VIPKID: 2 month update! {Full bookings!}

Yes, I am two months into this crazy job!  Teaching Chinese students online has become more than just a whim or a hobby, it has become a very rewarding job!  Here are some highlights as I complete my second month with VIPKID!

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Level 2 Certified!

As I’ve written about before, I began through the New Teacher Kick Off meeting process in November, which certified me to teach only trial classes (brand new students who are trying out VIPKID but haven’t committed and paid yet).  There were tons of no-shows and I taught basically the same four trial classes over and over and over and over!  It was repetitive, but never boring.  I actually enjoyed the repetition because every student was so new and different, it helped that the material was familiar.  But after a month, I was ready for more of a challenge, and my schedule was still not fully booked, so I took the Level 2 certification.  I listened to a mentor teacher teach about the level in a live Skype-style meeting and then I had to record a demo!   I practiced and practiced and finally felt confident enough to record.  You can view it here, if you’d like!  Then I took the quiz… and failed!  Ugh!  This job can be humbling sometimes!  But never one to give up, I tried again and passed.  So exciting!  That led to my next big milestone…

Full bookings!

I woke up one Monday to 19 bookings!  Whoa!  The most I had ever gotten at one time before that was 3 bookings!  Again, it was so exciting!  Being able to teach Level 2 Major Courses opened me up to a whole new set of students, and my schedule was 95% full.  It is so exciting to see this actually start to work out how I pictured it!  This, in turn, led to my next big milestone…

First Paycheck!

I have to be honest, I was holding my breath about this whole ordeal until I got the money in my account.  But there it was, on the 12th of the month!  So yes, it’s a real job.  It actually pays a real paycheck.  So exciting.  Now, I’m two months in, and my second paycheck is double what my first was!  I was aiming for this job to bring in about $500/month and it definitely has done that so far!  Very worthwhile.

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When you’re teaching food vocabulary, you find some edible props from the kitchen! 

VIPKID + “Brick and Mortar” Teaching Job

As of last week, I went back to work from maternity leave.  I was enjoying my lazy days with my newborn (well, sleep-deprived lazy days), and now I’m back in the real world, working full-time as a preschool teacher.  I knew it was going to be an adjustment with VIPKID.  I wasn’t going to be able to work for 2-3 hours before going to my 8-hour job.  I’m not superwoman over here!  So the first two days, I didn’t teach for VIPKID at all before work.  Then, I eased myself back into it, teaching just two classes (one hour) before work.  To me, this is do-able.  I get up at 5am, get ready, teach from 5:30-6:30am, get my family ready, and teach preschool from 7:30-4pm.  Sometimes I’m able to rest and nap in the afternoon.  Then, I teach a long chunk of classes (4am-7am) on Saturday mornings.  This adds up to ten classes in the weekdays, and six classes on the weekends, so about 55-65 classes per month, give or take due to unfilled bookings or no-shows.

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Waiting around for my student. Enjoying the view into a Chinese home!  

THE BEST PART… Regular Students! 

The last thing I want to update you about is the BEST part.  I now have several regular students!  I love it.  I have one student that I teach three times per week, and about 3-4 that I see at least once per week.  Two of my students are siblings!  I love that I can create a teacher/student relationship across the globe.  I love that I can see their progress.  I love that I can tailor their lesson to their specific needs and interests.  It is the personal aspect that was missing in the beginning, when I was teaching random kids.  I feel like I know these families.  And some of the parents leave me such kind, encouraging feedback.  I’m truly grateful that they chose to book me, out of the sea of thousands of teachers.  And it inspires me to get better and better at this job.  I am so glad I found a fulfilling, fun side job!

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Best VIPKID Christmas present!  My husband made me a standing desk!  

Again, if you are in this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

-Laura

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VIPKID: Laura answers FAQ!

What is VIPKID?  You’re wondering.  I’m answering!

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  1. What is this company?  Is it legit?

Yes, it is a legitimate!  Not a scam, not too good to be true, not a MLM company, and you don’t have to sell anything!  VIPKID is a Chinese company that matches Chinese children (ages 5-12) with English-speaking teachers in an online Skype-style classroom. Read more here  from Bloomberg News about the company.  It was on the Forbes 500 best company list, and it is growing exponentially!  As I write this in December 2017, there are 20,000 teachers and 200,000 students, and they are on track to hit 1,000,000 students!  Crazy!

2. What are the requirements?

  • Bachelors Degree (in any field, not just education)
  • Experience with kids (not just teaching, could be clubs, coaching, church, babysitting, etc).
  • Reliable wi-fi and technology (don’t bother if you don’t have this!)

3. Will I make real money?

Yes, you will.  It is a great part-time job!  The company pays between $14-22/hour, based on your experience and your interview process.  You will pick your schedule (see below) so how many hours you work is up to you.  It will take you about one month to get a “full” schedule.  Just for reference, I was hired November 6th, 2017.  I had 38 bookings (1 booking= 25 minute class, so about 20 hours of work) in November, and I made $318 for that month.  It’s mid-December as I write this, and my schedule is totally full, so I will make about $500 this month, which is what I was hoping for.  There are great You Tube videos about how the pay scale works.  They don’t hide anything about the pay, so there are no surprises.

