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.
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.
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.**
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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!”
- 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.”
- Straight to hired (for people who rocked the Mock 1!)
- Kick Off (for people who have potential, but need more training)
- Mock 2 class interview (for people who have potential, need more training, and want to do a lesson instead of a class format)
- 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!
Follow Laura’s VIPKID Journey here: