Being a Beginner

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Meister Eckhart

Most of my blog posts are about teaching with VIPKid. Occasionally I branch off into my journey to get here. But today I wanted to share something a little bit more personal. I’ve decided to change my lifestyle and make a concentrated effort to get healthier.

As background, I’ve never been a very health-conscious person. I’ve gone through phases where I have exercised, and sometimes I eat better than others. But no one has ever looked at me and said, “Wow, what a healthy person.” A few years ago, I had a hysterectomy (in my 30’s) and went on hormones, and what was “a few pounds overweight” quickly started ballooning. (literally and figuratively!) I was still getting some exercise because I walked my dog Buster most mornings before work, and we were cooking some at home because our youngest kids were still living with us. We had to keep up some semblance of a good example! But even then, I was definitely not living my best life.

About a year ago, several things happened: our youngest two twins went to college. (Yes, one still lives with us … or at least we think he does. We don’t really see him much anymore.) That’s roughly when we stopped cooking at home. And I started teaching with VIPKid (which I LOVE!) BUT… the only downside is that I teach in the early mornings, right when I would walk Buster. So Buster (and I) have taken a bit of a backseat. My exercise dropped to almost zero, and my caffeine intake rose proportionately. I have realized that I have to make a change. I want more energy. I want to feel better. I want to be around longer. So I have to change.

So… today I began the first 12-week program. I know it’s old school, but I’m following the old Body for Life process. The idea is simple, and I know I can be successful, because it’s a series of small, attainable goals.

  1. Eating better. You eat six small meals per day consisting of a small portion of protein and carbs in each meal plus vegetables to at least 2 meals. (Of course plenty of water.) And my favorite part: one free day per week. That helps me be strong, knowing I can eat anything on one day each week.
  2. Exercising. No, I’m not doing Crossfit or Boot Camps. I don’t even think I’m in enough shape to do a Dino Dash step bet yet. But I’ve started. I joined a gym and will work out six days per week alternating weights and aerobic exercise. No workout lasts more than 46 minutes, which is awesome. I have to modify because I can’t do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, but I can do it after work.
  3. Living Intentionally. I’m setting goals. I’m planning my meals and exercise. I’m thinking about how I can be successful.

So why write about it here? For one thing, I’m excited for this fresh start, and I wanted to share it. For another thing, so many of you who read and comment on my posts inspire me. You may not even realize you’ve made an impact, but you have! Finally, this is an added layer of accountability. By telling 30,000 of my closest friends and putting these intentions out into the world, I feel that I have an added responsibility to see this through.

There is a quote from Meister Eckhart that says, “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” I am excited to be beginning again with a new focus.

Don’t worry, my blog will still be about teaching, and cute kiddos, and amazing props, and all of those fun things. But the person behind the screen will just be a little healthier as she types.

Thanks for joining me on (another) journey!

Happy teaching, and exercising and eating healthier!

Amelia

How to Ask for 5-Apple Feedback

It is critical to be genuine, both in your teaching and in your feedback, so do what works for YOU!

I have written several blog posts about feedback, and in the last (almost) year that I’ve been teaching, my opinion hasn’t changed much. When people ask me, “Do you ask for feedback?” My answer is “sometimes.” It really depends on the student, the class, and the parents.

When do you ask for feedback?

I usually ask for feedback when I am teaching students for the first 1-3 times, or when I have a specific question that I would like the parents to answer. Here’s a snapshot of when I ask:

How do you ask for feedback?

I vary the way that I ask for feedback, but below are a few examples that I have used in each of the above categories! All of these are at the very end of my feedback, after I have given specific information about the student’s performance!

