The Prop Report #3 – 6-in-1 Puzzles

“…they could have been looking at the VIPKid curriculum when they designed the puzzles!”

Introduction:

Welcome to the third installment of my series: The Prop Report. In this series, I plan to share my favorite props and rewards that I use in my ESL classroom. The link to the product is an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase the item through the link, I get a little bonus. For more info about this series of posts, you can read my overview and full disclaimers here.

The product:

6-in-1 Puzzle Sets

Manufacturer:

LQT Limited

Recommended for ESL classroom?

Yes (for lower levels!) These are perfect for VIPKid level 2

Recommended for hands on learning?

Yes! But only for younger kids. Since there are only 5 or 6 pieces per puzzle, they are too simple for older kids.

Pros:

I personally have the transportation puzzle. (That’s what you’ll see in my video below.) I love it because sometimes I teach a student several lessons in the same unit, but I can do different puzzles for variety! I love that they have fun animals and bright colors (both great extension tools.) When I purchased this, it was sold as a single puzzle. Now it’s part of a set of four, and I swear, they could have been looking at the VIPKid curriculum when they designed the puzzles!

  • transportation
  • farm animals
  • wild animals
  • aquatic animals

I can easily think of lessons for each of these!

These are very easy to use in the classroom because each piece is numbered on the back. I don’t really enjoy puzzles and I certainly don’t want to figure them out on the spot with my student, so I love that they come with a small cheat piece that shows what the puzzle should look like completed.

The puzzle pieces are thick and sturdy, and they show up well on camera.

Cons:

The way I choose to attach these to my whiteboard is by magnet. While it works, it can sometimes be a little bit clunky to connect the pieces. There might be a better way to use these (maybe thinner magnetic strips?) but as long as you are comfortable with the puzzles and familiar with your student, they work great!

See it in action:

You can see my unofficial product demo here: YouTube: Prop Report #3

In summary:

This prop set is a yes if you teach level 2 with VIPKid. They will provide great variety in your class and plenty of extension opportunities!

If you would like to purchase it, here’s my link on Amazon.com:

LQT Ltd Baby Wooden Toys Puzzles Jigsaw Puzzle Colorful Animal/Traffic/Ocean/Farm Puzzles 6 in one Box Educational Table Game Toddlers

 

For other issues of The Prop Report:

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How to Win with the Smart Demo

The smart demo is a great way to quickly move to the next phase, but it doesn’t replace being prepared.

As you are preparing to complete the Smart Demo, there are a few things you can practice to ensure your interview is a winner!

Repeat the target word two different times.

Introduce the word, touching your chin to indicate they should watch and listen. Then, cup your ear and wait for your imaginary student to respond. Then repeat.

Use TPR.

If you aren’t yet comfortable using TPR, now is the time to practice.  You will want to use both instructional TPR and regular TPR to help convey your meanings. When you see your slide you need to teach, be thinking of different motions that you can use!

Speak slowly and allow the student time to respond.

Yes, I know there’s not really a student. But if there were, you would need to leave  time for them to listen and answer. So slow down!

Demonstrate error correction.

You will want to pretend that the student made a mistake. It is important to show that you can stay positive but still correct an error.

Encourage, encourage encourage!

Stay upbeat. Acknowledge good responses (you can use thumbs up, smiles, nods, clapping, or whatever feels natural to you. Just make sure you are encouraging your student.

Make sure any props are relevant.

If you do use props in your smart demo, make sure they are relevant and help your students learn. Pay attention to what you are using, and be intentional. Things like whiteboards, magnetic letters and flash cards can all be very versatile and used in a number of ways!

The smart demo is a great way to quickly move to the next phase, but it doesn’t replace being prepared.  So practice and plan, and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to see some ideas in action, check out this video!

Thanks! And happy teaching!

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 Repeat Bookings

There are so many different factors that go into choosing a teacher, you can’t second guess yourself. Don’t over think it.

This week, three new teachers I know taught their first classes.

  • One teacher thought the class went great! She loved the student and had a great time.
  • One teacher thought it went great, and the next day, the student booked her for four more classes!
  • One teacher thought it went terrible. The student seemed to be at the wrong level and did not smile once.  She thought the class was a disaster. Just after she told me how awful she felt about it, she called me and said, “They just booked me again for tomorrow.”

Is all of this normal? Yes!

I recently posted this picture on instagram.

rankings

Until last week, my very first student (Erica) had been my most regular student. I taught her once or twice a week. Sometimes the classes went well, and sometimes, well, they didn’t.

Last week little Emma surpassed her. Emma sometimes doesn’t have a class in a week. Sometimes she has 3. It all just depends.

All of this led me to think about the idea of “regulars.”

Why might a student become a regular?

The student might have liked you. The parents might have liked you. Perhaps the student is shy and so they need a few classes to really feel comfortable enough to participate. Maybe the learning partner has identified that you would be a good fit. Maybe your schedules are well aligned. Maybe you just “clicked.” (Yes, it happens sometimes!)

Why might a student NOT become a regular?

Maybe your personalities didn’t mesh. Maybe the student liked you but the parents are looking for something a little bit different. Maybe the parents liked you, but the student didn’t respond. Maybe they already have a regular teacher who just wasn’t available. Maybe they use all different teachers. Maybe your schedules don’t align.

Was it me?

Students will come and go. And no, it’s not you. There are tens of thousands of teachers with VIPKid. There are some students I see one time and then never again. There are others I see almost every week. Even when I feel like I really hit it off with a student, I sometimes don’t see them on my schedule again, and that’s ok. There are so many different factors that go into choosing a teacher, you can’t second guess yourself. Don’t over think it.

How can I encourage a parent to book me again?

  • Thank the parents for booking you. I follow the philosophy you cannot thank them too much. I thank them in the class feedback. If they leave me parent feedback, I go into the web browser and thank them there. Be appreciative.
  • Ask the parents to book you again in the feedback! If you really loved teaching a student, let that shine through in your feedback. Parents love to hear when people enjoy their children. I’m not proud, I’ve begged before! My standard closing is something like this, though: “I hope Bao Bao enjoyed the class as much as I did! If you would like to book another class, I have this same time available in two weeks, or you can follow my teacher profile to see other available times. Thank you so much!”
  • Send an e-card to the student. The feedback usually goes to the parent, but the e-card goes to the student. You can let them know how much fun you had in class and what a good job they did!
  • Let the parents (and the student) know what you have planned for the next class. If a student struggled in a particular area, I might say in the feedback, “In our next class, I will continue to work with Bao Bao to help him use more complete sentences,” or “Bao Bao did not seem to enjoy the game we played today in class, so next time I will bring a Peppa the Pig game since she was wearing a Peppa shirt today! I hope she likes it!” (But then be prepared to follow through!) That’s one reason I like Feedback Panda so much is because I can remember what I promised to do!
  • Send the learning partner feedback after classes if you think there are especially positive things you’d like to share or if there are areas you feel they could help address. I don’t send LP feedback after every class, but I do send it somewhat regularly. And if I have a new-to-me student that I just love, I always send a note to the LP. That way they can tell Mom and Dad that they actually got a message about how outstanding their son or daughter was!

Through everything, remember that there are so many factors that can influence whether or not a student books another class with you.  So don’t over think it. Do the very best job you can for all 25 minutes that you have, and then move on to your next student. There are pros and cons to both regular and new students, so enjoy them all!

If you are just getting started, I would be happy to help. If you have other questions or comments, please let me know below!

Happy teaching!

Four Steps to a Fantastic First Class!

Grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey!

You have made it through the hiring process. You have opened up your schedule to get VIPKid bookings. You’ve done all the normal prep work. And it worked!  You’ve been booked! If you are like me, there will be a point of panic when you realize that you will be talking to a little human across the world in just a few hours, and everything you learned during the hiring process has disappeared from your mind!

