The Secret to High-Energy VIPKid Teaching

Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

It’s 4 am. You are awake. You’ve had a few sips of coffee (or Diet Coke in my case.) And you need to have high energy in your VIPKid classroom? What’s the secret?

While there is no superhero skill that allows this to instantly happen, VIPKid recently published some tips that can help, and I’ve added my own to the list. Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER been a morning person, but you would never know it to watch one of my classes.

So what can you do?

Before Class

  • Get an appropriate amount of sleep. You can’t be high energy if you are running on empty. For some of us, that means going to bed super early. For others, it might mean strategic napping. But don’t try to cut your beauty sleep short.
  • Stay hydrated. While it’s not appropriate to drink (much) in class, making sure that you have had plenty of water is essential to looking fresh and maintaining your energy.
  • Start your day right. Depending on what time you teach and what your personal preferences are, this will look different for everyone. For me, I need to have a hot shower and get fully dressed. For others, it may mean a light breakfast or some quick exercise. Very rarely will it mean rolling out of bed and into your classroom, gargling some mouthwash as you go. Take a few extra minutes and establish a routine.

During Class

  • Use lots of intonation. We’ve all sat in a lecture, class, or meeting where the teacher or leader drones on in a monotone. Don’t be that person. Change up the tone and volume of your voice. Even if you don’t feel like it, fake it! When you glance at a slide, think about what you most want to highlight, and focus on changing your voice on that part to really emphasize it.
  • Try to avoid the poker face (unless, of course, you are playing poker!) 🙂 Smile, smile, and smile some more! And just like you intentionally use TPR, use intentional facial expressions. We can tell when someone smiles with their mouth but not their eyes, and so can kids.
  • Try to avoid looking tired/sleepy. (Yes, ladies, there is a reason we all wear that eyeliner and lipstick at 3 am!) I’m not a makeup expert, but you can sure tell a difference in the one class where I overslept and rolled out of bed in my orange pajamas with a ponytail, compared to my normal shower and 5-minute makeup routine!
  • Make eye contact. You would be amazed at what a big difference this makes. If you think back to your demo and mock classes, you likely got some feedback on the position of your camera. If you do a 1:1 mentoring session with VIPKid, this will be reviewed. Keeping your camera at eye level and looking at the student makes a huge difference in how engaged you appear. When we are tired, our tendency is to disengage from others and involuntarily break eye contact, so make a focused effort to combat that.
  • Avoid (or hide) your yawns. Obviously, you can’t always control that. In fact, I bet you’re fighting a yawn as you read this! But repeated yawning in class can make it seem like you’re bored, even if we all know you’re not. Talk to any tenured VIPKid teacher, and they will have a laundry list of props that they can hide behind to stifle a yawn!
  • Have good posture. (VIPKid says not to rest your chin on your hand, but I’ll take this a step further and say that we should sit forward in our seats, shoulders back, or stand… just as you would if you were teaching someone right in front of you.) Have you ever had a conversation with someone slouching and slumped over in their chair? It just makes you feel like they don’t really care about your conversation. Sit forward and be alert, and know that your whole body is sending a message!
  • Have fun! When you are having fun in class, you’ll automatically super-charge your energy. Your kids will feel it, and so will you!

After Class

  • Shake it off. Get up and stretch. Take one minute and get away from your classroom, even if it’s just to grab your next props.
  • Hydrate. Yes, it’s that important. Keep some water nearby and take a few sips. This will help your energy (and your voice.)
  • Look away from the computer screen. While it’s tempting to go ahead and knock that feedback out, make sure you give your eyes a break. Even a quick 20 second break every 25 minutes can be a big relief to your peepers.

Getting up early or staying up late doesn’t have to lead to low energy.  By following just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to keep up the pace with your kiddos – even level 1’s!

If you have other tips for maintaining high energy in the classroom, I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below! If you are looking to get started with VIPKid and are looking for more tips and tricks, I’d love to help. Feel free to check out the rest of my blog. I also have additional tools and resources available if you would like to sign up using my referral code.

In the meantime – happy (and energetic!) teaching!

 

VIPKid Interview and Full Demo

Effective in May 2019, all applicants who pass the initial screening are offered the opportunity to do an New Smart Demo Lesson – VIPKid Shortcut – April 2019. However, if you prefer a more in-depth session, then there is another option.

Below is a description of the old “Full Demo” but as of May 27, 2019, this has been replaced with the VIPKid Simplified Demo Lesson.  The below is left up for reference; however, always refer to your emails from VIPKid for the most current hiring and interview process!

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At the time I interviewed with VIPKid, the Smart Demo Lesson was not available to me, so this was the standard option. The interview was very brief and consisted of a short conversation that included much the same agenda as the express demo introduction above. The interviewer asked me to tell them about myself. They asked about my educational background and my teaching experience.

For the demo, there were two options available:

  1. Schedule a live demo (which is what I did) or
  2. Record a sample demo

In either of these options, you are asked to teach a 10-minute demo class. The sample is typically used is “My Feelings.”  The objectives are very similar to that of the Express Demo; you just have ten minutes to present rather than two. There are a few important differences if you are using the ten-minute demo option:

  • Practice your timing and pacing. Each slide should take around one minute to complete. Your goal is to complete all of the slides in approximately ten minutes without finishing really early.
  • Plan for error corrections. If you are in a live demo, your interviewer will be playing the part of a five-year-old child and he or she WILL make mistakes. They will be looking for you to correct them. If you are recording a demo without a “live” student, you should pretend that the student makes a mistake so that you can correct them in a positive, upbeat manner and show that you are comfortable with error correction.
  • Plan for more props and rewards. In a ten-minute demo, you should use at least three different props and at least two different types of props. For example, if you used three different printouts, that would count as three props, but only one type of prop.

