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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