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How to Send an e-card with VIPKid

When I was a little girl, I LOVED to check the mail. Of course, that’s because I would only get letters and cards and not any of the bills that fill my mailbox as an adult. Nonetheless, when I learned that we could send our students e-cards through VIPKids, I jumped on the chance.

Below, I have shared the step-by-step instructions for how to send an e-card.  Please note, you must use the phone app to send these. I have not found a way to send them through the portal

Step 1: Find Your Student

Open the phone list, and go to your list of classes. If the student you are looking for isn’t on the first page, scroll down until you see “All Bookings,” and click it to expand the list and be able to search by day.  Once you find a class with your student, click on it to open that specific class.  Then click on your student’s name to open the student screen.

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2. Enter the “Gift” Screen

At the top of the screen there is a gift box. Click on the gift box in the upper right hand corner to “Send a Gift.”

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3. Choose “Send a Card”

From this screen, you can either request the student’s mailing address (so you can send them a “real” gift, or you can send them an e-card.  To send an e-card, click the orange “Send a Card” button at the bottom of the screen.

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4. Select Your Card and Customize It.

Once you click on “Send a Card” look at the bottom of your screen, and you can scroll through a list of available e-cards. As of November 2019, all are currently free (meaning they don’t require any tokens.) In the past, some cost 5 tokens to send. Use your finger to scroll through the cards at the bottom to find one that you like. Once you have selected one, a list of pre-formatted messages will be visible that relate to the theme of the card. Click on each one to view the longer message.  Once you have selected the card type and the message you want to use, click “Send.”  You must check the box at the bottom that says “I agree to send this greeting card.” You can click on the sentence to read the full terms you are agreeing to.  Once you click the orange “Send” button, the student will be automatically notified of their card!

In the example below, I chose the birthday card template, and one of the four birthday messages available. 

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If you are looking for the ability to send fully customized messages without a template, I suggest looking into We Chat. There are pros and cons to using it, but I find it very effective when communicating with my regular students and their parents.

If you have any questions about how to send cards, or when it might or might not be appropriate, feel free to ask in the comments! Otherwise, enjoy!

The Real VIP in VIPKid Feedback: A Feedback Panda Overview

This is a post about a third party software. No, it’s not an ad. No, they didn’t ask me to write it. No, I’m not getting anything for it. In fact, no one at that company knows I am writing this. I hope they don’t get mad that I used their logo. 🙂 Someone on Facebook asked, “What’s the one thing you wish you had known as a new teacher?” and this was my answer.  I’m writing this blog because I’m so in love with Feedback Panda, and I didn’t REALLY understand what they offered when I was a new teacher.  So, disclaimers aside, read on…

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If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m a little bit stubborn. I have always been self-sufficient, and I want to do things for myself. I don’t like to ask for help.

Also, if you’ve been reading my VIPKid blog, you’ll know that I take pride in my class feedback. I think of it as a teacher’s virtual backpack notes. While I appreciate the need for simple language, I want my students’ parents to have a detailed summary of our class with real, meaningful feedback about their child.

So – put these two things together, and you’ll see why starting out, I wanted to do feedback my way. I thought I had it under control.

And I did … sort of. Before each class, I typed up a detailed summary of the class that I could then customize after the class. I included any relevant notes from my last class, and I included details from parent ratings and any upcoming classes we had booked. It was awesome. And it was time consuming. The more students I taught, the more difficult it was to dig back through my word files and find what I was looking for, and I found myself with a wish list of things that would make my life easier.

I wish I could…

  • Easily (and quickly) see what I had written about this student in my last few classes without having to flip back and forth between different word documents.
  • Find that last template that I had typed up for the “Fun with my Friends” lesson. Did I teach it last week with Bau Bau or two weeks ago with Leo?
  • See all the rewards that I had used with a student all in one place.
  • Re-use basic material from my feedback without trying to remember to change all the “she’s” to “he’s” and then back again.
  • Have a centralized place to keep notes about what my students like and don’t like. Cat-lover? Hates find-a-star? Little brother?

The more I thought about it, I wondered if there was something out there that already did this. As a new teacher, I’d heard about Feedback Panda before, but I thought it was just a service that provided summaries of each lesson that you could copy and paste in your feedback. I wasn’t interested. Sure, it was only a small fee each month, but why pay for something that I could manage myself?

As I started thinking more and more about my wish list, I decided to get a free trial and see if it checked any of the boxes.  I was astounded when it checked all of them. It literally does every single thing listed above. And what I didn’t realize before is that while you DO have access to a template library, you can also build and save your OWN templates, which is exactly what I had been trying to do manually.

You can build a student profile for each student and include nicknames, general feedback and more. If you use the Chrome web browser extension and start creating feedback from within the teacher portal, it automatically pulls in the student’s unique ID, lesson, and more.

Here’s an example of one of my regular students. Every time I look at it, I wish I had my notes and feedback entered for the 8 times I taught her BEFORE I found Feedback Panda!

Screenshot Rosie Feedback panda

Once you’ve created your general templates, customizing them for the specific class is SO EASY. It pulls in the template that you choose, and then you simply add your notes.  Here’s an excerpt from a level 4 assessment that I taught this morning:

My Template:

Grammar: [name] completed all of the sentences correctly and used the missing words appropriately. She had a clear mastery of the words how/where/when/who/what/why.

My Completed Feedback:

Grammar: Vivian completed all of the sentences correctly and used the missing words appropriately. She had a clear mastery of the words how/where/when/who/what/why. At the end of the lesson, I asked Vivian to create her own sentences using these words, and she did this easily. We then used the words where/who/what to have a more detailed conversation and extend upon her project. When asked WHERE she would go to visit the mountains, she said she would choose tall mountains, and that there were none near her home. When asked WHO she would go with, she said her family (her parents and three year old brother.) When asked WHAT she would do there, she said she would take a picnic.

When you start creating feedback for a student, this is what the console looks like:

FB Emma feedback

You can see that it has the student’s basic information on the left, and below that, you can see the previous reward systems I used with her, the current lesson/template, and prior feedback and notes. You customize your feedback on the right, and then can add signatures, or smart sentences that you use regularly. You can even save your teacher-to-teacher notes. When you expand your prior feedback, you’ll be able to see if the parent left you feedback so you can thank them for it in your next class.

The software can do much, much more than that. I know that it supports multiple teaching platforms, and I’m sure there are many features I haven’t yet discovered.  But as I said at the beginning, this is not a paid ad for Feedback Panda. It’s merely a testimonial to why I signed up for a subscription after just three days of my free trial had passed. I knew immediately that I needed this in my life, and I wanted to share how I am personally using it!

For me, what sealed the deal wasn’t the saved time (which is great.) It was having so much information at my fingertips. I am a data girl. I want to know as much information about my students and classes as possible because I think that will make me a better teacher. If Feedback Panda can make that happen, it’s clear that they are the real VIP!

I hope you found this helpful.  If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m not an expert, but I’ll do my best to help based on my own experience!

Happy teaching!

PS- Here is a walkthrough I did that shows how I use Feedback Panda in action…

Feedback Panda in Action

Enjoy!

‘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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