VIPKid Time Management

Remember the “Rule of Five” and you’ll be a five-apple teacher in no time!

Some time ago, a fellow teacher asked me for tips on time management. As I thought about it, I follow a very simple process. Even though classes have a slightly different number of slides, you can use a technique I call the “Rule of Five” to help keep track of your timing. The example below uses the format of a standard 25-page MC course, but in a longer lesson, just divide the content by 5 and do the same.

Check out the below visual I put together, and let me know what you think in the comments!

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VIPKid Student No-Shows

Other than the required time to wait in the classroom, there are not a lot of hard and fast rules from VIPKid about student no-shows.

You’re awake! You’re caffeinated! You’re prepped! You are ready to begin class. But where’s Bao Bao?

Sometimes your student will not show up for class. It happens to all of us.  When this happens to you, here are a few things to remember!

Should I “start class” even if the student is not there?

Yes! Always start class a few seconds before your scheduled time to ensure you get credit for beginning on time.

How long do I need to stay in class if my student is not there?

For all classes except trial classes, you must stay in class for the full 25 minutes unless a fireman has contacted you to tell you that you may leave.  For trial classes, you must stay in class for 15 minutes.

Do I need to contact the fireman if my student isn’t in the classroom at the scheduled time?

No.  While some parents do like this (and would like for VIPKid to call them if their child is not in class) it is not required to contact the fireman. The only time I call the fireman is if it’s a very regular student who rarely or never misses class and I’m worried.

Do I need to screenshot the classroom for a student no-show?

I recommend it. Usually, I take a screenshot every 2-5 minutes while waiting on a student. So far I have never had to use them, but should there be any discrepancy in finish type, I can prove that I was in the classroom for the full required time. I usually type in the chatbox “Waiting on student – X minutes.” at each interval.

Can I leave the classroom while I am waiting?

No. You are being paid, and there is always a chance that the student may arrive late.

Can I cover my camera while I am waiting?

There is no formal VIPKid policy on this. Some teachers choose to turn their camera off. Some have created a screen cover that shows an image but not their face. I personally choose to leave my camera on. I don’t ever want there to be a discrepancy where a parent claims I am not in my classroom and I was. Personally, I find it a great time to check out the AR stickers in the classroom and spend some time blogging!

Should I send an e-card to my student after they do not come to class?

Again, this is a matter of personal preference. I usually do. There is a “missed connection” e-card that’s perfect, but if you prefer the free ones, there is also a generic one. I generally say, “I missed seeing you in class, Bao Bao! I hope everything is ok and I will see you soon! Love – Teacher Amelia”

Will I still get paid for a student no-show?

Yes! For trial classes, you get paid 50% of your class fee. For MC or Supplementary classes, you get paid the full amount. If you would like to minimize the chance of a trial class no-show, you can opt into the trial class rebooking option that allows a trial class student to be replaced up to 15 minutes after the beginning of class.

If a class is marked as “finished” before it ever begins, do I need to enter the classroom?

No. Parents are allowed to cancel a class up to 24 hours before the class with no penalty. However, if they cancel within 24 hours, they must still pay for the class (and you will still get paid for it!) In that situation, the class will be marked as “finished” and greyed out on your bookings calendar. You do not need to attend class in those situations.

Other than the required time to wait in the classroom, there are not a lot of hard and fast rules from VIPKid about student no-shows. I hope you found this helpful. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments!

If you are looking to get started with VIPKid and want someone to help walk you through the process, I would be happy to be your mentor.

Happy teaching (or not, if they are a no-show!)

martin 6-26-19 - 8 minutes

ESL Extension

Extension is not just a way to kill time. You want to … expand their vocabulary, grammar, or other English skills.

No one has ever accused me of being short-winded. In writing or speaking, I ALWAYS say too much. As such, it was no surprise that most of my VIPKid classes easily hit the 25 minute mark. In fact, my struggle is usually completing them by about 27 minutes in order to reset my classroom.

Imagine my surprise when one day I met Alina. Her English skills were on par for a level 2 student, but she was so well prepared for the lesson, that she was able to fly through each slide perfectly, with literally NO CORRECTIONS needed! She was not comfortable with free talk, so I had to be very intentional about what I asked her, or she would just freeze.

