VIPKid Time Off

It’s November. As a student, that marked the beginning of holiday season and lots of non-school days. Even as an adult working in corporate America, most of my companies had several holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day – so I was guaranteed to have a few short work weeks. This is all great, right?

Then came VIPKid. While I eagerly looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas, my students in China don’t celebrate these. So I was faced with a few dilemmas:

  • Do I take time off from teaching, or do I continue to keep my regular schedule?
  • If I do take time off, how should I tell my students’ parents?

Let me start by saying that there is no right answer. Every teacher is different, so you have to choose what’s best for you. But hopefully the below will help you make these decisions!

It’s also worth pointing out that with VIPKid, there are no limits to the time you can take off. You are an independent contractor, so you can open as many (or few) time slots as you wish.

Benefits of Teaching on a Holiday

If you are able to teach, there are some definite advantages. Many teachers DO take time off, so you are likely to have better bookings. If you are a new teacher, this is a great opportunity to find some new students who may not be able to book their usual teacher! Because fewer teachers are working, VIPKid also often has lucrative incentives, extra tokens, and more. Of course, it’s a great way to earn extra holiday spending money, and depending on your teaching schedule, you could potentially be done before your family even wakes up. And if you have a day job like I do, and you are off work, that’s an opportunity to teach extra classes.

Disadvantages of Teaching on a Holiday

For most of us, we teach early in the morning or late at night. So you are giving up your opportunity for extra rest over the holidays. Burnout is a very real thing, and time off is important for our health and well-being. You might be traveling over the holidays, or people might be traveling to visit you. Classrooms could be displaced, or you might need to teach from a new location. These aren’t show-stoppers, but they do usually result in extra work. Finally (and this is the big one for me) it takes time away from my family. I have three college-aged boys who are usually home around the holidays. Even though they would be asleep while I teach, I would likely wake them up with my awful singing! And there’s just something so luxurious about being able to lounge around and not have to get up when the rest of your family is doing the same.

How to Notify Your Students’ Parents

When I am going to be taking time off, I try to notify my parents two weeks in advance. I do three things:

  • Include my time off in my class feedback to any regular students.
  • Create a standard response to decline any priority booking requests I receive for those days.
  • Post an update in We Chat.

Sample Feedback Message

I should begin by saying that I do not speak Chinese. There are several Facebook groups that offer translation services if you want a more thorough explanation for your parents. The below is my simple version. I have run it through an online translation tool and it translates fairly accurately.

“November 28th is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I will not teach between November 27th and November 29th because I will be with my family. I apologize for any inconvenience. Happy Thanksgiving!”

For Thanksgiving 2019, I will begin using this message on Monday, November 11. Parents are given the opportunity to schedule their next class as soon as their current class is finished. Since most have already booked for the following week, they will likely be requesting times for Thanksgiving week. Additionally, this will allow me to send them the same message two times in feedback (if I teach their student once per week.)

Sample Priority Booking Request Response

You do not have to respond to booking requests. However, I normally try to. Here is an example of how I would respond on a day that I have taken as a holiday:

“I am sorry I cannot accept your booking request. November 28th is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I will not teach between November 27th and November 29th because I will be with my family. I will be available to teach again beginning Monday, December 2nd. Thank you!”

Sample We Chat Message

In We Chat, I tend to provide more details. I have a personal relationship with parents I’ve connected with on We Chat, and I know they will ask questions if something doesn’t translate well. Below is what I plan to post this week. I might post it a few times with different and fun Bitmoji pictures!

“My schedule will be different during the last week of November because of the Thanksgiving festival in America. I will be spending time with my family and eating special meals with them. I will only be available to teach Monday, November 25th and Tuesday, November 26th that week. My regular schedule will resume in December. Thank you for understanding. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Do you plan to take time off during the holidays? If so, I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

If you are looking for a job that’s flexible enough to let you take time off when you want to, VIPKid could be a great fit for you! Please contact me, and I would love to help you get started!

VIPKid Booking Schedules

As you get ready to open up your schedule for VIPKid, it’s important that you understand how the booking process works.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired! You immediately open up times for parents to book for the very next day, but… crickets. Where are they?

The answer is simple. They are in classes they’ve already booked with other teachers!

As you get ready to open up your schedule for VIPKid, it’s important that you understand how the booking process works. For maximum results, always keep your schedule opened for at least three weeks in advance, as long as you are certain you’re available to teach then.

