Attending a VIPKid Meetup

There’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone!

VIPKid has been one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done. And they pay me for it! But let’s face it, people just don’t understand it!  How many times have we heard:

  • Wait, do you speak Chinese?
  • You do it on your computer?
  • You sound like you’re talking to your students again…
  • That better not be another picture of a cute kid!

Even those who are most supportive of us just don’t understand what it’s like to form these bonds with students and their parents across the globe.

Because our students are not in a brick and mortar school, we can’t just pop into the teacher’s lounge when we want to talk to someone.  So where do you go for support, help, or collaboration?

Many of us turn to online communities, which are GREAT.  (I’ll list some of my favorites in an upcoming blog post.) But there’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone.

Fortunately, VIPKid realizes this and encourages teachers to participate in local meetups!

What is a meetup?

Straight from the VIPKid suport center, “Meetups are a great way for teachers to gather and share their ideas or teaching experience with one another. Attending one can not only improve your daily routine, but the useful tips and getting to know other teachers will certainly provide a boost to your teaching business that only require a positive outlook and basic social skills!”

How can you find a meetup near you?

VIPKid lists all meetups on their community events page. You can search by city/state or zip code to find a meetup in your area.

What can you do at a meetup?

Anything you want! In all seriousness, every meet up is different. Meetups are hosted by VIPKid teachers, and so they will be different based on personality, location, time of year, and attendees.  I have been to two meetups, and both were fun but very different.

My first meetup was hosted by Teacher Beth. It was hosted at a Mexican restaurant and we ate dinner. The atmosphere was informal, and it gave teachers (and a few prospective teachers) a chance to talk to one another, get to know each other, and share stories about their classes. Of course, there was a swag giveaway, and I won my first Dino!

My second meetup was just this month and hosted by Teacher Kimberly. This one was in a private room at a coffee shop. A few of the same teachers were there, but many new ones. This one included an icebreaker, plus some targeted discussions about tips for new teachers, the Teacher App, the application process, recruiting, and even a demo of Google Slides. Kimberly had made goody bags for all attendees, and –  you guessed it – there was swag! (This time I won a cute dragon Dino and a Dino-topped pencil!)

Both of the meetups resulted in new, local friendships and a lot of fun.

A few common themes that I’ve seen before include:

  • Prop Swaps: Teachers can bring extra or gently used props they no longer need and trade with others. It’s a great way to get new ideas for props or re-home some of your own!
  • Crafting or Painting Parties: These are fun, and they can serve double duty as classroom decorations after you’re finished.
  • Escape Rooms: I’m planning my first meetup in August, and it will include an escape room. Why? Because they are super fun! It’s also a good chance to work together and teambuild.
  • Meals: Of course, we all have to eat. Why not grab a bite and swap stories at the same time?
  • Family Fun: Theme parks, picnics, bowling, and parks can all make for a family-friendly day where everyone can have fun. Not only can teachers have fun sharing stories, but their kids can commiserate about mom or dad stealing their toys as props, and spouses can share their favorite (or least favorite) VIPKid tales too!
  • Festivals, Museums, or Tours: We all enjoy learning about other cultures. Often, teachers will get together for local Chinese festivals or others. It’s a great chance to learn and have fun with your fellow teachers.

Really, the sky is the limit. The goal is to have fun and enjoy spending time with your fellow teachers (and of course, get some cool new VIPKid swag.)

Can prospective teachers attend a VIPKid meetup?

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that they are designed for existing teachers, so if you are interested in an actual recruiting event or something that is designed for prospective teachers, Coaching Days might be more appropriate.

Like I mentioned, I will be hosting my first meetup in August, so I’d love any tips and tricks. I’ll be sure to blog about it along the way. And if you’re local, I’d love to see you there!

Happy teaching (and meeting!)

dino dragon 2

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How to Take a Screenshot

Screenshots can be helpful to document student no-shows, IT issues, and much more.

If you are a teacher with VIPKid, you’ve probably been told at some point to “take a screenshot.” Screenshots can be helpful to document student no-shows, IT issues, and much more. But sometimes (especially if we are in the middle of a problem) it can be a challenge to remember how to take a screenshot!

Below are a few of the most common ways to take a screenshot. This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will help you find a method that works for you.

PC

  1. Snipping Tool: Most PC’s have a tool built in called a “Snipping Tool.”  If you search for this program on your computer, it will come up, and you can pin it to your taskbar or make a shortcut on your desktop for it.  The pictures can then be saved as a .jpg file. Instructions for how to launch and use the snipping tool can be found on the Microsoft support site.
  2. “PrtScr” Button: Somewhere near the upper right corner of your keyboard, there should be a button marked “PrtScr.” (It might be abbreviated differently on your keyboard. Press ALT+PrtScr, and this will take a screenshot of the active window of your computer. You can then open a word document, powerpoint, or paint and type CTRL+V to paste the image into a file that you can save.
  3. Partial Screenshot: Hold down the Windows key+Shift+S, and it will allow you to use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture. It then copies it to the clipboard and you can paste into the program of your choice to save.

