Hey VIPKID friends!
Okay, I have some tips to share because I just had the worst week of teaching. I have a run-of-the-mill head cold, but man, is it hard to teach online when you’re sick! Here are my tips from the trenches.
1. Don’t waste a cancellation, but be realistic too.
As you know, you only get 6 cancellations per contract. I’m of the mindset that I’m not going to use a cancellation unless I’m REALLY sick. I haven’t used any yet and I’ve been teaching for 10 months.
At the same time, you have to be realistic. You are offering a service, and if you cannot perform the service well, then you’re short-changing your students. Parents and students will understand, everyone gets sick. So use your best judgement!
2. You NEED a headset with a mic mute button.
LIFESAVER. Seriously! When I felt a cough or sneeze coming on, I would ask a question and immediately mute myself so I could cough on mute while they answered. I feel like it takes some practice, but I got pretty good at muting discreetly.
3. Tell the kids that you’re sick if you need to.
I was trying to be discreet, but at one point, I had a full-on coughing fit. I put up one finger in a “just one moment” motion, turned off both my mic and my camera, and got a drink and wiped my eyes. It took less than 30 seconds. After that, I decided to tell my student. I pretended to cough and sneeze and taught them the word “sick.” No parent was there, but if they were, I would have put it in the feedback. If you feel the need to tell the parents in the feedback, write something like this: “I apologize that I am a bit sick today. I did not want to cancel our class, but I apologize for my coughing.” People understand. I would bet you would get kind feedback with some response like “Teacher, take care of yourself and feel better.” But of course, there is a possibility for negative feedback. It’s the risk you have to take!
4. Have everything in reach to help you.
I had Kleenex, water, coffee, and cough drops handy and within arms reach. I never taught with a cough drop in my mouth, but I think I could have done it.
5. Take it easy.
Whatever you can do to help yourself have a smooth day, do it. For me that meant not opening my usual short-notice classes, and using a simple reward system all week. It also meant that I didn’t rush to complete feedback between classes, but took the five minutes to reset and relax, and then I slowly completed feedback at the end of the morning.
Overall, I have to say that teaching online while sick is infinitely easier than teaching in a brick and mortar school while sick. Of course, I teach only 3-4 hours compared to 8. But you can sit the whole time if you’d like, you don’t need to be moving and expending so much energy. Plus, if you have a schedule like me, you can recuperate and take afternoon naps! Bonus!
Happy (healthy!) teaching,