Don’t worry. That feeling is normal, and it won’t last long. Below are four simple steps that will help ensure a fantastic first class!

Award all five stars during class.

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out this post that outlines the Types of VIPKid Rewards.

For some reason, many new teachers don’t know about stars, so let’s get that out on the table. There are many different ways and styles of rewarding stars, but to get off on the right foot, make sure you give them out.

Review the lesson materials in advance.

Before my first class, I was trying to find a way to print out the lessons and make notes on each slide. That’s not necessary. But it IS important that you review the lesson (maybe even a few times.)  You can review it in the teacher portal by clicking on “materials” or even on your phone app.  As you review it, be thinking about the following things:

  • Objectives: What are the primary goals for this lesson. If a student is struggling or you are running out of time, you want to allow the most time for the activities directly related to the objectives.
  • Songs: Are you familiar with the tunes for the welcome and goodbye song? (If you’re not a singer, don’t worry. Even songs I know by heart are usually unrecognizable for me, and the kids are very forgiving!) But it does help if you know what the song is supposed to sound like!
  • Teacher Tips: Read the teacher tips that are usually above the slides (or occasionally printed on the bottom.) These give you instructions on what to do on each slide. They are difficult to read during class and will take your eyes away from your student, so it’s better to review them in advance.
  • Reward: Will you be using the built in reward? Do you want to bring your own?
  • Props: What types of props will you find helpful? I generally make a list (and I keep them in my Feedback Panda templates, but for your first few lessons, just jot them down on a notecard or a piece of paper.
  • Pronunciation and Grammar: Do you know the correct way to do everything in the lesson? I know this sounds crazy, but for me, my phonics were pretty rusty. And I screw up present progressive verbs EVERY SINGLE TIME. So be sure you brush up on how to correctly complete the activities in the lesson!

Review the student info.

Just like the lesson materials, this can be found in the teacher app or also the phone app. It will show you how old the student is, how many classes they have taken, and (sometimes) tips that other teachers have left. I will warn you – take the tips with a grain of salt. Some teachers leave lengthy, personalized tips, some leave none, and some copy and paste what they send to the parent. And remember that every teacher/student combination is different. My very first student had very negative comments left about her. I was terrified. But she has ended up being my most regular student since that time. Just because a student didn’t mesh well with another teacher does not mean they won’t become your favorite student! You can also sometimes glean hints about what the student enjoys so that might help you plan out your rewards!

Have fun.

BY FAR, this is the most important advice I can share with you for your first class. I vividly remember sitting in front of my laptop at 5 am, TERRIFIED. But once I got into the lesson, I realized how fun this was going to be, and nothing else mattered. Remember, if you have fun in class, your student will too. If you want a chuckle, you can read my account of my first class here: My First VIPKid Class.

So grab your headset, put on a smile, and get ready to start this amazing journey! If you have other questions that I can help with, please let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

 

Photo by GiselaFotografie

The Prop Report #2 – Joyin Animal Friends Hand Puppets

This prop set is an absolute yes – for the ESL classroom or just for fun.

 

Introduction:

Welcome to the second installment of a new series: The Prop Report. In this series, I plan to share my favorite props and rewards that I use in my ESL classroom. The link to the product is an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase the item through the link, I get a little bonus. For more info about this series of posts, you can read my overview and full disclaimers here.

The product:

Animal Friends Deluxe Kids Hand Puppets with Working Mouth (Pack of 6) for Imaginative Play

Manufacturer:

JOYIN

Recommended for ESL classroom?

Totally! I use these all the time!

Recommended for hands on learning?

Yes! I think that young kids would have a great time putting on puppet shows with these.

