One Year and 100 Blog Posts Later…

This is my 100th blog post. And since September 18 marks the one year anniversary of when I signed my first contract with VIPKid, it’s only fitting that this post be a first year check-in. Consider this my behind the scenes “VIPKid tell-all!” I’ll share the answers to three questions people don’t usually ask me, but I’m sure they’ve wondered.

How much money can you make with VIPKid?

How much money you make with VIPKid depends on a lot of factors. Are you working part time, or full time? How long have you been doing it? Do you work enough to qualify for a raise?

  • My husband and I once calculated that if you made an average of $8.00 per 25-minute class and worked “full time” – 40 hours per week, you would make around $42,000 per year teaching classes. It’s important to remember that if you are looking to do this full time, you have to grow your business. It takes time to get to a point where your schedule is consistently filled.
  • I work VERY part time. I only teach 3 classes per day, and only Monday-Friday. Last fall I did teach up to five classes per day, but I scaled back in February and have kept it at three. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve made, working 1.5 – 2.5 hours per day M-F.

What are the worst parts of working for VIPKid?

There are three things that I struggle with when it comes to VIPKid. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things that people find to complain about. No company and no experience is perfect, but these are the big ones for me.

  1. Class Attendance. Many people complain about VIPKid’s strict attendance policy. You can only have six missed appointments per contract without risk of a contract termination. (If you are an existing teacher, you can read the policy here.) I understand the policy – trust me, there are some mornings when my alarm goes off that I might just stay in bed if there weren’t a strict policy in place. But it does lend itself to teaching while sick or through other difficult life circumstances. Yes, there are ways that you can apply for “soft” or “medium” cancellations that come with fewer consequences, but in most cases, I find myself simply pushing through. And honestly, I don’t want to let my students down. They have been looking forward to our class all day, or maybe even all week. I don’t want to be the one to let them down.
  2. Setting Boundaries. When you enjoy something as much as I enjoy VIPKid, it’s sometimes hard to “turn it off.” Even when I’m not teaching, I’m often blogging, or watching videos, or editing videos. But it’s important to set boundaries – both with how I spend my time and also with spending money. No, I don’t need ALL the cute props I see.
  3. Learning Social Media. This may sound silly, because I’ve been using social media for a long time. And I should start by saying, you don’t have to use social media to teach. It is NOT a part of the job. But if you are interested in the recruiting side of the business (which I am) or growing with the “builders program” to take on new roles within VIPKid, then social media can help. On one hand, I’ve enjoyed learning new things, but on the other, it can be overwhelming to learn how to effectively use You Tube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for business. And don’t even get me started on video editing! I try, but I’m still much better with words than with videos! So it’s been a challenge, but one that I do sometimes enjoy.

What is the best part of working with VIPKid?

This one is easy. The best part of working with VIPKid is getting to know these amazing students and their families. A close second is learning about the culture in China. After one year with VIPKid, I would say 2/3 of my classes are filled with “regular” students that I have taught multiple times. My most taught student is Emma, and I’ve taught her 64 times in the last year. She just recently overtook Erica (my very first student!) I look forward to seeing Tracy, Rosie, Eric, and Alina at their regularly scheduled times each week. There is NO END to the number of “cute and amazing kid” stories that I have. (Ask Michael, he’ll tell you.) I adore it when my students pull out a musical instrument to show me what they are learning, or when mom sends me a video of their daughter learning how to make dumplings with her grandma. I ADORE the people that VIPKid has brought into my life, and I will forever be grateful!

What’s the verdict?

This will come to no surprise, but I would ABSOLUTELY recommend VIPKid. I have no regrets and no intention of ending my teaching career. When I began, it was a way for me to earn a little extra money for our capital campaign at church. Now, I cannot imagine life without teaching. I have come to embrace the name “Teacher Amelia” and all that comes along with it.

If you’ve been tagging along with me for the last year, thanks for putting up with all of my stories and musings! I hope you will celebrate these milestones with me this month!

If you are new to VIPKid or have been thinking about starting out, DO IT! When you are ready, here’s how to apply (along with some helpful hints!)