Trial Class Feedback

Bao Bao did a great job in class, and he will do very well with VIPKid! Did Bao Bao enjoy class? If you have any questions, you can contact your Learning Partner or ask me in your feedback. Receiving positive, 5-apple feedback is very important to VIPKid teachers, and it is a great way to be able to share ideas about Bao Bao’s classes! Thank you! Teacher Amelia U

First Class Feedback

Thank you for the opportunity to teach Bao Bao in class today. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did! I would love to hear your comments about our class. VIPKid teachers always value feedback, but I especially enjoy learning about my new students’ families! Thank you! Teacher Amelia U

Second or Third Class Feedback

It was great to see Bao Bao again today. I can already see improvements from our last lesson. Keep going! If you have any suggestions or requests for our next class, please tell me in your feedback! Thank you! Teacher Amelia

Asking about Rewards

Today we played a game where “My Little Pony” characters were eating. This helped Bao Bao practice her new vocabulary using things that she enjoys! “Rainbow Dash eats!” I like extending on our lessons like this because it helps me ensure that Bao Bao understands and can apply what she is learning! If there are other toys, television shows, or movies that she likes, please let me know in your feedback, and I will try to incorporate them into upcoming lessons! Thank you – Teacher Amelia U

Asking for Feedback at Other Times

There may be other times that it’s appropriate to ask for feedback. You will get to know your students and their parents, and you’ll know what’s effective and appropriate. A few other examples might be:

  • I know that proper pronunciation is very important to you, so I took extra steps to practice “parallelogram” with Bao Bao. He was doing much better by the end of class! If you have any specific requests when you review the class, please let me know in the feedback! Thank you!
  • Did Bao Bao enjoy her reading course? I really enjoy teaching the supplemental courses, and I think that it will help Bao Bao continue to improve her reading skills in new ways. Please let me know if she enjoyed it in the feedback! Thank you!
  • I will not be teaching on September 2 because it is an American holiday. Feel free to send a priority booking request if there is another time you would like to schedule Bao Bao’s class. You could also leave me alternate times in the feedback and I will try to open classes if I am available. Thank you!

When NOT to Ask for Feedback

If you are not willing to listen with an open mind to your parents’ feedback, then please don’t ask. If you don’t want to consider new reward ideas, then don’t ask. It is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when people ask for my advice and then blatantly disregard it. So please… only ask for feedback if you really want to hear it!

It is critical to be genuine, both in your teaching and in your feedback, so do what works for YOU! The above examples are what works for me. If you don’t feel comfortable asking for feedback, then don’t! Because that will show through to the parents.

Do I think that asking for feedback makes a difference in your apple rating? No, probably not. I’ve asked. I’ve not asked. And the feedback ebbs and flows regardless. So again, do what works for you. If you are interested in my other thoughts on feedback, you can check them out here:

If you are a new teacher looking to get started, I would love to help you through the hiring process! Feel free to contact me with questions!

VIPKid Teacher Tags

Teacher tags are meant to help parents find teachers who will meet their expectations.

When a new teacher completes the hiring and mock class certification process, VIPKid adds up to five teacher tags to our profile. These tags are all positive, and they are meant to help parents find teachers who are a good fit for their child. In addition, you can select some tags of your own, making the total tags available six! When a parent leaves you five-apple feedback, they will see your self-selected tags and be given the option to endorse one or more of them.

How do I know what my teacher tags are?

In the teacher portal, click on “My Info” and then “tags.” You will see your tags in each of three categories: Teaching Skills, Strengths, and Personality.

What tags are available?

VIPKid has posted the list of potential teacher tags in the Support Center. Check it out here! In the meantime, you can also review the below list of possible teacher tags assembled by Ed Nace (and reprinted with permission.) VIPKid recently updated their teacher tags, so some of these may no longer be available, but this gives some good insight – especially into those related to personality.

Ed’s list includes two types of tags. One is related to your academic expertise in the classroom, and the other is related to your personality. He lists an English translation of the tag, the actual Chinese characters/words, and then a basic explanation of the words since translations are not always true to the intention of the word. In case you aren’t familiar with Ed Nace (and why this list is awesome!) Ed and his family lived in China for eight years, and he is a veteran ESL teacher. He’s written some amazing books that help de-mystify Chinese culture, parent feedback, and teaching techniques. He’s saved me many times with his books. You can learn more at https://ednace.com/.

List and translations courtesy of Ed Nace. Learn more at ednace.com.

How many tags do I get?

Each teacher may have up to six tags assigned. If you have fewer than that, I do suggest adding more. Having a full set of tags will give the parents a more comprehensive view of your personality.

Should I change my teacher tags?

