Using WeChat

I only give my ID to regular students. I trust them, and I trust their parents.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is one form of Chinese social media. According to Intern China,WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China with over 963 million users each month. In my experience, it is used as a cross between Facebook messenger and Twitter.

  • Moments: People on WeChat have “Moments” that are publicly posted. They can be pictures, written updates, or videos that are less than 15 seconds.
  • Chats: People on WeChat can send private messages, or chats, to others in their address books.
  • Other Features: It can also be used to follow businesses, identify people nearby, place calls, or even send money. I don’t personally use it for these features, but they are available.

How do you download WeChat?

WeChat is available in the app store for iPhones or in the Google Play store for Android.

How do you use WeChat?

  1. Once you have downloaded the app, open it and click “sign up.”
  2. Select a name. (Some teachers suggest not to use your last name.)
  3. Choose what region you live in.
  4. Type your phone number into the field.
  5. Set a password, and click “sign up.”

How do you find and add contacts?

If you are interested in communicating with your students and their parents, there are two ways that most people let parents know they are on WeChat.

  • Feedback: I have a signature that I copy and paste when I send feedback to my regulars or send feedback to a learning partner.
  • Screenshot: We know not all parents read our feedback, so another option is to hold your QR code up during class. Please note, VIPKid discourages the use of WeChat, so I prefer not using class time to do this.

If you are interested in communicating with other teachers, I would recommend finding other WeChat users in the Facebook group VIPKid: Using Chinese Social Media.

How do you add a contact in WeChat?

There are two ways you can add a contact.

  • Username/Phone Number: From the contacts screen, click the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Then type in the user’s WeChat ID in the search bar at the top. Please note, this may not be the teacher’s name as it’s displayed! For example, mine is AmeliaBarker (with no space) but it’s displayed as “Amelia Barker.”
  • QR Code: From the contacts screen, click the plus sign in the corner. Then choose “Scan QR Code. Scan and then add!

How can you use WeChat to grow your business?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really tried to use it this way, so I’d love to hear your ideas! Normally, because I’m communicating with existing students, there is less opportunity for this.  However, here are two examples that I recently posted that could result in additional business.

Trial Classes: Maybe your regular students are sharing VIPKid with their friends. I recently posted that I was certified in the new Trial 3.0 Plus classes, so they could recommend me to their friends!

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Supplementary Classes: If you have new or unique certifications for supplementary classes, let your students know! Maybe that will be the encouragement they need to try them out!

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How can you use WeChat to enrich your relationships with your students or their families?

This is where I personally find the most value in WeChat. I only give my ID to regular students. I trust them, and I trust their parents. I have one student who is a very mature 11-year old that I have also added. (She was my very first student.) I have used WeChat to:

  • Send additional praise or homework for a student.
  • Remind parents to have their student bring their UA homework to class.
  • Ask a student or their parents if they are coming to a student no-show. (Even if they say no, you still have to stay until the fireman marks the class as finished.)
  • See more about the student’s interests to help choose rewards.
  • Find ice breaker questions. (Do you have a cat? — yes because I saw its picture!)
  • Share custom rewards or pictures (My favorite!) Check out an example of what I did this last week in this blog post!

I hope you found this overview helpful. If you have suggestions, tips or questions, let me know in the comments. If you would like to see all of the content I’ve posted on WeChat, you can check it out on Pinterest.

Google Slides Magic

By now, you may know I love Google Slides. I usually default to the classic rewards and use them to extend on our lesson. Every once in a while, I will make a very unique, custom reward that I use for one specific student.

A couple of weeks ago, my sweet student Tracy brought some paper frogs she had drawn and cut out. They all wore clothes and crowns, and she said one was the mom, the dad and the baby. That same class, she brought her My Little Ponies to class with her.

As background, Mom used to get very upset when Tracy brought toys to class. In feedback, I explained we could use them, as long as Tracy just brought one or two toys, so Mom reluctantly agreed. As we used them more and more in class, Tracy got more excited about learning, and Mom got on board.

Fast forward… after this frog class, I thought it would be fun to make Tracy a special reward, so I wrote a story using Google Slides. I downloaded most of my images from my subscription to PNG tree, and I made up a story about the frog prince who lost his parents. Tracy is in the unit studying “feelings” so the topic was great to ask “How does he feel?”

Tracy was delighted to see that I had a custom story for her, and she recognized her toys from the last lesson!

In a rare occurrence, Mom wasn’t in class with her that week, but when I got the feedback, Mom thanked me for making the reward and asked if I could send her the pictures from the slides. (In China, they can’t get to Google Slides, even if I wanted to send her the full lesson.)Screenshot (1)

I took screenshots for her, and sent them via WeChat.

In our next class, as soon as I turned on the camera, Tracy held up a printed version of my story! She proceeded to read the entire thing to me, inserting the emotions she had learned to describe the characters. She and mom had been practicing all week until Tracy could read it on her own!

My heart just melted!

Here is a video I made so you could see how I first used it as a reward for Tracy, and then how she read it back to me. The audio is not very good from the playback, but it’s still adorable! Watch the cutest thing ever here: Google Slides Magic Video

Thank you to Google Slides and WeChat for making it possible to build such fulfilling relationships with families across the world.

If you would like more information about using Google Slides with VIPKid or are just interested in getting started in general, please let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching (and sliding!)