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a solid honorable mention (maybe even a tie!) to my amazing referrals. Right up there with my students and learning about their families and cultures, I have truly enjoyed helping new teachers get started. I’ve lived vicariously through them as they’ve moved to Spain, Poland, Israel and more. I’ve had the chance to cheer them on in their careers (both with VIPKid and their “day jobs.” I’ve become closer to friends I’ve already known and gotten to know totally new people. Oh, and I learned about elephant snot. (Teachers use many tools in their classrooms. I’m just sayin’.)

So join us. You’ll be glad you did!

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VIPKid Application and Interview Process (Updated May 27, 2019)

Like any good company, VIPKid is constantly updating their hiring process to help ensure well-qualified and well-prepared candidates and teachers. Below is a description of the process as of May 27, 2019.

If you are interested in applying and have any questions, please feel free to ask, and I will help if I can!

1.  Application

This is a very short and fast process, but it’s important that you understand the minimum requirements. See a step-by-step walkthrough here:

Completing the VIPKid Application

2.  Interview

The interview process is currently changing, and for most applicants, there are three options.

  • Option 1: Smart Demo Lesson (100% on smartphone app)Brief content review of VIPKid Essentials
    • 5-question quiz
    • Sample Teaching/Demo (1-slide, 2.5 minutes)

For more information about the Smart Demo Lesson, see:

New Smart Demo Lesson – VIPKid Shortcut – April 2019

  • Option 2: Simplified Demo Lesson (Beginning 5/27/19)

Effective May 27, 2019, some applicants are being offered the chance to schedule a live “Simplified Demo Lesson. This may be done live or via recorded session. For more information, see:

VIPKid Simplified Demo Lesson (May 27, 2019)

  • Option 3: Fast Pass Coaching Day

If you live in certain areas, you can take part in a VIPKid fast pass coaching day. This is a 3.5 hour event that allows you to meet other teachers and complete hands on learning as you go through the process. To learn more, see:

VIPKid Fast Pass Coaching Day

3. Teacher Preparation

Once you have passed the interview and demo, you will want to take some time and prepare for the certification/mock class process. A few key things to think about:

  • What ages of students would you most like to teach?
  • Based on feedback from your demo, what areas do you most need to review and/or practice?
  • What TPR, props, etc. will you use for your certification?
  • Have you gotten feedback from your mentor on your mock classes?

Here’s a quick article to walk you through some of the basic steps you can take to prepare during this phase: VIPKid Teacher Prep.

4. Mock Class/Certification

By this point, you have passed the tough parts, and now you just need to get certified. You should know what levels you want to teach.

  • Lower Levels (2/3)
    • Certification will be on Level 2 Interactive curriculum
    • Applicants should review the Level 3 information independently in the certification area of the teacher portal upon successful completion
  • Intermediate Levels (4/5)

I’ve developed a more comprehensive guide for preparing for the Lower Levels.

VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level)

I’ll add the upper level guide here once it’s complete.

5. Contract Signature

You’ve done it! You have passed the steps in the hiring process, and now it’s time to sign your contract. This can all be done digitally.

You will be signing an independent contractor agreement, and it will include:

  • All of the legal info
  • Restrictions on how to (or how not to) use the VIPKid platform
  • Information about equipment and personnel
  • Payment processes and disputes
  • Confidentiality and information surrounding the intellectual property of VIPKid
  • Term dates
  • Specific information about each type of class you might be teaching
  • Fees, incentives, and penalties
  • And more!

6. Documentation

You may have noticed that VIPKid sends you a list of documentation you will need for the next step in the process. They send this early on because the process is time-sensitive, so you’ll want to get these ready. (They ask that you upload all documents within 24 hours of passing your mock class certification.)  If you have unusual circumstances, this can be extended; however, I recommend having the materials ready to go so you can get on to the contract!

You will need:

  • A copy of your bachelor’s or master’s degree. This can be a photo of your diploma or a transcript.
  • Your teaching license (if you have one.)
  • Your passport, ID card, or driver’s license
  • W-9 form (for US Nationals or US residents)
  • If you have a TESOL certificate or TEFL certificate, you can upload it now and skip step 7!