If you already have the maximum number, my answer is “probably not.” (This is my own personal opinion.) “But Amelia, you said in your Booking Boosters post that changing my tags could help me get bookings!” Yes, that is true; however, I suggest using it as a last resort if you have exhausted all other ideas and still aren’t getting bookings.

The reason I personally have chosen not to change my tags is that we may not have the same interpretation of our style as a Chinese parent would. For example, I think I am very detail-oriented. But compared to people in China, is that still true?

Years ago, I was very active in Toastmasters International. I participated in my local, area, and regional clubs and activities. I consistently got high scores in vocal variety, emotion, and intonation. I (and my Toastmasters peers) considered this one of my strong suits! However, I had the opportunity to speak in several Toastmasters meetings in the Philippines and in India. While they were very welcoming and provided positive feedback overall, vocal variety was my weakest area! Their perspectives and mine were simply not aligned because we were evaluating based on a different set of cultural norms.

Teacher tags are meant to help parents find teachers who will meet their expectations. If we accidentally mis-categorize ourselves since we are describing ourselves through an American lens, we are setting the parents up for potential disappointment. And disappointment could possibly lead to less than five apples. Because of that, I have chosen to leave my tags as applied by VIPKid and the parents. My only change was to add a tag in the area of “strengths” where I didn’t have any. That were visible. I chose to add the two that were already endorsed by parents. That way, when parents view my tags, they’ll see that other parents agree, and hopefully their expectations will be aligned.

I hope you found this helpful! Have you asked about your teacher tags? Were you surprised by them? Let me know in the comments!

It’s a Small World

“Even though I’ve read that the world population has doubled in the last fifty years, in some ways this world is smaller than ever. “

Most of my blog posts are specific to my time with VIPKid. My goal with my blog is to share my experience and to help other teachers get the information they need to be successful.

But to know why I value my time as a teacher so much, it might help to know a little bit more about where I came from. So, if you’re interested, join me on a crazy trip down memory lane to see how on earth I landed here!

Where I began…

I grew up in a small town in Missouri, about three or four hours south of either Kansas City or Saint Louis, depending on which way you were looking. My class was exceptionally small. There were seventeen of us. Even in my small, small school, that was considered unusual. My family always encouraged me to think big, but for many years, I didn’t know what that meant.

My roaring 20’s…

During college, I started working in the contact center industry. If you haven’t heard that term before, think about all of the companies you do business with. If you need to contact them, there’s someone available to help you. I say “contact center” because that contact might be a phone call, an email, a chat, or even a Tweet. You might be speaking to someone in sales, customer service, or technical support. And I have been involved with all of the above.

I began as an outbound telemarketing agent for MCI. I was one of the people who called you (or most likely your parents) to ask, “Have you thought about switching your long distance service?” Today, my job is more of a project and process manager, working with teams behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly. But the bottom line is: my job is to help people. No matter what specifically I’m doing, I always tell people that I’m in customer service, because that’s why we do what we do. My teams are here to support our customers. Period.

Seeing the world…

At one point in my late 20’s, I had begun traveling within the US for work, but I had not yet begun traveling internationally. In fact, I didn’t even have a passport. I was talking with a colleague who worked at Reuter’s. She lives in London, and I said to her, “I wish I could travel internationally.” She gave me a blank stare and said, “Why don’t you?” The next week I applied for a passport, and the rest is history.

One of the most amazing parts of working in customer service has been the opportunity to travel. I can’t even begin to choose a favorite place or a favorite trip. There are simply too many. But a few of my most memorable trips (not including personal travel) include:

  • Visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s skyscraper in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
  • Riding donkeys to the top of a volcano in Tagaytay, Philippines.
  • Eating the “worst bbq in Texas” at Rudy’s in San Antonio.
  • Visiting the Taj Mahal at sunset and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, India
  • Being unintentionally “locked in” to a team builder at Stone Mountain, Georgia when the power went out following a hurricane.
  • Exploring Niagra Falls with fellow trainers on an 0ff-weekend in upstate New York.

The list could honestly go on and on. Just sitting here and thinking about these different places, and more importantly, the people who were with me, has brought back so many amazing memories! Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always worked hard, but on the weekends, I played hard too. I always thought “What a loss it would be to not experience everything a place has to offer.”

