What’s this VIPKid thing Amelia keeps posting about?

A few of you have asked what exactly VIPKid is. A few friends have said, “I’ve been thinking about doing it, but I didn’t know _____.” My personal favorite was my friend who said, “I have no idea what that thing was that you posted about on Twitter, but it was nice to see your post!”

So this morning, I thought I would break down exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few months with VIPKid.

What is VIPKid?

VIPKid is a teaching platform that allows English-speaking teachers to work one-on-one with students in China to teach them English.

How do you know what to teach?

There are existing lesson plans created for you. Students are placed in a level based on either a computer placement test or performance in their initial classes. There are powerpoint slides that cover pre-set curriculum loaded in the virtual classroom. Students work their way through lessons in each level, unit, and lesson with assessments in lesson 6 and lesson 12 of each unit.

Do they teach you the techniques to use?

Yes. Part of the interview process is demonstrating that you’ve got a solid understanding of the basic techniques. If you don’t, you can get a peer mentor to help guide you through the process. Teachers like me LOVE helping others get started. If you prefer flying solo, VIPKid sends you plenty of information to help you, and there are lots of videos to help as well.

When do you do it?

I work full time in corporate America, so I teach part time. I make myself available Monday through Friday from 5:00 am until 7:30 am. If all five 25-minute classes are booked, it’s 2.5 hours of teaching each morning. I use the last 30 minutes (7:30 – 8:00) to let my dog out and write feedback on the classes before I start my day job. I choose not to teach in the evenings or weekends, but many people do. The “peak” times are when children in China are awake and not in school.  So, good options include weekdays from 4:00 am Central through 8:00 am Central or the weekends starting at 7:00 or 7:30 pm Friday through 8 am the next day.

How much do you make?

I’m still pretty new, but the answer is “Up to $22 per hour.” You are a contractor with VIPKid, and it does take some time to build up a customer base. Your starting rate is based on the results of your interview and your experience. In my Facebook group, I have several detailed explanations of the scoring matrix that is used. (If you’re curious, you can see My VIPKid Interview Results!)

On top of the base pay, there are incentives you can earn as well. I work EXTREMELY part time (usually an hour and a half per day, weekdays only) and earn about $500 per month. When I have time, I open up more time slots and earn much more!

Do you teach the same students or different students?

Yes. 🙂 Parents book you, so sometimes you will get a student you’ve never seen before, while other times you get to teach the same student on a regular schedule. My most regular students I teach once or twice a week. In September, it will mark one year with VIPKid, and so far I have taught 541 classes spread among 137 students.

Do you have flexibility in the classroom?

Yes. Every teacher is different. You have a lesson plan with objectives that you need to follow, but then you can have fun with it.  Some teachers like to sing, some like props. Some like games, and some prefer to stick to the books. Just like every teacher is different, so is every student. You will find students who respond to your style and vice versa.

What now?

If you were just curious, then congratulations! You’re done! 🙂 Of course if you have other questions, let me know in the comments! If you are interested in trying it out yourself, I’d be happy to help. Check out the application process here and when you are ready to start, here’s my referral code.

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Because This VIPKid Teacher is up at 5 am on Thanksgiving…

I know, everyone will be posting #whatIamthankfulfor things today, but I can’t resist. This Thanksgiving morning, I’m awake, even though I didn’t book any classes. “Sleep in,” I thought.  “It will be great,” I thought. Well, that didn’t happen, but it’s ok. The extra hours of quiet before the Thanksgiving frenzy have given me time to reflect on my last 66 days with VIPKid.

Here’s what I’m thankful for:

  • Something that makes me WANT to get up in the mornings. I was the person who, into my early 30’s, had a rule that no one could call me before noon because I just might be sleeping. Now, I wake up at 4:00 in the morning excited for my upcoming classes!
  • A chance to help kiddos across the globe. These kids will be movers and shakers. They will be the next generation of colleagues and leaders. They will be peers to my grandchildren. (Yikes!) It may seem like a fun way to earn extra money right now, but I believe it means much more than that.
  • All the fun of homework games, but with a paycheck! My mom and I were remembering all the fun that I used to have coming up with games and activities to help my kids with their homework all those years ago. One day, maybe when they got smarter than me (or at least “cooler” than me), it stopped. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was able to start teaching again. And – now I get a paycheck every two weeks to do it!
  • Did I mention the paycheck? It may not have been the primary reason for me to start doing this, but it’s a nice bonus! In my first 66 days including my nice black Friday check, I’m up to almost $800, so it’s not insignificant. It’s allowing me to contribute more to our church, do a little extra Christmas shopping, and just enjoy having some extra pocket money.

