Attending a VIPKid Meetup

There’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone!

VIPKid has been one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done. And they pay me for it! But let’s face it, people just don’t understand it!  How many times have we heard:

  • Wait, do you speak Chinese?
  • You do it on your computer?
  • You sound like you’re talking to your students again…
  • That better not be another picture of a cute kid!

Even those who are most supportive of us just don’t understand what it’s like to form these bonds with students and their parents across the globe.

Because our students are not in a brick and mortar school, we can’t just pop into the teacher’s lounge when we want to talk to someone.  So where do you go for support, help, or collaboration?

Many of us turn to online communities, which are GREAT.  (I’ll list some of my favorites in an upcoming blog post.) But there’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone.

Fortunately, VIPKid realizes this and encourages teachers to participate in local meetups!

What is a meetup?

Straight from the VIPKid suport center, “Meetups are a great way for teachers to gather and share their ideas or teaching experience with one another. Attending one can not only improve your daily routine, but the useful tips and getting to know other teachers will certainly provide a boost to your teaching business that only require a positive outlook and basic social skills!”

How can you find a meetup near you?

VIPKid lists all meetups on their community events page. You can search by city/state or zip code to find a meetup in your area.

What can you do at a meetup?

Anything you want! In all seriousness, every meet up is different. Meetups are hosted by VIPKid teachers, and so they will be different based on personality, location, time of year, and attendees.  I have been to two meetups, and both were fun but very different.

My first meetup was hosted by Teacher Beth. It was hosted at a Mexican restaurant and we ate dinner. The atmosphere was informal, and it gave teachers (and a few prospective teachers) a chance to talk to one another, get to know each other, and share stories about their classes. Of course, there was a swag giveaway, and I won my first Dino!

My second meetup was just this month and hosted by Teacher Kimberly. This one was in a private room at a coffee shop. A few of the same teachers were there, but many new ones. This one included an icebreaker, plus some targeted discussions about tips for new teachers, the Teacher App, the application process, recruiting, and even a demo of Google Slides. Kimberly had made goody bags for all attendees, and –  you guessed it – there was swag! (This time I won a cute dragon Dino and a Dino-topped pencil!)

Both of the meetups resulted in new, local friendships and a lot of fun.

A few common themes that I’ve seen before include:

  • Prop Swaps: Teachers can bring extra or gently used props they no longer need and trade with others. It’s a great way to get new ideas for props or re-home some of your own!
  • Crafting or Painting Parties: These are fun, and they can serve double duty as classroom decorations after you’re finished.
  • Escape Rooms: I’m planning my first meetup in August, and it will include an escape room. Why? Because they are super fun! It’s also a good chance to work together and teambuild.
  • Meals: Of course, we all have to eat. Why not grab a bite and swap stories at the same time?
  • Family Fun: Theme parks, picnics, bowling, and parks can all make for a family-friendly day where everyone can have fun. Not only can teachers have fun sharing stories, but their kids can commiserate about mom or dad stealing their toys as props, and spouses can share their favorite (or least favorite) VIPKid tales too!
  • Festivals, Museums, or Tours: We all enjoy learning about other cultures. Often, teachers will get together for local Chinese festivals or others. It’s a great chance to learn and have fun with your fellow teachers.

Really, the sky is the limit. The goal is to have fun and enjoy spending time with your fellow teachers (and of course, get some cool new VIPKid swag.)

Can prospective teachers attend a VIPKid meetup?

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that they are designed for existing teachers, so if you are interested in an actual recruiting event or something that is designed for prospective teachers, Coaching Days might be more appropriate.

Like I mentioned, I will be hosting my first meetup in August, so I’d love any tips and tricks. I’ll be sure to blog about it along the way. And if you’re local, I’d love to see you there!

Happy teaching (and meeting!)

dino dragon 2

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The Virtual Water Cooler: Staying Social While Working from Home

Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes.

If you follow my blog or know me personally, you know that I love working from home. I’ve written about The Five Secrets to Working From Home, and I apply them every day since I work from home for my main job in customer service and also my side hustle teaching English online.

However, working remotely, especially if you do “shift work” in early or late hours, can be very lonely. If you live by yourself, it’s easy to go days without ever seeing someone else. In my case, I live with my husband and one of my sons. If my husband is traveling for work, it’s not uncommon for my son to leave for school or work while I’m teaching in the morning, and come back after I go to bed at night.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to result in isolation or lonliness. I have three easy suggestions for how to stay connected socially in a work-from-home environment.

Meet up.

With VIPKid, teachers organize local meetups. There is a page posted in VIPKid’s online community where you can search for local meetups, or you can host your own. Many companies do the same, hosting Friday afternoon happy hours where remote employees can come together to bond. This is my #1 tip because there is nothing quite like face-to-face time with your colleagues. They understand what you deal with on a day-to-day basis and can relate to you better than most people. If your company doesn’t offer something like this, start it yourself! Perhaps you are the only employee in your area, so this isn’t possible. If so, check out meetup.com. It’s totally free, and when I signed on today, two different networking events related to my industry immediately popped up. You could also look for other types of clubs to participate in after hours. I am a big fan of Toastmasters International. It allows you to improve your public speaking and leadership skills while networking on a local, regional, state, or even national level.

Host a virtual lunch date.

If you can’t meet up face-to-face, you can still introduce some social time in your schedule. Do you get a lunch break? Have lunch with a friend over video! If you don’t want to eat on camera (I get it.) Schedule a 5:00 Friday video call. Work talk is banned. I did this with two of my closest friends from work. We scheduled it on our calendars as though it were a “real” meeting, and we caught up on our families and lives.  It was so much fun, and it was a great way to start our weekend. Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes. It’s important to nurture those relationships, even if we have to be creative to do so. If your company doesn’t provide video conferencing like OfficeSuite, Microsoft Teams, or Skype, check out a free software like Zoom and do it yourself!

Connect online.

My honors project for my degree in communications was predicting how the internet was going to change our tried and true communications models. At the time that I wrote it, we really had no idea just how much they would really change. (For perspective, this was pre-Facebook, pre-Linked In, and yes… pre-MySpace. I’m old.)

Today, there are so many ways to connect virtually. You can pick one based on your own personal communication style:

  • Linked In: This is my top choice for professional relationships. Not only can you “post” and share updates with one another, but you can blog, do recommendations, and join groups based on your interests.
  • Facebook: There are so many options on Facebook, and I bet you can find a group to fit any circumstances! I am a member of at least six different VIPKid groups and have even created my own (Amelia VIPKid – Teacher Central).
  • Twitter: My oldest son is a man of few words, so the idea of short and sweet messages has always appealed to him.
  • Instagram: If you are more visual in nature, Instagram is a great way to connect with photos and videos. It’s especially easy to connect if you use hashtags to target your audience and follow others.
  • Pinterest: It’s not just for crafters! You can find an almost addictive amount of ideas all neatly organized by enterprise on Pinterest.
  • You Tube: This is a favorite platform of many VIPKid teachers. It’s not my favorite because I don’t love how I come across in videos. But some people love it!
  • Snapchat: Yes, I’ll confess. I enjoy Snapchat. I don’t use it much but I get a kick out of the different filters. If you are a creative type, this can be a good way to bond and/or create content that your fellow co-workers can enjoy.

Ultimately, you need to find a method or a platform that works for you. Working remotely, it might take some intentional efforts to stay connected socially, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it.

Have you found other ways to stay connected while working from home? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Are you hoping to break into the “work from home” world? Let me know how I can help. VIPKid is always hiring and I would be happy to assist!