MAC

  1. Snip: There is an app you can download from the Mac App store called “Snip.” It works much like the Snipping Tool for Windows.
  2. Full Screenshot: Hold down Command+Shift+3, and this will take a screenshot of your active window and save it to your desktop.
  3. Partial Screenshot: Hold down Command+Shift+4; then use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture. It will automatically save it to your desktop.

iPad/iPhone

To take a screenshot on either an iPad or an iPhone, hold down the sleep/wake button, then immediately press and release either the volume up button or the round home button. Your screen should flash, and your device will save the screenshot of the entire screen as a photo.

Android

To take a screenshot on an android device, hold down the volume down button and the power button for 1-2 seconds. The entire screen should flash white, and your device will capture the entire screen and save it as a photo.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have other suggestions or tips that work for you, let me know in the comments!

How to Request a VIPKid Finish Type Change

We all love our students and want them to have a great experience, so it’s always disappointing when things don’t work the way we planned.

This is the blog post that I never wanted to write.  The fact that I am writing it tells you that I have had some type of problem in one of my VIPKid classes. The fact that you’re reading it tells me you might have had a similar problem, so I hope this helps!

What is a finish type?

As I explain in the VIPKid Dictionary, each class is marked with a disposition by VIPKid upon completion.  For a teacher to be paid, the finish type must be one of the following:

  • AS_SCHEDULED
  • STUDENT_NO_SHOW
  • STUDENT_IT_PROBLEM
  • SYSTEM_PROBLEM

If you have a problem in class, a cancellation, or an IT issue that is deemed to be the teacher’s responsibility, you won’t get paid. The outcomes of negative finish code are different, depending on the circumstances, but suffice to say that some are worse for teachers than others.

Why would I want to change one?

This morning in class, I had an issue with my app during class. It completely froze and temporarily rendered my laptop immobile. Thankfully, I had my handy backup iPad handy, so I simply switched to the iPad and finished my class. Unfortunately, while the app on my laptop was locked, it still showed that I was in the original classroom, thus preventing me from entering the new classroom. I immediately began using my phone to troubleshoot with a VIPKid fireman, but by the time I successfully entered the second student’s classroom, another fireman had marked the class as TEACHER_NO_SHOW. (This is bad.) 😦 So, I want to change it to a SYSTEM_PROBLEM (ideally) or at least a TEACHER_IT.

How do I request a finish type change?

  1. Within your PC app or Teacher Portal, click on “Class” then “Classrooms.”
  2. Click on “All Classes.” This will display a screen like you see below.
  3. Click on the large orange button that says “Cancellations & No Shows & Change Finish Type.”
  4. Small check boxes will appear next to each of your classes. Place a check mark in the box for the class that you would like to change.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the “Request to Change Finish Type” button.

 

finish code steps

finish code steps 2

At that point, it will ask you to fill out a brief form. It will ask:

  • What finish code do you want to change the class to?
  • What is the reason for changing the finish type?
  • Notes (More on this later)
  • Photocopies of supporting documentation (More on this later)

Once you have filled in the form as completely as possible, click the orange “submit” button at the bottom of the form.

finish code steps 3

How do I have the best chance to get my finish type changed?

  1. Leave good notes. This is the section where you explain what happened. As you might imagine, not all notes are created equally, so:
    • Use simple, concise language. This is a ticket, not a blog post. 🙂
    • Avoid incidental language. Just like this can confuse a student, this could confuse a help desk agent as well.
    • Stick to the facts. You will probably be upset, but try not to let that confuse the facts of what happened.
  2. Upload good quality screenshots with timestamps. When you begin having system issues, it’s a good idea to immediately start taking screenshots. Likewise, take screenshots of any conversations you have with firemen. I usually keep any screenshots until after all payouts for the month have been made; then I delete them. For the example above, I attached eight screenshots. I had six screenshots of my conversation with the fireman on my phone and two in the classroom that was marked as a TEACHER_NO_SHOW attempting to communicate with that fireman. I would have felt better if I had a screenshot of the app frozen in the original classroom, but in my haste to switch to the iPad, I failed to get a screenshot.
  3. Be thorough and patient. You do have three attempts to change a finish code on a class, so if you are unsuccessful the first time, check your notes and your screenshots, determine if you can word your request differently, and re-submit.

We all love our students and want them to have a great experience, so it’s always disappointing when things don’t work the way we planned. But one incident will not ruin your career with VIPKid or your reputation with parents, so try not to be too upset. Learn from the issue and work on what you can do next time to prevent the same issue again.

I hope you never have to use this particular blog post, but if you do, I’m always here for a friendly ear. Let me know how yours turned out in the comments!

VIPKid Library and Certification Center

If I’m looking for answers about VIPKid, there are two places I look:

To check out the Library and Certification Center, first go to the “Resources” page in the Teacher App.  From there, you have two main areas:

Library

Within the library, there is a TON of information!