Thanks to Alina, I had to quickly learn the art of extension, and it has become one of my favorite parts of teaching. I teach Alina every other Friday now, and I always look forward to thinking up new ways to extend her knowledge just a little bit more.

The key to effective extension is your goal. It’s not just a way to kill time. You want to either:

  1. Confirm your student’s understanding of a concept
  2. Ensure your student can apply the new information or
  3. Add new information that relates to the content that expands their vocabulary, grammar, or other English skills.

Below are a few of my favorite extension techniques that you can customize for your classes.  These were written with major courses in levels 2-4 in mind, since most of those follow a similar “flow” in the lessons.

Noun Examples

Most lessons begin with the introduction of 1-3 new vocabulary words. There are always several examples in the lesson and several target sentences to learn. You can introduce new and different types of examples to help expand their understanding of the word, and help them use adjectives to articulate their sentences.

For example, if the target word is bus, you could use the below to extend.

bus

Verb Conjugation

I use this in almost every lesson. I have a few different laminated verb charts that I use, and I almost always go through a cycle of pointing at a pronoun and having the student say the correct word. “I _____. You ______. We _______. They _______. He _______(s). She _______(s). It _______(s.)”

You can then change the sentences slightly. Introduce different toys or characters that “do” the verbs. If Meg is doing it, they must know the right pronoun (she) and the right conjugation. If Mike is doing it, they must say “He” and the right conjugation. If Dino is doing it, they must say “It” and the right conjugation.

Sentence Objects

You can also change the object of the sentence.  If you are trying to teach the verb “point” and the target sentence “He points to a ____.” the possibilities are endless. “Teacher points to a Dino.” “She points to an apple.” “She points to a wardrobe.” (Any prop will likely do!) This can be extension and a review of prior lessons!

Role Reversal

For your more advanced students, you can get them to take on the role of the teacher. Ask them, “What can you point to?” and have them demonstrate, “I can point to a ____.” They also like it if you get answers wrong. If they point to a cat, you can say the sentence, “You point at a dog.” They’ll laugh and say, “No, teacher. I point to a cat.” I would only use this technique if I already had a good relationship with the student and I knew it would not confuse them!

Indefinite Articles

Almost every lesson has the opportunity to extend by teaching and practicing a/an. In all of the examples above, you can demonstrate and explain when to use “a” vs. “an.” Many students pick up on this intuitively but you can always reinforce it or have them explain the rule to you.

High Frequency Words

There are plenty of things you can do with high frequency words, depending on your student’s comfort level.

  • Read them.
  • Read them fast (and time them.)
  • Spell them.
  • Make a sentence with each one.
  • Make a sentence with more than one.
  • Tell a story using the words.

My sweet little Alina is no longer shy. She blew me away last week when I asked her to make up a “telling sentence” and instead she told me a story! You can check it out on You Tube!

Counting, Colors and Size

These are some of the easier ways to extend, and they most likely won’t take up a whole lot of time. But you can always ask some basic questions about the pictures in the lesson.

  • How many elephants do you see?
  • What color is the chair?
  • Which car is the biggest? Which call is the smallest?

I NEVER wait until the end of a lesson to extend. If you remember our objective above, it’s not about filling leftover time, it’s about truly expanding on what your student is learning. Throughout the lesson, I look for opportunities that lend themselves to the examples above. I try to set my pace to approximately one slide per minute. If I check, and we have time, then I will introduce one of these methods into the lesson at the appropriate time. If not, I keep moving.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

If you are new to VIPKid and are looking for a mentor to help you with these (and other) ESL teaching techniques, I’d love to help you!

Happy teaching!

Types of VIPKid Rewards

What’s most important about rewards is that you do what works for you.

In VIPKid, you’ll hear a lot about rewards. One of the goals of our classes is to keep kids engaged by helping them have fun while they are learning!

There are several types of rewards that you can (and should!) use.  Below is a quick summary to help you get started.