4. What are the hours?

The company is based in Beijing, China, and that area is where most of the students are from.  Beijing is 14 hours ahead of USA Central time (where I live).  So do the math: that means that the peak times for teaching kids is the after-school time in China, which means very early morning time here.  The peak times are 4-7am.  There are also evening times available, especially on the weekends too, but to start out and get students, you will probably have to work early in the mornings.  I wrote about how I adjusted to getting up early here!  

5. What is the application process like?

The application process is no joke, even for teachers with a lot of experience, like I had.  Teaching online is very different than teaching in a brick and mortar school.  There is definitely a learning curve.  So the interviewers are looking to see if you are teachable, engaging, and can adapt to the VIPKID way of teaching.  Not everyone makes it through the process, but if you stick it out, there is an awesome part-time job on the other side of a rigorous hiring process.  As of now (Dec 2017), the hiring process goes like this.  It has changed even since I’ve been hired, so stay tuned!

  • Apply online. Use a referral code from a current teacher to get priority.  They ask the basics.
  • Get an interview.  You’ll interview online with a Chinese VIPKID employee, and you’ll do a very basic “demo lesson,” where the employee acts like a kid and you teach them.  It’s actually quite fun and not intimidating.
  • You’ll then do a Mock class, which you’ll prepare for.  They send you the lesson.  You just practice the slides.  Watching some YouTube videos helped me a lot.
  • After the Mock class, you’ll either be hired directly, or you’ll be sent to do a “workshop” for more training.  This is what I did.  There is also a chance that they decide you’re just not a good fit for the company.  If so, you can reapply if you desire in a few weeks.
  • Then you’re hired and can start teaching!

6. What do I need for teaching?

Just a good computer and some creativity!  That’s the bare necessities!  Beyond that, you’ll want:

  • Alphabet cards of some sort.  You’ll be teaching a lot of letter names and sounds
  • A small white board for writing letters, vocabulary, math problems.
  • Fun stuff- this can be anything to make the lessons fun.  I use a lot of stuffed animals and toys.  There are entire Facebook groups dedicated to prop and reward ideas.
  • Lamps and lighting to make your space bright.

That’s it! I didn’t purchase anything until I knew I was actually hired.  Some people go overboard, but you don’t have to.

 

Okay, those are the most frequent asked questions I have gotten since starting this new job!  If you’re still curious, you can read through my whole journey!  If you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

Follow Laura’s VIPKID Journey here:

VIPKID: For MOMS!

Mom friends, if you haven’t heard of VIPKID, this may be a perfect part-time, work from home, job for you!  VIPKID is a Chinese company that hired American and Canadian teachers to teach English online to Chinese children.  I love this job!  I have so much fun teaching kids in my “online classroom,” and it has been a profitable side business for me!  Before I tell you the top five benefits of VIPKID for moms, let me get the requirements out of the way, so you don’t get your hopes up!

Requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree.  This is a non-negotiable, but your degree can be in anything, not just education.
  2. Experience with kids.  You’re a mom.  Done.
  3. Dependable computer/iPad with strong wifi connection.

Yes, that’s it.  Interested?  Keep reading to hear why I think this is the BEST job for moms who want to supplement their income!

1. Stay at HOME!

This is the best part, in my opinion!  I used to teach in the city, about an hour’s drive from my home.  I spent WAY too much time in my car, away from my kids and home.  Now, I can roll out of bed and be to my job in less than five minutes.  No commute.  No professional wardrobe.  No boss.  It’s so easy.  And you are able to do your “house jobs” in between classes.  Sometimes I can get my laundry started and dishwasher loaded before 7am!

Funny story:  This is me waiting online while my student went to the bathroom!  LOL! 

2. You have all the STUFF!

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need much for this job.  Essentially, all you need is a great computer with wifi.  However, you will need some basic teaching supplies to be a successful teacher.  Thanks to having kids around, you have almost everything you need to be successful for this job.  You have stuffed animals lying around.  You have markers and crayons. You probably even have letter cards, alphabet blocks, or educational posters.  My daughters have let me use some of their toys and it makes teaching so much easier!

You can see some of the toys and alphabet cards I borrowed (stole) from my kids. 

3. No BABYSITTER or daycare needed!

If you are a working mom, you know that you need to make enough money at your job to cover childcare expenses, or your job won’t even feel “worth it.”  With the cost of daycare, sometimes even a job that is in your field, using your degree, doesn’t pay enough!  This job is awesome, because you work from home, early in the morning before your kids wake up!  No need for childcare, unless your kids will be awake while you’re teaching.  With the time change, the prime hours are 4-7am (central time).  Yes, it’s super early and takes getting used to.  But it’s worth it to not pay for childcare!  My husband is around if my kids happen to wake up while I’m teaching, but honestly, I’ve been teaching for two months and that has only happened once!   You will get used to waking up early, I promise.  That brings me to my next point…

4. You’re already AWAKE at crazy times!

I started this job during my maternity leave, when my third daughter was about two months old.  As any mom of a newborn knows, your sleep schedule is totally crazy.  Some nights, the baby sleeps well.  Some nights, the baby is up at all hours!  So, to me, it was a perfect fit because I was used to having a strange sleep schedule anyway.  It was not crazy for me to see 4am, so if I could see 4am and make some money in the process, it was a bonus!  If you are one of those lucky moms that has kids that sleep through the night and never wake up you, you’ll just get used to getting up earlier and maybe napping with your kids in the afternoon.

