Types of VIPKid Rewards

What’s most important about rewards is that you do what works for you.

In VIPKid, you’ll hear a lot about rewards. One of the goals of our classes is to keep kids engaged by helping them have fun while they are learning!

There are several types of rewards that you can (and should!) use.  Below is a quick summary to help you get started.

Stars

In every class, the student has the ability to earn up to five stars. You should ALWAYS give the student ALL FIVE STARS! Kids redeem these for different prizes, and many parents consider it an entitlement, as though they’v epaid for these stars. You can give a star every five slides, or you can award them for particular behaviors. But always remember to give out all five stars! (I choose to have printed stars that I display, but this is a personal preference!)

Thumbs Up

These are available if you have a class in the “new” classrooms, so they might not always be available.  To award a thumbs up, you can click on the button that is right next to the stars. When you press it, the child receives one of two animations. One is a Dino saying “Good job!” and the other is a Dino saying “Perfect!” Some teachers feel that it’s not necessary to use this, but every time I use it, I get a big smile from my student. (Plus it gives me a break from saying it!) I usually try to use this once or twice per class if the student does something especially well.

2-D Rewards

These are usually printed rewards that you use and display on a whiteboard or easel. They can be as simple as fun, printed pictures of something the student enjoys. One of my personal favorites is a Spiderman printout with superhero words I can add as rewards. You could print out Disney princesses, My Little Ponies, Lego characters… the possibilities are endless.  You can also play games with printed rewards like find-a-star or tic-tac-toe. As I mentioned, I love having printed stars, and I have many different ones I’ve collected or made over time. Kids love getting stars and by adding variety to them in printed form, it keeps it fresh!

3-D Rewards

I am a big fan of “realia” or real items brought into the classroom. Kids also enjoy these! If you have kids, it’s super easy to use their toys as rewards as long as they don’t mind sharing! Lots of teachers use a 2-D printout of an ice cream cone with different scoops they add throughout the lesson. I have a toy ice cream cone with stackable scoops. The 3D option makes it easier to “lick” during class, and it looks great on camera! At Christmas, you could use stockings or gift bags with rewards in them, or you could even unwrap presents! Easter is coming up soon, so plastic Easter eggs filled with little prizes are always popular. Once you start looking around, you can find rewards everywhere!

Digital Rewards

I LOVE digital rewards, and they are my go-to reward. f you travel a lot or don’t like keeping up with a lot of clutter, this is the reward for you. Honestly, I often combine these with a 2-D reward system because I like to have something that stays visible in the classroom, but many people use digital rewards exclusively. You’ll hear lots of teachers talk about Google Slides. Google Slides is a tool that’s a lot like Powerpoint, but it’s all online. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of games and rewards. Some teachers hold their phone or an iPad up to the camera to show the reward, while others use software like ManyCam or CamTwist to switch between their face in the VIPKid classroom and a reward. Here’s a post that explains how I like to use Google Slides in class: Using Google Slides with VIPKid.

VIPKid Reward Slides and Interactive Reward Slides

These are built-in reward slides or game ideas that are a part of the lesson. If you are crunched for time or looking for something that enhances the lesson directly, these are great options. I sometimes combine these with other rewards just for fun. (Check out this video! for an example!

What’s most important about all of these types of rewards is that you do what works for you. I LOVE reward systems and I think they are fun to plan and use. That’s why I tend to stitch together fairly robust and multi-layered rewards. I enjoy them, and so my students do too! If keeping up with rewards stresses you out, your students will feel it, so keep it simple. There are some teachers who use printed stars, and that’s it! You and your students will find what works for you, and that’s what you should use.

If you have any questions or you have suggestions of what works best for you, let me know in the comments below! If you are not yet a teacher and would like some help, I would love to be your mentor. Be sure to check out the article Completing the VIPKid Application before you apply!

Happy teaching!

 

Do I Need a Secondary Reward in My VIPKid Class?

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes. 

This is probably not going to be my most well-loved post. In fact, I’m sure many VIPKid teachers won’t like it at all. But… I’m going to post it anyway.

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes.

Before I explain why, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Inevitably, someone will jump in and say:

  • VIPKid doesn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid can’t require an independent contractor to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid shouldn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!

While these may or may not be completely true based on your contract and current teaching practices, one thing is inarguable:

VIPKid ALWAYS recommends a secondary reward system. Why? Because parents appreciate it.

My son is a bartender. He isn’t required to make conversation with his customers, he just has to make their drinks. However, he has learned that when he does make conversation with them, he has happier customers and earns more tips. So my normally introverted 24-year-old has learned to be quite a social butterfly. With us, we may not be required to give a secondary reward, but if we do, we will have happier students and parents which will lead to more 5-apple reviews.