What I’ve learned…

Every one of those experiences above took place with people that I’ve worked with. I’ve spent hours with them on video calls and phone calls. When I was lucky, I spent time with them in person. They are amazing people, and I am lucky to call them my friends and colleagues.

Too often, people hear the words “outsourcing” or even “customer service” and they immediately bristle. It brings out an emotional reaction in some due to political beliefs, and to others because they have had a bad experience – somewhere, sometime, with someone. If there is one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that it doesn’t *really* matter where someone lives. I can assure you that the person on the other end of the phone, email, chat, or Tweet almost always wants to help you. I’ve been that person. And while it’s true that everyone has bad days, by and large, when we help you, it makes us feel good. It makes our jobs easier. It lets us know we’ve accomplished something good. We know we have made a small difference in a world that can be filled with stress.

It doesn’t stop at work…

In my personal life, I’ve also been blessed to travel. I have made five trips to Honduras where I have gotten to know the amazing people in the village of San Joaquin. I’ve visited Christopher Columbus’s home and dined in a cave in the Dominican Republic. We lived in Canada for three years, and I learned all about milk in a bag. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit England (twice) to see a former colleague and friend. (The definite high points were walking through a crop circle and visiting Stonehenge. And of course there have been several amazing camping trips, beach trips, and cruises with my wonderful family.

If I have learned one thing, in all of these places, people are people. We all have good days. We all have bad days. We all have problems. We all get sick. We all want to do good. We all love others.

My time in China…

All of these roads have led me to where I am today. I still work with amazing people around the world in my day job. I still travel with my family as often as possible. And now, I have a new place on my bucket list thanks to VIPKid. As of the writing of this post, I have yet to “really” visit China. But I will one day. I feel like I’m there every single day when I teach my students with VIPKid. These sweet families bring me into their homes and entrust me with their most prized possessions: their children. I have gone to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on vacation. I’ve made dumplings (Zongzi) during the Dragon Boat festival. I’ve heard students practice their instruments, read their poems, and sing their songs. These kids are just like ours.

I’m even more lucky because several of my VIPKid referrals live internationally. One moved to Madrid, Spain after she was hired. The other applied while living in Denmark. I get the chance to live vicariously through both of them every day. It’s amazing to have a team of people who can literally live anywhere in the world. There was one day that I had the opportunity to start my morning teaching in China. Then I spoke to both referrals (one in Spain and one in Denmark.) Later, I spoke to a fellow teacher who lives in Berlin; then during my workday, I talked with my ‘day job’ team members in South Carolina, Florida, Jamaica, Honduras and India.

It’s a small world

Even though I’ve read that the world population has doubled in the last fifty years, in some ways this world is smaller than ever. I am blessed and thankful to have had the opportunity to see so much of it. My bucket list is far from complete, but I can honestly say that it’s already overflowing.

What’s on your list? Where will you go next? What’s stopping you?

Clockwise from top: The volcano at Tagaytay, a pool in Cancun (maybe?), a crop circle somewhere in the English countryside, and Niagra Falls.

Booking Boosters for VIPKid

If you are asking the question, “How can I get more VIPKid bookings?” You are not alone. And before I give any suggestions, let me assure you that you have not done anything wrong! There are many factors that can go into VIPKid bookings, and low bookings can affect any of us: new teachers, tenured teachers, and everyone in between! But don’t worry, there are some easy things that you can do that have the potential to help bring in bookings.

First, the “big 6” booking boosters that I’ve talked about before are:

  1. Be sure you are opening your schedule for the correct weeks. (If you’re fuzzy on the frenzy timing, review my post about VIPKid Booking Schedules.
  2. Review your profile picture.
  3. Review your featured photos and intro video.
  4. Take workshops.
  5. Add certifications (especially trials!)
  6. Open short notice bookings.

You can read more about all of these in my first post about bookings, Getting Bookings with VIPKid.

If you have tried all of those without luck, there are some other options.

Send e-cards to prior students.

