It’s a new year and I have a new JOB, so I’d say my 2018 is off to a wonderful start. A little before Christmas, I officially signed my contract to teach with VIP Kid. VIP Kid is a company that provides an international learning experience for kids in China between the ages of 4-12 years old. The curriculum is designed to align with the U.S. Common Core State Standards and gives the kids an enlightening and fun experiencing that fosters both creativity and critical thinking skills while making learning English fun. To teach, all you need is a bachelor’s degree in any field and some experience working with children in some capacity. As a VIP Kid teacher, it is my job to utilize their curriculum to teach kids English through live video sessions designed to allow them to interact with a native English speaker. Each one-on-one class is 25 minutes and teachers are paid between $14-22 per hour depending on their work experience and interview score.
Starting out as a VIP Kid teacher looks different for everyone as no one’s experience is exactly the same. I was lucky in that my interview process was quick and painless (and I’ll be sharing tips for those of you who are looking to apply in an upcoming post), so there wasn’t much time between when I submitted my application and when I signed my contact. After being hired, there are a few things that new teachers should expect during their first few weeks that I have experienced first hand:
If you’re anything like me, once you’re hired, you’ll spend hours on end searching the VIP Kid oriented Facebook groups for tips and tricks from the pros. There are a lot of great groups out there filled with awesome freebies that you can use as in your own classes, as well as veteran teachers who have a wealth of wisdom to share. Expect to spend a lot of time searching for answers to questions that might arise and reading about what works for other teachers. All these groups are invaluable, but here are a few of my favorites: VIP Kid Newbie Support (this will be your go-to group to get all of your questions answered), VIP Kid Props and Reward Systems (in this group, they share a plethora for free printable props and reward systems that you can access to use in your own classroom), VIP Kid Teachers of Color (if you’re a person of color, you may have a different experience than other teachers – this is a great group), VIP Kid WAGS (this group is specifically for those of us that are wives and girlfriends of professional athletes. It seriously is the perfect job for us and we bounce ideas off of each other here).
I’m a prop addict and I’m not afraid to admit it! In your first few weeks as an online ESL teacher, prepare yourself to spend more money (and time) on props than you probably should. Literally anytime I would see anything that I thought would make teaching easier either while I was out and about or while surfing the web, I got it! This included puppets, flashcards, and things that I could use to reward the kiddos for their hardwork. Although it may seem excessive (and if you’re trying to be practical, you don’t 100% need a lot of the stuff), the truth is, I have used most of my props during the first few weeks I’ve been teaching. Props make teaching easier, plus, they definitely make the classroom more fun and interactive. I would recommend checking the Facebook groups for things that you can print out for free before investing in stuff, because there is a lot of great stuff there. A laminator and a printer that’s good on ink will be your absolute best friends! Teachers Pay Teachers, Target, Dollar Tree, and your local educational stores are also God sends for props.
The Waiting Game
Ok…. so now for the kicker… Most of us don’t have the luxury of getting booked for classes right away once we’re hired by VIP Kid. Expect to wait anywhere from 48 hours to 4 weeks before you are booked to teach your first class. I taught my first class 9 days after I was hired, but, unfortunately, I know a lot of people who have waited much much longer. A lot of factors impact how soon teachers are booked for their first class, including the pictures, video, and bio they post on their profiles, and which levels they are approved to teach right away. My advice is to take advantage of the time you have to prepare before you actually start teaching. Attend the virtual workshops that VIP Kid offers and review the curriculum so that you are ready when the time comes (and trust me, it will come). Also, SLEEP! Once you’re hired, your sleep schedule won’t be the same (more on this below), so count as many sheep as you possibly can.
Getting Adjusted to Scheduling
The first thing that you’ll probably notice once you are hired by VIP Kid and go onto the booking page to set your availability is that you have to wake up early/stay up late if you want to teach a lot of classes. For the most part, if you want to take advantage of the busiest times, you can expect to teach from 5am-9am on weekdays and literally all night on weekends (I pulled my first all-nighter since college on my second week as a teacher) . You’ll want to make yourself familiar with the booking page because it’s crucial that you understand what’s what so that you can a) get booked and b) not miss any of your scheduled classes. There are peak times designated in orange, during which you’re likely to get booked, and peak peak times, designated in a darker orange, during which you’re VERY likely to get booked. Normally, all classes must be booked by parents 24 hours in advance, UNLESS you check the 24 hour button, which allows parents to book you up until 1 hour before the class start time. Pay close attention to your schedule because you will not be notified once you’re booked. It’s your job to check and stay abreast on your schedule. It took me about 2 weeks to adjust to getting up at the crack of dawn, so expect to be sleepy and need a lot of caffeine at first.
I guarantee you, you will jump for joy when you log on to the VIP Kid portal and find that you have FINALLY been booked for a class. Then, as soon as you’re done celebrating, the nervousness will set in and you’ll wonder if you’re cut out for the job. If you were hired, I guarantee you, YOU ARE! To combat the nervousness, you’ll want to spend some time preparing for your first few classes. Take a look at the student info tab so you know the gender and age of the child you will be teaching. You can also find some information about the student from his or her past teachers here. You will also want to review the material and maybe even practice slide by slide. Make sure that you have any props that you need and that everything is easily accessible during class. By the time I taught my third class, the nervousness started to subside and I finally felt myself getting into a rhythm. Teaching started to feel natural. While I still prepare for each class, my preparation time is now a fraction of what it first was. What works really well for me is to setup a cookie sheet for each child I’m teaching (especially if I have back to back classes) that includes any props I’ll be using for his or her lesson and a few notes of things I need to remember to teach. My advice to you for not only your first classes, but all of your classes going forward, is to always put your best foot forward. You never know whose child you might be teaching and parents can leave you feedback and ratings which are public to other parents. Getting good ratings will make it more likely that you will continue to get new students, who will hopefully turn into regulars.
If you have not yet applied to teach with VIP Kid and would like to, pleas use my unique referral code, 06E3OH, when you apply. I am happy to help any of my referrals to prepare for and rock the interview process and would love to answer any questions you may have! Feel free to reach out to me by clicking here. Happy Teaching!