I am a wannabe minimalist. I always want to strive to keep things simple, efficient, minimal. I haven’t always been this way. When I started online teaching, I thought “good teachers” had tons of props and rewards, and were very “extra.” Nope, that is not a requirement for good teaching!
Now, I keep it very basic. Here are my pared down list of minimal teacher must-haves.
1. A simple background.
Stop the fussing about the background. Kids barely notice it! It is not worth your time! I got a simple world map decal. It’s clean, colorful, and useful.
A perennial problem for vipkid teachers is trying to teach kids how to write letters while writing with a mouse. We end up forming letters and numbers awkwardly and maybe even teaching bad habits. A quick solution is a graphics tablet with a pen . For a minimalist, its even more useful because you can draw on the screen rather than having a whiteboard or paper handy. It keeps kids more engaged, too, because they’re always looking at the screen for what you might draw or write next!
Yes, that’s it. Just glittery stars. You can get them from Teacher Angie on Instagram. They are easy for kids to understand, easy to store, and useful for EVERY lesson. No need to continually come up with new rewards!
One continuous conversation in Vipkid teacher communities is about low bookings- what causes them, and how to fix the problem. We all want a full schedule, and at times, it seems like we have little control over who books our classes.
I’ve been with VIPKID for nearly 3 years and I have never struggled with low bookings. I know it’s a combination of luck and skill, but I have some honest advice that you may not hear other teachers admit to you. Watch this video first:
Now, here is my checklist for low bookings.
1. Fix your participation score. This is a score that is visible to parents, showing your percentage of classes completed, accounting for no-shows, cancellations, and IT problems. Some of this may be out of your control (weather related issues, medical emergencies) and some is definitely in your control (oversleeping, not charging equipment, weak WiFi). For you to have optimal bookings, you need a 100% score. Sorry, you’ll not get a lot of sympathy here. So many people complain about bookings, but they regularly oversleep, cancel classes, or have IT issues. You need to be responsible and dependable. This will directly affect your bookings.
2. Create a consistent, predictable schedule. Chinese parents are working your classes into an already busy schedule for their kids. They want to find a regular teacher that had consistent class times available. You need to pick a schedule and stick with it, ideally for 3+ months. If you open and close your schedule “Willy-nilly,” parents will not come back to your profile consistently. Pick a schedule, stuck to it, and open your classes way in advance.
3. Quit being picky about certifications. Blunt advice: if you are struggling with bookings, you don’t have the luxury of choosing certain certifications. You need them ALL. I cannot stand it when a teacher complains about bookings, but at the same time refuses to get certifications because they “prefer only older students” or “don’t like teaching supplementary classes.” Beggars can’t be choosers. If you want classes, you need to get as many certifications as possible. It’s a simple supply and demand problem. Be brave, get the certification, and try some new kinds of classes.
These are the “big three” for me, when giving advice about bookings. You have to be dependable in your participation score, have a predictable schedule, and be available to teach all different kinds of classes. Once you have those three things squared away, you can focus on other “tweaks” like your profile.
4. Ask a veteran teacher to give honest advice about your profile. Don’t just randomly “try a new picture” or “re-edit your video.” You have a myopic point of view. Ask someone for another perspective, someone who will say, “Honestly, your lighting is terrible,” or “Your bio paragraph doesn’t highlight your education and experience.” If they’re telling you that everything is perfect, they’re probably just being nice. Get someone who will actually gives you constructive criticism.
Other tips that MAY or MAY NOT make a difference:
5. Do an overnighter. I cannot speak from experience, but some teachers swear by this method. It opens up your availability to new students and different students.
6. Send previous students an e-card on the VIPkid app, thanking them for a great class. This just puts your name in front of them again, offering a positive connection point. They have cards that say, “Haven’t seen you in a while! Book me again!” Or course, you have to have some students to begin with for this method.
7. Improve your teaching with mentor-led workshops in the vipkid portal. It’s not a direct correlation- more workshops, more bookings- but it’s definitely going to help, not hurt.
8. Write “I would love to become your regular teacher” in feedback. This is a bit forward, but I think it helps parents know that you want to see their student again and it was a good connection.
9. Reply to parent feedback on the teacher portal. When a parent takes time to write a comment or rating, I always reply. It connects you with the parent and builds the relationship.