It’s 4:15am most days for me!  

5. You control your SCHEDULE!

Need to bring a kid to a doctor’s appointment?  Want to volunteer at your kid’s school?  No problem!  No asking for time off!  You just turn off those time slots.  You have total control of your schedule.  There used to be a minimum number of hours that you had to be available to be booked for VIPKID, but now there is no limit.  So you can take time off, you can choose not to work some days, it’s totally up to you.  You make your schedule two weeks in advance.  It has been so freeing to have control of my schedule.

You just click the “buttons” for the time slots you want to be available for bookings.  You can turn off the slot unless you have a booking.  

Those are five perks of this job for moms!  I am loving it, and have found many other moms who enjoy this job.  If you are a working mom, you might be able to sneak a few classes in before your work day, which may be worth the extra income.  If you’re a stay at home mom, this could help supplement your family’s income without having to leave the house and find childcare.  It’s a win-win.

If you’re reading this and are curious about this crazy job, message me and I can answer any questions you have! If you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

-Laura

Follow Laura’s VIPKID Journey here:

Beat MN winter with these indoor play places for kids!

Remember summer in MN?  The beach?  The playgrounds?  The picnics and the sunshine?  Yeah, it was wonderful.  It seems like 100 years ago!

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Need a warm place to play?

We are in the middle of another MN winter, and we are almost to winter break.  This is the time of year that kids and moms, especially stay-at-home-moms, get a little stir crazy!  Here are my suggestions for when you need to get out of the house and let your kids play a bit!  They are my favorite five indoor play places, and my “pro tip” for each one to make your visit easier!

1. Edinborough Park in Edina

This is a must-visit for Twin Cities families. It features a giant play area, and a huge open gym with scooters, balls, and blow up jumpers.

Kids can spend hours roaming around this huge place. Great for very active kids who need an outlet for their energy! I think it’s totally worth the $7.50 admission.

It’s best for kids who are elementary age, but there is a whole section for younger kids too.

PRO TIP: Divide your time between the jungle gym area and the open gym with a lunch break in between. There is a snack area, or bring your own lunch!

2. Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka

This is a brand new play area opening in December 2017! It is huge, about the area of two store fronts! When you walk in, it feels more like a children’s museum rather than a play area! It’s centerpiece is a huge apple tree play structure with red “Apple” balls everywhere. There are suction holes that pull the balls up to the top of the tree and kids can push the balls out of holes so it looks like apples are falling off the tree.

There’s also a “light and shadow” area, a huge train track, a fishing area, and a section for toddlers! All for FREE.

PRO TIP: Park at Nordstrom’s. When you get there, sit in the middle of the L shaped area so you can see the whole area from one vantage point!

3. Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley

You think of going to the zoo in the beautiful summer months, but did you know that the Zoo has plenty of indoor attractions to keep your kids busy in the middle of a MN winter?

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Make a morningtrekto the indoor aquatic area with a touch pool and seal show! Or on the coldest days, stroll through the tropics trail and daydream about palm tres and beaches.

mn zoo2.jpgOne often overlooked area is the toddler room by the cafe where little ones can dress up like bumblebees and build a “hive” of hexagonal blocks.

As far as the price goes, a Zoo trip is not cheap. But do the math- if you plan on going three or more times, an annual membership will be worth the price.

PRO TIP: Bring the stroller. Even for the big kids. You’ll be grateful for it when the kids shed the layers and ask you to carry the jackets, hats, gloves, water bottles, lunches, and so on and so on.

4. Williston Fitness Center in Minnetonka

This is a hidden gem! You feel like you’re in the middle of a neighborhood, and then you turn a corner and a huge fitness center is tucked in the woods. There are many areas, but the section I want to highlight is the Treehouse.

It’s a massive climbing area, with a nice eating area for birthday parties. I like that it has good seating for parents and only one exit. It does cost $6 per kid, so plan on staying for the afternoon to make it worth your while.

PRO TIP: Bring snacks and water bottles because the only food is vending machines!

5. IKEA play area in Bloomimgton

Your favorite home store can also be your child’s favorite play area! Check in the kids in the play area and you have an hour of uninterrupted strolling and shopping! There’s also a great restaurant on the 2nd floor with inexpensive kid meals and a children’s seating area.

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My husband and I on an Ikea “date” while the kids play in the play area!

PRO TIP: Kids have to be potty trained! And there’s a limit to the number of kids that can be in there, so avoid peak times!

 

That’s my list of my favorite five indoor places to bring the kids in the winter!  What would you add?  What are your pro tips??

-Laura

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VIPKID Ups and Downs {What do I have to lose?!}

My mantra with VIPKID, since the beginning has been, “What do I have to lose?!”  I started this journey on a whim, with no expectations, and it has been well worth it.  Now, about five weeks into it, I am more invested into this process.  But I’m still hanging onto that mantra, but I do feel like I have more to lose now.  I am very grateful for this job.  But it has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with some UPS and DOWNS.

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My teaching area- do you like my DIY “standing desk?!”

