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!

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

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

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

Things You Already Have

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

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

Things to Buy

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

Bonus Buy

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

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

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

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

person holding pink piggy coin bank
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