What’s this VIPKid thing Amelia keeps posting about?

A few of you have asked what exactly VIPKid is. A few friends have said, “I’ve been thinking about doing it, but I didn’t know _____.” My personal favorite was my friend who said, “I have no idea what that thing was that you posted about on Twitter, but it was nice to see your post!”

So this morning, I thought I would break down exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few months with VIPKid.

What is VIPKid?

VIPKid is a teaching platform that allows English-speaking teachers to work one-on-one with students in China to teach them English.

How do you know what to teach?

There are existing lesson plans created for you. Students are placed in a level based on either a computer placement test or performance in their initial classes. There are powerpoint slides that cover pre-set curriculum loaded in the virtual classroom. Students work their way through lessons in each level, unit, and lesson with assessments in lesson 6 and lesson 12 of each unit.

Do they teach you the techniques to use?

Yes. Part of the interview process is demonstrating that you’ve got a solid understanding of the basic techniques. If you don’t, you can get a peer mentor to help guide you through the process. Teachers like me LOVE helping others get started. If you prefer flying solo, VIPKid sends you plenty of information to help you, and there are lots of videos to help as well.

When do you do it?

I work full time in corporate America, so I teach part time. I make myself available Monday through Friday from 5:00 am until 7:30 am. If all five 25-minute classes are booked, it’s 2.5 hours of teaching each morning. I use the last 30 minutes (7:30 – 8:00) to let my dog out and write feedback on the classes before I start my day job. I choose not to teach in the evenings or weekends, but many people do. The “peak” times are when children in China are awake and not in school.  So, good options include weekdays from 4:00 am Central through 8:00 am Central or the weekends starting at 7:00 or 7:30 pm Friday through 8 am the next day.

How much do you make?

I’m still pretty new, but the answer is “Up to $22 per hour.” You are a contractor with VIPKid, and it does take some time to build up a customer base. Your starting rate is based on the results of your interview and your experience. In my Facebook group, I have several detailed explanations of the scoring matrix that is used. (If you’re curious, you can see My VIPKid Interview Results!)

On top of the base pay, there are incentives you can earn as well. I work EXTREMELY part time (usually an hour and a half per day, weekdays only) and earn about $500 per month. When I have time, I open up more time slots and earn much more!

Do you teach the same students or different students?

Yes. 🙂 Parents book you, so sometimes you will get a student you’ve never seen before, while other times you get to teach the same student on a regular schedule. My most regular students I teach once or twice a week. In September, it will mark one year with VIPKid, and so far I have taught 541 classes spread among 137 students.

Do you have flexibility in the classroom?

Yes. Every teacher is different. You have a lesson plan with objectives that you need to follow, but then you can have fun with it.  Some teachers like to sing, some like props. Some like games, and some prefer to stick to the books. Just like every teacher is different, so is every student. You will find students who respond to your style and vice versa.

What now?

If you were just curious, then congratulations! You’re done! 🙂 Of course if you have other questions, let me know in the comments! If you are interested in trying it out yourself, I’d be happy to help. Check out the application process here and when you are ready to start, here’s my referral code.

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My VIPKid Interview Results

“So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice? … In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE.”

There are thousands of teachers who post videos and VIPKid information online. But how do you know if they are good?

Do you ever wonder if you are taking advice from someone who didn’t get good results?

Despite the risk of sounding a little “braggy” I wanted to share some insight into my own interview results. I guess I consider this a part of my informal VIPKid resume package.

If you ask me to be your mentor, one of the things you’ll hear me talk about over and over is the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. This is the scoring matrix that VIPKid uses to evaluate us in their interviews.

It’s not a secret! VIPKid SENDS YOU the performance criteria in advance so you know exactly what’s important to them!

Following the interview, they send you your scores along with comments to help you improve.

So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice?

I scored 76 out of 100. 

What?? A “C”? I was a straight-A student in school. I’m not feeling a C.  But let me explain.

The first section is scored based on your education and teaching experience.

  • You MUST have a bachelor’s degree. (check.)
  • You MUST have at least one year of teaching experience (classroom, mentor, coaching, etc.) (check.)

Obviously, I got those points.

