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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and VIPKid Class…

If you are like me, two things are true:

  1. You will be shopping for stocking stuffers on Christmas Eve.
  2. You will want to steal your kids’ toys for your classroom.

If so, I have the perfect solution for both of these things … Uno cards!

Uno cards are one of the most versatile props that I use in my classroom. I was first inspired when we had a couple of French foreign exchange students stay with us for two weeks when my kids were in middle school. They could quickly and easily relate to colors and numbers, so it was one of the first games we played.

Below, I’ve included a short video that shows how I use Uno cards in my classroom, but here is a quick summary:

  1. Colors and Numbers: This is the obvious use for these. You can quickly and easily hold Uno cards up to reinforce either colors, numbers, or both. You can pair them to go up through the double-digit numbers as well!
  2. “Only”: That was today’s lesson. Make your own combinations to show the “only” red card or the “only” 2.
  3. Equal/Not Equal: 3=3. Enough said.
  4. Greater Than/Less Than: 3<5. 3>1. Of course, be careful that if you add a greater than or less than sign when you hold up your cards that it points the right way!
  5. Same/Different: This is similar to “only.” For the most basic example, you could hold up two red threes, and say “same.” As the lessons/students become more advanced, you could have conversations about how a red three and a blue three are the same and how they are different.
  6. Before/After: This could be in a math lesson or in a calendar/days of the month lesson.
  7. UA Levels: Use this as part of a secondary reward system to acknowledge when a student moves from one level to the next.
  8. UA Projects: Use them to let the students know that they are in lesson 5 (Hold up the #5) today, and that their homework (project) is due in lesson 12 (Hold up the 1 and 2.)

Feel free to check out this video to see how I use my cards in action. The possibilities are endless!  How else would you use Uno cards in the classroom? Let me know in the comments below!

Now…off to do my own last minute shopping!

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VIPKid – When Teaching is “A Lot”

This morning, I sit surrounded by props. Don’t get me wrong, I always love to use props; however, this morning there is an exceptionally large number of them. I have toys and magnets. I have every objective sentence and word printed out. I have google slides plus a third reward system. I have teaching aids. Why so many props?

I’m waiting for my first student of the day, and I need to be ready for anything!

This young man is smart. He can read well, but as my husband sometimes says when describing his younger self… “He is a lot.”

My first lesson with this young man culminated in him scribbling out the pages so I couldn’t see anything.  When I disabled his mouse, he wrote in the chatroom “NONONONONO” for the rest of the class. He did participate, but it was distracting to say the least!

My second class, I was ready. I had something printed for every slide, so young man – scribble away!  He wasn’t going to make it that easy on me though. In that class, he picked a word and just kept shouting it.  “Bike! Bike! Bike!” Obviously, I couldn’t stay on the bike slide the entire lesson, so I did the only thing I could think of doing.  I shouted back the next word “Car! Car! Car! Car!”  By some small miracle, he started repeating that! We went through most of the remaining lesson this way, and the only downside was my husband (asleep downstairs) waking up to a resounding chorus of “Round! Oval! Round! Oval!”

So why do I share this story today? I supposed it’s just to say “hang in there.” Not every student will respond in the same way. Sometimes, personalities will clash, or a student needs a much different level of engagement. And it’s ok.

I’ve been teaching for 77 days, and in that time I’ve taught 55 different students in over 100 classes. I’ve been amazed at how easy it’s been to connect with most of them, and so this is a challenge, and one I’ll willingly accept. And if you are paired with a student that you’re struggling to reach, check out the VIPKid workshop schedule.  There are likely to be workshops that address the exact challenges you’re having.

Of course, if I can be of any assistance, please let me know. If you are already a VIPKid teacher, feel free to message me here.

If you are looking for a mentor and someone to help you get hired at VIPKid, I’d be happy to help. Here’s my referral link.

I sometimes like to think that this boy could grow up to be as successful as my husband is. At some point, my husband learned to channel his energy and uses it to work for him. If I can help in one small way to teach this boy to do the same, I would be honored.

Happy teaching!

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What’s this VIPKid thing Amelia keeps posting about?

A few of you have asked what exactly VIPKid is. A few friends have said, “I’ve been thinking about doing it, but I didn’t know _____.” My personal favorite was my friend who said, “I have no idea what that thing was that you posted about on Twitter, but it was nice to see your post!”

So this morning, I thought I would break down exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few months with VIPKid.