10. Be patient. Seriously. Don’t complain about low bookings until you’ve put in at least three months. It takes that long to learn the platform, figure out your schedule, get certifications. You WILL NOT have a full schedule your first month of teaching. Temper your expectations. Be dependable, teach the best you possible can, and have fun with the classes you get!
Please let me know if you’d like some individual advice or a fresh perspective. I’d love to talk you through it. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks for watching and reading!
I am now working for four online education companies. I’d love to tell you a little about each.
1. VIPKid. The original! This was my first foray into online teaching. I teach from 4:30-8am with them, doing one on one English tutoring for mostly Chinese students, ages 3-15. I have been with them since November 2017, and have some regular students that I’ve been teaching for 2+ years.
2. GoGoKid. The backup! This is a competitor to Vipkid, and a very similar company in format, pay structure, and curriculum. I only teach for them occasionally, about an hour each month, as a “back up” company. The world of online teaching is quite unpredictable, so I like having some “insurance” in case things change quickly.
3. Teachers Pay Teachers. The passive income! This is an online platform where teachers create and sell resources- lesson plans, worksheets, printable lessons, etc. I have had my online store, Miz Riz Elementary Resources, with TpT for about 8 years! I don’t create much anymore, but still make passive income through it. I love helping teachers and still occasionally add new items.
4. Outschool. The new one! Outschool is a new addition to my online repertoire. It’s an American company, offering a platform for teacher to share their classes. They do the marketing and managing payments, teachers create the curriculum, class schedule, class size, and cost of classes. It’s been a fun, creative outlet for me, as I have gotten to develop my own classes. I’m only teaching one hour each day with them, 8-9am.
If you’re curious about any of these online teaching options, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get you all the info you need!
I asked my daughters what they really thought of their Lingobus Chinese lessons after about 7 months of weekly lessons. Here are there responses:
Whole family project
Learn through music
They both echoed that they love having a unique skill that is “cool.” Mia said, “I’m the only kindergartener who knows any Chinese in my school!” I like that they have a unique interest and are pursuing it, despite it being different than most kids their ages’ interests.
They both have found regular teachers that they really enjoy. Their personalities are very different, so they gravitated toward different styles of teachers. Kayla mentioned that she loves working toward a reward, and Mia enjoys the music component of learning songs in a new language.
Sometimes classes feel long
Chinese is difficult. There’s no arguing that. But I like that my daughters are taking on a big challenge, and learning to work at it bit by bit. It is definitely not an overnight skill. They do get discouraged at times, but I think generally they’re quite confident in their abilities!
Mia, who is a kindergartener, mentioned that the classes feel long. Kayla, on the other hand, who is 9 disagreed and thought they were a good length. This, understandably, probably has to do with their age and attention span. Both teachers do a great job of making the lessons fun and engaging. We have also played with the timing of the lessons, finding a good time frame when the girls aren’t too tired or distracted.
There is a homework component, and the girls moaned about that a bit. I’m not super strict about them doing their homework pages every week, but I do insist on doing the video preview and the flashcards before each lesson. Kayla said that it is easy homework compared to her normal schoolwork, but just having more to do during the week was a chore for her.
So that’s our honest review, straight from the kids. Overall, we are still enjoying the lessons very much! I often ask the girls if it is too much for them or if they are discouraged, and they don’t feel that at all. They love the lessons.
One positive that they didn’t mention, but I hope someday they’ll both realize is the amazing cross-cultural experience they’re getting. We live in rural Minnesota, where our community is 97% white. There is very little diversity. Doing Chinese classes is just one way where I can purposefully expose my kids to people of different cultures, who look and speak differently than us. Someday I hope they’ll appreciate that aspect. But for now, they love the songs and the rewards!
Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 6 and 9. We’ve been taking Chinese lessons weekly with Lingobus since April 2019. Watch to see how it is going and why we chose Lingobus Chinese classes!
You are ready! You woke up at an insanely early hour. You got dressed, maybe even put on makeup. You set up your computer and props. You even had a moment to get some coffee. You’re in the Gogokid Teacher Portal, ready for your class! If you have a trial class, this is a class that a student has booked to try out Gogokid’s program. They have not paid for a package yet, and they’re unsure if they want to commit. You have the power to convince them!
However, I have to be the bearer of bad news. Oftentimes, trial class students do not show up. They haven’t paid for anything yet, so they lose nothing. But you still have to be prepared. Let me walk you through your Gogokid trial class no show experience, so you are ready for whatever may come.