For more tips on how I prepared for my demo and mock class, check out the following posts:

If you have any questions, please let me know.  If you would like me to review a sample demo or mock class, please contact me. I would love to be your mentor through the process!

VIPKid – Teaching Vocabulary and Target Sentences

Whether you are completing an express demo lesson, a mock class, or are teaching a class, VIPKid always includes target vocabulary words and target sentences. These will be identified in your lesson (or interview) objectives, and you will find a style of teaching that helps you teach these consistently and easily.  Below are a few of my helpful hints.

Know the objectives.

I know this sounds obvious, but you should always be sure you are familiar with the target word and sentences.  For example, I recently taught a lesson about parts of the face. In each lesson, the student learns two new vocabulary words like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. The target sentence for each is “I _____ with my _____.”  Simple, right?

Remember that we are teaching children a new language, so misplacing even one word can be detrimental. In the example above, my target sentence was “I taste with my mouth.” At one point, I accidentally said, “I eat with my mouth.” While this is true, to someone trying to learn the word “taste,” this could suddenly confuse them.  So know your vocabulary and your target sentences.

Repeat each new vocabulary word at least two times.

Before introducing context and sentences, it’s important for the student to hear and repeat the vocabulary word alone two times.  Clearly say the word (with TPR), and have the student repeat it. Do this again before moving onto the target sentence.

Give your student enough time to respond.

Remember, an ESL student might take more time to process and prepare than we do, so be sure you allow time for the student to respond. You can nod encouragingly to be supportive while not speaking to interrupt their thoughts.

Use TPR.

Even if you are using props, TPR is still a very important part of learning new vocabulary. ESL learners benefit by linking action with speech, so do not omit this step! I usually try to vary the TPR to give the student as much visual context as possible, so I might use one motion the first time I said the word and a different motion the second time I said the word.

Use props.

Any time you can use a prop or realia to help reinforce new vocabulary, this is helpful. This could be a printed or digital picture, a gif, a real object, a toy, or something on your whiteboard. You will find the props that suit your classroom style that fit with your students’ preferences! If you use a prop early when teaching a word or a sentence, if a student struggles to remember it later, you can show them the same prop to help trigger their memory.

Adjust to your student.

If a student is struggling to repeat an entire sentence, you might need to break it up into manageable portions. A sentence that my students often struggle with is in the unit about having fun with friends. The sentence is “I swing on the swing.” For some reason, my students often struggle, so when we practice it, we start with “I swing” and once they repeat that, I add “on the swing.” Once they can say both individually, then we combine them.

Be sure to correct errors.

Don’t be afraid to correct errors. Pronunciation, omitted words, and grammar are all very important to students and their parents. Remember, you can correct them in a positive, upbeat way but they are here to learn English, so make sure you aren’t supporting bad habits!

Don’t get bogged down.

Sometimes a student really struggles with a word or a sentence. You have a finite amount of time to complete the lesson, so don’t feel that you have to stay on the slide until they have reached perfection. Teach, correct, and practice, but if they simply aren’t getting it, move on. They will have ample time in upcoming slides and lessons to keep practicing the concept.

I hope this is helpful as you are getting started. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! If you are just thinking of becoming a VIPKid teacher and would like some help with the interviewing process, feel free to use my referral code.  I would be happy to help you.

 

 

Completing the VIPKid Application

The first step in becoming a VIPKid teacher is applying!

While it may seem like this is self-explanatory, I’ve found that a lot of people have questions about the application itself, so I thought I would write this to help walk you through the process.

Please note – this is current as of 3/9/19. If updates become available, I will do my best to add them here!

Step 1: About You

This is pretty simple.  Fill in your information:

  • First Name
  • Middle Name (optional)
  • Last Name
  • Gender
    • Female
    • Male
    • Prefer not to disclose
  • Education
    • High School
    • Associate’s
    • Bachelor’s (MINIMUM REQUIRED!)
    • Master’s
    • Doctorate
    • None of the above

Please note, you MUST have at least a bachelor’s degree, though it is not required that it be in education.

Step 2: Logistics

  • Country
  • State
  • City
  • Time Zone
  • Your Phone (numbers only)

Step 3: Qualifications

  • Please select the language(s) that you are most fluent in. (Max 3): English must be selected here.  You may add others, but they are not required.
  • Do you have extensive exposure to the USA and/or Canada K-12 education?
    • I teach/have taught students in a K-12 school in the USA and/or Canada
    • I teach/have taught in a structured homeschool environment that supports federal K-12 educational standards in the USA and/or Canada
    • I attended K-12 schools in the USA and/or Canada
    • None of the above
  • How much teaching experience do you have?
    • 0-6 months
    • 6-12 months
    • 1-3 years
    • 3-5 years
    • 5+ years

When answering this question, please be sure to include any potential teaching experience! This includes formal classroom teaching, substitute teaching, homeschooling, tutoring, coaching, training, etc.

Here are a few examples:

  • Homeschool teacher 3 years + T-ball coach 2 years =5+ years
  • Corporate trainer for 5 years + 4H Club leader/teacher for 5 years = 5+ years
  • Soccer coach for 1 year + after school math tutor for 6 months = 1-3 years

 

  • Referral Code (if you have one)

A referral code is not required, but I wish I had worked with a mentor through my application process. It would have been helpful to have someone who could answer my questions! Per VIPKid policy, as of October 1, 2019, we are not allowed to give out our referral code in mass; however, if you can find someone to help you, I do recommend it.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. Otherwise, good luck!

Below are a few screenshots I took on my phone. These were taken 3/9/19.