What is VIPKid?

VIPKid is a teaching platform that allows English-speaking teachers to work one-on-one with students in China to teach them English.

How do you know what to teach?

There are existing lesson plans created for you. Students are placed in a level based on either a computer placement test or performance in their initial classes. There are powerpoint slides that cover pre-set curriculum loaded in the virtual classroom. Students work their way through lessons in each level, unit, and lesson with assessments in lesson 6 and lesson 12 of each unit.

Do they teach you the techniques to use?

Yes. Part of the interview process is demonstrating that you’ve got a solid understanding of the basic techniques. If you don’t, you can get a peer mentor to help guide you through the process. Teachers like me LOVE helping others get started. If you prefer flying solo, VIPKid sends you plenty of information to help you, and there are lots of videos to help as well.

When do you do it?

I work full time in corporate America, so I teach part time. I make myself available Monday through Friday from 5:00 am until 7:30 am. If all five 25-minute classes are booked, it’s 2.5 hours of teaching each morning. I use the last 30 minutes (7:30 – 8:00) to let my dog out and write feedback on the classes before I start my day job. I choose not to teach in the evenings or weekends, but many people do. The “peak” times are when children in China are awake and not in school.  So, good options include weekdays from 4:00 am Central through 8:00 am Central or the weekends starting at 7:00 or 7:30 pm Friday through 8 am the next day.

How much do you make?

I’m still pretty new, but the answer is “Up to $22 per hour.” You are a contractor with VIPKid, and it does take some time to build up a customer base. Your starting rate is based on the results of your interview and your experience. In my Facebook group, I have several detailed explanations of the scoring matrix that is used. (If you’re curious, you can see My VIPKid Interview Results!)

On top of the base pay, there are incentives you can earn as well. I work EXTREMELY part time (usually an hour and a half per day, weekdays only) and earn about $500 per month. When I have time, I open up more time slots and earn much more!

Do you teach the same students or different students?

Yes. 🙂 Parents book you, so sometimes you will get a student you’ve never seen before, while other times you get to teach the same student on a regular schedule. My most regular students I teach once or twice a week. In September, it will mark one year with VIPKid, and so far I have taught 541 classes spread among 137 students.

Do you have flexibility in the classroom?

Yes. Every teacher is different. You have a lesson plan with objectives that you need to follow, but then you can have fun with it.  Some teachers like to sing, some like props. Some like games, and some prefer to stick to the books. Just like every teacher is different, so is every student. You will find students who respond to your style and vice versa.

What now?

If you were just curious, then congratulations! You’re done! 🙂 Of course if you have other questions, let me know in the comments! If you are interested in trying it out yourself, I’d be happy to help. Check out the application process here and when you are ready to start, here’s my referral code.

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Because This VIPKid Teacher is up at 5 am on Thanksgiving…

I know, everyone will be posting #whatIamthankfulfor things today, but I can’t resist. This Thanksgiving morning, I’m awake, even though I didn’t book any classes. “Sleep in,” I thought.  “It will be great,” I thought. Well, that didn’t happen, but it’s ok. The extra hours of quiet before the Thanksgiving frenzy have given me time to reflect on my last 66 days with VIPKid.

Here’s what I’m thankful for:

  • Something that makes me WANT to get up in the mornings. I was the person who, into my early 30’s, had a rule that no one could call me before noon because I just might be sleeping. Now, I wake up at 4:00 in the morning excited for my upcoming classes!
  • A chance to help kiddos across the globe. These kids will be movers and shakers. They will be the next generation of colleagues and leaders. They will be peers to my grandchildren. (Yikes!) It may seem like a fun way to earn extra money right now, but I believe it means much more than that.
  • All the fun of homework games, but with a paycheck! My mom and I were remembering all the fun that I used to have coming up with games and activities to help my kids with their homework all those years ago. One day, maybe when they got smarter than me (or at least “cooler” than me), it stopped. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was able to start teaching again. And – now I get a paycheck every two weeks to do it!
  • Did I mention the paycheck? It may not have been the primary reason for me to start doing this, but it’s a nice bonus! In my first 66 days including my nice black Friday check, I’m up to almost $800, so it’s not insignificant. It’s allowing me to contribute more to our church, do a little extra Christmas shopping, and just enjoy having some extra pocket money.

