A PPT by Any Other Name…VIPKid Time Slot Naming

When I was a brand new VIPKid teacher, I thought that “PPT” slots were any time slots. I (mistakenly) assumed that PPT stood for “PowerPoint” since we use PowerPoint slides in our teaching curriculum. So, what are they? What times should you open?

What is a time slot?

A time slot is simply a 25-minute time that you are available to teach. Parents can “reserve” time with you and schedule classes once you have opened time slots.

What is a Peak time slot?

Peak Time slots are highly popular booking times. They are labeled as “Peak” in your Teacher App or PC app, and you have a higher chance of getting booked by opening these times. These are typically early mornings and weekends.

What is a PPT time slot?

A PPT time slot is a Peak Peak time slot. These are the very hottest booking times. These are the ones in which you are most likely to get booked, and these are the ones for which VIPKid often offers incentives. Watch for offers for bonuses for opening up extra PPT slots!

When are the Peak/PPT time slots?

I’m sure it’s possible that the desirability of time slots changes over time; however, at the time I’m writing this in Central Standard Time, weekday (Monday through Thursday) “peak” time slots are 4:00 am, 4:30 am, 7:00 am, and 7:30 am. The PPT time slots are 5:00 am – 6:30 am. Friday is the same, but offers peak time slots between 7:00 pm and 11:30 pm as well. Saturday is ripe for booking all day long with every time slot between 12:00 am and 11:30 pm (except 6:30 pm) set as either peak or PPT (5:30 am – 6:30 am.) Sunday offers peak times from 12:00 am – 4:30 am, PPT from 5:00 am – 6:30 am, and peak again from 7:00 am and 7:30 am.

What time slots should you open?

When you first start as a VIPKid teacher, it’s important to open as many time slots as possible; however, I personally only opened time slots during the period in which I’m willing to teach long term. Yes, I could have opened weekend and evening slots; however, I would hate to build a relationship with a student who takes lessons on the weekend and then suddenly I’m no longer available to teach them.

Also, it’s important that you make time to rest. As you are trying to get your first classes booked or build up your student base, it’s tempting to try to push through as many classes as possible. While experience is good, it’s important that you also give your students your best, and if you haven’t slept properly, you won’t be able to do that. You also need to ensure you allow time to complete your feedback in a timely manner. Not only is this extremely important to parent satisfaction (and 5-apple ratings!) but if you don’t submit your class feedback in time, it can affect your pay!

The general rule holds true, though. The more time slots you have open (especially those that are peak or PPT), the more bookings you should receive.

If you have any other questions, please ask in the comments or by contacting me. If I can help you as a mentor, please consider using my referral link to get started!

book business calendar close up
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VIPKid and Daylight Savings Time (Fall Back)

I was concerned – what happens to my schedule since China doesn’t observe daylight savings time?

This morning, I set my clocks back an hour. As a VIPKid teacher, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day since I’m not naturally much of a morning person. Now, those 5 am classes will FEEL like 6 am classes, and I’m so excited!

Since this is my first time change with VIPKid, I was concerned – what happens to my schedule since China doesn’t observe daylight savings time? In short, nothing happened.

VIPKid takes into account the change in US time zones prior to opening bookings. So if I had a 6:30 am class booked last night when I went to sleep, this morning, it was still booked at 6:30 am; the only difference was that it was light outside! I did notice that the time slots immediately before the change were labeled in the Teacher App with a “DST” label, so if you teach overnight, you’ll see a 1:00 am DST, 1:30 am DST, 1:00 am, and 1:30 am times available for booking. It’s like you have a time-turner! But for me, I teach later in the mornings, so there was really no impact.

What has changed?

  • My bookings are a little low this coming week, and I assume that’s because of the shift in my availability. Last week I had 14 classes booked with 3 of them short notice. As of Sunday morning, I only have 9 classes booked so far for the coming week. So it’s a little light, and I noticed that my 7 am (central) time slots are conspicuously empty. After all, that’s now 9 pm in Beijing, so that’s a little late for lower level students to start a lesson.
  • Some of the students that had expressed an interest in times that I typically don’t open are now able to book classes with me.
  • I have begun getting some priority booking requests for early time slots that I would not normally open.

So what am I doing differently?

