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

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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!