Ups

  • Growing in confidence

As with any job, you start out tentatively and carefully.  As you relax into your new groove, you become more natural and confident!  This is definitely true with VIPKID.  I’m about five weeks into this job, and I feel pretty confident with my teaching.  I know the lessons well, having taught the same few lessons several times.  I am more familiar with the different types of students- the shy, the outgoing, the scared, the silly ones.  I know what to do if a student doesn’t use the mouse, or if they can’t hear me.  It truly does get easier every time!

  • Settling into routine

I also have felt more comfortable with my routine, specifically getting up early. At first is was pretty rough.  Previously, I only set my alarm at 4-something for special occasions- an early flight or Black Friday!  Now, it’s a regular occurrence, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s not nearly as bad as I had thought.  I have my routine in the morning of getting up, brushing my teeth and putting on some makeup and my orange shirt, feeding the dog, making coffee, setting up my classroom space, and nursing my baby.  I can go from dead asleep to teaching my class in fifteen minutes, if needed!

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One of my lesson bins for my trial classes.

Downs

  • Inconsistent bookings

This is a typical problem for new teachers with VIPKID.  You just never know what you’re going to get with bookings.  Again, I’ve had to hold onto my “nothing to lose” mantra here.  I had steadily increasing bookings the first three weeks, then my fourth week it dropped off dramatically.  I went from 15 bookings to about 5.  I was so disappointed.  I read somewhere that VIPKID features new teachers on their main page for a few weeks, then you’re put in the pool of thousands of teachers, making bookings more challenging. Everything I’ve read says that it takes time, and they number of bookings will grow organically as you become certified and gain your own following of students.  But this is my friendly “heads up” that you may have some dips in bookings!

  • Challenging certification process

Speaking of certifications, this has been a low point for me.  When I was hired, I went through the “New Teacher Kick Off” process, which means you’re only certified to do trial classes, which are for students who are considering signing up for VIPKID and trying a few classes.  This means you are only available to teacher this small section of classes, which is a way for you to be “gradually released” as a new teacher.  After you get five students to sign up, you’re invited to do a certification class.  I just last week did this class.  It’s similar to the Kick Off, with a mentor teacher leading a group of teachers through a powerpoint.  Then you record yourself teaching a demo lesson and do a quiz.  Sadly, I failed the quiz!  I was super disappointed.  Luckily, you can retry as many times as you’d like.  So I just resubmitted my certification and am waiting to hear.  In the meantime, more trial classes for me!

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Some of my teaching materials

So that’s my update!  Stay tuned for more VIPKID updates and follow my VIPKID Journey here:

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VIPKID One-Month Update! {LOVING IT!}

So I am almost one-month into VIPKID teaching!  I was hired on 11/6/17 and have enjoyed it so much!  It has been a huge blessing to my family.  If you want to read about my process of applying, and getting hired, you can follow those links.  It was definitely worth the time and effort!

The Stats:

  • Classes taught:21
  • No-shows: 18
  • Total bookings: 39
  • Number of kids who signed up from trials: 4
  • November Paycheck: $318 (!!!)

Here are some of my most commonly asked questions from family and friends, and then a couple tips if you are thinking about working for VIPKID or in the hiring process!

FAQ

1. Is it awful getting up that early?  How do you wake yourself up enough to teach?

I have to say, it hasn’t been that bad getting up!  I’m writing this at 4:55 a.m. as I wait for a class to start, and I don’t feel that tired!  Most days I opened up three time slots, 5a.m., 5:30a.m., and 6a.m.  There were a few days that were rough, but that was more because my baby was up in the middle of the night, like at 2:30a.m., and then I had a class at 5a.m.  So that was challenging.  But, for the most part, it has been fine.  I would go as far as to say it has even been enjoyable!  I have adapted to really looking forward to my quiet morning routine.  I make my coffee, feed the dog, go down to my “teaching corner,” put on a little makeup, and read through my lessons.  If the kid is a no-show, which happened quite a bit the first month, then I have a little time to read, blog, Facebook, or do laundry.  My days begin much more calmly than before, when I was sleeping as late as possible before my girls woke up.

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This is me waiting for a no-show!

2. How does it fit into your family’s routine?

This has been a fun surprise.  It really fits well into the groove of our family.  The baby is sleeping through the night (THANK THE LORD IN HEAVEN!) and usually sleeps from 10-8am.  Occasionally, I’ll nurse her right before I go to teach at about 4 a.m., but that’s only if I can see she’s stirring on the baby monitor.  So this is our normal routine:

  • 4:15 I wake up, get ready, sometimes nurse the baby
  • 5:00-6:30 Teach three classes
  • 6:30 My kids wake up, get ready for school, eat breakfast
  • 7:30 Bus comes, Husband and preschooler leave
  • 8:00 Baby wakes up, I feed her, we are on our way for our day!

I should note that I do sometimes get to take a nap in the afternoon, which is awesome.  Also, I should say that I’m still technically on maternity leave, so this schedule will definitely be changing soon.  More on that later!

3. Is it worth the money?

I have gotten this question quite a bit.  People are weighing in their mind how much their early morning sleep is worth!  I get it!  I love my sleep too.  But for me, in this stage of life, I would say a whole-hearted YES, it is worth the money.  I feel like it pays well for the effort you put in.  I make between $18-20/hour, depending on a few things, which adds up quickly!  I was looking for a way to supplement our family’s income during my unpaid maternity leave, and I think this is the perfect solution for me because it fits my passions of teaching, it’s right here in my house, and it fits around my family’s schedule.  If you have questions about how they pay, there are some great YouTube videos that break down the payment plan and detail all the incentives.  Also, when I was looking to supplement our income, I was dead set on NOT selling anything, specifically those MLM companies and products.  I know that this is trendy and some people love it, especially stay at home moms, but I just did not want to go there.  So I feel like this online teaching gig has been a total answer to prayer for my family!

