Four Steps to a Fantastic First Class!

Grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey!

You have made it through the hiring process. You have opened up your schedule to get VIPKid bookings. You’ve done all the normal prep work. And it worked!  You’ve been booked! If you are like me, there will be a point of panic when you realize that you will be talking to a little human across the world in just a few hours, and everything you learned during the hiring process has disappeared from your mind!

Don’t worry. That feeling is normal, and it won’t last long. Below are four simple steps that will help ensure a fantastic first class!

Award all five stars during class.

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out this post that outlines the Types of VIPKid Rewards.

For some reason, many new teachers don’t know about stars, so let’s get that out on the table. There are many different ways and styles of rewarding stars, but to get off on the right foot, make sure you give them out.

Review the lesson materials in advance.

Before my first class, I was trying to find a way to print out the lessons and make notes on each slide. That’s not necessary. But it IS important that you review the lesson (maybe even a few times.)  You can review it in the teacher portal by clicking on “materials” or even on your phone app.  As you review it, be thinking about the following things:

  • Objectives: What are the primary goals for this lesson. If a student is struggling or you are running out of time, you want to allow the most time for the activities directly related to the objectives.
  • Songs: Are you familiar with the tunes for the welcome and goodbye song? (If you’re not a singer, don’t worry. Even songs I know by heart are usually unrecognizable for me, and the kids are very forgiving!) But it does help if you know what the song is supposed to sound like!
  • Teacher Tips: Read the teacher tips that are usually above the slides (or occasionally printed on the bottom.) These give you instructions on what to do on each slide. They are difficult to read during class and will take your eyes away from your student, so it’s better to review them in advance.
  • Reward: Will you be using the built in reward? Do you want to bring your own?
  • Props: What types of props will you find helpful? I generally make a list (and I keep them in my Feedback Panda templates, but for your first few lessons, just jot them down on a notecard or a piece of paper.
  • Pronunciation and Grammar: Do you know the correct way to do everything in the lesson? I know this sounds crazy, but for me, my phonics were pretty rusty. And I screw up present progressive verbs EVERY SINGLE TIME. So be sure you brush up on how to correctly complete the activities in the lesson!

Review the student info.

Just like the lesson materials, this can be found in the teacher app or also the phone app. It will show you how old the student is, how many classes they have taken, and (sometimes) tips that other teachers have left. I will warn you – take the tips with a grain of salt. Some teachers leave lengthy, personalized tips, some leave none, and some copy and paste what they send to the parent. And remember that every teacher/student combination is different. My very first student had very negative comments left about her. I was terrified. But she has ended up being my most regular student since that time. Just because a student didn’t mesh well with another teacher does not mean they won’t become your favorite student! You can also sometimes glean hints about what the student enjoys so that might help you plan out your rewards!

Have fun.

BY FAR, this is the most important advice I can share with you for your first class. I vividly remember sitting in front of my laptop at 5 am, TERRIFIED. But once I got into the lesson, I realized how fun this was going to be, and nothing else mattered. Remember, if you have fun in class, your student will too. If you want a chuckle, you can read my account of my first class here: My First VIPKid Class.

So grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey! If you have other questions that I can help with, please let me know in the comments! If you haven’t yet applied for VIPKid and you’re looking for a mentor, I’d be happy to help get you to this point. You can start by applying here using my referral link.

Happy teaching!

 

Photo by GiselaFotografie

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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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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!

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