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 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!

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!

 

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!

VIPKid Support Center

This might be the last of my blog posts you have to read.

I hope you still read them, but I wanted to let you know about one of the best kept VIPKid secrets: The Support Center. It’s true, if people read more in the Support Center, my blog would be obsolete!

If you are looking for an “official” answer about any of VIPKid’s policies and procedures, I would start in the Support Center.

Besides being able to open a ticket, there is an extensive knowledge base. Topics fall into the following categories:

  • Payment, Contract & Account
  • Bookings, Cancellations & No SHows
  • IT & Features
  • Feedback, Students & Parents
  • VIPKid Community
  • Important Procedures
  • and more….

Within each of these categories, there are hundreds of topics, including fan-favorites like:

  • How long do I have to wait during a no-show?
  • What’s the process to request a soft cancellation?
  • Where’s the next meetup?
  • Am I in the running to win the trip to Beijing?
  • and so much more!

If you haven’t seen it yet, log into the teacher portal at this link, and be sure to take a peek at the video I made to show you around:

Support Center Tour

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments. If you are just getting started and would like some help applying and getting familiar with the company, I’d love to help you through the referral process. I suggest starting with Completing the VIPKid Application.

 

New Smart Demo Lesson – VIPKid Shortcut – April 2019

Starting in late April, the new Smart Demo option will make applying for VIPKid easier than ever!

Have you thought about applying for VIPKid, but you were concerned about the long interview process? If so, I have great news!

In the next few days, the faster, easier Smart Demo Lesson will be available to make your application process easier than ever!

What is the Smart Demo Lesson?

It’s a short, 2 1/2 minute recording that’s done right from the VIPKid Teacher App on your smartphone!

(If you don’t have it yet, just search for VIPKid Teach for Mobile for iPhone or Android phones!  The icon will be labelled VIPKid Teach.)

What is included in the Smart Demo Lesson?

Step 1: There will be a short review and 5 question quiz covering the basic VIPKid concepts:

  1. Lesson Objectives
  2. Repetition
  3. Speaking Speed and Language
  4. TPR
  5. Modeling

Step 2: Record a short, 2.5 minute demo based on a lesson slide.

How do I complete the Smart Demo Lesson?

  1. Create a VIPKid account.
  2. Download the VIPKid teacher app.
  3. Go to “Interview” in the app (It should say “Interview Pending.”
  4. Review the material* and answer the 5-question (multiple choice) quiz.
  5. Record the demo on the app and submit.
  6. Wait for feedback from VIPKid.

*In the material, you’ll be able to review a brief introduction that gives you instructions. There will be an overview of each of the five key areas that will be covered in the quiz.

If this process doesn’t work for you, remember you can also check out one of the following options:

Once you pass the Smart Demo lesson, what’s next?

Once you’ve passed (yay!) you’ll then move onto the certification process.  You’ll want to:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long do I have to answer each question? – You will have 1.5 minutes to answer each question.
  2. What do I need to do for the demo slide? – There will be a slide provided to you (as question 6.)  There will also be an example of how to teach it.  You will need to spend 2.5 minutes demonstrating the slide.  Be sure to:
    • Speak slowly.
    • Be sure you allow time for a “student” to respond (pretend that you have a student.  It wouldn’t hurt to “correct” them once or twice as well!)
    • Don’t use extra words (incidental language.) Instead of saying “Can you say the word run?” simply say “Run” and encourage the child to repeat non-verbally.
    • Make sure you introduce the word and have the student repeat three times.
    • Use lots of TPR.
    • Be sure to cover the slide objectives that are listed.
    • If there’s an action (like “circle” or “drag and drop”) be sure you explain and DEMONSTRATE to the student how to do the action.
    • Use a prop! Once you’ve completed the application process I (or your mentor) will be happy to help you come up with a prop or props to use to help you on this slide!)
  3. What tips do you have for shooting a quality video?Be sure you are in a well-lit space. If possible be sure the room is bright with no distracting background and no glare.
    • Make sure your phone is positioned so that your head and shoulders are fully in the frame. It will be important for them to see your body language!
    • If possible, have your phone in a holder or propped up so you don’t have to hold it steady.
    • Wear a solid-colored shirt. (I would wear orange, but it’s not required!)
  4. How do I know my results?  You will get the answers to the quiz (and your score) immediately. You will get personalized feedback on your demo within 24-48 hours.  If you have not heard back within 36 hours, please email teachvip@vipkid.com.cn.
  5. How long does the whole process take?  VIPKid suggests allowing 10 minutes for the full Smart Demo Lesson: 5 minutes for the quiz, 3 minutes for the demo lesson, and 2 minutes for the analysis report.
  6. How long do I have to complete the Smart Demo Lesson? It’s recommended to submit the video within 3 days after completing the basic information.
  7. What do I need to do to pass? It will be difficult to pass if you get less than 3 questions correct; however, the demo will be more heavily weighted than the quiz.
  8. Can I restart the video recording? Yes there will be two buttons – one to re-record and one to submit.
  9. If I don’t pass, can I try again? Your interviewer can allow you the opportunity to re-record in certain circumstances. This will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

If you have other questions, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help.  If you’re ready to get started, I suggest starting by Completing the VIPKid Application. If you’re ready to apply, here’s how to register with my referral code to get extra help through the process.