What’s the standard booking window?

The “normal” booking process for most parents is two weeks out. The system opens up general booking at noon on Monday (Beijing time) which is overnight Sunday night for many of us.  You may hear this referred to as “the frenzy.”  At this time, most parents are booking not for THAT week, but for the following week. (See the picture at the beginning of this post for an example.) Immediately following a class, if you have time slots open in two weeks (this is three weeks after the frenzy) parents will be asked if they would like to book a class that week. That’s why it is in your best interest to open timeslots at least three weeks in advance, as long as you are certain you can teach then.

What are “interested students” and when can they book?

According to the VIPKid Support Center ,students or their parents can select up to five teachers, and their corresponding time slots, each week as “regular teachers”. If a student chooses you to be a regular teacher, you will see a notification on your Bookings page that you have an “Interested Student”. You will not see their names, just that someone has an interest. This will only be visible for timeslots that you have not yet opened up for the week after next. Bookings for your “interested students” will open four hours before the frenzy, on Mondays at 8:00 am (BJT.) The system will sort the student preferences and match them with your available timeslots. If your slot is open, there is a high likelihood that the time will be booked, either by one of your interested students or perhaps another student, although it is not guaranteed.

What are priority bookings?

Priority bookings are a way for students to request specific times from their teachers, even if those timeslots are not available. When you receive a priority booking request from a student or their parents, you may accept, refuse, or simply not respond and the request will expire.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have questions about your schedule or are looking for feedback, let me know in the comments!

You may also find these posts helpful as you learn more about scheduling:

If you are just getting started and would like help during the hiring process, I would love to be your mentor! Feel free to apply using my referral link using these VIPKid application tips.

I would be happy to help!

VIPKid Hours

The window of time that’s available for teaching is based on when children are awake in China. That’s early mornings and late evenings in North America.

People often ask what hours you can teach with VIPKid. Because you are an independent contractor, you have a great deal of flexibility. You can choose to open as many or as few class times as you wish. There is a strict cancellation policy; however, so be sure that you only open times you are able and ready to teach!

Below I’ll map out the different times that are available for teaching, along with which ones are most likely to result in bookings! If you are interested in a high-level overview, check out these one-stop shops:

All of the below times are based on Daylight Savings Time since that’s our current time as I’m writing this.

Overall Teaching Timeslots

To set the stage, the window of time that’s available for teaching is based on when children are awake in China. This is 8:30 am – 10:00 pm seven days a week. Roughly speaking, that’s early mornings and late evenings in North America.

Beijing Eastern Daylight Central Daylight Mountain Daylight Pacific Daylight
Start Time 8:30 AM 8:30 PM 7:30 PM 6:30 PM 5:30 PM
End Time 10:00 PM 10:00 AM 9:00 AM 8:00 AM 7:00 AM

Of course, many of these times are more popular than others. That leads us to the prime booking times.

VIPKid has two different distinctions for popular booking times.

Peak Timeslots

As you might expect, the least popular times for booking are when children are in school. That’s why times outside of school hours are considered peak timeslots.

Because of this, “peak” hours in North America are early weekday mornings and evenings/overnight on weekends.

M-F Weekday Mornings

Beijing Eastern Daylight Central Daylight Mountain Daylight Pacific Daylight
Start Time 6:00 PM 6:00 AM 5:00 AM 4:00 AM 3:00 AM
End Time 10:00 PM 10:00 AM 9:00 AM 8:00 AM 7:00 AM

Friday/Saturday Overnights (China Weekends)

Beijing Eastern Daylight Central Daylight Mountain Daylight Pacific Daylight
Start Time 9:00 AM 9:00 PM (Fri/Sat) 8:00 PM (Fri/Sat) 7:00 PM (Fri/Sat) 6:00 PM (Fri/Sat)
End Time 10:00 PM 10:00 AM (Sat/Sun) 9:00 AM (Sat/Sun) 8:00 AM (Sat/Sun) 7:00 AM (Sat/Sun)


In the Teacher Portal, these hours are designated as “Hot”

snapshot peak hours

PPT Timeslots

Within the “peak” designation, there is an even smaller subset of hours referred to as “PPT” timeslots. These are the most desirable hours for Chinese students, and they are usually the first to be booked. If you are trying to gain teaching hours, these are the most important times you can open, and they are available seven days a week.