4. Are the lessons easy to teach?

The lessons are totally prepared for you.  You just need to read through the powerpoint-style slides, and think through how you’d like to present it.  This is nothing like actual lesson planning in a classroom.  It is so much easier.  The first time I teach a lesson, it takes me maybe ten minutes to prepare.  I get my letter cards out and a few stuffed animals.  One lesson I needed a calendar to teach days of the week.  One lesson was about family, so I grabbed a picture of my family.  Super easy.

The way that VIPKID is set up right now is that new teachers like me are “gradually released” to teach, so I’m only certified to teach certain classes.  This means I teach the same lesson several times.  So now, a month into this, if I see that I have a lesson that I’ve taught before, I don’t need to prepare at all.  I just breeze through the slides and I’m ready to go.

TIPS

1. Organize Lesson Bins

This is probably the most helpful tip I have.  For the first month, I taught a rotation of about four classes.  Check out this listing of my classes.

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Notice all the Level 2s!

You can see that I taught a bunch of Level 2s, either lesson 1 or 4, and then a few Level 3s.  I thought it might get boring teaching the same thing over and over, but every class is so different.  It was actually a huge relief to know the material well, so that I could focus on the student and making it fun for him or her.

Because I taught so many of the same class, I created little bins for each lesson.  In my 2.1 bin, I had the first four letters in capital and lower case, and an elephant and mouse to teach big/small.  In my 2.4 bin, I had print outs of the characters Lisa, mom, and dad, and a picture of my actual family.  It made it so much easier to have everything in one place.  I know some people do file folders or expandable folders.  You have to find a system that works for you.

2. Feedback templates

This is another time-saver.  After each class, you have to write feedback.  If you have back to back classes, this can feel a little stressful and rushed.  As I mentioned earlier, I taught the same lessons over and over, so much of my feedback was similar.  I got the idea, about a week into this, to have a few “templates” of feedback saved, so I could just adjust them for the student and be done quickly.  I save them on a word document for easy editing.  Here’s what my paragraphs look like:

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Sample feedback templates

3. All the VIPKID sites: Portal, Hutong, Fresh desk

These are three different VIPKID websites, all important for different reasons.  It was helpful when I figured out what site was used for what.  Here’s your overview!

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The bookings tab on the Portal
  • Portal- This is the main website that you’ll use.  This is where you’ll book your classes, check your payments, and teach your actual classes.  There’s a tab on this page called “community” that leads you to a pop-up new page called:
  • Hutong- This word means “community” or “neighborhood.”  This is for FUN.  I haven’t used it much, but it is like a Facebook group for VIPKID teachers.  There are challenges and videos to watch, and you earn points. This is also where you can find the weekly update and any announcements.  The points can be redeemed for fun stuff like t-shirts.  Sometimes I go here while I’m waiting for a student to show up!
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Hutong
  • Freshdesk-This is their “help-desk”  where you can “request a ticket” for any problem you’re having.  You get invited to this page by email after you’re hired.  I didn’t realize it until someone mentioned it on a Facebook group.  It also is like an online conference with workshops.  If you want to see level-appropriate teaching strategies, check this out.  There are tons of tricks and tips.  I haven’t used it much yet, but plan to check it out when I start teaching higher level classes.

 

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So, in short, I’m adjusting to mornings, it’s easy to teach, and totally worth the money.  And for my tips: Make some bins, prepare some feedback templates, and check out all the websites.  More to come next month!

 

 

If you’re reading this and are curious about this crazy job, message me and I can answer any questions you have! If you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

Follow Laura’s VIPKID Journey here:

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My VIPKID Final Application Steps! {New Teacher Kick Off Meeting!}

I have a quote by Saint Benedict on my bathroom wall that I look at daily that simply says, “Always We Begin Again.” After moving my family to a new community, leaving my job, starting a church, making new friends, and beginning new jobs and schools, this quote sums up my past two years.  We are constantly beginning again.

My newest beginning started because I’m on maternity leave with my third daughter, taking time away from my teaching career.  Turns out, I’m terrible at maternity leave, and found myself missing teaching, bored, and searching for something to “begin again.”

I became curious about VIPKID, a company where North American teachers teach English to Chinese kids via online classrooms.  It seemed like a scam, or a gimmick, but I did my research and started the process!  I have written about the first week of the rigorous application process here, and the next step here where I taught Mock Lessons, and that brings us to the last step of the process and my eventual hiring!

My last step was to complete the New Teacher Kick Off Meeting, a two hour online Skype-style meeting with several potential teachers and one mentor teacher.  Here is the email inviting me to the Kick Off:

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It seems that after the Mock 1, it seems like you have four possible outcomes:

  1. Straight to hired (for people who rocked the Mock 1!)
  2. Kick Off (for people who have potential, but need more training)
  3. Mock 2 class interview (for people who have potential, need more training, and want to do a lesson instead of a class format)
  4. Not hired (for people who just aren’t a good fit, unfortunately)

I landed in option #2, and did the Kick Off.  I decided not to wait long, and signed up for the Kick Off happening the next day.  I think this process is a relatively new process, because I couldn’t find much information about it online.  I didn’t know if it was one-on-one, or if it was a group.  I didn’t know if I was going to have to teach something, similar to a mock lesson.  It was all pretty confusing.