7. VIPKid TESOL certificate (required if no teaching degree)

Once you have passed your mock class certification, there is one final step before signing your contract.

VIPKid has collaborated with TESOL to provide VIPKid teachers with a free certification program on TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.) If you have a degree in education, this is not required, though it is recommended. If your degree is in another field, you will be required to complete this course before signing your contract.

I voluntarily completed both this foundational certification as well as advanced TESOL, and I found that they helped my teaching skills and my bookings!

This is not insignificant. The program is estimated to take between 10-11 hours, though there are tips to help you move through the process more quickly and efficiently.

I hope you have found this overview helpful. As I mentioned at the beginning, if you have questions, let me know.It can feel overwhelming but I promise it’s not. If you take one step at a time, you’ll be teaching before you know it!

If you have any questions or I can be of any help, please let me know in the comments!

VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level)

There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3. Always remember that there are materials provided in the teacher portal that can help you prepare for, and review, the course curriculum at any time. To get started, here’s what you need to know. Please note, this is current effective March 2019.

Before you begin, I suggest reviewing the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. VIPKid will send this to you before your mock class, and your mentor can also provide you with a copy. This will tell you exactly what your VIPKid mock class mentor will be scoring you on. There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

1. Prepare for both lessons. There will be two different lessons (A&B) provided in the classroom.  Your mock class mentor will choose one of the two lessons for you to teach during your mock class, so please be sure you prepare for both!

2. Review the objectives for both lessons.

  • For <u>option A</u>, the goal is to teach the words “ball,” “throw,” and to blend phonemes z/r/s/h (onset) with -ip (rime.) You want to avoid a lot of words that don’t specifically support these objectives
  • For <u>option B</u>, the goal is to teach the nouns “kite” and “doll” and the verb “fly.” You will also be teaching target sentences “Do you fly a kite? Do you throw a ball? Do you swing in a swing?” with the goal being to have the student answer “Yes, I ______,” or “No, I don’t ______.”

3. Plan your reward system for both lessons.

Rewards are a hot topic with many teachers. There is a built-in reward system in all VIPKid curriculum. With Interactive Level 2, the reward is interactive, and the student can manipulate the items on the screen as part of their reward. If you ask 100 teachers how they use (or should use) the rewards, you will get 100 different answers. Honestly, that’s one of the great benefits of VIPKid is that students can learn differently with different teachers! My suggestion for the mock class is to build a custom reward that can be used WITH the interactive reward slide. That way, all your bases are covered. An ideal reward system:

  • Is fun!
  • Is visible at all times during class!
  • Supports the learning objectives!
  • Engages the student!

Be creative… if you love it, so will your students (and your mock class mentor!)  For specific ideas on how to get started, check out these posts:

4. Plan your props for both lessons.

It is important to have props that you bring to class to reinforce each lesson. It is recommended that you use at least three props, and at least two different types of props. Here are examples of different types of props:

  • Printed or Drawn (2D) props: flash cards, printed pictures, drawn pictures
  • Realia or 3D props: real items from your home that relate to the lesson, toy versions of items in the lesson
  • Digital props: gifs, google slides images that you display
  • Other props: whiteboard, magnetic letters

You will want to plan your props for both lessons in advance and practice with them on camera. It’s important to practice on camera so you are comfortable holding items closer to the camera or further away. Most laptops allow you to record sessions directly from your built in camera which is great for you to watch yourself and adjust.

Similar to rewards, find and use props that YOU enjoy. If you are excited about them, your students will be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

5. Anticipate Possible Errors

As you are planning your props, it’s a good time to anticipate what errors a student might make. If you are in a live mock class with a mock class mentor, I promise they WILL make mistakes just to ensure you catch them and are comfortable correcting them. If you are recording a demo, you will want to pretend that your student made a mistake to demonstrate how you could correct an error. Props are a great (and positive) way to help correct errors.

Here are a few ideas on common errors you might anticipate in each of your certification classes:

6. Plan your TPR for both lessons.

TPR is one of the fundamental building blocks of ESL. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally, so it is important than you plan TPR and practice it. When I was first preparing to become an ESL teacher, I followed a three step process.