I’m thankful for VIPKid and the great support they offer when things go wrong: the firemen in the classroom, the support at FreshDesk, their willingness to always answer questions. I’m thankful for the facebook groups where I can go to get ideas for rewards and to share fun stories. My husband is tired of hearing about my tales of the classroom, so I’m over the moon to have a group of other people who LOVE talking about it too!

It’s been a fun 66 days, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities in the months ahead!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

My VIPKid Interview Results

“So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice? … In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE.”

There are thousands of teachers who post videos and VIPKid information online. But how do you know if they are good?

Do you ever wonder if you are taking advice from someone who didn’t get good results?

Despite the risk of sounding a little “braggy” I wanted to share some insight into my own interview results. I guess I consider this a part of my informal VIPKid resume package.

If you ask me to be your mentor, one of the things you’ll hear me talk about over and over is the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. This is the scoring matrix that VIPKid uses to evaluate us in their interviews.

It’s not a secret! VIPKid SENDS YOU the performance criteria in advance so you know exactly what’s important to them!

Following the interview, they send you your scores along with comments to help you improve.

So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice?

I scored 76 out of 100. 

What?? A “C”? I was a straight-A student in school. I’m not feeling a C.  But let me explain.

The first section is scored based on your education and teaching experience.

  • You MUST have a bachelor’s degree. (check.)
  • You MUST have at least one year of teaching experience (classroom, mentor, coaching, etc.) (check.)

Obviously, I got those points.

I did not get points for the following areas:

  • US or Canada Pre-K-12 classroom experience
  • ESL experience
  • ESL certification
  • US or Canada government-issued teaching license

I simply don’t have that experience, and I wasn’t going to be able to get it before my interview!

In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE. 

I know it sounds like bragging, and I guess it is. But I’m really very proud of this! I worked hard to prepare. I learned what is important to VIPKid (and subsequently, my students and their parents.) What I didn’t already know, I learned, and I practiced. And I can help you do the same.

In the area of professionalism, I got positive feedback on being presentable and having high sound quality and a functional workstation.

I needed improvements in my background, distance, and lighting. (Watch this video to see why.) And guess what – by my mock interview, I had fixed these things!

So yes, if you have more relevant classroom experience, it will most definitely help you in your interview.  But it’s not required. What is required is dedication to the process and a willingness to learn and apply the techniques that have been proven in VIPKid classrooms.

If you’re ready to get started, I can help you do it. My referral link awaits. 🙂 Or if you aren’t quite sure you’re ready to start, here’s a helpful video to give you an idea about how the process works and what you can expect from me.  As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments below or contact me if you have any questions!

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VIPKid Prop Ideas – “My Feelings” Demo Class

“Even as a child, I didn’t want to pretend. If I was going to have a tea party, there had better be tea.  Because of this, I use props every chance I get.”

I love props. Even as a child, I didn’t want to pretend. If I was going to have a tea party, there had better be tea.  Because of this, I use props every chance I get. If you aren’t sure where to start, I thought I’d provide a few options for different props that you might want to use during your “My Feelings” demo class.  You do not need to use all of these ideas, of course! You should have at least two different types of props that you use, but choose based on what suits your style and helps you communicate your lesson!

It’s important to remember that the props are not the most important part of the lesson here. Be sure you are familiar with the Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. There are 24 distinct areas in which you are measured, and supplementary tools is only one of them. Props can also help affect rapport and energy level, but if you focus TOO much on the props, it can adversely affect your efficient pacing and timing or pull you off track from your lesson objectives.

Pick props that help you teach. Pick props that you can have fun with, and that you think a child will like. And then enjoy!

Slide One: Welcome Page

This is the page I would have up during the interview; it’s not a part of the lesson. No props needed.

Slide Two: Objectives

No props needed here. You should not review this slide with your student. Use the page number navigation box at the bottom of the page to skip straight to slide four.

Slide Three: My Feelings

I don’t think this counts as a prop, but I would suggest having your name “Teacher Amelia” displayed somewhere prominently on your wall. It could be

  • Drawn on a whiteboard
  • Printed on paper
  • Spelled out in toy blocks

Slide Four: Reward System

You definitely want to have your reward system present physically in the room. Here are a few options:

  • Print out the actual “Reward System” slide and:
    • Draw bananas in the squares as rewards
    • Print copies of the little monkey holding the banana over his head and tape them in the squares
    • Print other copies of bananas and tape them in the squares
  • Print a picture of a monkey and pictures of bananas, and tape the bananas around the monkey
  • Use a monkey stuffed animal and tape or velcro bananas to him
  • Use a bunch of real bananas and pull one off the bunch each time there’s a reward

Slide Five: Warm Up

Since this is a poem, not a song, I probably wouldn’t use any props here. What’s most important in this slide is using TPR, so you don’t want your hands tied up with something else.