Remember, e-cards go to students, not their parents. With the latest update, you must use pre-formatted templates, but there are several that are relevant. There’s a “Book Me” card that includes a “Book Me” message, an “I miss you” message, a “See you soon,” message and a “Happy to see you” message. There are also some good ones under “See you in class” and “Thanks.” If you aren’t sure how to send an e-card, I have a walk-through here: How to Send an e-card with VIPKid.

Open a ticket for low bookings.

VIPKid will sometimes help teachers increase their bookings. In the support center, you can create a new ticket. There are a few different options. I would start with the first: Issue = No Booking or Issue = Low Booking. If you try this and have not had success in a week’s time, then I would open a second ticket: Issue = Teacher Voice. In either scenario, VIPKid can get your information over to Learning Partners who may be looking for a new teacher to recommend to their students. Be sure to include your teacher show name! (The one with the letters after it!)

Open your schedule further in advance.

Always be sure your schedule is open at least two weeks in advance. That is the standard window, and many parents try to rebook for two weeks out immediately following their last class. But if you can (and are sure you can teach!) then try to open a consistent schedule for at least a month in advance. If a parent is looking for a “regular” teacher who can teach their child on an ongoing basis, they will want to be sure that your schedules are compatible.

Participate in VIPKid promotional activities.

VIPKid often offers different promotions that can help get your profile in front of parents. The current activity that is in its last few weeks this August (2019) is the Teacher Showroom. It’s an opportunity to upload an additional short video. As of August 13, VIPKid said they had 4,000 entries. While this seems like a lot, 4,000 out of around 70,000 teachers is not that many. Less than 6 percent of VIPKid’s teachers participated, so if new parents are scrolling through trying to find their perfect match, you’ve just increased your odds of being seen!

Check your teacher tags.

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this technique. (Check out VIPKid Teacher Tags to see why.) But if all else fails, you could consider updating your teacher tags. When you go through your interview and mock classes, certain “tags” are added to your profile that are visible to teachers. Parents can also add them, or you can select your own (up to six.) The general idea is that parents can see areas of specialty or personality traits to help decide if you will be a good fit for their child. There are a few things you can do with teacher tags to potentially affect your bookings.

  1. First, you can review your tags in the teacher portal or PC App under “My Info” and then “teacher tags.”
  2. Next, if you don’t have six visible, you can edit them and update them (once every thirty days.)
  3. Finally, If you feel that the tags are not representative of your personality, you can change them. No tags should really have more benefit than others; however, it is possible that if your tags are not aligned with your real teaching style, it could impact repeat bookings.

Reach out to parents on social media.

If you use WeChat or Weibo, you can post something for parents to see. Be sure that it translates well to Chinese and that it’s respectful. I have even seen teachers post about specific days: “I have several classes available on Friday! What students will I see?” You could gently suggest that parents consider recommending you to their friends.

There is no “one right way” to get bookings with VIPKid, but I hope you have found these suggestions helpful.

Have you tried any of these techniques? Let me know how they worked in the comments!

And of course, if you are a new teacher I would be happy to help. You can get started right away with the VIPKid application and I will be happy to answer any questions I can. Happy teaching!

Slidekick: Rewards

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student.

This is the second post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

Be sure you check out Issue 1 (Getting Started) to get the basics!

I LOVE using Google Slides for rewards. While there are a lot of great ways you can use slides, this one is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!  As of this moment, there are 5,347 rewards loaded in Slidekick spanning 35 different categories. (And because I’m an editor in the group, I can see many, many more just waiting for editing and approval!)

Within Slidekick, there are several ways you can search for rewards specifically.

Option 1: Search by reward keyword.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View All Rewards” at the top of the screen.
  3. Use the search bar at the top to type in keywords.
    • These could be lesson-specific like “food,” “animals,” “India” etc.
    • Or they could be interest-based like “Batman,” “lego,” or “princess.”

It’s usually best to use one keyword to narrow it down; sometimes multiple keywords don’t return great results. For example, instead of searching for “Spiderman, Ironman, and Hulk” try searching for “Superhero.”

Option 2: Search by reward type.

There are so many different reward types here. To search for a certain reward type:

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View Reward Categories” at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the reward type that you want to use, and you can browse all rewards of that type.