  1. Plan. I reviewed each slide and practiced different TPR techniques that I could use on each one. This got me comfortable making the motions.
  2. Practice. I practiced this TPR any time I had the chance. (My prime platform was my shower!) I didn’t memorize it all, but I got used to the common gestures I planned to use. The more you make the movements, the easier they will become.
  3. Preview. I recorded myself using my webcam practicing my TPR. That helped me get used to how big my gestures needed to be while still remaining on the camera. I found out which gestures looked the most precise and crisp and I was able to change those that did not convey a clear meaning. I can’t stress enough how helpful this step is. If you record yourself, your mentor can watch it and give you feedback, but you’ll also be amazed at how much you will notice. For example, even just waving goodbye looks so much better when you hold your hand stiff with your fingers together! The only way you can know this is by watching yourself in action!

7. Download the Teacher App and update your laptop’s flash and Chrome. VIPKid recommends using the Teacher App for all classroom activities, and it is also my tool of choice. If there is a problem, teaching through the Chrome browser is a good alternative, so have all of this updated and ready before you begin.  It also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer or ipad.

8. Allow yourself time to go into the classroom and practice before you begin. VIPKid will give you access to a practice classroom, and I suggest using this so you get comfortable in the VIPKid environment. This will become second nature to you once you have taught a few classes, but it’s great to get your feet wet before your certification.

9. Set up your “classroom.” You do not need to spend a lot of money to do this, but you will want to put some thought into where you will be doing your mock class certification.

  • The background that will be visible in the video frame should create a learning atmosphere. VIPKid defines this as having visible props, an uncluttered, designated area, and having a space optimized for teaching.
  • You will want to be sitting or standing an appropriate distance from the camera so you can be clearly visible at all times, and your camera should be at eye level so it feels as though you are making eye contact with your student.
  • Lighting should be balanced with no shadows or significant glares on you or your props.

10. Review the application performance indicator (again.)  This is so important, it bears repeating.  There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are. I was new to teaching in a formal class environment, and new to ESL, but I prepared extensively using this tool, and My VIPKid Interview Results were great. I passed my mock class certification the first time. I say this not to brag, but to help reassure you if you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed.

The preparation time doesn’t have to be extensive, just intentional.  I hope that this guide helped you get ready for the process, and I would be happy to personally guide you as your mentor.  If you are interested, please apply using my referral link or add my referral code (AMELI0055) to your application.

Good luck!

 

Reward Ideas – VIPKid Lower Level Certification (Option B)

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3.

You will need to prepare for two different options: A and B. You can see more about the preparation process HERE.

Part of preparing for each is to have a good reward system in place!  I want to encourage you to be creative and come up with something that you love, because if you love it and are excited about it, your student (and your mock class mentor) will be too!

Here are some ideas to get you started for Option B (kite/doll).

(If you are looking for ideas for option A, check out Reward Ideas – VIPKid Lower Level Certification (Option A)

It’s important to note that since the reward slide is the same for both options, you could use the rewards interchangeably. I am a bit of a prop over-achiever because I think it’s SO FUN, so I wanted to provide options that are unique to both.  So, in addition to the ideas for option A, you could do the following:

  • Have a doll (either printed, drawn, or a real doll) and each time the student picks a reward, the doll gets the reward too!
  • Draw or print different colors of kites, and put a picture of each toy on the kite. Each time the student picks a reward, they get a kite with that reward on it.
  • Draw or print a swing set with empty swings. Each time a student picks a toy, you add a toy into one of the swings.
  • For girls, you could print pictures of different dolls that they win each time they pick a toy.
  • For boys, you could print pictures of different balls used in sports that they win each time they pick a toy.

I will be recording a few examples of these in the next few days, and I will add that link here.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious now, PLEASE DON’T!! I love props and rewards, so I enjoy putting them together, but you do NOT need to go to this much effort on a daily basis. You DO need to have rewards, but they can be far more simple or you can use the resources available from those of us who love to make them!

