Booking Boosters for VIPKid

If you are asking the question, “How can I get more VIPKid bookings?” You are not alone. And before I give any suggestions, let me assure you that you have not done anything wrong! There are many factors that can go into VIPKid bookings, and low bookings can affect any of us: new teachers, tenured teachers, and everyone in between! But don’t worry, there are some easy things that you can do that have the potential to help bring in bookings.

First, the “big 6” booking boosters that I’ve talked about before are:

  1. Be sure you are opening your schedule for the correct weeks. (If you’re fuzzy on the frenzy timing, review my post about VIPKid Booking Schedules.
  2. Review your profile picture.
  3. Review your featured photos and intro video.
  4. Take workshops.
  5. Add certifications (especially trials!)
  6. Open short notice bookings.

You can read more about all of these in my first post about bookings, Getting Bookings with VIPKid.

If you have tried all of those without luck, there are some other options.

Send e-cards to prior students.

Remember, e-cards go to students, not their parents, so just keep your audience in mind when you write them. A simple, “Hi Bao Bao! I enjoyed having class with you last month. I hope you are doing well. See you soon!” is sufficient. You don’t want to go into great detail about what times you are available to teach or anything. Just make it a fun card for your student. If you aren’t sure how to send an e-card, I have a walk-through here: How to Send an e-card with VIPKid.

Open a ticket for low bookings.

VIPKid will sometimes help teachers increase their bookings. In the support center, you can create a new ticket. There are a few different options. I would start with the first: Issue = No Booking or Issue = Low Booking. If you try this and have not had success in a week’s time, then I would open a second ticket: Issue = Teacher Voice. In either scenario, VIPKid can get your information over to Learning Partners who may be looking for a new teacher to recommend to their students. Be sure to include your teacher show name! (The one with the letters after it!)

Open your schedule further in advance.

Always be sure your schedule is open at least two weeks in advance. That is the standard window, and many parents try to rebook for two weeks out immediately following their last class. But if you can (and are sure you can teach!) then try to open a consistent schedule for at least a month in advance. If a parent is looking for a “regular” teacher who can teach their child on an ongoing basis, they will want to be sure that your schedules are compatible.

Participate in VIPKid promotional activities.

VIPKid often offers different promotions that can help get your profile in front of parents. The current activity that is in its last few weeks this August (2019) is the Teacher Showroom. It’s an opportunity to upload an additional short video. As of August 13, VIPKid said they had 4,000 entries. While this seems like a lot, 4,000 out of around 70,000 teachers is not that many. Less than 6 percent of VIPKid’s teachers participated, so if new parents are scrolling through trying to find their perfect match, you’ve just increased your odds of being seen!

Check your teacher tags.

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this technique. (Check out VIPKid Teacher Tags to see why.) But if all else fails, you could consider opening a ticket regarding your teacher tags. When you go through your interview and mock classes, certain “tags” are added to your profile that are visible to teachers. I have not ever seen any official information from VIPKid on these, but I’ve heard that you can have up to five attached to your profile. The general idea is that parents can see areas of specialty or personality traits to help decide if you will be a good fit for their child. There are a few things you can do with teacher tags to potentially affect your bookings.

  1. First, you need to submit a ticket to get a list of your teacher tags. They are not visible to us, but VIPKid will tell you via ticket.
  2. Next, if you don’t have five, you can request to add a fifth.
  3. Finally, If you feel that the tags are not representative of your personality, you can request to change them. No tags should really have more benefit than others; however, it is possible that if your tags are not aligned with your real teaching style, it could impact repeat bookings.

Reach out to parents on social media.

If you use WeChat or Weibo, you can post something for parents to see. Be sure that it translates well to Chinese and that it’s respectful. I have even seen teachers post about specific days: “I have several classes available on Friday! What students will I see?” You could gently suggest that parents consider recommending you to their friends.

There is no “one right way” to get bookings with VIPKid, but I hope you have found these suggestions helpful.

Have you tried any of these techniques? Let me know how they worked in the comments!

And of course, if you are a new teacher I would be happy to help. You can get started right away with the VIPKid application and I will be happy to answer any questions I can. Happy teaching!

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VIPKid Week 2 and the Early Months

Remember that everyone’s VIPKid journey is different. No two teachers will ever have the exact same schedule or experience, and that’s ok!

You’ve made it through the gauntlet we know as the VIPKid hiring process. You got the elusive “first booking.” Maybe you had several bookings! And then … what?

This post is designed to help fill in the blanks for what comes next.

Open your schedule.

Students and their parents have the opportunity to book you again right after class. Make sure you have the next two weeks open to fully take advantage of this! I usually include my availability in the future when I send my feedback.