I’m going to resist the urge to talk about them all. (That’s a topic for another blog series.) Instead, I’ll list just a few of my favorites. A few of my favorite reward types are:

  • Find a Star (FAS): Students select a number (or vocab word, or picture.) Some of the options will reveal a star, while others will reveal a picture or gif. You can see an example of this in action in my blog post about Using Google Slides with VIPKid.
  • Pick One: This is similar to FAS, but there are usually two options to choose from. The student chooses one and a picture, gif, or scene is revealed. Sometimes there are stars incorporated into these, and sometimes there are not.
  • Candyland: This is my favorite for my younger students who might not be comfortable making decisions in class. In Candyland, students “spin” the wheel and land on different colored spaces. Each space correlates to something related to the lesson, and then there’s a gif that’s related.
  • UA Maps: These are special rewards designed that align with the “maps” or gameboards in the lessons for Unit Assessments.

Option 3: Search by Lesson

Some people choose the reward based on the student, while others choose it as a way to extend upon the lesson. If you are looking for the latter, there’s a slightly different process to find your reward.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click “lessons.”
  2. Either scroll through the list or use the search bar to find the lesson you will be teaching.
  3. Click on the lesson.
  4. Click on “Extension Rewards.”
  5. Scroll through the list of recommended rewards for this lesson.

It’s important to note that not all of the possible rewards for a lesson will be listed. So if you don’t see one that suits your desired needs, try searching under “rewards” for the lesson number or keyword.

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student. I encourage you to play around in the app and try it out for yourself.

If you’re looking for more, be sure you come back for the rest of the series! Or you can always see it in action on YouTube as well!

In the next three issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  Until then – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

VIPKid Meetup – Goodie Bags

Tomorrow, I’m hosting my very first VIPKid meetup. If you aren’t sure what that is or why they are so awesome, read this first.

In addition to teachers having the chance to meet one another and have some fun, I hope that everyone who attends leaves with some fun, new ideas to try in class. That’s why I’m so excited about the goodie bags that I put together. (Stay tuned for my follow up post to see if other people were as excited as I am!) 🙂

If you are thinking about hosting a meetup of your own, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Oh, and VIPKid does have a reimbursement process (currently up to $100.) So if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s what I’ve included. (For each item, I’ve included where I purchased it, as well as a similar link on Amazon (because a. Who doesn’t love Amazon? and b. If you purchase using my affiliate link, I get a few cents. Win-Win!)

A cute, magnetic notepad. I got these from Michael’s for $1 each. They would be great for noting your students for the next day, planning out props, or just doodling! Try this 12-pack from Amazon for only $18.99!

Ice-Cream Cone or Fuzzy Pens. This was a Dollar Tree find. First, I bought all the ice cream pens they had. Then I came back and bought fuzzy pens for the rest. Either would be great for note-taking with your new note pad, and they can serve double duty as a prop for colors! Mine were $1.00 at Dollar Tree, but try these from Amazon ($5.99 for 6.)

Dice and Dice Games. This might be my favorite thing in the bags. (Well, one of my favorite.) I got the dice in a two-pack from the Dollar Tree, and each bag includes one. I printed off the games from vipkidresources.com. You can check them out in action and get the links in this post!

Flash Cards. I picked up 3 packs for $1.00 at the Dollar Tree. I don’t think you can match this online! But I found something still affordable at Amazon. Try these for $9.99 for a four-pack.

Novelty Pencil Sharpeners. The ones in my bags are fish, because they had them in a two-pack at Dollar Tree. BUT… had I done my research online, I would have ordered THESE! I actually have one of these from years ago that makes an AMAZING prop in the level 2 unit all about your face! Mine was a giveaway from a drug rep to a nurse, but I use it ALL THE TIME.

Door Hangers. This is my other favorite item. I actually purchased some pre-decorated “color-your-own” door hangers from Michaels, but these from Amazon are cuter, and a better deal (and would prevent the pre-painting step!) To make mine, I basically painted the wooden door-hangers, then used Mod Podge to make cute, VIPKid related images. I thought these would be super-helpful if you had young children at home that you were trying to teach boundaries.