If you love rewards like I do, this should be easy-peasy.  I love finding and making props.  But if you don’t, here are a few tips and tricks that can make this task easier for you:

  1. Join an online community. There are many communities that LOVE rewards and will be happy to let you use theirs! My two favorites include:
  2. Consider going digital. The second link I shared is for a Google Slides group. For prop and reward minimalists, this can save a ton of time and money, and there are so many amazing resources that you can use.
  3. Find a few favorites. You don’t have to change your rewards every day or with every student. Find a few simple, versatile rewards that you don’t hate, and use those!
  4. Beef up your stars. Since we all already award stars in the classroom, many teachers choose to just expand on that. In the Videos and Props facebook group, there are links to lots of creative stars. If you are giving a star anyway, make it a Hello Kitty Star or a fire truck star. Boom! Cute, secondary reward that helps keep your students interested.

I’d like to leave on a funny note…

Every time I see a debate on this topic, I think of this exchange from the movie Office Space. Jennifer Anniston plays the part of Joanna, a waitress in a fast food chain. Her boss, Stan, plays her manager, and is having a conversation about why she isn’t wearing very many pins and buttons (“flair”) on her uniform. He points out that her co-worker wears 37 pieces of flair, while she is wearing the minimum 15 pieces of flair as required by the policy.  Here’s their exchange:

Joanna:
You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there Bryan, why don’t you make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager:
Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.

Joanna:
You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it.

The truth is, you don’t have to be a Joanna or a Bryan. To keep your students engaged and happy, there are lots of ways you can go above the minimum without being over the top.

If you have ideas or are looking for ideas to integrate secondary rewards into your teaching, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy teaching (and rewarding!)

The Secret to High-Energy VIPKid Teaching

Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

It’s 4 am. You are awake. You’ve had a few sips of coffee (or Diet Coke in my case.) And you need to have high energy in your VIPKid classroom? What’s the secret?

While there is no superhero skill that allows this to instantly happen, VIPKid recently published some tips that can help, and I’ve added my own to the list. Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

So what can you do?

Before Class

  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep. You can’t be high energy if you are running on empty. For some of us, that means going to bed super early. For others, it might mean strategic napping. But don’t try to cut your beauty sleep short.
  • Stay hydrated. While it’s not appropriate to drink (much) in class, making sure that you have had plenty of water is essential to looking fresh and maintaining your energy.
  • Start your day right. Depending on what time you teach and what your personal preferences are, this will look different for everyone. For me, I need to have a hot shower and get fully dressed. For others, it may mean a light breakfast or some quick exercise. Very rarely will it mean rolling out of bed and into your classroom, gargling some mouthwash as you go. Take a few extra minutes and establish a routine.

During Class

  • Use lots of intonation. We’ve all sat in a lecture, class, or meeting where the teacher or leader drones on in a monotone. Don’t be that person. Change up the tone and volume of your voice. Even if you don’t feel like it, fake it! When you glance at a slide, think about what you most want to highlight, and focus on changing your voice on that part to really emphasize it.
  • Try to avoid the poker face (unless, of course, you are playing poker!) 🙂 Smile, smile, and smile some more! And just like you intentionally use TPR, use intentional facial expressions. We can tell when someone smiles with their mouth but not their eyes, and so can kids.
  • Try to avoid looking tired/sleepy. (Yes, ladies, there is a reason we all wear that eyeliner and lipstick at 3 am!) I’m not a makeup expert, but you can sure tell a difference in the one class where I overslept and rolled out of bed in my orange pajamas with a ponytail, compared to my normal shower and 5-minute makeup routine!
  • Make eye contact. You would be amazed at what a big difference this makes. If you think back to your demo and mock classes, you likely got some feedback on the position of your camera. If you do a 1:1 mentoring session with VIPKid, this will be reviewed. Keeping your camera at eye level and looking at the student makes a huge difference in how engaged you appear. When we are tired, our tendency is to disengage from others and involuntarily break eye contact, so make a focused effort to combat that.
  • Avoid (or hide) your yawns. Obviously, you can’t always control that. In fact, I bet you’re fighting a yawn as you read this! But repeated yawning in class can make it seem like you’re bored, even if we all know you’re not. Talk to any tenured VIPKid teacher, and they will have a laundry list of props that they can hide behind to stifle a yawn!
  • Have good posture. (VIPKid says not to rest your chin on your hand, but I’ll take this a step further and say that we should sit forward in our seats, shoulders back, or stand… just as you would if you were teaching someone right in front of you.) Have you ever had a conversation with someone slouching and slumped over in their chair? It just makes you feel like they don’t really care about your conversation. Sit forward and be alert, and know that your whole body is sending a message!
  • Have fun! When you are having fun in class, you’ll automatically super-charge your energy. Your kids will feel it, and so will you!