I’m thankful for VIPKid and the great support they offer when things go wrong: the firemen in the classroom, the support at FreshDesk, their willingness to always answer questions. I’m thankful for the facebook groups where I can go to get ideas for rewards and to share fun stories. My husband is tired of hearing about my tales of the classroom, so I’m over the moon to have a group of other people who LOVE talking about it too!

It’s been a fun 66 days, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities in the months ahead!

Happy Thanksgiving!

affection appreciation decoration design
Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

My VIPKid Interview Results

“So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice? … In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE.”

There are thousands of teachers who post videos and VIPKid information online. But how do you know if they are good?

Do you ever wonder if you are taking advice from someone who didn’t get good results?

Despite the risk of sounding a little “braggy” I wanted to share some insight into my own interview results. I guess I consider this a part of my informal VIPKid resume package.

If you ask me to be your mentor, one of the things you’ll hear me talk about over and over is the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. This is the scoring matrix that VIPKid uses to evaluate us in their interviews.

It’s not a secret! VIPKid SENDS YOU the performance criteria in advance so you know exactly what’s important to them!

Following the interview, they send you your scores along with comments to help you improve.

So… how did I do? Should you listen to my advice?

I scored 76 out of 100. 

What?? A “C”? I was a straight-A student in school. I’m not feeling a C.  But let me explain.

The first section is scored based on your education and teaching experience.

  • You MUST have a bachelor’s degree. (check.)
  • You MUST have at least one year of teaching experience (classroom, mentor, coaching, etc.) (check.)

Obviously, I got those points.

I did not get points for the following areas:

  • US or Canada Pre-K-12 classroom experience
  • ESL experience
  • ESL certification
  • US or Canada government-issued teaching license

I simply don’t have that experience, and I wasn’t going to be able to get it before my interview!

In my demo lesson, I earned EVERY POINT AVAILABLE. 

I know it sounds like bragging, and I guess it is. But I’m really very proud of this! I worked hard to prepare. I learned what is important to VIPKid (and subsequently, my students and their parents.) What I didn’t already know, I learned, and I practiced. And I can help you do the same.

In the area of professionalism, I got positive feedback on being presentable and having high sound quality and a functional workstation.

I needed improvements in my background, distance, and lighting. (Watch this video to see why.) And guess what – by my mock interview, I had fixed these things!

So yes, if you have more relevant classroom experience, it will most definitely help you in your interview.  But it’s not required. What is required is dedication to the process and a willingness to learn and apply the techniques that have been proven in VIPKid classrooms.

If you’re ready to get started, I can help you do it. My referral link awaits. 🙂 Or if you aren’t quite sure you’re ready to start, here’s a helpful video to give you an idea about how the process works and what you can expect from me.  As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments below or contact me if you have any questions!

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VIPKid Prop Ideas – “My Feelings” Demo Class

“Even as a child, I didn’t want to pretend. If I was going to have a tea party, there had better be tea.  Because of this, I use props every chance I get.”

I love props. Even as a child, I didn’t want to pretend. If I was going to have a tea party, there had better be tea.  Because of this, I use props every chance I get. If you aren’t sure where to start, I thought I’d provide a few options for different props that you might want to use during your “My Feelings” demo class.  You do not need to use all of these ideas, of course! You should have at least two different types of props that you use, but choose based on what suits your style and helps you communicate your lesson!

It’s important to remember that the props are not the most important part of the lesson here. Be sure you are familiar with the Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. There are 24 distinct areas in which you are measured, and supplementary tools is only one of them. Props can also help affect rapport and energy level, but if you focus TOO much on the props, it can adversely affect your efficient pacing and timing or pull you off track from your lesson objectives.