  • Workshops! (Maybe my favorite way to get more VIPKid training!)
  • Pre-recorded workshops and training
  • Top content from social media
  • Downloadable resources – rewards, props, and more

Certification

The certification page is useful, not only for gaining NEW certifications, but for brushing up on all of the different programs that VIPKid has to offer.

Get information on:

  • The Builder’s Program – where you get the chance to participate in other parts of the VIPKid world
  • Educational Courses – Tesol Foundational and Advanced
  • Major Courses – Levels 1-6
  • Supplementary – Courses such as Grammar or Voice of VIPKid
  • One to Many – the special programs offered by VIPKid for classroom teaching

Within each category, you can review requirements for certification, key tips and tricks, a summary of lessons, and a link to lesson-specific props, workshops, or helpful tips from mentors.

For a quick walkthrough of these resources, check out my video at “Resources” Tour – VIPKid Portal“Resources” Tour – VIPKid Portal.

I hope you found this helpful. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, let me know in the comments. If you are new to VIPKid, I suggest that you start with Completing the VIPKid Application. If you are looking for a mentor, feel free to apply using my referral link.

Happy teaching (and learning!)

VIPKid Parents

Our VIPKid parents are the ones sitting just off camera supporting their kids. They make sure the learning continues outside the virtual “walls” of our classroom.

As a VIPKid teacher, we get to see our students for 25 minute blocks of time. Sometimes we see them one time. Sometimes we see them once a week or once a month. Sometimes we see our “regulars” a few times a week. Regardless, it’s safe to say that a great deal of learning continues outside the virtual “walls” of our classroom with the support of our VIPKid parents.

Our students’ parents are the ones sitting just off camera supporting their kids. They are the ones making sure that little Bao Bao has eaten and is sitting down, logged in with his headset on time. They are the ones watching the class from the other room, trying to learn enough themselves to help their son or daughter practice.

You always hear stories of the ones that are overbearing or that offer the wrong corrections. But as a general rule, Bao Bao’s mom and dad are just like us. They want the best for their kiddo and they are doing the best they can with what they have to work with between school, lessons, and all the many commitments we all have.

When I write feedback, I consider it a Virtual Backpack Note.

It’s my opportunity to give feedback on how the student did, but also offer suggestions for how parents can participate more fully in the process. Yes, I use templates. I offer some lesson recap. (And I know some parents don’t like this. In fact, it would drive my husband bonkers. But *my* parents like it.) Most importantly, I offer ways that they can reinforce the lesson outside of class, not with pronunciation practice (since they may not have correct pronunciation) but more with vocabulary or sentence structure practice.

I always make sure to include:

  • Anything the student excelled at – either with pronunciation, grammar, or even participation.
  • Anything the student worked especially hard to master.
  • Anything the student continues to struggle with (and I also include this in teacher to teacher feedback.)
  • Any behavior issues.
  • Suggestions for the parents to practice or help their child.
  • Thank you – either for the opportunity to teach their child, positive feedback on our last class, or both.
  • Next steps – this might include questions that I would like the parent to answer in feedback, or it might be a quick preview of our next class (My next class with Bao Bao is on Friday, and we will be talking about toys, so please have Bao Bao bring his favorite toy to class with him!)

Once you connect with like-minded parents, you can really build a relationship with two-way dialogue. Here are a few of my very favorite feedback messages I’ve received from parents:

 

 

(Click on any picture for a closer view!)

I really believe that I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with any one of these parents, and (language barriers not withstanding) have a GREAT conversation with any of them.

If you are looking for more help with parent feedback, check out:

If you are just getting started and have questions, please let me know in the comments. If you are thinking about applying with VIPKid, be sure to check out Completing the VIPKid Application. And of course, if you are looking for a mentor to help support you through the process, I would be honored to help. You can get more information at What’s a VIPKid referral anyway? or simply sign up with my referral link or by adding my referral code AMELI0055.

I hope you found this helpful. Happy teaching!

VIPKid Support Center

This might be the last of my blog posts you have to read.

I hope you still read them, but I wanted to let you know about one of the best kept VIPKid secrets: The Support Center. It’s true, if people read more in the Support Center, my blog would be obsolete!

If you are looking for an “official” answer about any of VIPKid’s policies and procedures, I would start in the Support Center.

Besides being able to open a ticket, there is an extensive knowledge base. Topics fall into the following categories:

  • Payment, Contract & Account
  • Bookings, Cancellations & No SHows
  • IT & Features
  • Feedback, Students & Parents
  • VIPKid Community
  • Important Procedures
  • and more….

Within each of these categories, there are hundreds of topics, including fan-favorites like:

  • How long do I have to wait during a no-show?
  • What’s the process to request a soft cancellation?
  • Where’s the next meetup?
  • Am I in the running to win the trip to Beijing?
  • and so much more!

If you haven’t seen it yet, log into the teacher portal at this link, and be sure to take a peek at the video I made to show you around:

Support Center Tour

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments. If you are just getting started and would like some help applying and getting familiar with the company, I’d love to help you through the referral process. I suggest starting with Completing the VIPKid Application.