesson, since it shows you are prepared! In a real class, there is a “Student Details” section. There you can learn the name and age of your student, the number of classes they have taken with VIPKid, their ratings on the last lesson, and feedback from prior teachers. This can help you adjust to their personal style in the classroom, so pay attention!
  • Prepare a list of props or realia. I love props! When you are interviewing, you will need to make sure to use at least two different types of props or realia. For example, if you are teaching the letter “P” you could choose two or more of any of the following types of props: a magnetic letter, a whiteboard, printed/laminated letters or pictures, blocks with letters, stuffed animals or toys that start with “p” (panda, puppy, pig.) I’m sure you could come up with many other ideas, but be sure you have and use at least two different types.
  • Practice. As you are getting started and preparing for your interview, practice is the most important thing you can do. Practice your TPR in the shower. Practice with your family. Practice on video on your computer. Practice with your dog. You cannot practice too much. Once you are hired and have taught several classes, practice becomes less important than the rest of the preparation since much of the TPR and slide work will be familiar to you.

The more classes you teach, the faster you can move through these steps. Today, I spend between 5-15 minutes preparing for each class, whereas I spent several hours preparing for my initial interview and mock class.

If you have questions about how I prepare or have tips of your own you would like to share, let me know in the comments below! If you are ready to join VIPKid and apply, feel free to use me as a referral and I will help in any way I can!

Classroom Basics – Set up a VIPKid Classroom Without Breaking the Bank!

When I was interviewing and preparing for my mock class, I wanted to rush out and buy every teacher prop available. I love buying school supplies under normal circumstances, so with the idea of a “new classroom” in my mind, I was almost unstoppable!  However, I’m happy to report that I did not break the bank and was able to show some restraint.

If you are just getting started, there’s no need to spend a fortune in props and classroom decorations. Below are my top picks for things to get your classroom started.

Things You Already Have

  • Tape. Yes, just regular scotch tape. If you have some favorite reward systems, you can later invest in magnets, velcro, or some other adhesive, but for just starting out, tape works just fine. I use tape to decorate my walls and whiteboard, and I use it in virtually every reward system I prepare. It’s easy to use, and you probably already have a roll in your junk drawer!
  • Musical Item(s). Yes, I know that it’s vague. But this can be literally ANY musical item. If you can plan an instrument, that’s great. I can’t even read music, much less play an instrument, so an old kid’s harmonica is what I use. Before I start singing a song, I play a few discordant notes on the harmonica to get my student’s attention and set the stage for the song. A toy xylophone, kiddie piano, a pair of drumsticks, a kazoo, or even a whistle would probably work.  Just find something you’ll enjoy and get to playing!
  • Toys. On the subject of toys and fun, dig out some of your favorite old toys or game pieces. I have used stuffed animals, toy cars, card games, dice, and even a dog toy in my lessons. Be creative! If you are having fun, the kids will too.

You will be amazed at how many household items you will find that you can use in class. However, there will be a few things that are worth purchasing.

Things to Buy

  • Magnetic Letters.  These are inexpensive and versatile. They can be used for beginners when learning letters and letter sounds. They can be used in phonics practice for more advanced students. They can be used to customize your classroom decorations or help with verb conjugation. The possibilities are endless! You could probably get by with one set of capital letters, and two sets of lower case letters.
  • Small Whiteboard.  I picked one up for around $5.00 I think, and I use it all the time. I use it along with my magnetic letters, and I use it to write examples. It can be used to correct pronunciation (b vs buh) and to draw reward systems. This is one of my go-to items in the classroom.
  • Something You Love. I have to confess. I did make a major splurge recently, but in all honesty, I would have bought these with or without a classroom! I came across a few finger puppets that were custom made from Chicago artist Dan Crowley.  I absolutely adore all of his work, and so I purchased two puppets, a sun and a moon. I’ve had the chance to use them when teaching about the weather and “good morning” but really, I just love looking at them! (But they do look FANTASTIC over video in the classroom!) While I try to be frugal, if you find something that you just love, it’s ok to buy it. Why? Because if you are excited, your students will be too. And I love anything that helps my students love learning.

Bonus Buy

  • A Laminator. I’m not sure why, but I already had a laminator. However, if you are hired, you can invest in a decent home laminator for $25-$35, and the plastic sheets cost about $11 online from Amazon. I use my laminator all the time, from making reward systems to decorating my classroom. I print, laminate, and attach pictures of animals to those pointy kitchen skewers I hate to cook with, and voila – instant puppet. If you don’t have a whiteboard, you can also use a laminated piece of paper as a makeshift whiteboard. I probably wouldn’t purchase a laminator just for the interview process, but if you are looking for a way you can start building up re-usable supplies for your classroom, this is a good place to start.