For example, “In our next lesson, I would like to keep working with Bao Bao on “this” and “that.” I have a fun game that I think he will enjoy that will help reinforce this. If you would like to book our next class, I have this same time available next week! Thank you! Teacher Amelia U

Check for feedback.

If you haven’t gotten any, don’t sweat it! (Everyone is different. Check here to see How does your VIPKid apple rating measure up?) If you did get feedback, I encourage you to respond to it. (You can do this through the PC App or the web portal, but not by phone.) I’m sure it’s positive, 5-apple feedback and so a simple thank you is sufficient. A few options I’ve used are:

  • Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. Receiving positive feedback is very important to VIPKid teachers, and I really appreciate it!
  • Thank you for the 5-apple feedback! Bao Bao did a great job in class, and I can’t wait to see him again!
  • Thank you for leaving me 5-apples! I appreciate your feedback and I hope to see Bao Bao soon. If you would like to schedule another class, I am available next Friday!

If for some reason it isn’t 5-apple feedback, resist the urge to be confrontational in a response. You can see how to dispute bad feedback here.

Send e-cards to students you want to rebook!

The feedback is your way of communicating with parents. E-cards are your way to communicate with the students. With that in mind, stay away from scheduling conversation and keep it high level and positive.

  • I had fun in our class last week Bao Bao! Are you doing your homework? I hope to see you in class soon! – Teacher Amelia U
  • I hope you enjoyed our class last week! Next time I have a fun Ultraman game that we can play while you learn English. See you soon! – Teacher Amelia U

Always use your teacher show name.

You may have noticed in both my feedback and e-cards I used my show name (that name with the initial after it.) This is just in case the parents have lost me in the sea of teachers and don’t know how to find me TO rebook. When little Bao Bao shows them the adorable e-card that I sent them, it will remind them and they can find me to rebook!

Watch your replay.

Did you know you can go back into the PC App and watch your class replay? It won’t be available immediately, but it is usually there a few hours after class. Watch the replay with an open mind, and ask yourself:

  • What did I do well?
  • What should I do differently?
  • Did it look like I was having fun?
  • Did it look like my student was having fun?
  • How much time was I talking? (Remember, our goal is to have the student talk 50-80% of the time, depending on their level!)
  • Were there times that I cut off my student before they could fully answer?
  • How was my timing?
  • Did I use a good mixture of props to help enhance the learning?

I like referring to the Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator during the playback. Even though it’s intended to help during the hiring process, I find it’s a useful self-evaluation tool as well.

Then based on your own self-evaluation…

Take workshops.

I know by this point you are probably tired of hearing me say that. BUT, even if you took workshops prior to teaching classes (good for you!) you did not have any real experience to build on. If you found yourself struggling in a particular area as you watched your playback, you can go to a workshop with that class in mind and perhaps learn tools and techniques to adjust. It will also show VIPKid that you are taking your own self-improvement seriously and that you want to be the very best teacher possible.

If you aren’t sure where to go to find workshops then check out the VIPKid Library and Certification Center. You’ll be amazed!

Contact the learning partner (if appropriate.)

Last but not least, if you have any meaningful feedback on the students, it can also help to send feedback to the learning partner. You can do this at the time of the class through the class feedback (in the very bottom section.) But you can also do this via a ticket in the support center. I’ve seen some teachers asking on social media, “What do I say to the learning partner?” If you have to ask that question, it’s a good sign that you should not be sending in a ticket. It is a waste of your time and theirs to send feedback with nothing meaningful to say. But if you do have something (positive or negative) that you feel is important, then this is a good way to start building relationships with the LP’s. You probably won’t hear back, but if they pass along your feedback to the parents, you could get a repeat booking. Or the LP could book you for other students.

No matter what, remember that everyone’s VIPKid journey is different. No two teachers will ever have the exact same schedule or experience, and that’s ok! Remember to have fun and focus on your students, and everything else will fall into place.

If you have questions or suggestions of your own, please let me know in the feedback!

Happy teaching!

VIPKid Short Notice 24-hour Bookings

From my very first class, I realized that short notice bookings were an important tool for my VIPKid growth. At the same time, they were one of my biggest fears. Below are the basics about short notice classes, how to deal with them, and how they can help you.

What is a short notice class?

When you log in to update your availability and open time slots to teach, you have the option to allow short-notice bookings. This means that a parent can book a class anywhere from 24 hours to 1 hour before the class start time. (If you don’t select this option, the time slots expire 24 hours before the class start time.)

It’s been my experience that most short notice bookings come in overnight. I go to bed, and when I wake up the next morning, a class has been booked! Some of these classes are trial classes, and perhaps parents decide at the last minute to try it out. Sometimes these are regular major courses, and perhaps schedules have changed so the parents need to make a last minute adjustment.

What are the benefits of short notice classes?