After Class

  • Shake it off. Get up and stretch. Take one minute and get away from your classroom, even if it’s just to grab your next props.
  • Hydrate. Yes, it’s that important. Keep some water nearby and take a few sips. This will help your energy (and your voice.)
  • Look away from the computer screen. While it’s tempting to go ahead and knock that feedback out, make sure you give your eyes a break. Even a quick 20 second break every 25 minutes can be a big relief to your peepers.

Getting up early or staying up late doesn’t have to lead to low energy.  By following just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to keep up the pace with your kiddos – even level 1’s!

If you have other tips for maintaining high energy in the classroom, I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below! If you are looking to get started with VIPKid and are looking for more tips and tricks, I’d love to help. Feel free to check out the rest of my blog. I also have additional tools and resources available if you would like to sign up using my referral code.

In the meantime – happy (and energetic!) teaching!

 

How to Get Bad VIPKid Feedback Invalidated

Never fear – there are some simple steps you can take to invalidate bad VIPKid parent feedback.

Feedback from VIPKid parents to teachers is an important part of our journey at VIPKid. Of course, we all want happy students and happy parents.  Beyond that, it can also affect our ability to earn raises.  Because of that, it’s especially disheartening to get low apple ratings from parents.

Never fear – there are some simple steps you can take to invalidate bad feedback.

  1. Go to your feedback page in the Teacher Portal.
  2. Click on “Request a Review
  3. Explain in detail why you felt the feedback was unfair or inaccurate.

The status of your request will be marked as “to-do” during the 3-5 day review process and then changed to “done” once VIPKid has finished reviewing your request.

Here are a few important tips to remember:

The feedback has to be 3-apple or below.

VIPKid considers four apples “good” so it’s very rare that they will invalidate a four-apple rating. Yes, I know that they bring down our average, and yes, there have been some exceptions to this. But the informal rule is that 3-apples and below may be submitted for review.

Give examples.

You need to provide concrete examples that show the parent’s feedback is not accurate. For example, if they add a tag or write that you failed to use TPR, watch the video playback and provide specific timestamps that show exactly when and how you used TPR.

Be specific and clear.

When submitting a ticket, be as specific as possible and use simple language.

For example:

Do not say “Please invalidate this feedback because the parents were completely wrong. There were ample opportunities for TPR and I used it when reviewing phonics rhymes and onsets and when teaching present continuous verb conjugation.”

Instead, keep it simple.

Please review the following 3-apple feedback.

  • Class date:
  • Class time (in Beijing time):
  • Link to classroom:

Parent complaint: Lack of TPR

Examples of TPR:

  • Timestamp 3:25: Instructional TPR for “circle”
  • Timestamp 10:15: TPR for blending s-op — sop
  • Timestamp 12:45: TPR for “swimming”

Don’t sweat it.

I know this is easier said than done, but if, by chance, the feedback does not get invalidated, please don’t panic. VIPKid uses an average, and so a few bad apples will not, in fact, spoil the cart. Take the feedback, learn from it, and move on to the next 5-apple rating.  Many, many teachers have had negative feedback at one point in time or another, and they’ve lived to see another day, teach another class, and make another parent happy, and you will too!

If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to help. Please let me know in the comments!

 

VIPKid – Teaching Vocabulary and Target Sentences

Whether you are completing an express demo lesson, a mock class, or are teaching a class, VIPKid always includes target vocabulary words and target sentences. These will be identified in your lesson (or interview) objectives, and you will find a style of teaching that helps you teach these consistently and easily.  Below are a few of my helpful hints.

Know the objectives.

I know this sounds obvious, but you should always be sure you are familiar with the target word and sentences.  For example, I recently taught a lesson about parts of the face. In each lesson, the student learns two new vocabulary words like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. The target sentence for each is “I _____ with my _____.”  Simple, right?

Remember that we are teaching children a new language, so misplacing even one word can be detrimental. In the example above, my target sentence was “I taste with my mouth.” At one point, I accidentally said, “I eat with my mouth.” While this is true, to someone trying to learn the word “taste,” this could suddenly confuse them.  So know your vocabulary and your target sentences.

Repeat each new vocabulary word at least two times.

Before introducing context and sentences, it’s important for the student to hear and repeat the vocabulary word alone two times.  Clearly say the word (with TPR), and have the student repeat it. Do this again before moving onto the target sentence.