First, enter the classroom from the teacher portal before your scheduled start time. Just click “Enter Classroom.” I try to enter at least 10 minutes before my first class, to make sure everything is functioning properly. As soon as I enter, I close my camera until the class start time.
As you sit there, you’ll see the student camera area. If it says the the student’s name, that means they have arrived and are waiting for you. This will be an actual trial class, not a “student no show.” If it says “student is entering” (shown above) that means they have not entered the classroom yet. This potentially will be a no-show, but you won’t know yet.
At this point, as I wait for the scheduled start time, I usually write something in the chat box, or on the screen with the drawing tool. I usually just write “Hello!” This proves that I was there in the classroom.
When it gets to the scheduled class time, the start button will appear and flash obnoxiously! Press it as quickly as possible.
When you press it, your camera will open. At that point, you may or may not have a student in the classroom. If you do have a student, go for it and start teaching! If no student is there, sit back and wait.
Now, I’ll finish this blog with quick questions/answer format for easy reading! I know you may be sitting in a no-show, frantically trying to find out what to do. If that is you, please comment below! I’d love to hear your experiences!
How long do I wait?
You wait 15 minutes. If a student shows up at any point between 00:00 and 15:00, you will teach him or her until 25:00. If they do not show up at all, and the clock hits 15:00, it is a no-show and you do not have to teach.
Do I cover camera?
This is up to you. I usually just leave the camera open. Some people hate to sit there, looking at themselves. You can put a post-it note over the camera if you wish. Just don’t “close the camera” with the button on the classroom. You need to be available, ready to go if the student shows up. Also, you cannot leave your classroom space. I would recommend not even leaving your chair (or your standing space if you stand to teach). It is very common for a student to show up, and if you’re not ready to jump right in, you’ll be marked as a “Teacher No Show.”
What if they show up at 14:30?
This is possible, but not probable. If they show up at 14:30, or even 14:59, you have to teach the class. You will teach until 25:00, so you will only have 10 minutes to complete the whole class. Hurry though, but don’t rush too much. You still want to give your student a great first class experience.
Do I need to write anything in the chat box?
No, but it doesn’t hurt. I always write something like “Hello” before the class begins, then if the student shows up late, I write in the chat box, “Student arrived at 4:30 (for example), so we will have class for 20:30 minutes.” This give a clear picture for anyone who would re-watch the class.
What if the IT help cancels the class and writes something in the chat box?
Occasionally, the student’s parents will tell Gogokid that they will not be showing up. In this case, the IT help will come into your classroom and write to you in the chat box something like, “Thank you teacher, your class has been canceled by the parent. You are free to leave.” You can be done waiting and leave the classroom. I always take a screen shot of that message, just in case I need to prove why I left early.
Can I do something else while I wait?
Yes! Do whatever you’d like! You can use your phone, read, drink your coffee, daydream. I sometimes use my computer, but I never block my window that is open, showing the classroom. If the student pops in, I don’t want to be online shopping or something in another window and not see it. Also, as I mentioned above, don’t leave your teaching area until 15:00.
Do I just leave at 15:00?
Yes. You close your classroom browser window. Take a screen shot before you leave.
How much will I get paid?
For a Trial No Show, you’ll get paid 60% of your base rate. If the student shows up late, even if it is at 14:59, and you teach the rest of the time, you’ll get full pay.
Do I write feedback?
Not for a no-show. No need to write anything. There won’t be a screen for feedback because you’ll close the classroom before 25:00.
Remember, don’t be discouraged if you have a no-show. I know it can be a let down when you get geared up for a class, and then disappointed when there is no student to teach. Bounce back and enjoy the break. You’ll probably have quite a few trials and no-shows in your first few months of teaching with Gogokid. When you begin to build your base of regular students, no shows will become a rarer experience.
What other questions do you have about no-shows or Gogokid? Any funny or interesting Gogokid trial class experiences? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
-Teacher Laura from Minnesota, USA
Hello! My name is Laura and I teach online for VIPKID and Gogokid, teaching English to Chinese students!
I write here to connect with other teachers and applicants. I’d love to hear from you. Here are some useful links.
Here’s a fun way to get to know other online teachers! It’s called #onlineeslteachertag. In the video above, I gave “rapid fire” answers to most of these, but here’s I’ll expand a bit so you can get to know me!