Pros:

This set of puppets comes with six different animals, so you have a variety to choose from. My favorite feature is the hard, moveable mouths (in all of them but the elephant.) I also love that you can position your thumb and pinky in the arms and move their arms. (Be sure to check out the video for the famous dabbing raccoon.) The sleeve of the puppet goes far enough down your wrist that you don’t have to be extremely careful about showing your arm and ruining the “magic” on camera. These puppets are large enough (especially the elephant and monkey) that they are comfortable on your hand. I also really like that they are substantial enough that you don’t have to use them as a puppet.  You could actually hold them just like a plush stuffed animal.

Did I mention the moveable mouths? Kids like nothing more than to see an animal “eat” one of their stars or even bite their teacher!

Cons:

Not all of the animals are commonly found in VIPKid lessons, though they might be in other ESL company powerpoints or perhaps even other lessons. If you are a prop minimalist, it might be overkill to have six puppets, especially if all you want to use them for is an icebreaker.

See it in action:

You can see my unofficial product demo here: Super Cool YouTube Video

roar

In summary:

This prop set is an absolute yes – for the ESL classroom or just for fun.

If you would like to purchase it, here’s the link on Amazon.com:

 

JOYIN Animal Friends Deluxe Kids Hand Puppets with Working Mouth (Pack of 6) for Imaginative Play

Other Episodes of the Prop Report:

VIPKid – Teaching on the Road

My VIPKid journey has been filled with milestones. In fact, we earn different badges to celebrate the big ones. So far, after 1.5 contracts, I’ve earned a few:

  • 30/100/180 days as a teacher
  • 1st, 10th, 100th, and 500th classes taught
  • 1st, 50th, and 100th 5-apple ratings
  • 100th student taught

This morning I celebrated my own personal milestone: teaching my first class remotely. One of the most amazing benefits of teaching with VIPKid is the ability to teach from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Up until now, I just haven’t taken advantage of this.

My husband needed to come to New Orleans to renew his passport, so I tagged along for the ride. I actually closed my early morning times so I could sleep in, but I have my normal Monday morning 7am class (Rosie) who books like clockwork several weeks in advance. Today she had a mid-unit assessment scheduled, so we took the show on the road.

It just so happened that this was a very easy lesson for props. What did I bring? One ziplock bag that included:

  • My mini-whiteboard and a magnetic marker
  • Uno cards
  • He/She/It magnets

Because I was teaching a student I was very familiar with, I did not hang a special background. I sat in front of a blank wall with a picture on it. I was in front of a large window that offered plenty of light, plus I dragged a lamp nearby.

The results? An easy, effective class.

If you are thinking of taking your own classroom on the road, here are some suggestions:

  1. Consider using digital props and rewards. Google Slides is a great option for both, although there are other options available.
  2. Create a grab bag of versatile props that you can grab and take with you. I would suggest:
      A small, magnetic whiteboard and marker
      Magnetic stars that can attach to the whiteboard
      A small pronoun chart or print outs of pronouns
      Flash Cards (ABC’s, animals, numbers/math, and shapes)
      Key characters (Meg, Mike, Dino, and maybe the level 1 characters if you teach it)
      A simple backdrop (This could be a shower curtain, a blanket, or even a colorful gift bag that could be hung from the wall.)
      Some external, battery powered lighting (just in case.)
  1. Have fun! Just like with your classroom at home, if you are engaged and enjoying class, your students will too!

I also let Rosie’s mom know in advance I would be on the road so she wasn’t surprised. When I got set up, I sent her a picture of the day’s “classroom” on WeChat. After class, I got the sweet message below from her.

So, even though this isn’t a milestone “officially” with VIPKid, I consider this morning a success.

Have you taught successfully from the road? What’s your go-to list of traveling props? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! If you would like to keep up with my future trips I’ve started a dedicated feed on my instagram. I hope you will check it out!

If you are looking for an opportunity to have a job where you can travel as well, I’d love to help you get started with VIPKid. The first step is to apply. You can get a preview of all of the steps in the process here: VIPKid Application and Interview Process (Updated May 27, 2019). I would be happy to help you through the process. Just let me know!