Give your student enough time to respond.

Remember, an ESL student might take more time to process and prepare than we do, so be sure you allow time for the student to respond. You can nod encouragingly to be supportive while not speaking to interrupt their thoughts.

Use TPR.

Even if you are using props, TPR is still a very important part of learning new vocabulary. ESL learners benefit by linking action with speech, so do not omit this step! I usually try to vary the TPR to give the student as much visual context as possible, so I might use one motion the first time I said the word and a different motion the second time I said the word.

Use props.

Any time you can use a prop or realia to help reinforce new vocabulary, this is helpful. This could be a printed or digital picture, a gif, a real object, a toy, or something on your whiteboard. You will find the props that suit your classroom style that fit with your students’ preferences! If you use a prop early when teaching a word or a sentence, if a student struggles to remember it later, you can show them the same prop to help trigger their memory.

Adjust to your student.

If a student is struggling to repeat an entire sentence, you might need to break it up into manageable portions. A sentence that my students often struggle with is in the unit about having fun with friends. The sentence is “I swing on the swing.” For some reason, my students often struggle, so when we practice it, we start with “I swing” and once they repeat that, I add “on the swing.” Once they can say both individually, then we combine them.

Be sure to correct errors.

Don’t be afraid to correct errors. Pronunciation, omitted words, and grammar are all very important to students and their parents. Remember, you can correct them in a positive, upbeat way but they are here to learn English, so make sure you aren’t supporting bad habits!

Don’t get bogged down.

Sometimes a student really struggles with a word or a sentence. You have a finite amount of time to complete the lesson, so don’t feel that you have to stay on the slide until they have reached perfection. Teach, correct, and practice, but if they simply aren’t getting it, move on. They will have ample time in upcoming slides and lessons to keep practicing the concept.

I hope this is helpful as you are getting started. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! If you are just thinking of becoming a VIPKid teacher and would like some help with the interviewing process, feel free to use my referral code.  I would be happy to help you.

 

 

The Real VIP in VIPKid Feedback: A Feedback Panda Overview

This is a post about a third party software. No, it’s not an ad. No, they didn’t ask me to write it. No, I’m not getting anything for it. In fact, no one at that company knows I am writing this. I hope they don’t get mad that I used their logo. 🙂 Someone on Facebook asked, “What’s the one thing you wish you had known as a new teacher?” and this was my answer.  I’m writing this blog because I’m so in love with Feedback Panda, and I didn’t REALLY understand what they offered when I was a new teacher.  So, disclaimers aside, read on…

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If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m a little bit stubborn. I have always been self-sufficient, and I want to do things for myself. I don’t like to ask for help.

Also, if you’ve been reading my VIPKid blog, you’ll know that I take pride in my class feedback. I think of it as a teacher’s virtual backpack notes. While I appreciate the need for simple language, I want my students’ parents to have a detailed summary of our class with real, meaningful feedback about their child.

So – put these two things together, and you’ll see why starting out, I wanted to do feedback my way. I thought I had it under control.

And I did … sort of. Before each class, I typed up a detailed summary of the class that I could then customize after the class. I included any relevant notes from my last class, and I included details from parent ratings and any upcoming classes we had booked. It was awesome. And it was time consuming. The more students I taught, the more difficult it was to dig back through my word files and find what I was looking for, and I found myself with a wish list of things that would make my life easier.

I wish I could…

  • Easily (and quickly) see what I had written about this student in my last few classes without having to flip back and forth between different word documents.
  • Find that last template that I had typed up for the “Fun with my Friends” lesson. Did I teach it last week with Bau Bau or two weeks ago with Leo?
  • See all the rewards that I had used with a student all in one place.
  • Re-use basic material from my feedback without trying to remember to change all the “she’s” to “he’s” and then back again.
  • Have a centralized place to keep notes about what my students like and don’t like. Cat-lover? Hates find-a-star? Little brother?

The more I thought about it, I wondered if there was something out there that already did this. As a new teacher, I’d heard about Feedback Panda before, but I thought it was just a service that provided summaries of each lesson that you could copy and paste in your feedback. I wasn’t interested. Sure, it was only a small fee each month, but why pay for something that I could manage myself?

As I started thinking more and more about my wish list, I decided to get a free trial and see if it checked any of the boxes.  I was astounded when it checked all of them. It literally does every single thing listed above. And what I didn’t realize before is that while you DO have access to a template library, you can also build and save your OWN templates, which is exactly what I had been trying to do manually.

You can build a student profile for each student and include nicknames, general feedback and more. If you use the Chrome web browser extension and start creating feedback from within the teacher portal, it automatically pulls in the student’s unique ID, lesson, and more.