If you’d like to see more about the basics I use, I put together a quick video that shows these items in my classroom. As always, if you print pictures off the Internet, make sure you have permission to use the image.

Good luck setting up your classroom. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me.

Of course if you are ready to get started with VIPKid and are looking for a mentor, feel free to reach out and use my referral link.

person holding pink piggy coin bank
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An Apple a Day

Ok new teachers. Let me begin by saying that I am far from an expert on feedback. In my first month of teaching, I only got seven ratings. The good news? They were all 5-apples! As I’m about to sign my third contract, I will have surpassed the elusive 200, but certainly, more parents don’t leave feedback than do. (I’ve taught 628 classes and received 196 5-apple ratings, so that would be 31% overall.)

I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about a few things I’ve learned about apple feedback.

Where can I see my parent feedback?

You can see individual ratings under “parent feedback.” However, you won’t see it in your status until after you get 100 ratings. Although I like instant gratification, this is a good thing. By looking at your 100 most recent ratings, one or two “bad apples” won’t affect your overall score. You can also see “Offline Parent Feedback” but that will only reflect information if a parent calls VIPKid headquarters about you.

What’s Important to Parents?

Parents have the chance to choose positive feedback categories.  In the phone app, if you tap on “new feedback,” a second screen opens when you can see specific tags. So what’s important to parents?

  • Encouragement
  • TPR
  • Timely and Accurate error correction
  • Class environment
  • Props

In short, it’s not one individual thing, but it’s the package!

abigail feedback

How can I get more parent feedback?

This may sound silly, but to get feedback, you should ask for it! I’ve worked in customer support for years, and we regularly send out customer satisfaction surveys. What I’ve learned is that people rarely fill it out unless they are extremely happy (or extremely unhappy.) If you want someone to fill out the survey, ask them to!  A couple of important points:

  • I always end my feedback to the parents asking THEM for their feedback. By ending with that (as well as options to re-book with me) it gives them their next step.
  • I explain that positive feedback is 5-apple feedback. If you don’t explain that, they might think 4-apple feedback is good, and 5-apples should be reserved for absolutely earth-shattering!
  • I keep it short. If the parent has never left me feedback before, I simply say “Receiving positive (5-apple) feedback is very important to VIPKid teachers, so please take a minute to share your feedback. I will use any comments you provide so we can continue to help (student) in his/her learning!”

Of course, in order to get five apples, you have to earn it. To help make sure parents will be happy with your teaching, always keep the following things in mind.

  • Be on time! Parents are investing time and money into their child, so it’s important that you respect that and be on time.
  • Teach the full 25-minutes. There are full guidelines provided by VIPKid here.
  • Avoid eating or drinking soda on screen. Of course, keep water handy if you need it. We all know how kiddos at home get distracted by things you have (and they don’t), and kids on screen react the same way.
  • Use TPR, props, and realia to engage with the students.
  • Have fun! If you have fun, the kids will too.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and FIVE APPLES a day makes a VIPKID teacher very happy! Keep up the good work, and please let me know how I can help you in your journey. If you’re just getting started, feel free to use my referral link to sign up! Happy teaching!

VIPKid Techniques – TPR

Whether you are preparing to interview, planning for your mock class, or looking for ways to improve your teaching effectiveness, TPR is a term you’ll hear over and over through your VIPKid career.

What is TPR?

TPR stands for “Total Physical Response.” In layman’s terms, it’s using gestures and actions to demonstrate words. There are two main types of TPR that you’ll need to use in the VIPKid classroom:

  • Instructional TPR: Instructional TPR includes actions that you don’t want the student to repeat, but that help you let the student know what to do. Examples of common instructional TPR include:
    • Cupping your ear when you want them to speak
    • Making a circle with your finger when you want them to circle
    • Pointing to your mouth when you want them to focus on how your mouth is making a sound
  • TPR: Standard TPR includes motions that you want your student to repeat to help in understanding or memory of a word. Examples include:
    • Standard letter motions (for example, a crooked finger that looks like a snake is used to represent the sssss sound.)
    • Motions that reflect the word you are demonstrating (for example, imitating an elephant trunk with your arm)

Why is TPR important?

