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
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An Apple a Day

Ok new teachers. Let me begin by saying that I am far from an expert on feedback. In my first month of teaching, I only got seven ratings. The good news? They were all 5-apples! As I renew my second contract, I’ve broken the elusive 100, but certainly, more parents don’t leave feedback than do.

I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about a few things I’ve learned about apple feedback.

  • Where to see it: You can see individual ratings under “parent feedback.” However, you won’t see it in your status until after you get 100 ratings. Although I like instant gratification, this is a good thing. By looking at your 100 most recent ratings, one or two “bad apples” won’t affect your overall score.
  • What’s important: Parents have the chance to choose positive feedback categories.  In the phone app, if you tap on “new feedback,” a second screen opens when you can see specific tags. So what’s important to parents?
    1. Encouragement
    1. TPR
    1. Timely and Accurate error correction
    1. Class environment
    1. Props

In short, it’s not one individual thing, but it’s the package!

abigail feedback

  • How to get it: This may sound silly, but to get feedback, you should ask for it! I’ve worked in customer support for years, and we regularly send out customer satisfaction surveys. What I’ve learned is that people rarely fill it out unless they are extremely happy (or extremely unhappy.) If you want someone to fill out the survey, ask them to!  A couple of important points:
    • I always end my feedback to the parents asking THEM for their feedback. By ending with that (as well as options to re-book with me) it gives them their next step.
    • I explain that positive feedback is 5-apple feedback. If you don’t explain that, they might think 4-apple feedback is good, and 5-apples should be reserved for absolutely earth-shattering!
    • I keep it short. If the parent has never left me feedback before, I simply say “Receiving positive (5-apple) feedback is very important to VIPKid teachers, so please take a minute to share your feedback. I will use any comments you provide so we can continue to help (student) in his/her learning!”

Of course, in order to get five apples, you have to earn it. To help make sure parents will be happy with your teaching, always keep the following things in mind.

  • Be on time! Parents are investing time and money into their child, so it’s important that you respect that and be on time.
  • Teach the full 25-minutes. There are full guidelines provided by VIPKid here.
  • Avoid eating or drinking soda on screen. Of course, keep water handy if you need it. We all know how kiddos at home get distracted by things you have (and they don’t), and kids on screen react the same way.
  • Use TPR, props, and realia to engage with the students.
  • Have fun! If you have fun, the kids will too.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and FIVE APPLES a day makes a VIPKID teacher very happy! Keep up the good work, and please let me know how I can help you in your journey. If you’re just getting started, feel free to use my referral link to sign up! Happy teaching!

VIPKid Techniques – TPR

Whether you are preparing to interview, planning for your mock class, or looking for ways to improve your teaching effectiveness, TPR is a term you’ll hear over and over through your VIPKid career.

What is TPR?

TPR stands for “Total Physical Response.” In layman’s terms, it’s using gestures and actions to demonstrate words. There are two main types of TPR that you’ll need to use in the VIPKid classroom:

  • Instructional TPR: Instructional TPR includes actions that you don’t want the student to repeat, but that help you let the student know what to do. Examples of common instructional TPR include:
    • Cupping your ear when you want them to speak
    • Making a circle with your finger when you want them to circle
    • Pointing to your mouth when you want them to focus on how your mouth is making a sound
  • TPR: Standard TPR includes motions that you want your student to repeat to help in understanding or memory of a word. Examples include:
    • Standard letter motions (for example, a crooked finger that looks like a snake is used to represent the sssss sound.)
    • Motions that reflect the word you are demonstrating (for example, imitating an elephant trunk with your arm)

Why is TPR important?

  • It’s fun! Especially with younger students, TPR makes learning fun! Kids (and teachers) enjoy fun in the classroom, and TPR is a great way to do it!
  • It helps them understand. If they are struggling with comprehension, actions can help them understand your intended meaning.
  • It helps them remember. I still remember my mom helping me study when I was younger. She would do crazy actions that I might laugh at, but then the next day during my test I would visualize her doing them.

How do I get comfortable using TPR?

It doesn’t always feel natural to use TPR motions.. So how do you get comfortable? You might laugh, but I practiced in the shower. I use video conferencing frequently during my day job, and so I also began using (toned down) TPR on those calls. Anytime I could gesture to illustrate something, I would do so, just to see how it came across on video. If you have kids at home you can practice with, that’s also a great option because you can see how children respond and participate! Whatever option you choose, PRACTICE is the key to becoming comfortable!

I encourage you to watch as many videos as possible to help you get familiar with different TPR techniques.  If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me or comment below! If you are looking for a mentor to help guide you through the process, feel free to reach out to me and use my referral link to get started.

Good luck!

sunset hands love woman
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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

 

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!