Pick props that help you teach. Pick props that you can have fun with, and that you think a child will like. And then enjoy!

Slide One: Welcome Page

This is the page I would have up during the interview; it’s not a part of the lesson. No props needed.

Slide Two: Objectives

No props needed here. You should not review this slide with your student. Use the page number navigation box at the bottom of the page to skip straight to slide four.

Slide Three: My Feelings

I don’t think this counts as a prop, but I would suggest having your name “Teacher Amelia” displayed somewhere prominently on your wall. It could be

  • Drawn on a whiteboard
  • Printed on paper
  • Spelled out in toy blocks

Slide Four: Reward System

You definitely want to have your reward system present physically in the room. Here are a few options:

  • Print out the actual “Reward System” slide and:
    • Draw bananas in the squares as rewards
    • Print copies of the little monkey holding the banana over his head and tape them in the squares
    • Print other copies of bananas and tape them in the squares
  • Print a picture of a monkey and pictures of bananas, and tape the bananas around the monkey
  • Use a monkey stuffed animal and tape or velcro bananas to him
  • Use a bunch of real bananas and pull one off the bunch each time there’s a reward

Slide Five: Warm Up

Since this is a poem, not a song, I probably wouldn’t use any props here. What’s most important in this slide is using TPR, so you don’t want your hands tied up with something else.

Slide 6: Find the Sound

I would start with having the letter “M.” This could be:

  • A magnetic letter you hold up to the camera
  • “M” written on a small whiteboard
  • “M” on a building block
  • “M” drawn on a piece of paper or printed from the internet

You could also have physical items for the monkey and mouse (the correct answers.) I might only use these if the student struggled, which they shouldn’t since it’s a review. If you want to have them handy, you can print these pictures from the powerpoint and:

  • Simply hold them up
  • Laminate them
  • Laminate them and attach them to a stick/toothpick

If you happen to have mouse or monkey toys around, you could use those (but I wouldn’t go and buy them.)

Slide 7: Blending Sound

For this, I would have a prop available. This might include:

  • A small whiteboard where you can write the phonics blends
  • Magnetic letters (my favorite!)
  • Printed/laminated page with phonics and/or blanks to fill in

Slide 8: I have many feelings.

This slide is ripe for props. Options include:

  • Printed emojis (I opted for the style that’s on most phones since they are easily recognizable.)
  • Smiley/frowney faces on sticks/toothpicks
  • Puppets or dolls (only if they have clear expressions that align with the emotions.)
  • A face that you can draw on (on a whiteboard or laminated page) to draw different emotions
  • Printed photographs that clearly show the different emotions

Slide 9: Meet Dino and Lily

I personally probably wouldn’t use props with this slide, but you could if you wanted to.

  • If you happen to have a stuffed Dino lying around (ha!) that would be fun to use.
  • You could print pictures of Dino and Lily and put them on sticks/toothpicks (or just hold them up) in the camera for their speaking parts.
  • You can keep your props from the last slide handy so if your “student” struggles with the word “angry” or “happy” you can remind them with the same prop.

Slide 10: Shoot the Ball

Because this is an activity, I would recommend having some kind of goofy prop available. You want to get the kid excited that it’s “Activity Time!!”

Use your creativity here! Ideas I’ve seen include:

  • Funny hats
  • Headbands with crazy things on them
  • Musical instruments
  • A stuffed animal or puppet with a crazy voice
  • Lighting – wouldn’t it be fun to turn on a disco ball in your classroom?
  • A basketball, either real or a small one, that you can “whoosh” when they draw a correct line to the basketball goal

Really, the only point here is to amp up the energy for the activity.

Slide 11 – Goodbye

You’re done! No need for props here!

Props are as individual as we are. I hope these ideas have served to inspire you, but I encourage you to use what makes you comfortable in the classroom.

If you have ideas for other props, leave them in the comments here! If you would like feedback on your own props and are looking for someone to help you through the process, I would be honored to be your mentor. My referral link is here!

If you’re not sure what to expect with a mentor, you can get a little more information in my blog post and video What’s a VIPKid referral anyway?

Good luck with your demo, and happy teaching!

Worst VIPKid Video Ever

When I decided to apply for VIPKid, I was nervous. Once I started watching YouTube videos, I was petrified.