But I dove right in, and signed up for an early session.  I got onto the platform, and there was another teacher there.  We tentatively introduced ourselves, realizing that we were both potential teachers, not the mentor.  We had similar paths to getting there too, making it through the interview and demo lesson, but not passing Mock 1.  As we waited for the start time, teacher after teacher joined us.  There were eight potential teachers in all, and then the mentor.

She began the powerpoint-style presentation.  It really did take the full two hours, but it was very practical and useful information, so it didn’t feel that long.  It covered:

  • The rest of the application process
  • What to do if you have IT problems during classes
  • Fresh desk- site to find workshops and teacher development
  • Bookings
  • Classrooms and slides
  • Hutong- a site for challenges for new teachers
  • Trial Classes- classes for students who are trying out VIPKID
  • Giving feedback after lessons
  • Major Courses- Levels, Units, Lessons
  • How to prepare
  • Tricks and Tips
  • Cancelling and No-Shows

I took about five pages of notes!  She shared with us that this New Teacher Kick Off is a new process.  At this point, she told us that we were officially hired, and that after this two-hour workshop, they would “slowly unleash” us.  We wouldn’t be “certified” to teach all levels, but we would begin with trial classes.  Trial classes are for students who just signed up and are doing their free class before they pay for a subscription of classes.  So it was almost like a salesman who has to go find his own clients.  We are responsible to do our best to “sell” them on VIPKID, and by extension, to sell them on “Teacher Laura” so they sign up and come back for more classes.

If I were honest, it seemed a little unfair at first.  Limiting the new teachers to trials, severely limits your availability.  Also, trials are MUCH more likely to be no-shows, because they haven’t paid for anything yet.  But in the end, I think it’s a really smart way for VIPKID to handle the many, many teachers like me.  It gives us a chance to start earning money right away, and gives us practice with a limited number of lessons, in order to “hone our craft.”

So right after the Kick Off, I got an email to confirm that I was there, then an email to send in my documents.  This email shows the documents you’ll need.  If you’re in the process, I would start gathering them now, so you have them ready to go!

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Send in those documents, sign the W9 form, and- I still can’t believe it- the interview process is DONE and you’re an official VIPKID teacher!  It was so exciting!  Then the real work begins!  I opened up my time slots for 5-6:30am, Monday through Friday, and sat around waiting for bookings!  I’ll write more about my first few days of teaching later!  It has been a BLAST!

Again, if you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

 

Laura

 

 

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Am I Really Going to Teach Online? {My Quiz and Mock Class Steps with VIPKID!}

I am a teacher at heart.  But I haven’t been in my own classroom for two years.  I miss teaching so badly.  I love the fun of it, the kids, the excitement, the freshness of every day.  So when I heard about a company that hired North American teachers to teach online to Chinese students, I was curious, yet skeptical.  But I took the chance, dove in, and started the interview process with VIPKID!  You can read about my first steps, and my reasons for applying for this company here.

I got through the initial interview pretty easily, and then had to take the quiz.  Honestly, I was still thinking, “What do I have to lose?” while at the same time trying to temper my excitement.  I told a few people about it by now. I was getting invested!

The quiz was unexpectedly challenging!  Perhaps I went into it with an arrogant, or even careless, attitude.  I skimmed the material, which still took quite some time, and then I failed once, with about 70%.  Then, I went back and re-read some sections.  I actually failed twice!  Yikes!  Good thing they don’t penalize you for failing, and you can take it as many times as you need.  So here’s my advice.  If you’re in the quiz section, pay attention to:

  • How long you have to wait for no-shows (15 for trials, 25 for major classes)
  • The percentage that you vs. the student should be talking at each level (50/50 for lower levels, 70/30 for higher levels)
  • Flipped classroom approach
  • 24 button and cancellations
  • Firemen’s purpose

These were some of the questions that I got incorrect the first time.  I hope you fare better than I did!

After submitting my quiz, I immediately got this email!  I love how their emails are so prompt, so you’re not sitting around waiting.  I also love how the emails are not formal, but sound like someone is just casually talking you throug the process.

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I booked it right away, this time for an early morning slot to get the feel of the early mornings that I was headed toward.  Here’s the email I got after I booked it, explaining the process.

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So this is when I realized that this could actually happen and that I needed to actually start trying my best.  So here’s how I prepared for the Mock 1 class.

**Spoiler alert:  I ended up NOT passing Mock 1.  So take these tips with a grain of salt!  I’ll explain my feedback from the mentor teacher too, so you can avoid that misstep!  Also, you can relax because if you fail Mock 1, it’s not necessarily the end of the road for you.**

What I did to prepare for Mock 1:
  • Set up my “classroom.”  I dug out some of my teaching boxes and grabbed two posters, one with colors and shapes, and one with vowel sounds.  I hung them in a corner.  I was going for the feel of this classroom I saw on YouTube.
  • Namecard.  Nothing fancy here.  I wrote “Teacher Laura” on a piece of paper!
  • Props. Especially stuffed animals!  The Mock 1 lesson has a fox and an ox.  So I happened to have a stuffed fox and grabbed that!  I also did a screen shot of the ox in the slides, and printed it out.  I stuck it on a straw and- voila!- instant puppet!  I also did that with the Chinese flag and country outline for the second part.