Speaking of which, if you are looking for a mentor and would like some help creating your own reward system or using one of these, I would love to help you! Just sign up using my referral code, and I can provide links to the printed options above and a google slides reward that I put together for the gifs. You can sign up using my referral link or by adding my referral code AMELI0055 after you have applied but before your mock class. Just comment below and let me know what you are interested in, and I’ll be able to get your email from the referral portal and reach out to get you started!

I hope this was helpful, and good luck!

Reward Ideas – VIPKid Lower Level Certification (Option A)

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3.

You will need to prepare for two different options: A and B. You can see more about the preparation process HERE.

Part of preparing for each is to have a good reward system in place!  I want to encourage you to be creative and come up with something that you love, because if you love it and are excited about it, your student (and your mock class mentor) will be too!

It’s important to note that since the reward slide is the same for both options, you could use the rewards interchangeably. I am a bit of a prop over-achiever because I think it’s SO FUN, so I wanted to provide options that are unique to both.  So, in addition to the ideas for option B, you could do the following for Option A (My Toys – ball/throw.)

  • Print or draw pictures of each of the toys on the shelf. Each time the student is allowed to pick a toy on the reward slide, use tape to stick the picture of that toy on the wall behind you.
  • If you have kids, find toys that are similar to those in the slide. Each time the student picks a reward, show them a real toy.
  • Pick out a toy that you especially like (I would use the ball, since that is a target word for this lesson.) Have pictures (or real balls) of different colors that your student gets each time they earn a reward.
  • Find gifs that relate to each toy on the reward slide. When they pick an item, they get to watch a cute gif. (You can display these on your phone or on an ipad.)
  • Find gifs or pictures of different sporting activities (balls, people throwing and catching balls, etc.)
  • Print two pictures of each toy and write the phonics letters on each part. For example, on the two boats, you could write “z” on one and “ip” on one. When the student picks the boat, you make the boats ‘crash’ into each other and say the phonics word. “zzzz…..ip. zip.”

I will be recording a few examples of these in the next few days, and I will add that link here.

If you are a prop enthusiast like I am, you’ll be super excited right now. Not all of us are. 🙂 There are plenty of teachers who are proud to be “prop minimalists” and if that’s you, you might be thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” Rest assured that if props are not your thing, you don’t have to construct this elaborate of a reward system for every single class. If you want to, you certainly can! But while you DO need to have rewards, they can be far more simple or you can use the resources available from those of us who love to make them!

Speaking of which, if you are looking for a mentor and would like some help creating your own reward system or using one of these, I can absolutely help! Just sign up using my referral code, and I can provide links to the printed options above and a google slides reward that I put together for the gifs. You can sign up using my referral link or by adding my referral code AMELI0055 after you have applied but before your mock class. Just comment below and let me know what you are interested in, and I’ll be able to get your email from the referral portal and reach out to get you started!

I hope this was helpful, and good luck!

 

VIPKid Interview Process – Fast Pass Coaching Day

There are several different ways VIPKid applicants can complete their interviews and demo class. The newest (and fastest) way is to do a New Smart Demo Lesson – VIPKid Shortcut – April 2019.

If that option is not available, they can complete the VIPKid Interview and Full Demo.

In some areas, applicants can attend a Fast Pass Coaching event. This is a great way to learn more about the company and to meet some existing teachers. You should apply before RSVP’ing to a coaching event, and I would be happy to try to help find an event near you.  If you are able to attend, here’s what you can expect:

  • Skills Based Practice with experienced teachers. Skills include:
    • TPR (Total Physical Response)
    • Energy
    • Phonics
    • Student Output
    • Appropriate Language
    • Pacing
    • Reward Systems
  • Practice and Feedback
    • Help with the Online Teaching Portal
    • Practice for Mock Class/Certification
    • Schedule your Mock Class

The cost for the event is free, and it can last up to four hours.  You will need to bring a laptop with a video camera (please update your flash and Chrome browser before the session.)  Be sure you know your VIPKid username and password before attending. Attire is casual.

You can find a schedule of events in the VIPKid teacher’s portal under Community–> Events. Of course, I would be happy to try to help you find one as well. If you are looking for a mentor, feel free to reach out or apply using my referral link.

Good luck!