A Tale of Three Teachers

On this third day of Blogtober/Vlogtober, I wanted to share a short story about three teachers who I introduced to VIPKid. With all of the changes in referring, I thought these experiences might help shed some light into what does and does not make a ‘good’ referral. Spoiler alert: If you prefer videos, you can skip to the end and watch my YouTube version!

Teacher One

I met this person in a Facebook group. The group had nothing to do with VIPKid, but another member (not this teacher) had asked about “work from home” jobs or jobs she could travel with. I responded with some general info about VIPKid, and this person was one of several who replied. After we chatted back and forth, she told me she wasn’t ready to start, but she would contact me when she was. I didn’t think much more about it, and a couple of months later, she said she was ready! I walked her through the application process and helped her through the hiring. As soon as she was hired, she moved to Spain, and we stay in touch today! Even though we are not a “real life” friend and have never met, I love her to death. We have built a relationship and so I was able to be a trusted helper to her through the process, and we remain in touch today!

Teacher Two

This person found my blog and reached out with some questions. She emailed me and said she was thinking about finding a mentor. I helped her through a few questions and then she added my teacher code and then we went through the hiring process. Ironically, she already lived overseas (and continues to today.) So once again, I have never met her face-to-face but I consider her a friend. Our first interaction was a conversation, not a blind referral.

Teacher Three

One day a new name popped up on my referral tracker. Today (in the new world) we won’t have full names or contact info for our referrals. Previously, we did, so I reached out to her to see if she needed help. She made it almost all the way through the process before she responded, and I did very little to help her. Once she was finally hired and had taught her first class, I asked her how she came to sign up using my code. She responded, “No offense, but I didn’t mean to. I have no idea.” She was trying to sign up with a friend’s code, but ended up with mine instead. The reason she never had any questions was that she was asking her friend, yet I was getting the bonus. (I did offer to send her friend the bonus money.) I’m sure what happened was that she read a blog or watched a video and clicked through to the application page. She probably completed the signup process using my link without realizing that it was *my* link and it would stop her from adding her friend’s referral code. It’s my opinion that THIS is the type of referral VIPKid is trying to prevent. No, you don’t have to be best friends or family with every person you refer, but our activities as a referring teacher should be more intentional not accidental.

Remember, we are teachers, first and foremost. Yes, we get a bonus if we have a successful referral get hired and begin teaching, but the goal is to share the opportunity with those we can help and who will make fantastic teachers. The goal is NOT to throw our referral code out into the world and see what sticks.

So if you are having some anxiety about the new process, think of my tale of three teachers, and perhaps it will help.

Happy teaching, and happy referring!

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VIPKid Business Cards

With the recent changes in VIPKid recruiting policies, there has been a lot of discussion about what is (and is not) appropriate. A quick disclaimer: If you are a VIPKid teacher, please refer to the Teacher App or portal for the official policy! The below is just how I’ve interpreted a piece of it!

One of the biggest changes is that VIPKid says, ” Referral codes and links must be shared with third parties that you know personally, such as your friends and family. You agree to not solicit, spam, or mass email anyone who you do not personally know with your Referral code or link.” Obviously, that leaves those of us in cyber-space a little bit detached. Does it stop you from getting help? No – absolutely not. But signing up with a code will not enable you to talk 1:1 with another teacher. That makes good old-fashioned communication even more important.

To help prepare for this, I had some business cards printed up today. I included:

  • My logo (MINE – not VIPKid’s!)
  • My name, of course
  • My title (English/ESL Teacher, VIPKid) I am a teacher, NOT a recruiter, hiring coach, etc.
  • My contact information

I did NOT include my referral code. Under the new policy, if someone wants to sign up and work with me 1:1, we will be talking or communicating already, and I can send them the link that way.

When I placed my order, I was ambitious. I ordered 200 business cards. Like many teachers, I was a little uncertain about the future of referring. But 200 cards should last a good, long time.

If you believe in fate, premonition, or just dumb luck, you’ll appreciate what happened next. When I picked up my order, they printed 2,000 business cards not 200. What a deal! Some may say that it was an employee not paying attention, but I say it’s the universe telling me to keep going! It might take me a few years to work through all those cards, but I’ll have plenty to last a while (and they are in line with the new policies!)

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful. If anyone is looking for an easy template, I can share what I did. In the meantime, if you (or anyone you know) is looking to start teaching online, I’ve got a card I can give you!

What’s in a name?

October is apparently called by many names. It’s “Vlogtober” which I’ve already completely failed.

It’s also known as “Blogtober” which I might be mildly more successful at. In both cases, the goal is to blog, or vlog, every day of the month. Now, even if my video had not been a total bust, I have already mentally prepared myself to fail both of these challenges. I don’t think there’s any way that I will have the time or the energy to post every.single.day. BUT, I think I can do a little better than my normal weekly blog post and monthly video. Thanks for joining me as I kick things off.