  • Experience: As a new teacher, you need experience to teach. The more available you are, the more likely you are to get bookings.
  • Flexibility: The more short notice classes you teach, the more comfortable you’ll be in quick lesson preparation. This could lead to other opportunities such as substitute teaching.
  • Money: All courses booked within 24 hrs will earn an extra $2 as a short notice bonus. If you teach several short notice classes in a week, that can add up fast!

I’m convinced. How do I open my classes up for short notice booking?

The process to allow short notice booking is simple.

  • If you are using the VIPKid Teacher app, once you use the slide button to open the slot, touch the “24H” button to turn it blue. In the screenshot below, the 5:00 am timeslot is NOT available as a short notice booking but the 5:30 am timeslot is.

mobile app booking slots

  • If you are using the VIPKid Teacher Client/PC App or the VIPKid Teacher’s Portal in a web browser, when you click on the timeslot to book it, first check “Course” and then change the bottom option from “Available” to “Short Notice.”

screenshot - booking timeslots

How can I prepare for a short notice class? 

As a new teacher, this was my biggest concern. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do a good job without adequate preparation time. As I gained experience, I found there are a few key preparation steps that make short notice classes easy.

  • Have a small stable of key props. You can almost always use Meg and Mike, dino, and numbers. If you have a set of magnetic letters handy, these can be used in any of the sound blending and phonics activities. I keep a harmonica handy that I use to open any song (I just play random notes!) and I keep a trophy nearby that I show them when they win a game. (This has gotten more than one “WOW!” from students. While it’s great to have super-customized props for each and every lesson, they aren’t necessary.
  • Have a few different secondary reward systems at your fingertips. An easy one that I’ve used several times is alphabet blocks. My kids’ real blocks are long gone, so I printed and laminated some pictures of blocks, but either would work. Before the class, pull out the letters that spell your student’s name, and each time they do a good job, they spell one letter of their name. This personalization makes it seem like you are prepared with a custom lesson, but only takes a minute. I also had balloons blown up for my “birthday” class, and I didn’t want to waste my breath (literally!) I’ve used the balloons as a secondary reward system for several students, and they’ve stayed inflated for several weeks.
  • Download the teacher app to your phone. You can quickly and easily flip through the slides on your phone while you dry your hair, get dressed, etc. (You can also flip ahead while in the lesson with your student.) Using the app also lets you quickly scan teacher feedback to see what works well and what reward systems have been used recently with the student. Even a cursory review of the student and lesson can ensure you are able to be effective and meet the objectives for the class.

If you still have questions, here is a link to more information on short notice classes from VIPKid. As always, feel free to ask me questions in the comments or by contacting me here. I would love to help you in your VIPKid journey. If you haven’t yet signed up, feel free to use my referral link and I will help you in any way I can!

Is VIPKid worth my time?

If you are just starting your journey with VIPKid, or you’re considering whether or not to apply, this is probably one of the first questions you will ask yourself.

 

The answer is YES!

When I first clicked on the link to learn about VIPKid, I had several questions. I was afraid to start something when I didn’t know if it would be worthwhile.

Will I like it?

One of my biggest fears is that I wouldn’t like teaching in this format. Would I be able to connect with the students in a “virtual classroom?” Would I get bored with the materials? Would I be too sleepy to enjoy my classes?

I’m happy to report that I LOVE teaching with VIPKid!

  • Technology: In today’s digital world, it’s just as easy to connect with a child over the airwaves as it is when you’re sitting right next to them. As an added bonus, they are as excited to get a glimpse into our world as we are into theirs! Technology has not been an issue at all, and even when there have been a few hiccups, we all laugh about it and work together to get them solved.
  • Content: The materials are great! One of my favorite things about the VIPKid curriculum is that it’s easy to customize the material based on your student. If you have a beginner student who is struggling, you can simplify or adjust how they interact on each slide. If you have a superstar student who is finding the lesson too easy, there are plenty of opportunities to extend the lesson and make it more interesting and engaging for them. If your student is on-level, you can use the lesson plan as-is. Every single session is different because every single student is different.
  • Hours: YAWN. I am not a morning person! For years, even as an adult, I had a rule that no one could call me before noon because I might be sleeping. If you had told me then that I would be waking up in the wee hours of the morning to teach, I would have laughed in your face! Because I live in the United States, the prime teaching hours are early morning (which are evening/after school hours in China.) The hottest hours (known as PPT timeslots) are 6:00 am, 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30 (central time.) As a general rule, I open 5:30 – 7:00, and I use the last 30 minutes to complete feedback on my classes before I begin my day job. Since I began teaching, I’ve found my eyes popping open around 4:30 am because I’m excited to begin! I don’t need that much time to prepare, but it’s nice getting my day started on such a positive note.

Will I be good at it?