I did not get points for the following areas:

  • US or Canada Pre-K-12 classroom experience
  • ESL experience
  • ESL certification
  • US or Canada government-issued teaching license

I simply don’t have that experience, and I wasn’t going to be able to get it before my interview!

In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE. 

I know it sounds like bragging, and I guess it is. But I’m really very proud of this! I worked hard to prepare. I learned what is important to VIPKid (and subsequently, my students and their parents.) What I didn’t already know, I learned, and I practiced. And I can help you do the same.

In the area of professionalism, I got positive feedback on being presentable and having high sound quality and a functional workstation.

I needed improvements in my background, distance, and lighting. (Watch this video to see why.) And guess what – by my mock interview, I had fixed these things!

So yes, if you have more relevant classroom experience, it will most definitely help you in your interview.  But it’s not required. What is required is dedication to the process and a willingness to learn and apply the techniques that have been proven in VIPKid classrooms.

If you’re ready to get started, I can help you do it. My referral link awaits. 🙂 Or if you aren’t quite sure you’re ready to start, here’s a helpful video to give you an idea about how the process works and what you can expect from me.  As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments below or contact me if you have any questions!

a grade

How I earned over $500 in my bathroom!

First of all, I don’t call it a bathroom. It’s my classroom. And I earned the money teaching English as a second language to children in China!

I have a full time job in corporate America, but a couple of months ago I decided I needed a more meaningful hobby – something that was different than my daily grind. The ability to earn money at the same time was just an added bonus! That began my journey with VIPKid.

Why did I turn my bathroom into a classroom? This was an unused area of my home off of a spare bedroom that I use as my home office. The countertop placed my laptop at the right level, and it allowed me to have a wall behind me that was in easy reach. The lighting is easily controlled, and it’s right next to my wireless router, so there’s a strong wifi signal. It was perfect! There were two previously empty drawers perfect for storing props, and the huge bathroom mirror also provides a surface I can use as my own personal dry erase board to write myself lesson notes!

My journey with VIPKid has just begun, and so far I LOVE it. The children and their parents are amazing. The hours are flexible, and the classes are fun. As you can see, the pay is pretty nice too!

In full disclosure, I expect my paycheck to continue to grow. I am a brand new VIPKid teacher, and so I’m still building my regular student base.  At the time I’m writing this article, I’ve been a teacher for 47 days. (I signed my contract mid-September, 2018.) It’s important to note that I ONLY make myself available to teach Monday through Friday between 5 or 6 am Central and 7:30 am Central. I need to be ready to start my regular job at 8 am sharp.

In this short time, though, here’s how my student base (and paycheck) have grown:

  • My first week I opened 10 timeslots (none short notice) and didn’t get any bookings.
  • My second week, VIPKid offered an incentive for opening up a certain number of short notice time slots, so I opened 25 available class times, and I got two short notice bookings. (Both of whom have booked multiple classes since then!)
  • The first half of October, my mom had surgery, so my availability to teach was limited, but I taught 9 classes with one trial no-show.
  • The second half of October, I taught 35 classes.
  • Looking ahead, it’s only November 3rd, and I’m already booked for 14 classes. (VIPKid only opens up two weeks in advance, so there are plenty more bookings to come!)
September 2018 – 2H October 2018 – 1H October 2019 – 2H
% of Timeslots Filled 20% 25% 92%
Pay $22.00 $84.00 $410.00

I cannot recommend this opportunity enough. It’s a good company with good training and a simple process to learn and grow your student base. It’s fun, flexible, and so far pretty profitable!  Whether you are looking for some extra holiday spending money, a second career, or a meaningful hobby, VIPKid could be a good fit for you.

If you would like to learn more, feel free to contact me. If you are looking for someone to help you through the process, I’d love to be your mentor, so please use my referral link if you are ready to sign up!

 

Class Prep: VIPKid Courses & Mock Class

I am a planner. I like nothing more than a color coded calendar with every hour neatly catalogued. So for me, it was important that I understand early how to prepare for a class.

Whether you are preparing for your interview, a mock class, or a regular class, the steps are basically the same.

  1. Review the objectives.
  2. Review the slides.
  3. Review key skills.
  4. Learn about your student.
  5. Prepare a list of props or realia.
  6. Practice.