Slide 6: Find the Sound

I would start with having the letter “M.” This could be:

  • A magnetic letter you hold up to the camera
  • “M” written on a small whiteboard
  • “M” on a building block
  • “M” drawn on a piece of paper or printed from the internet

You could also have physical items for the monkey and mouse (the correct answers.) I might only use these if the student struggled, which they shouldn’t since it’s a review. If you want to have them handy, you can print these pictures from the powerpoint and:

  • Simply hold them up
  • Laminate them
  • Laminate them and attach them to a stick/toothpick

If you happen to have mouse or monkey toys around, you could use those (but I wouldn’t go and buy them.)

Slide 7: Blending Sound

For this, I would have a prop available. This might include:

  • A small whiteboard where you can write the phonics blends
  • Magnetic letters (my favorite!)
  • Printed/laminated page with phonics and/or blanks to fill in

Slide 8: I have many feelings.

This slide is ripe for props. Options include:

  • Printed emojis (I opted for the style that’s on most phones since they are easily recognizable.)
  • Smiley/frowney faces on sticks/toothpicks
  • Puppets or dolls (only if they have clear expressions that align with the emotions.)
  • A face that you can draw on (on a whiteboard or laminated page) to draw different emotions
  • Printed photographs that clearly show the different emotions

Slide 9: Meet Dino and Lily

I personally probably wouldn’t use props with this slide, but you could if you wanted to.

  • If you happen to have a stuffed Dino lying around (ha!) that would be fun to use.
  • You could print pictures of Dino and Lily and put them on sticks/toothpicks (or just hold them up) in the camera for their speaking parts.
  • You can keep your props from the last slide handy so if your “student” struggles with the word “angry” or “happy” you can remind them with the same prop.

Slide 10: Shoot the Ball

Because this is an activity, I would recommend having some kind of goofy prop available. You want to get the kid excited that it’s “Activity Time!!”

Use your creativity here! Ideas I’ve seen include:

  • Funny hats
  • Headbands with crazy things on them
  • Musical instruments
  • A stuffed animal or puppet with a crazy voice
  • Lighting – wouldn’t it be fun to turn on a disco ball in your classroom?
  • A basketball, either real or a small one, that you can “whoosh” when they draw a correct line to the basketball goal

Really, the only point here is to amp up the energy for the activity.

Slide 11 – Goodbye

You’re done! No need for props here!

Props are as individual as we are. I hope these ideas have served to inspire you, but I encourage you to use what makes you comfortable in the classroom.

If you have ideas for other props, leave them in the comments here! If you would like feedback on your own props and are looking for someone to help you through the process, I would be honored to be your mentor. My referral link is here!

If you’re not sure what to expect with a mentor, you can get a little more information in my blog post and video What’s a VIPKid referral anyway?

Good luck with your demo, and happy teaching!

Worst VIPKid Video Ever

When I decided to apply for VIPKid, I was nervous. Once I started watching YouTube videos, I was petrified.

You’ve all seen them – the cute, adorable, well-spoken, lively teachers. The ones with the perfect classroom and the ideal camera angle. The ones with the endless wardrobes of orange shirts in a variety of flattering styles. The ones who can balance a baby on one hip while teaching a class and making a perfect video with flashy animation bouncing across the screen all at the same time. They are perfect.

I watched these and thought, “That’s not me!”

But then I got hired. Then I got a class. Then I got some regular students. Then it was me. Maybe it wasn’t as pretty, but guess what? It didn’t matter.

What does matter?

  1. I am motivated. This was something I *wanted* to do.
  2. I am not afraid of hard work. Teaching isn’t something you can fake. It’s too important.
  3. I care about my students. Their success is important to me.
  4. I want to have fun. When I have fun, so do they.

There isn’t a single student or parent out there who cares if my YouTube videos have animation, so neither do I.

If you’re thinking about giving VIPKid a try, just do it. If I can help, I would love to. Here’s my referral link.

In the meantime, if you want to see the ugly truth, below is probably the very worst VIPKid video ever. But it doesn’t matter. 🙂

The Worst VIPKid Video Ever

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