You might notice that I talk a lot about class preparation. That’s probably because being prepared is very important to me. My mom loves to tell the story about when I was a little girl, still crawling. One afternoon she noticed that it was unusually quiet in the house, so she tiptoed back to my bedroom and peeked through a crack in the door. I was practicing walking, holding onto a small table for balance. The minute I saw her watching me, I burst into tears and started crying, because apparently, I wanted to be perfect before anyone saw me walking!
To help you feel more prepared, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my typical process for class prep. If you have about 10 minutes, I created a video called VIPKid Class Preparation, and it goes through two specific examples – one where I walk through my prep folder for teaching a mock class on the letter “X” and one where I walk through my (recent) preparation for teaching my demo class for level 4 certification.
If you don’t have time for the full video now, here are the most important elements:
Read the objectives. It’s very important that you are clear about the vocabulary, sentence patterns, and phonics that your student should learn. In a mock class or interview, they will be watching for these. In a real class, this is a pillar of your student’s success.
Review your student’s background. Follow up on problem areas and encourage them on their strengths. This will also help you with timing, because if you know a student is a strong reader, you know the reading will go quickly. If there is a particular concept they struggle with, you can allow more time for this.
Review all slides. This is pretty easy to do now using the teacher app, though I have gone old school before and printed them.
Gather all props. This is the fun part. I know there are prop minimalists out there, but I LOVE bringing fun things into the classroom. (I now use Feedback Panda to help track my props, so it makes it even faster!)
If you have questions, please let me know in the comments! If you would like to use me as a mentor to help you through the process as you get your feet wet, please feel free to use my referral link.
I am a planner. I like nothing more than a color coded calendar with every hour neatly catalogued. So for me, it was important that I understand early how to prepare for a class.
Whether you are preparing for your interview, a mock class, or a regular class, the steps are basically the same.
Review the objectives.
Review the slides.
Review key skills.
Learn about your student.
Prepare a list of props or realia.
To help get you started, let’s look at each of these individually.
Review the objectives. If you do nothing else in preparing for a lesson, be sure you review the objectives. These will tell you what your child needs to learn. If you are teaching the letter “a” there might be a picture of an apple on the page, but that could be just to demonstrate the letter sound. It’s not important that the student remember the word apple, nor is it important they know that an apple is red. If you are doing a lesson on food, learning about the apple might be an important part of the lesson. So read your objectives. Your interviewer and mock class mentor will be watching for this, and it will directly affect the results of your real students later.
Review the slides. You will want to scroll through the slides enough that you are comfortable with them. For new teachers, this could take several times. If you’ve taught for a while or done this lesson before, a quick once-over might be sufficient. You will not be effective in class if you are trying to squint and read instructions on each page during your interview or class.
Review key skills. This is extremely important, especially if you are not a current ESL or lower elementary teacher. If you are teaching a letter, be sure you know the correct sound the letter makes. Be sure you know the standard letter motion movements. You need to be sure you know how your mouth (and your student’s) should look when they make the letter sound. You might think that “Everyone knows how to say ‘R'” but if you aren’t prepared to correct a “ruh” to an “rrrrr” you will be in trouble. If you are interviewing, your mentor is sure to mispronounce something to test you. With real students, missing timely error correction can build bad habits and result in poor feedback from parents.
Learn about your student. In a mock class, VIPKid will provide some basic information about your student. They will provide their age and some prior vocabulary. Score bonus points if you can work some of these into your lesson, since it shows you are prepared! In a real class, there is a “Student Details” section. There you can learn the name and age of your student, the number of classes they have taken with VIPKid, their ratings on the last lesson, and feedback from prior teachers. This can help you adjust to their personal style in the classroom, so pay attention!
Prepare a list of props or realia. I love props! When you are interviewing, you will need to make sure to use at least two different types of props or realia. For example, if you are teaching the letter “P” you could choose two or more of any of the following types of props: a magnetic letter, a whiteboard, printed/laminated letters or pictures, blocks with letters, stuffed animals or toys that start with “p” (panda, puppy, pig.) I’m sure you could come up with many other ideas, but be sure you have and use at least two different types.
Practice. As you are getting started and preparing for your interview, practice is the most important thing you can do. Practice your TPR in the shower. Practice with your family. Practice on video on your computer. Practice with your dog. You cannot practice too much. Once you are hired and have taught several classes, practice becomes less important than the rest of the preparation since much of the TPR and slide work will be familiar to you.
The more classes you teach, the faster you can move through these steps. Today, I spend between 5-15 minutes preparing for each class, whereas I spent several hours preparing for my initial interview and mock class.
If you have questions about how I prepare or have tips of your own you would like to share, let me know in the comments below! If you are ready to join VIPKid and apply, feel free to use me as a referral and I will help in any way I can!