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  • Practice on my kids!  My kids were curious about why I was stealing their stuffed animals and taking over a corner of the basement.   So I took that opportunity to practice some of the “TPR” (Total Physical Response, aka: Crazy Hand Gestures!) on them.  We had a good laugh, but honestly, I think it made me feel more comfortable.
  • Letter cards.  I had simple letter cards with one letter on each card.  I pulled out the ones I’d need for the lessons and had them on hand.

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  • Watch YouTube.  I watched them while nursing my baby!  Start here with Teacher Angela’s video for a super helpful model of every slide you’ll be teaching.  Also, watch as many of Nancy Taylor’s videos as you can!  She’s the guru.
  • Spent NO money!  I just didn’t want to buy anything until I knew this was going to actually turn a profit.

I also reached out to my referral, Katlyn, who I had watched on YouTube (but never met in person!) and she gave me this awesome advice:

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If you don’t have a referral by this point, its time to get yourself one!  The referral teacher gets $80 for your referral, so don’t be shy to ask for help!  I can help you too if you need a referral!  See my code at the bottom.
So I took all that advice, and got myself as ready as I could.  The Mock 1 is not with a Chinese VIPKID employee, it’s with an American mentor teacher.  We chatted for a minute or two and talked about how she was from Texas, but teaching in Europe!  Then, we jumped right into the lesson.  She pretended to be a little child, and purposefully made some mistakes and was a little distracted at parts, to gauge how I would handle that.  I actually relaxed quickly and had fun with it!
As I mentioned above,  I ended up not passing.  I was so disappointed.  Here was my feedback, which I share in hopes of other candidates not making the same mistakes!
  • Objectives.  This is one area that I was unprepared for.  When they send you the materials, pay attention to the “Target Sentences.”  They want you using these EXACT phrases.  This keeps uniformity between teachers and makes sure the students are getting the lessons they need to move from level to level.  I was not careful about these.  You may want to even write them on a card so you can make sure you see them during the lesson.
  • I talked too much.  Eek!  Remember that the goal for the younger levels is 50/50% communication for the younger levels, and 70/30% for the higher levels.  You talk half the time, the student is talking half the time, and then even less!  So keep your words to a minimum, and get the kid talking and repeating!
  • I didn’t explain the Country/Government/Capital section well.  My best advice here is to print a picture of a map of China with Beijing highlighted and a picture of China’s president to explain what the capital is and who works there.  “The capital is where President works!”
Chinese president
Chinese President Xi Jinping
  • I should have done more TPR (actions and gestures), like “BIG x, small x,” using huge hand movements and loud/quiet voices.
  • She was encouraging and said that she thought I did well, was energetic and fun, and liked my props and background.
  • She also liked that for the older level, I started by asking, “What is your favorite color?” and referring to my poster of colors behind me.  So you could use that to engage the “older” student.
  • She liked that I corrected when she made pronunciation mistakes, but she said I should always try to get the kid to speak in complete sentences.  So if they answer with one word, prompt them to say, “It is a fox” or “I see a fox.”
So a few hours later, I logged onto the Teacher Portal, which I had gotten access to before the Mock lesson.  On my account on the Portal,  it said that I could set up my Mock 2 lesson!  I was so excited, assuming I passed Mock 1.  I booked the second interview, but then a little later, I got an email saying I didn’t pass Mock 1.  I was super confused.  Here’s that email:
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So after the Mock 1, it seems like you have four possible outcomes:
  1. Straight to hired (for people who rocked the Mock 1!)
  2. Kick Off (for people who have potential, but need more training)
  3. Mock 2 class interview (for people who have potential, need more training, and want to do a lesson instead of a class format)
  4. Not hired (for people who just aren’t a good fit, unfortunately)

I landed in option #2, and did the Kick Off.  I decided not to wait long, and signed up for the Kick Off happening the next day.  I will write more about the Kick Off in another post because it was so helpful and insightful!  But the exciting thing I didn’t realize was that after you go through the two-hour Kick Off, you are an official teacher and can start booking actual classes!

So that’s my story of my quiz and Mock 1 class.  Stay tuned for more VIPKID updates!

Again, if you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!

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What did I just sign up for? {My VIPKID First Week Experience!}