You’ve all seen them – the cute, adorable, well-spoken, lively teachers. The ones with the perfect classroom and the ideal camera angle. The ones with the endless wardrobes of orange shirts in a variety of flattering styles. The ones who can balance a baby on one hip while teaching a class and making a perfect video with flashy animation bouncing across the screen all at the same time. They are perfect.

I watched these and thought, “That’s not me!”

But then I got hired. Then I got a class. Then I got some regular students. Then it was me. Maybe it wasn’t as pretty, but guess what? It didn’t matter.

What does matter?

  1. I am motivated. This was something I *wanted* to do.
  2. I am not afraid of hard work. Teaching isn’t something you can fake. It’s too important.
  3. I care about my students. Their success is important to me.
  4. I want to have fun. When I have fun, so do they.

There isn’t a single student or parent out there who cares if my YouTube videos have animation, so neither do I.

If you’re thinking about giving VIPKid a try, just do it. If I can help, I would love to. Here’s my referral link.

In the meantime, if you want to see the ugly truth, below is probably the very worst VIPKid video ever. But it doesn’t matter. 🙂

The Worst VIPKid Video Ever

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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

Sample VIPKid Class Feedback – Struggling Student

“class feedback + parent feedback = collaboration in the classroom!”

As I explained in my recent blog post VIPKid Class Feedback – “Virtual Backpack Notes”, I consider class feedback a critical component of my teaching.

I previously provided Sample VIPKid Class Feedback – New Student, High Performing to show how I use my standard template to give feedback to a strong student, but I wanted to provide an example of a student who did well, but struggled more.

This class also resulted in a 5-apple feedback with a specific request back from the parent. They said, “Thank you for your comments on {Student Name.} The teacher said that {Student Name} was confused by the teacher’s questions, and that’s because he cannot understand. {Student}’s problem now is that he often can’t understand full sentences. I hope the teacher will practice the dialogue with him in class next time.” This is a great example of how class feedback + parent feedback = collaboration in the classroom!

If you have questions about this feedback, or VIPKid in general, let me know in the comments! If you are looking for more personalized answers, I’d love to help. My referral link is a great way to find a mentor, and we both benefit!

Sample Feedback

**Overall Feedback**

It was great to teach {Student} again today! Today we learned about people in a family, and we practiced the word “mom.” He did a great job identifying pictures of moms and using the word in a complete sentence “She is my mom.  She is his mom. She is her mom.” He is very involved with the slides and follows directions so well! We learned the word “talk” and used it in a sentence “My mom talks on the phone. He talks with his friends.” He was a little confused with one of the activities that asked “Who do you talk with?” and the options were a man, a woman, a lamp, and a violin. When I broke it down, he understood that you can’t talk with a lamp or a violin. I think the choices might have just confused him. We used the word “her” and used it in a sentence “This is her phone.” He did great on the exercise that incorporated the word “her” with previous vocabulary (dog, headphones, teacher, and mom.) GREAT JOB! He did well blending sounds in our phonics lesson (l+eg= leg, b+eg=beg, k+eg=keg, w+eg=weg) and even did great at the rhyming exercise that sometimes confuses students! We learned about “this” and “that.” We also reviewed two items from my last class with him: “What must I follow in class? I must follow the rules in class.” and “How do you behave in class? I behave well in class.” He did a great job in class (and definitely behaved well!) He is a five-star student!

**Homework**

Within the limits of a computer screen, it’s difficult to explain that “this” is something close while “that” is something further away. He seemed to understand, but if you could practice at home, that will help reinforce it. Put two of the same objects (for example, apples) in a room – one close and one far away. Practice identifying THIS apple (close) and THAT apple (far.) Then once he correctly identifies the correct word using two of the same object, practice with different objects. (This mouse, that tree.)

**Next Steps**

Thank you for the five-apple rating after our last class! I really appreciate it! My goal is to have positive (5-apple) feedback on every class I teach, so if you have time, I would appreciate your feedback on this class as well. I would love to teach {Student} again, and I have this same time available in two weeks. Of course, you can also follow my teacher profile to see other available times. Thank you so much for the opportunity to teach your son!