Stars

In every class, the student has the ability to earn up to five stars. You should ALWAYS give the student ALL FIVE STARS! Kids redeem these for different prizes, and many parents consider it an entitlement, as though they’v epaid for these stars. You can give a star every five slides, or you can award them for particular behaviors. But always remember to give out all five stars! (I choose to have printed stars that I display, but this is a personal preference!)

Thumbs Up

These are available if you have a class in the “new” classrooms, so they might not always be available.  To award a thumbs up, you can click on the button that is right next to the stars. When you press it, the child receives one of two animations. One is a Dino saying “Good job!” and the other is a Dino saying “Perfect!” Some teachers feel that it’s not necessary to use this, but every time I use it, I get a big smile from my student. (Plus it gives me a break from saying it!) I usually try to use this once or twice per class if the student does something especially well.

2-D Rewards

These are usually printed rewards that you use and display on a whiteboard or easel. They can be as simple as fun, printed pictures of something the student enjoys. One of my personal favorites is a Spiderman printout with superhero words I can add as rewards. You could print out Disney princesses, My Little Ponies, Lego characters… the possibilities are endless.  You can also play games with printed rewards like find-a-star or tic-tac-toe. As I mentioned, I love having printed stars, and I have many different ones I’ve collected or made over time. Kids love getting stars and by adding variety to them in printed form, it keeps it fresh!

3-D Rewards

I am a big fan of “realia” or real items brought into the classroom. Kids also enjoy these! If you have kids, it’s super easy to use their toys as rewards as long as they don’t mind sharing! Lots of teachers use a 2-D printout of an ice cream cone with different scoops they add throughout the lesson. I have a toy ice cream cone with stackable scoops. The 3D option makes it easier to “lick” during class, and it looks great on camera! At Christmas, you could use stockings or gift bags with rewards in them, or you could even unwrap presents! Easter is coming up soon, so plastic Easter eggs filled with little prizes are always popular. Once you start looking around, you can find rewards everywhere!

Digital Rewards

I LOVE digital rewards, and they are my go-to reward. f you travel a lot or don’t like keeping up with a lot of clutter, this is the reward for you. Honestly, I often combine these with a 2-D reward system because I like to have something that stays visible in the classroom, but many people use digital rewards exclusively. You’ll hear lots of teachers talk about Google Slides. Google Slides is a tool that’s a lot like Powerpoint, but it’s all online. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of games and rewards. Some teachers hold their phone or an iPad up to the camera to show the reward, while others use software like ManyCam or CamTwist to switch between their face in the VIPKid classroom and a reward. Here’s a post that explains how I like to use Google Slides in class: Using Google Slides with VIPKid.

VIPKid Reward Slides and Interactive Reward Slides

These are built-in reward slides or game ideas that are a part of the lesson. If you are crunched for time or looking for something that enhances the lesson directly, these are great options. I sometimes combine these with other rewards just for fun. (Check out this video! for an example!

What’s most important about all of these types of rewards is that you do what works for you. I LOVE reward systems and I think they are fun to plan and use. That’s why I tend to stitch together fairly robust and multi-layered rewards. I enjoy them, and so my students do too! If keeping up with rewards stresses you out, your students will feel it, so keep it simple. There are some teachers who use printed stars, and that’s it! You and your students will find what works for you, and that’s what you should use.

If you have any questions or you have suggestions of what works best for you, let me know in the comments below! If you are not yet a teacher and would like some help, I would love to be your mentor. Be sure to check out the article Completing the VIPKid Application before you apply!

Happy teaching!

 

Do I Need a Secondary Reward in My VIPKid Class?

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes. 

This is probably not going to be my most well-loved post. In fact, I’m sure many VIPKid teachers won’t like it at all. But… I’m going to post it anyway.

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes.

Before I explain why, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Inevitably, someone will jump in and say:

  • VIPKid doesn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid can’t require an independent contractor to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid shouldn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!

While these may or may not be completely true based on your contract and current teaching practices, one thing is inarguable:

VIPKid ALWAYS recommends a secondary reward system. Why? Because parents appreciate it.