To help get you started, let’s look at each of these individually.

  • Review the objectives. If you do nothing else in preparing for a lesson, be sure you review the objectives. These will tell you what your child needs to learn. If you are teaching the letter “a” there might be a picture of an apple on the page, but that could be just to demonstrate the letter sound. It’s not important that the student remember the word apple, nor is it important they know that an apple is red. If you are doing a lesson on food, learning about the apple might be an important part of the lesson. So read your objectives. Your interviewer and mock class mentor will be watching for this, and it will directly affect the results of your real students later.
  • Review the slides. You will want to scroll through the slides enough that you are comfortable with them. For new teachers, this could take several times. If you’ve taught for a while or done this lesson before, a quick once-over might be sufficient. You will not be effective in class if you are trying to squint and read instructions on each page during your interview or class.
  • Review key skills. This is extremely important, especially if you are not a current ESL or lower elementary teacher. If you are teaching a letter, be sure you know the correct sound the letter makes. Be sure you know the standard letter motion movements. You need to be sure you know how your mouth (and your student’s) should look when they make the letter sound. You might think that “Everyone knows how to say ‘R'” but if you aren’t prepared to correct a “ruh” to an “rrrrr” you will be in trouble. If you are interviewing, your mentor is sure to mispronounce something to test you. With real students, missing timely error correction can build bad habits and result in poor feedback from parents.
  • Learn about your student. In a mock class, VIPKid will provide some basic information about your student. They will provide their age and some prior vocabulary. Score bonus points if you can work some of these into your lesson, since it shows you are prepared! In a real class, there is a “Student Details” section. There you can learn the name and age of your student, the number of classes they have taken with VIPKid, their ratings on the last lesson, and feedback from prior teachers. This can help you adjust to their personal style in the classroom, so pay attention!
  • Prepare a list of props or realia. I love props! When you are interviewing, you will need to make sure to use at least two different types of props or realia. For example, if you are teaching the letter “P” you could choose two or more of any of the following types of props: a magnetic letter, a whiteboard, printed/laminated letters or pictures, blocks with letters, stuffed animals or toys that start with “p” (panda, puppy, pig.) I’m sure you could come up with many other ideas, but be sure you have and use at least two different types.
  • Practice. As you are getting started and preparing for your interview, practice is the most important thing you can do. Practice your TPR in the shower. Practice with your family. Practice on video on your computer. Practice with your dog. You cannot practice too much. Once you are hired and have taught several classes, practice becomes less important than the rest of the preparation since much of the TPR and slide work will be familiar to you.

The more classes you teach, the faster you can move through these steps. Today, I spend between 5-15 minutes preparing for each class, whereas I spent several hours preparing for my initial interview and mock class.

If you have questions about how I prepare or have tips of your own you would like to share, let me know in the comments below! If you are ready to join VIPKid and apply, feel free to use me as a referral and I will help in any way I can!

Trick or Treat? Halloween Rewards for VIPKid!

Halloween is in the air, and I take every opportunity to celebrate. I thought I would share with you four ideas for easy Halloween reward systems. I have two for beginners and younger students and two that are a little more complex.

  • Spooky Spiders: Based on the reactions from my students, the favorite so far has been spiders. Everyone has a reaction and you can do fun TPR with anything creepy crawly! I printed out four different colors of spiders (great for extending) plus one big spider with a silly face. I drew a spider web on my whiteboard and tape the spiders on the board when my student does a good job.

spooky spiders

  • Jack-o-Lantern: For this one, you simply draw a face on a laminated pumpkin picture. This is especially helpful if your lesson has to do with parts of the face or emotions. To get the kids involved, you can ask them if they want to make a happy pumpkin or a sad pumpkin. (When I first used this, I had cut out face parts but I found that it was just as easy to draw them!)

jack-o-lantern

  • Haunted House: This one took a little more preparation. I printed and laminated a free printable haunted house coloring book page. (I chose one that had five windows/doors.) I then printed and laminated smaller Halloween pictures and a yellow sheet of paper. I cut out three sides of each window/door and put the small pictures behind the windows. When my student does a good job, they get to “open” a window. For added extension, number each window and door and let the student choose a number.

haunted house

  • Build-a-Costume: This is my favorite one, but it’s more appropriate for older kids. This is inspired by the old “paper dolls” of days gone by. I found a picture of a girl and printed that, along with different parts of a costume. For modesty, I started her out with jeans and a Halloween tank top, and then layer other pieces over that. This is fun because kids can choose what they want her to wear (socks, pants, dress, etc.) This is great if you have a lesson on clothing or colors.