VIPKID is an online company where English-speaking teachers from North America connect with Chinese students in an online classroom.  I saw it on Facebook for weeks and weeks, and after giving in to curiosity, on a whim, I filled out an application!  My thought was, “What do I have to lose?!”
I’m not a spontaneous person, people!  This was not like me!
Immediately I got an email back.  I liked how clear the next steps were.  They seemed like an organized, smart, witty company.
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 I was so skeptical.  But the thought kept ringing in my head that if this is an open door, I’ll keep walking through it until the door closes.  At this point, I almost just let it drop.  But I decided to go forward.  Here is a list of my WHY reasons:
WHY VIPKID?
  • Income.  Let’s be honest, it was about the money.  I’m at home on unpaid maternity leave, and the bills for my c-section just started coming.  It’s so expensive to have a baby, even with insurance!  So the ads about making $14-22/hr teaching from home are what initially caught my eye.
  • New adventure.  I have to be honest, I get a little bored on maternity leave.  Yes, I love my baby, and it’s a huge adjustment, but I need something to be excited about.  Something to work towards.
  • Culture intrigues me.  I love learning new cultures, traveling, meeting new and interesting people.  But I’m pretty home-bound these days, with three kids, a house, a dog, and responsibilities.  This sparked my curiosity about Chinese culture and language.
  • I miss teaching.  This is probably the biggest one.  I was a teacher for 9 years, and since I had my baby the week school started this year, I didn’t even apply for a teaching job.  I totally miss it.  It’s the first fall that I haven’t gone back to school since I was in kindergarten.  Think about that!  After 13 years of my education, 5 years of college, and 9 years of teaching, it felt like my world was a little off-kilter to not be in a classroom.  I thought maybe this could fill that void.

 

So, after I decided that yes, I’m going to interview, I had two options- schedule an interview or record a demo lesson.  I thought, I’m not going to stress about this, so I’ll just do a live interview.  If I record a demo, I’ll obsess about it and put too much time into it.  So I scheduled an interview- for the NEXT day.  Again, “What do I have to lose?!”
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Some people go “all out” for this interview, but I have to say that I kept it super simple.  Here’s a list of what I did and did not do to prepare:
I did:
  • Watch YouTube videos.  This was the best preparation.  It showed some of the specific ways that they like you to teach like talking slowly, lots of repetition and gestures, and props to gather.  Just search “VIPKID Interview” and you’ll find awesome resources.  My favorite one was a mom called Katlyn, who talked about how it’s a dream job for moms.  I also loved Nancy Taylor’s videos because she clearly loves the company and has such a positive attitude!
  • Lighting.  I set up my laptop in a corner of my basement and pulled over two lamps, one an overhead lamp, and one a tabletop lamp.
  • Find an orange shirt.  Orange is VIPKID’s color, and most teachers wear one when they teach.  It used to be required, but now they say you don’t HAVE to have one.  I live in Delano, MN where the mascot is a tiger, so I happen to have quite a few orange shirts.  I grabbed one of my husband’s and turned it backwards so the logo didn’t show!
  • Read through slides.  They send you the slides.  I read through them several times, just to get the flow.  Honestly, I did it while nursing my baby all day.  I’m stuck there anyway, right?!
  • Whiteboard.  This is the one essential thing.  I had it from my years of teaching.
  • Dive in!  Don’t hesitate or overthink it!  Again, “What do you have to lose?!”
I didn’t:
  • Stress.  At all.  I thought, at best, this could be a fun side job that would earn me money to pay off my medical bills from having a baby.  At worst, I don’t make it past the interview and I chock it up to a random whim that fell flat.  No one even needed to know!
  • Buy anything.  Wow, if you go online, people go a little overboard on preparation.  My plan was not to spend a dollar on this until I knew it was legit and going to make me money!  *Note: I did end up buying this orange shirt after I got hired, because I was sick of wearing my Delano shirt backwards!
  • Create reward system.  One part of VIPKID is rewarding kids for trying hard during the lesson with all sorts of little systems.  Sometimes teacher play a game with the kids, sometimes they gather items the the kids “win.”  I didn’t quite get the purpose, so I decided I’m not going to prepare anything for that part, but I would ask about it.
  • Decorate.  I have a ton of teaching stuff and posters, but I decided I wasn’t going to decorate a background yet.  I just set up my laptop in my basement, with my nice bookshelf in the background.
  • Tell anyone.  Except my husband, of course.
So I stayed up late the next night, and my whole house was asleep.  I signed on, put in my headphones, and followed the link to the interview.  The Chinese man on the other end was friendly and professional.  He was sitting in a cubicle in a bright and cheery office building on the other end of the world.  I thought for a minute how awesome and weird this experience was.
He spoke with a Chinese accent, of course, but I could understand his English easily.  He made me feel at ease.  He asked a lot of questions about my education and background.  He gave me some tips and then, before I knew it, he said he was going to pretend to be a 5 year-old, and we could start teaching!  So I dove in, and did my best to imagine a child instead of this Chinese guy!  Actually, I felt like “teacher mode” came back to me quite quickly!
Afterwards, he gave me this feedback:
  • I had good “energy” and excitement, and seemed friendly
  • I had good pacing, not spending too long on slides or glossing over them.
  • I need to do more correcting. If a kid makes any mistake- incomplete sentences, missed pronunciation- correct their mistakes. Get them to speak properly.
  • Now is the time to get some “stuff-” props, stuffed animals, rewards, a name card that says “Teacher Laura.”
  • Act!  Entertain them!   Overdo it!
  • More repetition.  Get the kids to repeat vocabulary words (highlighted in red, helpfully!) at least three times.
Immediately after the interview, within a few minutes, I got this email.
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So I decided to dive in at this point.  Here we go!  As I write this, I am hired and have taught for one week!  You can read my second post in this series, about the Quiz and Mock Class, here!
If you’re reading this and are curious, message me and I can answer any questions you have! If you are ready to dive into this fun job and you need someone to talk you through it, follow my referral link and use this code: 05IOD5.  Thanks!
-Laura

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