I wear plain colored shirts, or my teacher shirts made by some amazing instagrammer teachers!
Are you a brick and mortar teacher?
I used to be. I taught in the public schools for nine years, then did some subbing, and now only teach online.
Who are you favorite youtube/snapchat/ig teachers?
See the video for my faves!
Are you team meg, mike or Dino?
Honestly, I’m not really into collecting the characters. I just use some simple 2D cut outs of Meg and Mike when necessary, and I do have a plushie Dino, but I could take them or leave them. They’re not a big deal to me.
Why did you decide to join VIPKID?
When I had my 3rd daughter, I was subbing. Most of my income was going straight to daycare, and it didn’t make sense for me to work full-time. Now, I’m loving the “work from home mom” life, and don’t plan on returning to the brick and mortar classroom until my youngest is in school.
What is your most used prop?
My small globe is my most used prop. I think this is probably because I teach a lot of level one, and they’re always traveling around the world in that unit.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about joining VIPKID?
My advice is that you should examine your motives. I’ve chatted with many people who are just looking for a quick buck, or a job that pays full time money for part time work. This is not that job. Only apply if you truly love teaching, children, cultures, languages, and want to really make a difference.
What advice do you have for a newbie teacher?
My best advice is to get as many certifications as possible. You’ll want to have the opportunity for as many people as possible to see your profile.
What is your best teaching tip?
Learn a language yourself. You don’t have to learn Chinese, but practice learning any language that interests you. It’ll make you more compassionate toward your students!
What does your morning routine look like?
I get up at 4:30am, press snooze a couple times, quickly do makeup, brush my teeth and hair, make a quick Keurig coffee, and get my lights on. Then, I’ll pull up my Feedback Panda tabs for each student and prepare the feedback, which I’ll edit between the classes. I can go from dead asleep to ready to teach in about 10 minutes if necessary!
What is your favorite course to teach?
Level two is my favorite because they’re really ready to learn. I love watching them grow in confidence throughout that level.
What is your least favorite course to teach?
Trials. I feel like I’m pretty good at trials, and I do like the variety, but it’s not worth the IT problems and high frequency of no-shows. I’ll take Major Courses any day.
The best thing you like about this job?
The flexibility is my favorite part. I am so grateful to be able to pick my schedule. It has made our family life much more calm, organized, and peaceful to have a mom that is home more.
The worst thing you hate about this job?
The hours are tricky for my sleep schedule. I have to take a nap in the afternoons to function past 8pm. I can almost always squeeze in a 10-30 minute nap, and it makes all the difference in the world.
Can you say anything in Chinese?
Yes! I’ve been learning with YoyoChinese, and my girls take Lingobus classes! We’ve learned a lot! Watch the video to see me attempt some phrases.
Have you been to china?
No, but I’m dying to go! Who wants to take me? I’ll hop on a flight tomorrow!
Thanks for reading or watching! You’re welcome to participate in the video or blog version!
I can’t believe it, but we have been doing online Chinese lessons now for over six months! My girls have learned so much!
Last week, we were sitting down for dinner and we were chatting about how it was going, what they liked about the lessons, what their favorite words and phrases were to learn. I put a camera on them and just recorded our conversation! Listen in and hear their progress! Thanks for watching!
Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9. Watch to see how our first classes went and why we chose Lingobus Chinese classes! If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started
Instagram: minnesotateachermom Thanks for watching! -Laura from Minnesota
Welcome to VIPKID! Oh no! You don’t have bookings?! You’re ready to teach, but no parents have chosen you to be their child’s teacher? It’s a common problem. There are opinions floating around everywhere about what is the best way to up your bookings. I have been with VIPKID for two years, and in those years, there’s really only ONE tip I offer. It is the key to opening up more bookings. It is getting more CERTIFICATIONS. Here’s why this is crucial to you getting booked and filling up your schedule.
1. Parents Get to Choose You
It’s a blessing or a curse. Some online ESL companies guarantee bookings because the company books the classes for you. The parents of the students do not get to choose. VIPKID has chosen not to operate like that. By giving the parents the power to choose their teachers, parents can choose a teacher that they think will fit well with their student. How they choose is very subjective. Perhaps they enjoyed your video or your photo, or the “tags” that describe you are appealing. It’s the only way we could have regular students. If the company booked, we would have a completely random schedule and never see the same student twice. So we have to make ourselves appealing to parents. The biggest way you can do that is by getting many certifications!
