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!
When I was interviewing and preparing for my mock class, I wanted to rush out and buy every teacher prop available. I love buying school supplies under normal circumstances, so with the idea of a “new classroom” in my mind, I was almost unstoppable! However, I’m happy to report that I did not break the bank and was able to show some restraint.
If you are just getting started, there’s no need to spend a fortune in props and classroom decorations. Below are my top picks for things to get your classroom started.
Things You Already Have
Tape. Yes, just regular scotch tape. If you have some favorite reward systems, you can later invest in magnets, velcro, or some other adhesive, but for just starting out, tape works just fine. I use tape to decorate my walls and whiteboard, and I use it in virtually every reward system I prepare. It’s easy to use, and you probably already have a roll in your junk drawer!
MusicalItem(s). Yes, I know that it’s vague. But this can be literally ANY musical item. If you can plan an instrument, that’s great. I can’t even read music, much less play an instrument, so an old kid’s harmonica is what I use. Before I start singing a song, I play a few discordant notes on the harmonica to get my student’s attention and set the stage for the song. A toy xylophone, kiddie piano, a pair of drumsticks, a kazoo, or even a whistle would probably work. Just find something you’ll enjoy and get to playing!
Toys. On the subject of toys and fun, dig out some of your favorite old toys or game pieces. I have used stuffed animals, toy cars, card games, dice, and even a dog toy in my lessons. Be creative! If you are having fun, the kids will too.
You will be amazed at how many household items you will find that you can use in class. However, there will be a few things that are worth purchasing.
Things to Buy
Magnetic Letters. These are inexpensive and versatile. They can be used for beginners when learning letters and letter sounds. They can be used in phonics practice for more advanced students. They can be used to customize your classroom decorations or help with verb conjugation. The possibilities are endless! You could probably get by with one set of capital letters, and two sets of lower case letters.
Small Whiteboard. I picked one up for around $5.00 I think, and I use it all the time. I use it along with my magnetic letters, and I use it to write examples. It can be used to correct pronunciation (b vs buh) and to draw reward systems. This is one of my go-to items in the classroom.
Something You Love. I have to confess. I did make a major splurge recently, but in all honesty, I would have bought these with or without a classroom! I came across a few finger puppets that were custom made from Chicago artist Dan Crowley. I absolutely adore all of his work, and so I purchased two puppets, a sun and a moon. I’ve had the chance to use them when teaching about the weather and “good morning” but really, I just love looking at them! (But they do look FANTASTIC over video in the classroom!) While I try to be frugal, if you find something that you just love, it’s ok to buy it. Why? Because if you are excited, your students will be too. And I love anything that helps my students love learning.
A Laminator. I’m not sure why, but I already had a laminator. However, if you are hired, you can invest in a decent home laminator for $25-$35, and the plastic sheets cost about $11 online from Amazon. I use my laminator all the time, from making reward systems to decorating my classroom. I print, laminate, and attach pictures of animals to those pointy kitchen skewers I hate to cook with, and voila – instant puppet. If you don’t have a whiteboard, you can also use a laminated piece of paper as a makeshift whiteboard. I probably wouldn’t purchase a laminator just for the interview process, but if you are looking for a way you can start building up re-usable supplies for your classroom, this is a good place to start.
If you’d like to see more about the basics I use, I put together a quick video that shows these items in my classroom. As always, if you print pictures off the Internet, make sure you have permission to use the image.
Good luck setting up your classroom. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me.
Of course if you are ready to get started with VIPKid and are looking for a mentor, feel free to reach out and use my referral link.