  • I’m opening up more (and earlier) time slots! For me, this is a great opportunity to stay on the same physical schedule but get more bookings! I work full time from my home, and I start work at 8:00 am sharp. Because of this, I generally open up a 5:30 am regular timeslot and short notice time slots at 6:00, 6:30, and 7:00. I leave 7:00 – 7:30 open to do my feedback. Now, I’ve opened time slots beginning at 5:00 am (and am considering 4:30.) I’ll accept 4:30 priority bookings from my regulars, but I’m still a little cringey about the thought of setting my alarm for 3:30. ūüôā
  • I’ve let some of my regulars who are missing know about the time change and asked them to let me know if they are looking for different times available to book.
  • I’m pursuing my Level 4 certification. I assume kids in China are much like kids here – the older they are, the later they can stay up. Since I have this certification available, I might as well take advantage of it!
  • I’m enjoying having a little extra daylight during class time!

I hope this helped answer any questions you had about how Daylight Savings Time affects VIPKid class bookings.   If you have other questions, please ask me in the comments below! If you are looking for a mentor to help you get started, please reach out and consider using me as a referral!

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

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!

Is VIPKid worth my time?

If you are just starting your journey with VIPKid, or you’re considering whether or not to apply, this is probably one of the first questions you will ask yourself.

 

The answer is YES!

When I first clicked on the link to learn about VIPKid, I had several questions. I was afraid to start something when I didn’t know if it would be worthwhile.

Will I like it?

One of my biggest fears is that I wouldn’t like teaching in this format. Would I be able to connect with the students in a “virtual classroom?” Would I get bored with the materials? Would I be too sleepy to enjoy my classes?

I’m happy to report that I LOVE teaching with VIPKid!

  • Technology:¬†In today’s digital world, it’s just as easy to connect with a child over the airwaves as it is when you’re sitting right next to them. As an added bonus, they are as excited to get a glimpse into our world as we are into theirs! Technology has not been an issue at all, and even when there have been a few hiccups, we all laugh about it and work together to get them solved.
  • Content:¬†The materials are great! One of my favorite things about the VIPKid curriculum is that it’s easy to customize the material based on your student. If you have a beginner student who is struggling, you can simplify or adjust how they interact on each slide. If you have a superstar student who is finding the lesson too easy, there are plenty of opportunities to extend the lesson and make it more interesting and engaging for them. If your student is on-level, you can use the lesson plan as-is. Every single session is different because every single student is different.
  • Hours:¬†YAWN. I am not a morning person! For years, even as an adult, I had a rule that no one could call me before noon because I might be sleeping. If you had told me then that I would be waking up in the wee hours of the morning to teach, I would have laughed in your face! Because I live in the United States, the prime teaching hours are early morning (which are evening/after school hours in China.) The hottest hours (known as PPT timeslots) are 6:00 am, 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30 (central time.) As a general rule, I open 5:30 – 7:00, and I use the last 30 minutes to complete feedback on my classes before I begin my day job. Since I began teaching, I’ve found my eyes popping open around 4:30 am because I’m excited to begin! I don’t need that much time to prepare, but it’s nice getting my day started on such a positive note.

Will I be good at it?

This was a big concern for me, because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. Because I don’t have elementary school classroom experience, nor do I have formal experience teaching English as a second language, I was worried that I would not be good at it.¬† The only thing worse than not enjoying teaching would be if I wasn’t helping the kids!

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help new teachers. As I’m sure you’ve seen, there are plenty of teachers with posts like these, videos, and more since¬†referrals¬†are such an easy way to earn extra cash! But VIPKid also has great resources available. There are many workshops available on almost any topic you can imagine. There are specific tools and techniques that you can learn to make you more effective. We’ll dive more into TPR (total physical response), modeling, props and “realia” and more in other posts. You will also get feedback from your interview and mock classes, so you can continue to improve.

Will any parents hire me?

So VIPKid has said I’m qualified to teach, but what if no one chooses me? I imagined months of sleepless mornings as I tried to build up my client base, and I worried that I would get lost in the sea of VIPKid teachers who are already teaching.

I’m happy to report that in my first month of teaching (only part time, remember) I taught over 20 students with many more booked. Each week more of my available timeslots are filled and I get more advanced bookings. My students quickly became a mixture of repeat students, new students, and trial classes, and more parents began following my profile. In that first month, I also got my first two “five apple” ratings!

So yes, parents will hire you. I’ll share specific tips and tricks for getting bookings, but just know that the process does work.

I was very happy that my initial worries and questions were quickly addressed. If you have any questions of your own, please reach out! I’d love to help. You can¬†contact me¬†here or ask me questions in the comments. If you’re ready to get started, I’d love to be your mentor, so please consider using my¬†referral link¬†when you apply and let me help you along the way!

“The most fruitful and worthwhile thing I have ever done has been to teach.” – Harvey Dunn