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!)

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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!

How to Request a VIPKid Finish Type Change

We all love our students and want them to have a great experience, so it’s always disappointing when things don’t work the way we planned.

This is the blog post that I never wanted to write.  The fact that I am writing it tells you that I have had some type of problem in one of my VIPKid classes. The fact that you’re reading it tells me you might have had a similar problem, so I hope this helps!

What is a finish type?

As I explain in the VIPKid Dictionary, each class is marked with a disposition by VIPKid upon completion.  For a teacher to be paid, the finish type must be one of the following:

  • AS_SCHEDULED
  • STUDENT_NO_SHOW
  • STUDENT_IT_PROBLEM
  • SYSTEM_PROBLEM

If you have a problem in class, a cancellation, or an IT issue that is deemed to be the teacher’s responsibility, you won’t get paid. The outcomes of negative finish code are different, depending on the circumstances, but suffice to say that some are worse for teachers than others.

Why would I want to change one?

This morning in class, I had an issue with my app during class. It completely froze and temporarily rendered my laptop immobile. Thankfully, I had my handy backup iPad handy, so I simply switched to the iPad and finished my class. Unfortunately, while the app on my laptop was locked, it still showed that I was in the original classroom, thus preventing me from entering the new classroom. I immediately began using my phone to troubleshoot with a VIPKid fireman, but by the time I successfully entered the second student’s classroom, another fireman had marked the class as TEACHER_NO_SHOW. (This is bad.) 😦 So, I want to change it to a SYSTEM_PROBLEM (ideally) or at least a TEACHER_IT.

How do I request a finish type change?

  1. Within your PC app or Teacher Portal, click on “Class” then “Classrooms.”
  2. Click on “All Classes.” This will display a screen like you see below.
  3. Click on the large orange button that says “Cancellations & No Shows & Change Finish Type.”
  4. Small check boxes will appear next to each of your classes. Place a check mark in the box for the class that you would like to change.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the “Request to Change Finish Type” button.

 

finish code steps

finish code steps 2

At that point, it will ask you to fill out a brief form. It will ask:

  • What finish code do you want to change the class to?
  • What is the reason for changing the finish type?
  • Notes (More on this later)
  • Photocopies of supporting documentation (More on this later)

Once you have filled in the form as completely as possible, click the orange “submit” button at the bottom of the form.

finish code steps 3

How do I have the best chance to get my finish type changed?

  1. Leave good notes. This is the section where you explain what happened. As you might imagine, not all notes are created equally, so:
    • Use simple, concise language. This is a ticket, not a blog post. 🙂
    • Avoid incidental language. Just like this can confuse a student, this could confuse a help desk agent as well.
    • Stick to the facts. You will probably be upset, but try not to let that confuse the facts of what happened.
  2. Upload good quality screenshots with timestamps. When you begin having system issues, it’s a good idea to immediately start taking screenshots. Likewise, take screenshots of any conversations you have with firemen. I usually keep any screenshots until after all payouts for the month have been made; then I delete them. For the example above, I attached eight screenshots. I had six screenshots of my conversation with the fireman on my phone and two in the classroom that was marked as a TEACHER_NO_SHOW attempting to communicate with that fireman. I would have felt better if I had a screenshot of the app frozen in the original classroom, but in my haste to switch to the iPad, I failed to get a screenshot.
  3. Be thorough and patient. You do have three attempts to change a finish code on a class, so if you are unsuccessful the first time, check your notes and your screenshots, determine if you can word your request differently, and re-submit.

We all love our students and want them to have a great experience, so it’s always disappointing when things don’t work the way we planned. But one incident will not ruin your career with VIPKid or your reputation with parents, so try not to be too upset. Learn from the issue and work on what you can do next time to prevent the same issue again.

I hope you never have to use this particular blog post, but if you do, I’m always here for a friendly ear. Let me know how yours turned out in the comments!

VIPKid Library and Certification Center

If I’m looking for answers about VIPKid, there are two places I look:

To check out the Library and Certification Center, first go to the “Resources” page in the Teacher App.  From there, you have two main areas:

Library

Within the library, there is a TON of information!

  • Workshops! (Maybe my favorite way to get more VIPKid training!)
  • Pre-recorded workshops and training
  • Top content from social media
  • Downloadable resources – rewards, props, and more

Certification

The certification page is useful, not only for gaining NEW certifications, but for brushing up on all of the different programs that VIPKid has to offer.

Get information on:

  • The Builder’s Program – where you get the chance to participate in other parts of the VIPKid world
  • Educational Courses – Tesol Foundational and Advanced
  • Major Courses – Levels 1-6
  • Supplementary – Courses such as Grammar or Voice of VIPKid
  • One to Many – the special programs offered by VIPKid for classroom teaching

Within each category, you can review requirements for certification, key tips and tricks, a summary of lessons, and a link to lesson-specific props, workshops, or helpful tips from mentors.

For a quick walkthrough of these resources, check out my video at “Resources” Tour – VIPKid Portal“Resources” Tour – VIPKid Portal.

I hope you found this helpful. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, let me know in the comments. If you are new to VIPKid, I suggest that you start with Completing the VIPKid Application. If you are looking for a mentor, feel free to apply using my referral link.

Happy teaching (and learning!)