This post is a little past due, but that’s okay because I’m still happy to share it. In October, I celebrated my one-year anniversary teaching ESL online with VIPKID. Yippee! If you are unfamiliar with VIPKID, feel free to check out my other posts on teaching with them here.
VIPKID continues to be such a blessing to my family. It’s a job that has enabled me to teach from home, on a schedule that works for me, and it’s been a great way to bring in some extra income with our growing family. (Yep, we’re expecting another addition this March!)
I’ve found the VIPKID community of teachers and staff to be supportive and encouraging this past year. VIPKID actually listens to the teachers, and they’re adapting and willing to make changes in the teaching and learning environment for the best experience possible.
The company is only four years old, but I’m honestly awestruck with the communication from staff and the transparency that they provide. Of course, there have been bumps in the road. But, I’m still very pleased with how VIPKID continues to work with and make teaching online an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
In this past year, I’ve learned so much. From my experiences, I’ve learned that it’s important to change and adapt as a teacher in the online classroom and also to stay involved and active in the teaching community- whether online or in person.
Below are some specifics that I’ve taken away from this past year of teaching online with VIPKID.
I’m on my third contract with VIPKID, and it may sound weird to some, but yes, I still sign up for workshops occasionally. There’s always something to learn or get refreshed on, and hey, if part of the workshop is repetitive, you can always start on that pile of dishes, mute your microphone, and listen along rather than actively participate.
If you’re unfamiliar with the workshops that VIPKID provide, please note that after you start as a teacher, there are many online workshops that allow you to grow in different areas. The workshops range from leaving strong feedback for students, to how to keep students engaged, to the stay-at-home parent’s guide to VIPKID. I highly recommend them.
The workshops are usually run by current VIPKID teachers and/or mentors who have a degree in teaching ESL or a strong background experience in the topic being discussed. The online workshops are always changing, and the instructors do a great job keeping the environment interactive so that teachers can ask questions, follow along, and even participate in activities.
I recently took a workshop on writing feedback. And yes, I feel confident in writing my feedback to students, but with recent changes made to how it’s done, I wanted to make sure I was approaching the feedback correctly. Most of the workshop was review, but there was also material I took away from it that I wasn’t already familiar with.
I think it also helps when veteran teachers attend workshops because they can assist in answering questions in the chat box that the instructor may not get to, or they may be able to expand on a topic brought up by the instructor. Most instructors are very accommodating and supportive of feedback and discussion from the teachers throughout the workshop prese
After teaching several months in a row, you may start to notice that those same old reward systems and props are starting to bore you (and maybe your students, too- yikes!). Or, maybe you feel that your classroom needs some pizzazz. Don’t be afraid to change things up. I’ve found that changing my classroom with the seasons helps me to stay motivated.
Teaching in a re-decorated classroom, even if it’s just small changes, can really enhance the atmosphere in the classroom and get you excited to teach for that day. It can also be a conversation starter with your student when he or she notices the changes. I often re-decorate for holidays, so it gives me the opportunity to share what holidays are coming up in the U.S., and we can also extend the conversation into what holidays may be coming up in China.
Props and reward systems can also be a little tricky. A lot of my “go-to” props and rewards, I’ve never gotten rid of, but I think it’s always important to go through and refresh my props every now and then. This often involves me going through my son’s toys to see if there’s anything that can be brought into the classroom or hitting up the dollar store. I rarely spend money on my props and rewards, just because there’s always toys lying around my house, and it’s easy to get creative with some reward systems.
There are many ways to do this- whether it’s through VIPKID’S online platform, The Hutong, or Facebook, or even attending local meet-ups. I think keeping community is important, especially for those teaching in an online setting because it allows us to share, exchange, and have a voice in our teaching and online learning experience.
This past summer, I had the pleasure and privilege of hosting a meet-up within my state. It was a great way to get to know other VIPKID teachers, and we were able to exchange ideas and information so that we could stay in touch well after the meet-up. This particular meet-up was simply a meet-and-greet, but there are many types of meet-ups that are often set-up and hosted by fellow VIPKID teachers. Some of those meet-ups have included prop swaps, teacher workshops, family events, or have involved hosting guest speakers.
All-in-all, the online community, and in-face meet-ups have provided a way to stay connected in this line of work that could feel isolating. VIPKID does a great job setting up an online teacher community with The Hutong.
The Hutong (meaning a narrow alleyway that connects communities) allows teachers to exchange ideas, earn points, and voice opinions on the discussion boards. Points can be exchanged for various prizes such as a plush Dino (the VIPKID mascot), clothing items, or even a flight and ticket to certain events. It’s not required that teachers participate in the discussions, but the prizes are an incentive for contributing to it. The Hutong also provides access to the weekly updates. These allow teachers to stay in the loop on incentives, workshops, and changes within the teaching portal. I’m a huge fan of communication, so this is something I always stay on top of reading to stay informed.
Now that I’m on my third contract, I’m in awe of how much VIPKID has changed and yet they still are committed to letting the teachers know they are a valued part of the operation. I’m excited to see where things will go in this next year.
LingoBus, a company operated by VIPKID, was newly launched this past year as well. LingoBus has hired native Chinese speakers to teach their language to children in English speaking countries. I think this is just the start for this company. I can see it going much further with other nations and other languages, which is great!
I’m proud to be a teacher with VIPKID, and I’m thankful to say that I still love this job.
Feel free to check out my previous blog posts here.
I’d be thrilled if you found this information helpful and would like to apply to VIPKID through my link. There is a small incentive, so I appreicate your willingness to use my specific link. Thank you!
Also, feel free to check out my YouTube Channel. It has not been updated since earlier this year, but you’re welcome to come see what my classroom has looked like in the past.