Earbuds.  Ok. These are my last favorite item. Really. I purchased bulk headphones (in orange!) from TFD Supplies. I don’t have an affiliate link or anything, but they had amazing customer service, and their headphones are just $0.95 each (with a hard plastic case.) I added a self-print 2″ round sticker, and was done!

To top off the goodie bags, I threw in some extra candy that we had around the house from a Sam’s Club pack. Here’s a pack for $8.52 at Amazon. ($0.85 each!)

I got the bags at Michael’s in a baker’s dozen for $6.99 ($0.54 each!) plus tissue paper at Walmart for ten sheets for $0.98… ($0.10 each.) At Amazon, it would be $0.92 per bag and $0.49 per sheet of tissue paper.

Personalized Iron On Decals. It just so happens that one of the local area teachers does custom iron-on decals and sells them for $4.00 each ($8 with shipping.) I thought this was a great way to support a local teacher AND give away a fun item! (I’ve blocked out her number for privacy, but if you are interested in ordering from her, let me know in the comments and I can connect you!)

Of course, the VIPKid stickers and buttons were sent from VIPKid headquarters, along with other amazing swag to raffle off!

The total cost for my bags (per person) – ~$9.89

Total cost per bag using Amazon links – ~$14.29

Inspiration  – Priceless!

I really hope that my meetup guests enjoy receiving these bags as much as I enjoyed making them. If you have other suggestions for great giveaways, let me know in the comments! It’s never too early to start planning the next meetup!

meetup bag

Slidekick: Getting Started

This is the first post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

What is Slidekick?

Slidekick is an app that was developed to help VIPKid teachers find, organize, and use Google Slides in ESL classrooms.

Where can I get Slidekick?

It is not available in any app store, and it is not for sale.  You can only get it by being a member of the VIPKid teacher community, and the easiest way to connect is through Facebook.

Once you join the Facebook group, go to “Announcements” and check out the Slide Guide. There, you will find a link to download Slidekick (along with many other useful resources!)

The first time you download it on each device (phone, laptop, iPad, etc.) you will be asked to provide an email address.  You’ll be emailed a code that you need to input in order to proceed with the download. Occasionally, you’ll be prompted to get another code, but for the most part, I stay logged in without going through this additional step.

How much does Slidekick cost?

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Slidekick (and all VIPKid Google Slides) are free for use in the VIPKid classroom.

What can I do with Slidekick?

You’ll learn more about how to use Slidekick in the next four blog posts; however, here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store!

  • News and Updates from your Google Slides admin team.
  • About the VIPKid #GS Group – learn the history of this phenomenal group of people and resources!
  • Who’s Who in Google Slides: Find out who the admins, moderators, and editors are. Thank or tip them for their work in Google Slides.
  • #GS Admin Team: Meet the Sliders behind this group and find out more about these amazing individuals.
  • Create & Contribute: Find templates and resources to help you create your own Google Slides creations! Upload them right from the app!
  • Join Us! Join the Google Slides admin team for recorded and live training sessions!
  • Rewards: Search by category or topic for specific rewards to use in class.
  • Lessons: Search by lesson for props, extension rewards, feedback templates, and lesson notes!

You will NOT be able to display slides from within Slidekick. There are other options that are recommended (also in the Slide Guide!) for the options people use to display the slides.

In the next four issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 2: Rewards
  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you’d like to see a quick walk-through on screen, check out the accompanying YouTube video:

Slidekick – Episode 1

Slidekick 1 thumbnail

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  In the meantime – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

 

Classroom Dice Games

Next weekend, I’m hosting a VIPKid meetup. I’m so excited to meet other teachers in my area, and I want them to walk away with a little bit of inspiration.  So I have tried to put together some fun and creative things in their goodie bags that will help.

One of the things that I’m giving away at the meetup is a laminated packet of dice games that you can play in class, along with a super-cute die that I got at the Dollar Tree. (You guys – these came two in a pack for a dollar!) Here’s a similar, slightly smaller version available through my affiliate link at Amazon.com.

Why play a dice game in class?

First of all, it’s fun! These kids have long, hard days so I want to make their classes with me as fun as possible. Also, games can be an excellent form of extension in class. Here’s a short video I made to show how I would use this tool in action!