PPT Beijing Eastern Daylight Central Daylight Mountain Daylight Pacific Daylight
Start Time 7:00 PM 7:00 AM 6:00 AM 5:00 AM 4:00 AM
End Time 9:00 PM 9:00 AM 8:00 AM 7:00 AM 6:00 AM

These are designated in the Teacher’s Portal as “Hot” with a flame next to them.

Screenshot PPT

Often, VIPKid will run incentives and contests for being available or opening short notice timeslots in these “PPT” timeframes, so it’s always in your best interest to open these as much as possible.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!  If you haven’t yet applied with VIPKid, be sure to check out Completing the VIPKid Application.

If you would like help through  the process, I would be happy to be your mentor.

Happy teaching!

VIPKid and Daylight Saving Time (Spring Forward)

Last fall, I was a shiny, new VIPKid teacher. I was worried about Daylight Saving Time, and didn’t know what to expect. After surviving my first “fall back” shift, I wrote an article about VIPKid and Daylight Savings Time (Fall Back) .

Tomorrow, we are set to “spring forward” and this time, I have a lot less stress about the situation.

So what is changing for me?

As you might know, I only work super-part time. I have a day job that I begin at 8am Central Time each weekday, so my schedule has been 5:00 am – 7:30 am Central Time. This equates to 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm in Bejing. Once we spring forward, if I were to keep the same times open in Bejing time, MY time would be 6:00 am – 8:30 am Central Standard Time, which now overlaps with my day job.

What did I do?

At the risk of sounding a bit anticlimactic, I did nothing. I am keeping 5:00 am – 7:30 am Central Daylight Time open. For my students, that now represents 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm in Bejing. The time is already updated in the VIPKid portal, so as long as you set your clocks with the time change, 5am is really 5am. You don’t have to do the math!

What will happen to my schedule?

My schedule is crazy for the first week after Daylight Saving Time anyway, because it’s spring break week, so I am only working a few days. So my first “frenzy” (when parents book classes two weeks in advance) will happen this weekend.  It’s possible that I will lose a few regular students who prefer that later timeslot; however, many will shift with me.

What did I do to prepare?

  • A few weeks before the time change, I left comments in my feedback advising my regular students that my schedule would be changing. I apologized for the inconvenience and assured them that I still wanted to teach their son/daughter.
  • If those later timeslots did not book in the frenzy, I started closing them. (If this were my primary income, I might not have done this.) My goal in closing them was twofold: a) to get an idea of what students this would impact by watching for priority booking requests and b) to prevent getting any new regulars that I fell in love with that had to have that timeslot!

If you are worried about the time change, please don’t be. Students will come and go, and their schedules change (just like our kids’ schedules change!) This may be a good opportunity to find some new regulars, and if you have flexibility to teach at different times, perhaps you could accommodate some students who need to find a new teacher! And you never know, you might just catch some amazing sunrise snapshots between classes!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, and I would be happy to help.

Happy teaching!

sunrise1

VIPKid and Daylight Saving Time (Fall Back/Return to Daylight Standard Time.)

I was concerned – what happens to my schedule since China doesn’t observe daylight saving time?

In 2019, the return to Daylight Standard Time (falling back) falls on Sunday, November 3rd. As a VIPKid teacher, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day since I’m not naturally much of a morning person. Now, those 6 am classes will FEEL like 7 am classes, and I’m so excited!

Last year this time was my first time change with VIPKid, so I was concerned – what happens to my schedule since China doesn’t observe daylight saving time? In short, nothing happened.

VIPKid takes into account the change in US time zones prior to opening bookings. So if I had a 6:30 am class booked last night when I went to sleep, this morning, it was still booked at 6:30 am; the only difference was that it was light outside! I did notice that the time slots immediately before the change were labeled in the Teacher App with a “DST” label, so if you teach overnight, you’ll see a 1:00 am DST, 1:30 am DST, 1:00 am, and 1:30 am times available for booking. It’s like you have a time-turner! But for me, I teach later in the mornings, so there was really no impact.

What changed following the time change?

  • My bookings were a little low the week following the time change, and I assume that’s because of the shift in my availability. Last year at this time, I went from 14 classes booked  (of 15 open slots) down to 9 classes booked so far for the coming week. This didn’t last, though, and I was back to “normal” very quickly.
  • Some of the students that had expressed an interest in times that I typically don’t open were now able to book classes with me.
  • I have began getting some priority booking requests for early time slots that I would not normally open.