Build a Costume

For all of these, always be sure if you are printing images off the internet that they are free stock photos or that you have permission to use them.

If you would like to see these in action, you can check out my You Tube debut to watch a short video that shows these reward systems in action.

Halloween is a great opportunity to share a little slice of our culture with our students, so have fun with it!

If you have other Halloween rewards that have worked well, tell me about them in the comments! If you have questions or I can help in any way, let me know! As always, if you are ready to apply, I would love for you to use my referral link and let me help you through the process! Happy Halloween!

close up photo of halloween decors
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

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

 

My First VIPKid Class

If you have dreams of pre-planning every single lesson, it’s not going to happen. But do you want the good news? It’s not necessary!

This picture is not my most flattering picture. It showcases my look of terror! It shares with the world the look of adrenaline coursing through my veins when I woke up one morning to see that I had been booked for a short-notice class with my very first VIPKid student.

Her name was Erica, and the lesson was one that I had not seen before. Now you should know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. In my mind, I had hoped to have a full filing cabinet with printed objectives, props, and customized lesson plans for any class I might be asked to teach. I thought I would have my lesson plans arranged a week in advance, ordered by day and time. Let me tell you, if you have dreams of pre-planning every single lesson, it’s not going to happen. But do you want the good news? It’s not necessary!

Why did I have a short notice class?

I wish I could say that I was so confident in my teaching abilities that I knew I could handle anything. In reality, there was an incentive sponsored by VIPKid that paid teachers for opening a certain number of short notice PPT slots, so despite my anxiety, I opened them up.

“Oh, I’ll never get booked,” I thought. “I’ll check the VIPKid app on my phone and go back to sleep,” I thought.

Imagine my surprise to wake up to a notification, “Congratulations! You’ve been booked!”

What did I do?

Needless to say, I was immediately wide awake! After a quick shower, I browsed through the lesson on my phone while I dried my hair and put on makeup. I might not have a detailed plan in place, but at least I would be familiar with the learning objectives, reward system, and slides.

I grabbed a few props that I already had prepared from my mock classes, and yes, I went a little overboard. I ran to Walmart (since I still had over an hour before class began.) The lesson was about birthdays, so I bought balloons, candles, and a few other small props. I didn’t spend more than a couple of dollars, because I had promised myself that I wouldn’t let my enthusiasm cause me to spend my earnings before I’d even gotten paid!

I had time for a quick selfie before I jumped into the classroom to ensure everything was working properly.

So how did it go?

I know, the suspense is killing you!

In short, it went fine. I’m sure if I were to go back and watch the video now, I would cringe. My time management was terrible, and I didn’t finish the slides. My blood pressure was probably through the roof the entire time.

Reviews of the student had not been exactly glowing. There were reports of her not smiling, and comments that she got distracted easily. I went into the lesson expecting the worst, and just hoping that I didn’t get fired!

Erica was a superstar, though. It’s true she didn’t (and still doesn’t) smile much. She doesn’t like to sing the songs (although music class IS her favorite class.) But she is intelligent and a great student. How do I know? She is one of my most regular repeat students. I teach her almost every week now!

No, my teaching was far from perfect, but it wasn’t about that. It was about connecting with the student and helping her achieve the lesson objectives.

Once that first class was completed, I was able to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. I had survived, and so had my student. There would be other milestones and other sources of anxiety, but the bandaid had been ripped off and I saw that I would be fine.

Are you nervous about your first class? Do you want someone to help talk you through it? Feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll be happy to help. Want to share your own success stories or fears? Leave them in the comments! If you are ready to take the plunge and become a VIP teacher so you can have your own “first class” memories, I would be honored to help you along the way! Feel free to ask for help and use me as your referral. Let’s get started together!