VIPKid Dice Games

What types of games do you play?

There is a wide variety of games you can play with a single die in class. I’ve tried to include some of my favorites.

  • Draw with me: Each time the student earns a reward, you (and maybe the student) get to draw a part of a picture. Based on what number you roll on the dice, that will determine how you should *try* to draw it. Note “try” is the key word. I’m not much of an artist, but that makes it even more fun!
  • Conversation starters: These can be great for older students in particular. You roll the dice, and you ask them a question, or they ask you a question!
  • Action games: These are excellent for younger, wigglier students. Each time they roll the dice, it will tell them a specific action to do. These can be customized to a specific lesson (Are they learning about farm animals? Act like a cow, horse, sheep, pig, etc.) Or they can be pure fun (dance party, high five, etc.)

Extension Ideas

I mentioned that these can be excellent forms of extension. At the simplest level, it gives your students experience counting. They can say the numbers or count the dots. If you are drawing, it can be a good opportunity to practice shapes. You can customize the games to be lesson-specific (and if you run out of ideas, there are plenty of others out on the Internet!) My favorite rewards are those that get the kids thinking about the lesson in new and different ways!

Where can I get these?

If you don’t happen to be coming to my meetup, don’t worry! You can download these yourself at https://www.vipkidresources.com/. This is an amazing site by Jennifer Anderson with a variety of props and rewards.

How can I customize this for other uses?

I would have loved to have used this type of game when I was a corporate trainer. I personally would have the game posted or written on the whiteboard at the beginning of class and set goals for the day. Each time we met one of our goals, I would draw part of the picture on an easel, and every student could draw on a large post it. For the dice, I probably would use something like these!

I hope you found this helpful. Have you tried this in your classroom? I’d love to hear how it went in the comments!

If you are new to VIPKid and would like some help getting started, I’d love to help with any questions you may have. Let me know how I can help you through the application process!

The Prop Report #3 – 6-in-1 Puzzles

“…they could have been looking at the VIPKid curriculum when they designed the puzzles!”

Introduction:

Welcome to the third installment of my series: The Prop Report. In this series, I plan to share my favorite props and rewards that I use in my ESL classroom. The link to the product is an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase the item through the link, I get a little bonus. For more info about this series of posts, you can read my overview and full disclaimers here.

The product:

6-in-1 Puzzle Sets

Manufacturer:

LQT Limited

Recommended for ESL classroom?

Yes (for lower levels!) These are perfect for VIPKid level 2

Recommended for hands on learning?

Yes! But only for younger kids. Since there are only 5 or 6 pieces per puzzle, they are too simple for older kids.

Pros:

I personally have the transportation puzzle. (That’s what you’ll see in my video below.) I love it because sometimes I teach a student several lessons in the same unit, but I can do different puzzles for variety! I love that they have fun animals and bright colors (both great extension tools.) When I purchased this, it was sold as a single puzzle. Now it’s part of a set of four, and I swear, they could have been looking at the VIPKid curriculum when they designed the puzzles!

  • transportation
  • farm animals
  • wild animals
  • aquatic animals

I can easily think of lessons for each of these!

These are very easy to use in the classroom because each piece is numbered on the back. I don’t really enjoy puzzles and I certainly don’t want to figure them out on the spot with my student, so I love that they come with a small cheat piece that shows what the puzzle should look like completed.

The puzzle pieces are thick and sturdy, and they show up well on camera.

Cons:

The way I choose to attach these to my whiteboard is by magnet. While it works, it can sometimes be a little bit clunky to connect the pieces. There might be a better way to use these (maybe thinner magnetic strips?) but as long as you are comfortable with the puzzles and familiar with your student, they work great!

See it in action:

You can see my unofficial product demo here: YouTube: Prop Report #3

In summary:

This prop set is a yes if you teach level 2 with VIPKid. They will provide great variety in your class and plenty of extension opportunities!

If you would like to purchase it, here’s my link on Amazon.com:

LQT Ltd Baby Wooden Toys Puzzles Jigsaw Puzzle Colorful Animal/Traffic/Ocean/Farm Puzzles 6 in one Box Educational Table Game Toddlers

 

For other issues of The Prop Report: