VIPKid Soft Cancellations

Well, it finally happened. I had to cancel my three classes one morning earlier this week. Without going into too many details, when I got up to teach my classes, I found that my son was very ill and we had to take him to the emergency room. (He’s ok now.) At the time, there was no question of not going. I knew that I had to cancel my classes. Fortunately, I had read up on the process before so I knew how to do it. Sometimes, in the midst of an emergency, it can be stressful enough that you don’t remember how to do things like this, so I thought I’d put together a quick help guide.

What is VIPKid’s cancellation policy?

If you are a current teacher, be sure to review the Cancellation and No-Show procedure online in the support center. Things may change, and my blog is NOT the definitive source. At the time I’m writing this, teachers may miss up to six appointments (appointment = up to 3 classes in the same day in Beijing) within a 6-month contract before our contracts are reviewed and we are at risk for contract termination. Depending on the situation, there may or may not be financial penalties incurred or an impact to your ability to earn a raise. Factors that can influence this are the reason for the absence and proper documentation as required by the policy.

How do you cancel a class?

I chose to cancel my class from the phone app. I went to the class (just like I was going to look at the student or the materials.) Then I clicked the three dots in the upper right hand corner and it gave me the option to cancel the class. It allowed me to choose a reason and also offer up an alternative timeslot that would be reserved for only that student (if they want to book it.) You can also do it from the PC app or the web portal by going to the “bookings” page and clicking on the class you need to cancel.

How do you apply for a soft or medium cancellation?

Soft or medium cancellations have less negative consequences for teachers. They do not count against your six for contract purposes, and they may or may not result in a financial penalty. You may request this change within 30 days of an occurrence. Again, VIPKid has a full support page dedicated to this process, so I encourage you to review this page before beginning. To request a change, log into the teacher portal via the PC app or a web browser. Choose the “All Classes” tab and then click on the orange button that says “Cancellations & No Shows & Change Finish Type.”

Place a check mark next to the classes you wish to request be changed, and then click on “Soft/Medium Cancellation.” You will then be prompted to input the reason and attach supporting documentation.

How can I make sure my request results in a successful soft or medium cancellation?

There are no guarantees. However, I do have a few tips to help increase your success chances.

  1. Most importantly, read the VIPKid support pages on the topic in the support center before submitting your request. They tell you step by step what to do, what is required, and what to expect.
  2. Wait until your emergency has passed to submit your request. You only have two opportunities to request that a cancellation be changed to soft/medium. If you are in a state of distress, you are more likely to make mistakes or omit important information. Remember, you have up to 30 days to submit your request. That said…
  3. Don’t wait until the very last minute. Once your emergency has passed, go ahead and submit the request. It does take some time to process (although mine was resolved within 2 days.) But it’s always better to allow a little extra time if possible.
  4. Keep your sentences short and simple. Avoid unnecessary details. Keep the request related to the verbiage in the policies. Be sure to list the class date, time, and student for clarity.

Examples of “Soft Cancellation” Request

Current policy:

Effective October 2019, here’s what the policy said about “serious illness.” Serious illnesses or diseases are sudden, health-related events that render a teacher incapable of teaching a class.

Note: Since the spectrum of illnesses, and the severity of cases, varies widely, only instances that require hospital visits are considered. If your child needs medical attention, please ensure that the documentation provided includes a shared last name (or supporting evidence).

Please note: All other illnesses (common flu, headaches, and stomach bugs) are not categorized as an applicable scenario for Soft Missed Appointments. However, they may apply to Medium   Appointments. Please send in ticket to ask our agents. For Soft Missed Appointments, dentist visits, or notes from the school/office explaining that you are ill are not included in this definition of serious illness.

Bad example

I need to request that my class with Suzie have the finish type changed. My daughter woke up with a headache and nausea and we thought it might be a stomach flu. When the symptoms continued, we took her to the urgent care center. They suggested that it might be the flu, so we took her to the hospital and they wrote a note excusing her from school for the week. Please don’t let this count against my contract. I need this job and cannot afford to be penalized.

Things to improve

  • There are many details in here that are not required. It is not necessary to share the diagnoses or every step that you took in trying to reach that diagnosis.
  • There are several things listed that are not eligible for soft cancellations, even though a hospital visit is. Only list the most relevant facts.
  • The request doesn’t list the specific finish type or the class details.

better example

I need to request that the following class be changed to a soft cancellation:

Class Date: 10/12/19

Class Time: 8:00 pm BJT

Student: Suzie

Reason: My daughter, Amy Barker, was seriously ill and I had to take her to the hospital. We were at the hospital from 6:00 pm BJT until 11:00 pm BJT, forcing me to miss my class. I have attached the note from the hospital and her release papers that include a timestamp. Thank you!

I hope you don’t ever need to use this information, but if you do, I hope that it’s helpful. Once again, please always refer to the VIPKid support center for current processes and procedures. If you have questions, feel free to let me know in the comments, and I will do my best to help you find the answers!

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A Tale of Three Teachers

On this third day of Blogtober/Vlogtober, I wanted to share a short story about three teachers who I introduced to VIPKid. With all of the changes in referring, I thought these experiences might help shed some light into what does and does not make a ‘good’ referral. Spoiler alert: If you prefer videos, you can skip to the end and watch my YouTube version!

Teacher One

I met this person in a Facebook group. The group had nothing to do with VIPKid, but another member (not this teacher) had asked about “work from home” jobs or jobs she could travel with. I responded with some general info about VIPKid, and this person was one of several who replied. After we chatted back and forth, she told me she wasn’t ready to start, but she would contact me when she was. I didn’t think much more about it, and a couple of months later, she said she was ready! I walked her through the application process and helped her through the hiring. As soon as she was hired, she moved to Spain, and we stay in touch today! Even though we are not a “real life” friend and have never met, I love her to death. We have built a relationship and so I was able to be a trusted helper to her through the process, and we remain in touch today!

Teacher Two

This person found my blog and reached out with some questions. She emailed me and said she was thinking about finding a mentor. I helped her through a few questions and then she added my teacher code and then we went through the hiring process. Ironically, she already lived overseas (and continues to today.) So once again, I have never met her face-to-face but I consider her a friend. Our first interaction was a conversation, not a blind referral.

Teacher Three

One day a new name popped up on my referral tracker. Today (in the new world) we won’t have full names or contact info for our referrals. Previously, we did, so I reached out to her to see if she needed help. She made it almost all the way through the process before she responded, and I did very little to help her. Once she was finally hired and had taught her first class, I asked her how she came to sign up using my code. She responded, “No offense, but I didn’t mean to. I have no idea.” She was trying to sign up with a friend’s code, but ended up with mine instead. The reason she never had any questions was that she was asking her friend, yet I was getting the bonus. (I did offer to send her friend the bonus money.) I’m sure what happened was that she read a blog or watched a video and clicked through to the application page. She probably completed the signup process using my link without realizing that it was *my* link and it would stop her from adding her friend’s referral code. It’s my opinion that THIS is the type of referral VIPKid is trying to prevent. No, you don’t have to be best friends or family with every person you refer, but our activities as a referring teacher should be more intentional not accidental.

Remember, we are teachers, first and foremost. Yes, we get a bonus if we have a successful referral get hired and begin teaching, but the goal is to share the opportunity with those we can help and who will make fantastic teachers. The goal is NOT to throw our referral code out into the world and see what sticks.

So if you are having some anxiety about the new process, think of my tale of three teachers, and perhaps it will help.

Happy teaching, and happy referring!

VIPKid Business Cards

With the recent changes in VIPKid recruiting policies, there has been a lot of discussion about what is (and is not) appropriate. A quick disclaimer: If you are a VIPKid teacher, please refer to the Teacher App or portal for the official policy! The below is just how I’ve interpreted a piece of it!

One of the biggest changes is that VIPKid says, ” Referral codes and links must be shared with third parties that you know personally, such as your friends and family. You agree to not solicit, spam, or mass email anyone who you do not personally know with your Referral code or link.” Obviously, that leaves those of us in cyber-space a little bit detached. Does it stop you from getting help? No – absolutely not. But signing up with a code will not enable you to talk 1:1 with another teacher. That makes good old-fashioned communication even more important.

To help prepare for this, I had some business cards printed up today. I included:

  • My logo (MINE – not VIPKid’s!)
  • My name, of course
  • My title (English/ESL Teacher, VIPKid) I am a teacher, NOT a recruiter, hiring coach, etc.
  • My contact information

I did NOT include my referral code. Under the new policy, if someone wants to sign up and work with me 1:1, we will be talking or communicating already, and I can send them the link that way.

When I placed my order, I was ambitious. I ordered 200 business cards. Like many teachers, I was a little uncertain about the future of referring. But 200 cards should last a good, long time.

If you believe in fate, premonition, or just dumb luck, you’ll appreciate what happened next. When I picked up my order, they printed 2,000 business cards not 200. What a deal! Some may say that it was an employee not paying attention, but I say it’s the universe telling me to keep going! It might take me a few years to work through all those cards, but I’ll have plenty to last a while (and they are in line with the new policies!)

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful. If anyone is looking for an easy template, I can share what I did. In the meantime, if you (or anyone you know) is looking to start teaching online, I’ve got a card I can give you!

What’s in a name?

October is apparently called by many names. It’s “Vlogtober” which I’ve already completely failed.

It’s also known as “Blogtober” which I might be mildly more successful at. In both cases, the goal is to blog, or vlog, every day of the month. Now, even if my video had not been a total bust, I have already mentally prepared myself to fail both of these challenges. I don’t think there’s any way that I will have the time or the energy to post every.single.day. BUT, I think I can do a little better than my normal weekly blog post and monthly video. Thanks for joining me as I kick things off.

With all of these names floating around, you may have also noticed that the name of my blog changed. This page used to be called “Amelia VIPKid.” Effective October 1st, VIPKid teachers are no longer allowed to use “VIPKid” in our own personal domains, social media accounts, etc. And to be honest, “Teacher Amelia” has a nicer ring to it anyway. So from now on, you can find me here at teacheramelia.com.

You may also notice that my teacher referral code is slowly vanishing from all of my accounts and my posts. Along with the new branding guidelines, another big change was rolled out with VIPKid on October 1. Teachers are asked to only refer people that we know “in real life” (aka – friends and family.) Referring had become somewhat big business with some VIPKid teachers (not me, sadly.) As with anything, some teachers did an amazing job while others may not have followed the same protocol and held the same standards that VIPKid would have.

I’m certainly not privy to the reasons behind this change, but I can’t say that I blame the company. So if you are a new teacher and you’re looking for a helpful hand, of course – ask me any questions and I’ll try to help. Just don’t expect to find a referral link here!

October is shaping up to be a busy and blog-filled month. I’ve got a lot of personal things going on, and I’ll share some of them with you in the upcoming days and weeks. But ultimately, the blog will still be centralized around VIPKid because that’s what I’m here for. If you have any special requests – things that you’d like to see or questions you’d like me to answer – let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching, blogging, vlogging, or whatever you want to do this month!

Teacher Amelia

China’s National Day and VIPKid

When is it?

Unlike many Chinese holidays and festivals, this one is not based on the lunar calendar. It has a fixed day every year – October 1!

In 2019, it will be celebrated October 1-7, but be aware that the weekends before and after will likely be mandatory work and school days.

What is it?

The full name of the holiday is “National Day of the People’s Republic of China.” It is a public holiday to honor the date that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) was founded in 1949. The holiday is celebrated in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

History

The first ceremony was held in Tianamen Square on October 1, 1949. The first public parade of the new People’s Liberation Army also took place in Tianamen Square, and that was also where the first address by the first Chairman happened. Many of the celebrations still happen in Beijing but are publicized on television.

Activities

The holiday’s activities actually begin the night before National Day. In past years, there was a wreath-laying ceremony done in remembrance of Chinese who perished, but beginning in 2014, this moved to a new “National Memorial Day” holiday held on the eve of National Day on September 30.

The morning of National Day, there is a 6am flag-raising ceremony. In 2019, the day will also marked with the National civil-military parade. This parade is one of the main highlights of the celebration in Beijing, and it used to be held yearly but now is held every 10th year. 2019 marks the 70th year of the PRC. The parade will be filled with key leaders in the Chinese government and will include a number of military weapons as part of the display.

According to ChinaHighlights.com, the event is celebrated October 1-7, which adjacent weekend days being mandatory workdays to help offset the time off. So you may find students traveling the first week in October, but home-bound while Mom and Dad work and they go to school the weekends before and after.

Will I get bookings or cancellations?

I was pretty new last year at this time, so I did not notice a difference. I also do not teach weekends. Based on what I’ve seen from other teachers, the biggest impact will be for those of you who book classes on the weekends. If your students are in school the weekends before and after the holiday, they might not be able to take their regularly-scheduled classes. During the holiday week, too, it’s possible their family will be traveling, so they might add, cancel, or change classes. As with most holidays in China, just be aware and try to be mindful of student schedule changes. To minimize impacts, it’s best if you can open up short notice bookings and be as flexible as possible!

What can I do in class to celebrate?

Any time you can bring elements of a festival into your classroom, children and their families will appreciate your efforts! I have heard of teachers adding red paper lanterns to their classroom to celebrate. There are also a few reward systems out there with Google Slides, so you could incorporate those into your class. Of course, it’s also a good opportunity to introduce as free-talk or icebreakers in your class. Questions could be:

  • Will you celebrate National Day?
  • Will you watch the parade on National Day?
  • Will you travel next week?

What should I do to prepare?

There’s really not too much you need to do to prepare, unless you want to incorporate decorations or rewards into your classroom.  Be flexible, and be open to hearing if your students want to tell you about their own celebrations on this day. Most importantly, have fun!

In 2019, there are two Chinese Culture workshops offered by VIPKid in the week leading up to National Day, so if you have questions or are looking for more information, that would be a good place to start! Check out the workshop schedule in the library for more info!

If you have suggestions of your own, please let me know in the comments, or let me know how this festival has been for you in the past!

If you are just getting started and would like help through the hiring process, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to help you through the application process with VIPKid!

Sources/More Information:

Wikipedia.com

China Highlights.com

YouTube video published by VIPKid: National Day with Belle from the Teacher Service Team!

Adding a VIPKid Referral Code

When you sign up through a VIPKid mentor, you get 1:1 guidance and support through the hiring process and beyond, and we get a little bonus once you teach your first class.

When you are just getting started as a new teacher applying with VIPKid, there are two ways you can sign up with an existing teacher as your “referring teacher.”

  1. You can sign up using a referral link. This automatically associates you with the referring teacher, and we’ll be notified of your application. As of October 1, VIPKid teachers are no longer allowed to share our referral links or codes in a public space like this, but you can contact a teacher directly if you would like their help.
  2. You can sign up using a referral code.

To do this is simple:

If you do not yet have a VIPKid teacher account

  1. From the registration page, click on “Sign Up.
  2. Click on “If you have a referral code, click here.”
  3. Input your referring teacher’s code in the box that appears. Complete the remaining information and click the “Sign Up” button.

If you already have a VIPKid teacher account

  1. Once you are logged in, click on “My Account.”
  2. Click on “Add Referral Code” (available until the time you sign your contract with VIPKid!)
  3. Add the referral code of your mentoring teacher.

If you aren’t sure what a referring teacher is, or if you want one or not, remember VIPKid’s objective is for you to have the opportunity to work with a friend or trusted acquaintance who is already a teacher. You get 1:1 guidance and support through the hiring process and beyond, and we get a bonus once you teach your first class. Most importantly, it’s totally free to you! We are here to help you.

In the meantime, best of luck, happy applying, and happy teaching!

One Year and 100 Blog Posts Later…

This is my 100th blog post. And since September 18 marks the one year anniversary of when I signed my first contract with VIPKid, it’s only fitting that this post be a first year check-in. Consider this my behind the scenes “VIPKid tell-all!” I’ll share the answers to three questions people don’t usually ask me, but I’m sure they’ve wondered.

How much money can you make with VIPKid?

How much money you make with VIPKid depends on a lot of factors. Are you working part time, or full time? How long have you been doing it? Do you work enough to qualify for a raise?

  • My husband and I once calculated that if you made an average of $8.00 per 25-minute class and worked “full time” – 40 hours per week, you would make around $42,000 per year teaching classes. It’s important to remember that if you are looking to do this full time, you have to grow your business. It takes time to get to a point where your schedule is consistently filled.
  • I work VERY part time. I only teach 3 classes per day, and only Monday-Friday. Last fall I did teach up to five classes per day, but I scaled back in February and have kept it at three. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve made, working 1.5 – 2.5 hours per day M-F.

What are the worst parts of working for VIPKid?

There are three things that I struggle with when it comes to VIPKid. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that people find to complain about. No company and no experience is perfect, but these are the big ones for me.

  1. Class Attendance. Many people complain about VIPKid’s strict attendance policy. You can only have six missed appointments per contract without risk of a contract termination. (If you are an existing teacher, you can read the policy here.) I understand the policy – trust me, there are some mornings when my alarm goes off that I might just stay in bed if there weren’t a strict policy in place. But it does lend itself to teaching while sick or through other difficult life circumstances. Yes, there are ways that you can apply for “soft” or “medium” cancellations that come with fewer consequences, but in most cases, I find myself simply pushing through. And honestly, I don’t want to let my students down. They have been looking forward to our class all day, or maybe even all week. I don’t want to be the one to let them down.
  2. Setting Boundaries. When you enjoy something as much as I enjoy VIPKid, it’s sometimes hard to “turn it off.” Even when I’m not teaching, I’m often blogging, or watching videos, or editing videos. But it’s important to set boundaries – both with how I spend my time and also with spending money. No, I don’t need ALL the cute props I see.
  3. Learning Social Media. This may sound silly, because I’ve been using social media for a long time. And I should start by saying, you don’t have to use social media to teach. It is NOT a part of the job. But if you are interested in the recruiting side of the business (which I am) or growing with the “builders program” to take on new roles within VIPKid, then social media can help. On one hand, I’ve enjoyed learning new things, but on the other, it can be overwhelming to learn how to effectively use You Tube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for business. And don’t even get me started on video editing! I try, but I’m still much better with words than with videos! So it’s been a challenge, but one that I do sometimes enjoy.

What is the best part of working with VIPKid?

This one is easy. The best part of working with VIPKid is getting to know these amazing students and their families. A close second is learning about the culture in China. After one year with VIPKid, I would say 2/3 of my classes are filled with “regular” students that I have taught multiple times. My most taught student is Emma, and I’ve taught her 64 times in the last year. She just recently overtook Erica (my very first student!) I look forward to seeing Tracy, Rosie, Eric, and Alina at their regularly scheduled times each week. There is NO END to the number of “cute and amazing kid” stories that I have. (Ask Michael, he’ll tell you.) I adore it when my students pull out a musical instrument to show me what they are learning, or when mom sends me a video of their daughter learning how to make dumplings with her grandma. I ADORE the people that VIPKid has brought into my life, and I will forever be grateful!

What’s the verdict?

This will come to no surprise, but I would ABSOLUTELY recommend VIPKid. I have no regrets and no intention of ending my teaching career. When I began, it was a way for me to earn a little extra money for our capital campaign at church. Now, I cannot imagine life without teaching. I have come to embrace the name “Teacher Amelia” and all that comes along with it.

If you’ve been tagging along with me for the last year, thanks for putting up with all of my stories and musings! I hope you will celebrate these milestones with me this month!

If you are new to VIPKid or have been thinking about starting out, DO IT! When you are ready, here’s how to apply (along with some helpful hints!)

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a solid honorable mention (maybe even a tie!) to my amazing referrals. Right up there with my students and learning about their families and cultures, I have truly enjoyed helping new teachers get started. I’ve lived vicariously through them as they’ve moved to Spain, Poland, Israel and more. I’ve had the chance to cheer them on in their careers (both with VIPKid and their “day jobs.” I’ve become closer to friends I’ve already known and gotten to know totally new people. Oh, and I learned about elephant snot. (Teachers use many tools in their classrooms. I’m just sayin’.)

So join us. You’ll be glad you did!