My son is a bartender. He isn’t required to make conversation with his customers, he just has to make their drinks. However, he has learned that when he does make conversation with them, he has happier customers and earns more tips. So my normally introverted 24-year-old has learned to be quite a social butterfly. With us, we may not be required to give a secondary reward, but if we do, we will have happier students and parents which will lead to more 5-apple reviews.

If you love rewards like I do, this should be easy-peasy.  I love finding and making props.  But if you don’t, here are a few tips and tricks that can make this task easier for you:

  1. Join an online community. There are many communities that LOVE rewards and will be happy to let you use theirs! My two favorites include:
  2. Consider going digital. The second link I shared is for a Google Slides group. For prop and reward minimalists, this can save a ton of time and money, and there are so many amazing resources that you can use.
  3. Find a few favorites. You don’t have to change your rewards every day or with every student. Find a few simple, versatile rewards that you don’t hate, and use those!
  4. Beef up your stars. Since we all already award stars in the classroom, many teachers choose to just expand on that. In the Videos and Props facebook group, there are links to lots of creative stars. If you are giving a star anyway, make it a Hello Kitty Star or a fire truck star. Boom! Cute, secondary reward that helps keep your students interested.

I’d like to leave on a funny note…

Every time I see a debate on this topic, I think of this exchange from the movie Office Space. Jennifer Anniston plays the part of Joanna, a waitress in a fast food chain. Her boss, Stan, plays her manager, and is having a conversation about why she isn’t wearing very many pins and buttons (“flair”) on her uniform. He points out that her co-worker wears 37 pieces of flair, while she is wearing the minimum 15 pieces of flair as required by the policy.  Here’s their exchange:

Joanna:
You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there Bryan, why don’t you make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager:
Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.

Joanna:
You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it.

The truth is, you don’t have to be a Joanna or a Bryan. To keep your students engaged and happy, there are lots of ways you can go above the minimum without being over the top.

If you have ideas or are looking for ideas to integrate secondary rewards into your teaching, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy teaching (and rewarding!)

The Secret to High-Energy VIPKid Teaching

Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

It’s 4 am. You are awake. You’ve had a few sips of coffee (or Diet Coke in my case.) And you need to have high energy in your VIPKid classroom? What’s the secret?

While there is no superhero skill that allows this to instantly happen, VIPKid recently published some tips that can help, and I’ve added my own to the list. Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

So what can you do?

Before Class

  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep. You can’t be high energy if you are running on empty. For some of us, that means going to bed super early. For others, it might mean strategic napping. But don’t try to cut your beauty sleep short.
  • Stay hydrated. While it’s not appropriate to drink (much) in class, making sure that you have had plenty of water is essential to looking fresh and maintaining your energy.
  • Start your day right. Depending on what time you teach and what your personal preferences are, this will look different for everyone. For me, I need to have a hot shower and get fully dressed. For others, it may mean a light breakfast or some quick exercise. Very rarely will it mean rolling out of bed and into your classroom, gargling some mouthwash as you go. Take a few extra minutes and establish a routine.

During Class

  • Use lots of intonation. We’ve all sat in a lecture, class, or meeting where the teacher or leader drones on in a monotone. Don’t be that person. Change up the tone and volume of your voice. Even if you don’t feel like it, fake it! When you glance at a slide, think about what you most want to highlight, and focus on changing your voice on that part to really emphasize it.
  • Try to avoid the poker face (unless, of course, you are playing poker!) 🙂 Smile, smile, and smile some more! And just like you intentionally use TPR, use intentional facial expressions. We can tell when someone smiles with their mouth but not their eyes, and so can kids.
  • Try to avoid looking tired/sleepy. (Yes, ladies, there is a reason we all wear that eyeliner and lipstick at 3 am!) I’m not a makeup expert, but you can sure tell a difference in the one class where I overslept and rolled out of bed in my orange pajamas with a ponytail, compared to my normal shower and 5-minute makeup routine!
  • Make eye contact. You would be amazed at what a big difference this makes. If you think back to your demo and mock classes, you likely got some feedback on the position of your camera. If you do a 1:1 mentoring session with VIPKid, this will be reviewed. Keeping your camera at eye level and looking at the student makes a huge difference in how engaged you appear. When we are tired, our tendency is to disengage from others and involuntarily break eye contact, so make a focused effort to combat that.
  • Avoid (or hide) your yawns. Obviously, you can’t always control that. In fact, I bet you’re fighting a yawn as you read this! But repeated yawning in class can make it seem like you’re bored, even if we all know you’re not. Talk to any tenured VIPKid teacher, and they will have a laundry list of props that they can hide behind to stifle a yawn!
  • Have good posture. (VIPKid says not to rest your chin on your hand, but I’ll take this a step further and say that we should sit forward in our seats, shoulders back, or stand… just as you would if you were teaching someone right in front of you.) Have you ever had a conversation with someone slouching and slumped over in their chair? It just makes you feel like they don’t really care about your conversation. Sit forward and be alert, and know that your whole body is sending a message!
  • Have fun! When you are having fun in class, you’ll automatically super-charge your energy. Your kids will feel it, and so will you!