With all of these names floating around, you may have also noticed that the name of my blog changed. This page used to be called “Amelia VIPKid.” Effective October 1st, VIPKid teachers are no longer allowed to use “VIPKid” in our own personal domains, social media accounts, etc. And to be honest, “Teacher Amelia” has a nicer ring to it anyway. So from now on, you can find me here at teacheramelia.com.

You may also notice that my teacher referral code is slowly vanishing from all of my accounts and my posts. Along with the new branding guidelines, another big change was rolled out with VIPKid on October 1. Teachers are asked to only refer people that we know “in real life” (aka – friends and family.) Referring had become somewhat big business with some VIPKid teachers (not me, sadly.) As with anything, some teachers did an amazing job while others may not have followed the same protocol and held the same standards that VIPKid would have.

I’m certainly not privy to the reasons behind this change, but I can’t say that I blame the company. So if you are a new teacher and you’re looking for a helpful hand, of course – ask me any questions and I’ll try to help. Just don’t expect to find a referral link here!

October is shaping up to be a busy and blog-filled month. I’ve got a lot of personal things going on, and I’ll share some of them with you in the upcoming days and weeks. But ultimately, the blog will still be centralized around VIPKid because that’s what I’m here for. If you have any special requests – things that you’d like to see or questions you’d like me to answer – let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching, blogging, vlogging, or whatever you want to do this month!

Teacher Amelia

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!

What’s a VIPKid referral anyway?

By now, if you’ve read any of my blog posts or watched any of my videos, you’ve seen me talking about my referral link. So what is it, and why should you use it?

In short, by using a referral link, you are connecting one on one with a VIPKid mentor. This is not an employee; it’s a fellow teacher.  It’s someone who has been through the process and is willing to show you the ropes.

When I went through the process in September 2018, I didn’t have a mentor. This was especially unfortunate, because the process was changing AS I WAS INTERVIEWING (!) and so many of the videos didn’t really align with my experience. In hindsight, it would have been great to have someone I could lean on for questions and feedback through the process.

So – what can you expect from me, if you decide you would like me to be your mentor?

A. I will support you via email.

We all love email! It’s quick and easy and available all the time. If you have questions, shoot them over to me, and I’ll be happy to respond!  Just contact me here.  I’ll shoot you my email address. (Or it’s also in the photo and video at the end of this post.) I’ll do my best to respond within 24 hours!

B. I will review your demo class/mock class.

I was so nervous to present to the interviewer! I would have loved to be able to do a dry run and get some pre-feedback before the actual interview.

C. I will set up a 1:1 video call with you.

If you’re local, let’s just get together! If not, let’s zoom! There’s nothing that puts your mind quite at ease like just having a conversation with someone who has successfully completed what you are doing. It’s a great chance to set aside 30 minutes to get any questions answered and talk through the process.

D. I will add you to my brand new private Facebook group, Amelia VIPKID – Teacher Central!

What’s so special about a Facebook group? I’m glad you asked! This is basically a newcomer’s guide to VIPKid. It’s organized in such a way that it’s a roadmap. It’s quick and easy to refer to. I’ve structured the content into 16 units (and counting.) Some of the posts are a five-minute read, while others link to a longer blog post or video. (Speaking of videos, check this one out, where you can get a tour!

This page is very much a work in progress, and it will continue to grow with new information, so stay tuned!

There are plenty of good mentors out there to help you along your VIPKid journey. I hope this is helpful in understanding the process a little bit more and learning how I (or another) mentor can assist!

Happy teaching!

mentor support

Is VIPKid a Pyramid Scheme?

No, VIPKid is not a Pyramid Scheme. 

The way a pyramid scheme works is that new “members” or recruits pay some sort of a fee, and that funding is used to pay the individuals who recruit them (and those who recruited them, etc.)

With VIPKid, there are no fees to “join.” It’s a fairly rigorous interview process, but there is no money required. You are interviewing for a job, and if hired, you get paid. Period.

So why is there so much focus on referrals? 

In an article from Business Insider, in August 2018, the company reported over 500,000 students and 60,000 teachers. In a country with over 300,000,000 young people, there simply aren’t enough teachers to go around. As a result, VIPKid values (and pays for) quality referrals who get hired and teach their first class.

Why am I taking the time to offer help to referrals?

While it would be lovely to get a referral bonus, that’s really a side benefit for me. (Don’t let that stop you from using me as a referral though!) I decided to start writing blogs and posting videos because I’m having so much fun with VIPKid.  I’m pretty sure by now my husband, kids, and parents are tired of hearing me talk about my classes, so I might as well talk about them with people who might be helped by my experience! Also, I found that much of the information available online for prospective teachers is in the form of videos that are 20-30 minutes each. Often, I didn’t have time to watch those.  In addition to these blog posts, which are quick reads, I’ve started a You Tube channel. My goal is to keep all the videos around 10 minutes or less, because all of us (especially new teachers) are busy!

There are many different talented teachers who are posting a TON of great information. Of course, everyone has their own unique style that works for them. If you are looking to get started, I suggest watching and reading as much as possible. If you like what you see here and would like more help, I would be happy to be your mentor and … yes… refer you. 🙂 Here’s my link: Click here!