Good luck, and happy teaching!

How does your VIPKid apple rating measure up?

One of the features of the VIPKid platform is that parents are allowed to rate the classes we teach at VIPKid. Parents can leave five-apples, which is the best (and what counts toward raise eligibility with VIPKid) or they can leave fewer – all the way down to the dreaded one-apple.  Previously, I shared a little bit more about feedback in my post An Apple a Day. At this time, I was still new. I had only received 7 feedbacks from parents, and was still learning myself. Since then, I’ve earned 122 5-apple ratings, and continue to be touched and inspired by much of the feedback.

So I’d like to peel back the onion, er, apple? a little more and share some important and often overlooked components of parent feedback.

Not everyone leaves feedback.

One of the most common things I hear is, “I’ve taught ____ classes, and I don’t have any feedback. Is that normal? YES! Some parents never leave feedback. Some leave intermittent feedback. Some might not leave any feedback for months and then rate your last 60 classes. There is a great divide among teachers – some say you should ask for feedback, while others never ask.  Either way, don’t sweat it. There’s not a magic formula and you really have limited control over whether or not a parent leaves feedback. But if they do, remember…

Feedback is made of opinions.

This is not going to be a popular way to start this post, but it’s true. Many of the things that can influence a parent’s rating will be subjective.  Some common tags relate to prop usage, timely error correction, TPR, pronunciation corrections, expressive attitude, patience, class environment, and encouragement (among others.) Some of these are easy enough to quantify. For example, if a parent says that you failed to correct errors in a timely manner, it’s easy to watch a playback and either validate or invalidate this. However, if a parent says you did not have patience, that’s much harder to prove or disprove. There’s no quantitative way to measure patience in a visible way.

There *are* ways to get feedback invalidated, if a few circumstances are met.

It’s important to know that you can get feedback invalidated. It won’t be removed, but it won’t count toward your average. If you have gotten a 3-apple or below score, and you want to try to get it removed, check out the process here.

But better than invalidating bad feedback…

There are ways to improve your chances of getting positive (5-apple) feedback.

On March 7, 2019 VIPKid sent out some tips on what parents like and expect in a VIPKid teacher. As they said, “Knowing what parents DON’T want is the first step toward achieving a high feedback average.” They outlined eight behaviors to avoid that will help you avoid the dreaded low-apple feedbacks.

It’s important to note that these are not “requirements.” Often, teachers get upset and say that VIPKid can’t require us to do these things, which is true. But VIPKid also can’t force a parent to like our classes either. They provide these tips because they know their parents better than we do.  So I encourage you to take these things seriously.  Below are a few of the highlights that stood out to me.

  • Be high energy. VIPKid says that 30% of negative parent feedback is related to low energy in the classroom.  Remember, most of these students have been in school all day already, so the last thing they need is to have a tired teacher droning on at them. If you need some tips on how to seem more energetic, check out The Secret to High Energy VIPKid teaching!
  • Be patient.  The single biggest thing that can contribute to a perception of patience is smiling.  You will need to correct errors (see below) but do so with a smile! Impatience can also show through your tone or by interrupting the student. I know we all try not to do these things, but I know I sometimes FEEL impatient, and so it can take some intentional work to make sure this doesn’t SHOW to my student.
  • Be encouraging.  Parents  LOVE supplementary rewards. No, they are not required by contract. Yes, parents like them. Parents dislike it when a teacher doesn’t use them. This
  • Change it up. Besides always using a secondary reward system, parents appreciate a variety of feedback. Change it up –
    • Good job!
    • Perfect!
    • Way to go!
    • High Five!
    • Awesome!
    • Yay!

Pro tip: if your encouragement is working, your student should be responding! If they aren’t, it’s time to find another way!

Whatever your 5-apple rating is – don’t worry.  Your feedback rating is just one of many things that factor into your overall success. Hopefully you found this helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

If you are just getting started and would like someone to help walk you through the hiring process, I suggest starting here, and I’d be happy to help you along the way: Completing the VIPKid Application.

Good luck!