This was a big concern for me, because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. Because I don’t have elementary school classroom experience, nor do I have formal experience teaching English as a second language, I was worried that I would not be good at it.  The only thing worse than not enjoying teaching would be if I wasn’t helping the kids!

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help new teachers. As I’m sure you’ve seen, there are plenty of teachers with posts like these, videos, and more since referrals are such an easy way to earn extra cash! But VIPKid also has great resources available. There are many workshops available on almost any topic you can imagine. There are specific tools and techniques that you can learn to make you more effective. We’ll dive more into TPR (total physical response), modeling, props and “realia” and more in other posts. You will also get feedback from your interview and mock classes, so you can continue to improve.

Will any parents hire me?

So VIPKid has said I’m qualified to teach, but what if no one chooses me? I imagined months of sleepless mornings as I tried to build up my client base, and I worried that I would get lost in the sea of VIPKid teachers who are already teaching.

I’m happy to report that in my first month of teaching (only part time, remember) I taught over 20 students with many more booked. Each week more of my available timeslots are filled and I get more advanced bookings. My students quickly became a mixture of repeat students, new students, and trial classes, and more parents began following my profile. In that first month, I also got my first two “five apple” ratings!

So yes, parents will hire you. I’ll share specific tips and tricks for getting bookings, but just know that the process does work.

I was very happy that my initial worries and questions were quickly addressed. If you have any questions of your own, please reach out! I’d love to help. You can contact me here or ask me questions in the comments. If you’re ready to get started, I’d love to be your mentor, so please consider using my referral link when you apply and let me help you along the way!

“The most fruitful and worthwhile thing I have ever done has been to teach.” – Harvey Dunn

 

My First VIPKid Class

If you have dreams of pre-planning every single lesson, it’s not going to happen. But do you want the good news? It’s not necessary!

This picture is not my most flattering picture. It showcases my look of terror! It shares with the world the look of adrenaline coursing through my veins when I woke up one morning to see that I had been booked for a short-notice class with my very first VIPKid student.

Her name was Erica, and the lesson was one that I had not seen before. Now you should know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. In my mind, I had hoped to have a full filing cabinet with printed objectives, props, and customized lesson plans for any class I might be asked to teach. I thought I would have my lesson plans arranged a week in advance, ordered by day and time. Let me tell you, if you have dreams of pre-planning every single lesson, it’s not going to happen. But do you want the good news? It’s not necessary!

Why did I have a short notice class?

I wish I could say that I was so confident in my teaching abilities that I knew I could handle anything. In reality, there was an incentive sponsored by VIPKid that paid teachers for opening a certain number of short notice PPT slots, so despite my anxiety, I opened them up.

“Oh, I’ll never get booked,” I thought. “I’ll check the VIPKid app on my phone and go back to sleep,” I thought.

Imagine my surprise to wake up to a notification, “Congratulations! You’ve been booked!”

What did I do?

Needless to say, I was immediately wide awake! After a quick shower, I browsed through the lesson on my phone while I dried my hair and put on makeup. I might not have a detailed plan in place, but at least I would be familiar with the learning objectives, reward system, and slides.

I grabbed a few props that I already had prepared from my mock classes, and yes, I went a little overboard. I ran to Walmart (since I still had over an hour before class began.) The lesson was about birthdays, so I bought balloons, candles, and a few other small props. I didn’t spend more than a couple of dollars, because I had promised myself that I wouldn’t let my enthusiasm cause me to spend my earnings before I’d even gotten paid!

I had time for a quick selfie before I jumped into the classroom to ensure everything was working properly.

So how did it go?

I know, the suspense is killing you!

In short, it went fine. I’m sure if I were to go back and watch the video now, I would cringe. My time management was terrible, and I didn’t finish the slides. My blood pressure was probably through the roof the entire time.

Reviews of the student had not been exactly glowing. There were reports of her not smiling, and comments that she got distracted easily. I went into the lesson expecting the worst, and just hoping that I didn’t get fired!

Erica was a superstar, though. It’s true she didn’t (and still doesn’t) smile much. She doesn’t like to sing the songs (although music class IS her favorite class.) But she is intelligent and a great student. How do I know? She is one of my most regular repeat students. I teach her almost every week now!

No, my teaching was far from perfect, but it wasn’t about that. It was about connecting with the student and helping her achieve the lesson objectives.

Once that first class was completed, I was able to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. I had survived, and so had my student. There would be other milestones and other sources of anxiety, but the bandaid had been ripped off and I saw that I would be fine.

Are you nervous about your first class? Do you want someone to help talk you through it? Feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll be happy to help. Want to share your own success stories or fears? Leave them in the comments! If you are ready to take the plunge and become a VIP teacher so you can have your own “first class” memories, I would be honored to help you along the way! Feel free to ask for help and use me as your referral. Let’s get started together!