Here’s an example of one of my regular students. Every time I look at it, I wish I had my notes and feedback entered for the 8 times I taught her BEFORE I found Feedback Panda!

Screenshot Rosie Feedback panda

Once you’ve created your general templates, customizing them for the specific class is SO EASY. It pulls in the template that you choose, and then you simply add your notes.  Here’s an excerpt from a level 4 assessment that I taught this morning:

My Template:

Grammar: [name] completed all of the sentences correctly and used the missing words appropriately. She had a clear mastery of the words how/where/when/who/what/why.

My Completed Feedback:

Grammar: Vivian completed all of the sentences correctly and used the missing words appropriately. She had a clear mastery of the words how/where/when/who/what/why. At the end of the lesson, I asked Vivian to create her own sentences using these words, and she did this easily. We then used the words where/who/what to have a more detailed conversation and extend upon her project. When asked WHERE she would go to visit the mountains, she said she would choose tall mountains, and that there were none near her home. When asked WHO she would go with, she said her family (her parents and three year old brother.) When asked WHAT she would do there, she said she would take a picnic.

When you start creating feedback for a student, this is what the console looks like:

FB Emma feedback

You can see that it has the student’s basic information on the left, and below that, you can see the previous reward systems I used with her, the current lesson/template, and prior feedback and notes. You customize your feedback on the right, and then can add signatures, or smart sentences that you use regularly. You can even save your teacher-to-teacher notes. When you expand your prior feedback, you’ll be able to see if the parent left you feedback so you can thank them for it in your next class.

The software can do much, much more than that. I know that it supports multiple teaching platforms, and I’m sure there are many features I haven’t yet discovered.  But as I said at the beginning, this is not a paid ad for Feedback Panda. It’s merely a testimonial to why I signed up for a subscription after just three days of my free trial had passed. I knew immediately that I needed this in my life, and I wanted to share how I am personally using it!

For me, what sealed the deal wasn’t the saved time (which is great.) It was having so much information at my fingertips. I am a data girl. I want to know as much information about my students and classes as possible because I think that will make me a better teacher. If Feedback Panda can make that happen, it’s clear that they are the real VIP!

I hope you found this helpful.  If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m not an expert, but I’ll do my best to help based on my own experience!

Happy teaching!

PS- Here is a walkthrough I did that shows how I use Feedback Panda in action…

Feedback Panda in Action

Enjoy!

VIPKid – When Teaching is “A Lot”

This morning, I sit surrounded by props. Don’t get me wrong, I always love to use props; however, this morning there is an exceptionally large number of them. I have toys and magnets. I have every objective sentence and word printed out. I have google slides plus a third reward system. I have teaching aids. Why so many props?

I’m waiting for my first student of the day, and I need to be ready for anything!

This young man is smart. He can read well, but as my husband sometimes says when describing his younger self… “He is a lot.”

My first lesson with this young man culminated in him scribbling out the pages so I couldn’t see anything.  When I disabled his mouse, he wrote in the chatroom “NONONONONO” for the rest of the class. He did participate, but it was distracting to say the least!

My second class, I was ready. I had something printed for every slide, so young man – scribble away!  He wasn’t going to make it that easy on me though. In that class, he picked a word and just kept shouting it.  “Bike! Bike! Bike!” Obviously, I couldn’t stay on the bike slide the entire lesson, so I did the only thing I could think of doing.  I shouted back the next word “Car! Car! Car! Car!”  By some small miracle, he started repeating that! We went through most of the remaining lesson this way, and the only downside was my husband (asleep downstairs) waking up to a resounding chorus of “Round! Oval! Round! Oval!”

So why do I share this story today? I supposed it’s just to say “hang in there.” Not every student will respond in the same way. Sometimes, personalities will clash, or a student needs a much different level of engagement. And it’s ok.

I’ve been teaching for 77 days, and in that time I’ve taught 55 different students in over 100 classes. I’ve been amazed at how easy it’s been to connect with most of them, and so this is a challenge, and one I’ll willingly accept. And if you are paired with a student that you’re struggling to reach, check out the VIPKid workshop schedule.  There are likely to be workshops that address the exact challenges you’re having.

Of course, if I can be of any assistance, please let me know. If you are already a VIPKid teacher, feel free to message me here.

If you are looking for a mentor and someone to help you get hired at VIPKid, I’d be happy to help. Here’s my referral link.

I sometimes like to think that this boy could grow up to be as successful as my husband is. At some point, my husband learned to channel his energy and uses it to work for him. If I can help in one small way to teach this boy to do the same, I would be honored.

Happy teaching!

props galore