So what did I do differently?

  • Last year, I opened up more (and earlier) time slots! For me, this is a great opportunity to stay on the same physical schedule but get more bookings! I work full time from my home, and I start work at 8:00 am sharp. Because of this, I generally open up only 6:00, 6:30, and 7:00.  My logic last year was that I could begin teaching at 5:00 and it would still FEEL like 6:00. However, I would caution you against this. This ONLY works if you continue to go to bed on your pre- time change schedule. I did not, and I quickly got worn down, tired, and sick.
  • I did let some of my regulars  know about the time change and asked them to let me know if they are looking for different times available to book.
  • This time last year, I added my Level 4 certification. This year, I went on to add Level 5 and Free Talk. I assume kids in China are much like kids here – the older they are, the later they can stay up.
  • I enjoyed having a little extra daylight during class time!

What will happen with the new Ministry of Education requirements?

Effective November 1, Chinese students will not be able to take classes after 9:00 pm China Standard Time.  You can read more about the regulations in the VIPKid Support Center. So for me, in central time, I will have to adjust my schedule to maintain the same number of classes. I normally teach my last class at 7:00 central time, which before November 1, is 8:00 pm China Standard Time. After November 1, 7:00 central time will be 9:00 pm China Standard Time, and in theory, unavailable for booking.  (Though at this time, the times still show as available in the teacher portal.) Speculation is that trials can still be booked after 9 pm China Standard Time, and students who do not live in China could still book those times. I will update this post if anything changes, but 2019 will definitely be a unique year for this reason.

I hope this helped answer any questions you had about how the return to Daylight Standard Time affects VIPKid class bookings.   If you have other questions, please ask me in the comments below! If you are looking for a mentor to help you get started, please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have!

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue
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A PPT by Any Other Name…VIPKid Time Slot Naming

When I was a brand new VIPKid teacher, I thought that “PPT” slots were any time slots. I (mistakenly) assumed that PPT stood for “PowerPoint” since we use PowerPoint slides in our teaching curriculum. So, what are they? What times should you open?

What is a time slot?

A time slot is simply a 25-minute time that you are available to teach. Parents can “reserve” time with you and schedule classes once you have opened time slots.

What is a Peak time slot?

Peak Time slots are highly popular booking times. They are labeled as “Peak” in your Teacher App or PC app, and you have a higher chance of getting booked by opening these times. These are typically early mornings and weekends.

What is a PPT time slot?

A PPT time slot is a Peak Peak time slot. These are the very hottest booking times. These are the ones in which you are most likely to get booked, and these are the ones for which VIPKid often offers incentives. Watch for offers for bonuses for opening up extra PPT slots!

When are the Peak/PPT time slots?

I’m sure it’s possible that the desirability of time slots changes over time; however, at the time I’m writing this in Central Standard Time, weekday (Monday through Thursday) “peak” time slots are 4:00 am, 4:30 am, 7:00 am, and 7:30 am. The PPT time slots are 5:00 am – 6:30 am. Friday is the same, but offers peak time slots between 7:00 pm and 11:30 pm as well. Saturday is ripe for booking all day long with every time slot between 12:00 am and 11:30 pm (except 6:30 pm) set as either peak or PPT (5:30 am – 6:30 am.) Sunday offers peak times from 12:00 am – 4:30 am, PPT from 5:00 am – 6:30 am, and peak again from 7:00 am and 7:30 am.

What time slots should you open?

When you first start as a VIPKid teacher, it’s important to open as many time slots as possible; however, I personally only opened time slots during the period in which I’m willing to teach long term. Yes, I could have opened weekend and evening slots; however, I would hate to build a relationship with a student who takes lessons on the weekend and then suddenly I’m no longer available to teach them.

Also, it’s important that you make time to rest. As you are trying to get your first classes booked or build up your student base, it’s tempting to try to push through as many classes as possible. While experience is good, it’s important that you also give your students your best, and if you haven’t slept properly, you won’t be able to do that. You also need to ensure you allow time to complete your feedback in a timely manner. Not only is this extremely important to parent satisfaction (and 5-apple ratings!) but if you don’t submit your class feedback in time, it can affect your pay!

The general rule holds true, though. The more time slots you have open (especially those that are peak or PPT), the more bookings you should receive.

If you have any other questions, please ask in the comments or by contacting me. If I can help you as a mentor, please consider using my referral link to get started!

book business calendar close up
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