  • It’s fun! Especially with younger students, TPR makes learning fun! Kids (and teachers) enjoy fun in the classroom, and TPR is a great way to do it!
  • It helps them understand. If they are struggling with comprehension, actions can help them understand your intended meaning.
  • It helps them remember. I still remember my mom helping me study when I was younger. She would do crazy actions that I might laugh at, but then the next day during my test I would visualize her doing them.

How do I get comfortable using TPR?

It doesn’t always feel natural to use TPR motions.. So how do you get comfortable? You might laugh, but I practiced in the shower. I use video conferencing frequently during my day job, and so I also began using (toned down) TPR on those calls. Anytime I could gesture to illustrate something, I would do so, just to see how it came across on video. If you have kids at home you can practice with, that’s also a great option because you can see how children respond and participate! Whatever option you choose, PRACTICE is the key to becoming comfortable!

I encourage you to watch as many videos as possible to help you get familiar with different TPR techniques.  If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me or comment below! If you are looking for a mentor to help guide you through the process, feel free to reach out to me and use my referral link to get started.

Good luck!

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VIPKid Short Notice 24-hour Bookings

From my very first class, I realized that short notice bookings were an important tool for my VIPKid growth. At the same time, they were one of my biggest fears. Below are the basics about short notice classes, how to deal with them, and how they can help you.

What is a short notice class?

When you log in to update your availability and open time slots to teach, you have the option to allow short-notice bookings. This means that a parent can book a class anywhere from 24 hours to 1 hour before the class start time. (If you don’t select this option, the time slots expire 24 hours before the class start time.)

It’s been my experience that most short notice bookings come in overnight. I go to bed, and when I wake up the next morning, a class has been booked! Some of these classes are trial classes, and perhaps parents decide at the last minute to try it out. Sometimes these are regular major courses, and perhaps schedules have changed so the parents need to make a last minute adjustment.

What are the benefits of short notice classes?

  • Experience: As a new teacher, you need experience to teach. The more available you are, the more likely you are to get bookings.
  • Flexibility: The more short notice classes you teach, the more comfortable you’ll be in quick lesson preparation. This could lead to other opportunities such as substitute teaching.
  • Money: All courses booked within 24 hrs will earn an extra $2 as a short notice bonus. If you teach several short notice classes in a week, that can add up fast!

I’m convinced. How do I open my classes up for short notice booking?

The process to allow short notice booking is simple.

  • If you are using the VIPKid Teacher app, once you use the slide button to open the slot, touch the “24H” button to turn it blue. In the screenshot below, the 5:00 am timeslot is NOT available as a short notice booking but the 5:30 am timeslot is.

mobile app booking slots

  • If you are using the VIPKid Teacher Client/PC App or the VIPKid Teacher’s Portal in a web browser, when you click on the timeslot to book it, first check “Course” and then change the bottom option from “Available” to “Short Notice.”

screenshot - booking timeslots

How can I prepare for a short notice class? 

As a new teacher, this was my biggest concern. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do a good job without adequate preparation time. As I gained experience, I found there are a few key preparation steps that make short notice classes easy.

  • Have a small stable of key props. You can almost always use Meg and Mike, dino, and numbers. If you have a set of magnetic letters handy, these can be used in any of the sound blending and phonics activities. I keep a harmonica handy that I use to open any song (I just play random notes!) and I keep a trophy nearby that I show them when they win a game. (This has gotten more than one “WOW!” from students. While it’s great to have super-customized props for each and every lesson, they aren’t necessary.
  • Have a few different secondary reward systems at your fingertips. An easy one that I’ve used several times is alphabet blocks. My kids’ real blocks are long gone, so I printed and laminated some pictures of blocks, but either would work. Before the class, pull out the letters that spell your student’s name, and each time they do a good job, they spell one letter of their name. This personalization makes it seem like you are prepared with a custom lesson, but only takes a minute. I also had balloons blown up for my “birthday” class, and I didn’t want to waste my breath (literally!) I’ve used the balloons as a secondary reward system for several students, and they’ve stayed inflated for several weeks.
  • Download the teacher app to your phone. You can quickly and easily flip through the slides on your phone while you dry your hair, get dressed, etc. (You can also flip ahead while in the lesson with your student.) Using the app also lets you quickly scan teacher feedback to see what works well and what reward systems have been used recently with the student. Even a cursory review of the student and lesson can ensure you are able to be effective and meet the objectives for the class.

If you still have questions, here is a link to more information on short notice classes from VIPKid. As always, feel free to ask me questions in the comments or by contacting me here. I would love to help you in your VIPKid journey. If you haven’t yet signed up, feel free to use my referral link and I will help you in any way I can!