After Class

  • Shake it off. Get up and stretch. Take one minute and get away from your classroom, even if it’s just to grab your next props.
  • Hydrate. Yes, it’s that important. Keep some water nearby and take a few sips. This will help your energy (and your voice.)
  • Look away from the computer screen. While it’s tempting to go ahead and knock that feedback out, make sure you give your eyes a break. Even a quick 20 second break every 25 minutes can be a big relief to your peepers.

Getting up early or staying up late doesn’t have to lead to low energy.  By following just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to keep up the pace with your kiddos – even level 1’s!

If you have other tips for maintaining high energy in the classroom, I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below! If you are looking to get started with VIPKid and are looking for more tips and tricks, I’d love to help. Feel free to check out the rest of my blog. I also have additional tools and resources available if you would like to sign up using my referral code.

In the meantime – happy (and energetic!) teaching!

 

How to Get Bad VIPKid Feedback Invalidated

Never fear – there are some simple steps you can take to invalidate bad VIPKid parent feedback.

Feedback from VIPKid parents to teachers is an important part of our journey at VIPKid. Of course, we all want happy students and happy parents.  Beyond that, it can also affect our ability to earn raises.  Because of that, it’s especially disheartening to get low apple ratings from parents.

Never fear – there are some simple steps you can take to invalidate bad feedback.

  1. Go to your feedback page in the Teacher Portal.
  2. Click on “Request a Review
  3. Explain in detail why you felt the feedback was unfair or inaccurate.

The status of your request will be marked as “to-do” during the 3-5 day review process and then changed to “done” once VIPKid has finished reviewing your request.

Here are a few important tips to remember:

The feedback has to be 3-apple or below.

VIPKid considers four apples “good” so it’s very rare that they will invalidate a four-apple rating. Yes, I know that they bring down our average, and yes, there have been some exceptions to this. But the informal rule is that 3-apples and below may be submitted for review.

Give examples.

You need to provide concrete examples that show the parent’s feedback is not accurate. For example, if they add a tag or write that you failed to use TPR, watch the video playback and provide specific timestamps that show exactly when and how you used TPR.

Be specific and clear.

When submitting a ticket, be as specific as possible and use simple language.

For example:

Do not say “Please invalidate this feedback because the parents were completely wrong. There were ample opportunities for TPR and I used it when reviewing phonics rhymes and onsets and when teaching present continuous verb conjugation.”

Instead, keep it simple.

Please review the following 3-apple feedback.

  • Class date:
  • Class time (in Beijing time):
  • Link to classroom:

Parent complaint: Lack of TPR

Examples of TPR:

  • Timestamp 3:25: Instructional TPR for “circle”
  • Timestamp 10:15: TPR for blending s-op — sop
  • Timestamp 12:45: TPR for “swimming”

Don’t sweat it.

I know this is easier said than done, but if, by chance, the feedback does not get invalidated, please don’t panic. VIPKid uses an average, and so a few bad apples will not, in fact, spoil the cart. Take the feedback, learn from it, and move on to the next 5-apple rating.  Many, many teachers have had negative feedback at one point in time or another, and they’ve lived to see another day, teach another class, and make another parent happy, and you will too!

If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to help. Please let me know in the comments!