2. There is one thing you can control with your bookings.
Certifications, certification, certifications. Usually when you’re hired you start with just a couple level certifications. However, there are MANY more certifications available. There are 7 levels just in Major Courses. There are several Supplementary Classes. And of course, trial classes! Every single student who tries VIPKID has to take a trial class.
3. The parents view is limited to teachers who are qualified to teach their student’s level.
A parent can only see teachers’ profiles if they are qualified to teach their student. You are limiting yourself if you are not getting as many certifications as possible. If a parent signs a student up who has a strong English level, for example, a Level 5 student. The parent can only see teachers who are certified to teach Level 5. If you are not certified for as many levels as possible, you are limiting your potential bookings. Remember: More certifications = more potential bookings.
4. Certifications are the biggest impact.
There are many tips and “tricks” floating around in VIPKID forums and groups about how to increase your bookings. Many tips an incidental, like “I changed my profile picture and immediately got 10 bookings!” These typical tips (change your bio, video, or pictures, etc) might “move the needle” a bit, but nothing will have as strong of an impact as getting more certifications.
5. This requires bravery!
You will have to be brave! You will have to try new things! When I began with VIPKID in November 2017, they had a system where every new teacher had to only teach trial classes at first. So all I taught for several weeks was trials, trials, trials. There were only about 4 trial classes at that point, so I got very confident in my ability to teach these classes. I realized that I would need to get more certifications if I wanted more bookings, so I had to be brave and try a new level that I was not very confident in. But that made all the difference for my bookings! Even now, two years in, I am still pushing myself to be brave and try new things. I just added Level 7+ last week, and taught my first Level 7 class! I was nervous at first, but so glad I did it!
6. Which certifications should I get first?
Okay, I hope by now I’ve convinced you to get more certifications. So where should you start? In my opinion, the best certifications to have are Level One, Two, and Trial Classes. These levels and types of classes have the biggest demand of students. If you already have those, I would work on getting ALL the Major Course (Levels 1-7+) and then work through the Supplementary Courses.
How to get a new certification?
Open your Teacher Portal, then Resources, then Certifications
Look at the Tabs for each type of class. In my opinion, start with Major Courses.
Click on the level you want to be certified in. Read about the level.
Check your prerequisites. If you qualify, it will have a button that says “apply.”
Click that to begin. You will read the material, take a quiz, and sometimes record a demo lesson. After that, you’ll be certified! You can begin being booked for these classes immediately!
All the best in bookings, teacher! Please let me know your opinions below! Stay tuned to my Instagram (@vipkidteachermom) and YouTube channel (Laura Risdall) for more tips and conversations!
Hello! My name is Laura and I teach online for VIPKID and Gogokid, teaching English to Chinese students!
I make videos here to connect with other teachers and applicants.
My daughters are really enjoying their online Lingobus Chinese classes. I have been sitting with them lately, to help them with the lessons. When I sit with them, I’ve been noticing how FUN and INTERACTIVE these lessons are! Researchers say that it takes 400 repetitions of a new skill for it to be learned, unless it is learned through play! Then, it only takes 20 repetitions! Wow, what a difference! I can tell that Lingobus is using this strategy to teach Chinese. My kids are picking it up so quickly, and I think the fact that they are learning through fun activities is speeding up their progress.
The lessons are very interactive. In the video above you can see:
Drag and drop activities like sorting items by color.
Sorting activities to learn “boy” and “girl.”
Audio clips to make sure they pronounce the word perfectly
Filters on teachers faces that make her look like a cat
And those are just a few examples. Every lesson has slides that the student has to actually move or manipulate the material. As a side note, parents may need to help younger students learn how to use the mouse or trackpad to accomplish this!
Since our kids love screen time and computer games, Lingobus is using that to their advantage. It can feel like you’re playing a video game sometimes, rather than just sitting in a tutoring session.
My girls love the lessons and truly have fun during them. I think they were a bit intimidated at first about learning Chinese, because it’s known to be a complicated language that is so different than English. But the interactive nature of the lessons has really helped to give them confidence and engage them in learning the language!
Stay tuned for our next Lingobus video and blog!
Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9. Watch to see how our first classes went and why we chose Lingobus Chinese classes! If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started https://www.lingobus.com/?referralCode=PAR49P
Email: email@example.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom Thanks for watching! -Laura from Minnesota