Before reading this post, make sure you’ve checked out Part 1: Gone Working as a VIPKID Teacher. That one will tell you the requirements for the job and walk you through the application and interview process.
You read it? Followed through on the application? Ok, cool. Now you’re hired and ready to start teaching! There’s just a few things I wished I would have known from day #1 so I’m here to ease your confusion and get you started on the right foot.
8 Things I wish I knew before I started teaching with VIPKID:
1. You won’t be booked solid at first
As a teacher, you’ll get stats (how many classes you teach, how many no-shows you have) and reviews from parents. Not all parents will even review you after the class though.
I’ve taught over 900 classes and have about 250 reviews, so don’t worry. When you first start, you’ll have zeros across the board. Some kids and parents won’t mind but others will wait until you have a bit of a reputation before giving you a try. It’s normal so don’t get down on yourself.
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2. Trial classes can get those stats up
Trial classes are classes for potential students. These kids wants to try out VIPKID but haven’t officially signed up yet. They’re given a trial class to assess their level and see if VIPKID is a right fit for them.
I still get booked for some of these but now teach far more major courses (regular classes) than trials. You’ll probably be the opposite and that’s great! You’ll get to get the hang of online teaching, grow your reputation, and plus, if one of those trial kids decides to sign up after your class, you’ll get a bonus $5.
Pro Tip: If it’s been a few weeks and you’re really struggling to get booked, reach out to VIPKID and ask them to send more trials your way.
3. Make your profile memorable
Your profile (and those stats and reviews I mentioned) are the only thing the parents and kids can see of you before booking a class. First, you’ll need to write a bio and upload a few pictures. Your bio should be written for the parents. Keep it professional, talk about your teaching history and your style in the classroom. Use simple sentences as some parents don’t understand English and will need to translate it. I’d suggest making your profile picture professional and use the other pictures to show more of your personality.
Lastly, you’ll need to make a short introduction video. Some teachers go all out with effects, music and multiple shooting locations. I didn’t. I stayed in my “classroom” with a homemade sock puppet, Pete. The video should be more for the student. I made mine silly so the kids would be excited to meet me but also spoke clearly and slowly so they could hopefully understand me.
Another tip, if you’re struggling with bookings is to rethink your profile. Maybe make a new video or update your bio. Something might not be translating well.
4. Open up all the classes you can
Like I said in Part 1, VIPKID has no minimum or maximum weekly or monthly hours per contract. You’re really left to do as you please after you’re hired. You worked your ass off in the interview and mock class to be left alone as a teacher. You won’t hear from VIPKID unless they have something exciting to share or you ask them for something.
You’ll make your schedule on a day-to-day basis based on what you’ve got going on in your life, just keeping in mind Beijing time zone. If your schedule allows it, open up as many hours as you can. Like I said, you won’t be booked for all them in the beginning but it will make your “newbie” phase end quicker. You can open up your classes months in advance but parents can only start to book you up to 2 weeks in advance.
When you open up classes you have 2 options: if you simply open it, this class can be booked up to 24 hours in advance of class time or you can open it and then tick “short notice.” Short notice means the student can book your class up to an hour before class time. This means your schedule is less predictable but I’d recommend it since anytime a class is booked within 24 hours, you receive an extra $2 per class.
5. VIPKID seriously goes where you do
Just make sure you have a stable internet connection and you’re ready to go. I’d also suggest you have headphones with a mic, a lamp to make sure the kids can see your smiling face and a colorful background (I recommend a sarong and tape to make a backdrop wherever you go).
If you don’t plan on traveling with VIPKID but instead will be doing it from your home, take some time to make your classroom colorful and cute. For a cheap backdrop, I use wrapping paper. Some kids might not remember your face but will probably remember something from your background if it’s unique and fun. I have a shark drawing hanging up and a lot of kids know me as the “shark teacher.” Could definitely be worse.
I've traveled around a lot with VIPKID but currently work from my home in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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6. Invest in some rewards and props
When I first started teaching, my only prop was a sock puppet I made for the mock class. Other than that, I’d use things around the house when possible. I also only had one simple reward system. I’d draw teeth on that shark I mentioned and have the kids count them. It was highly popular but after a few months I began to bore of it and so did my regular students. I was still only teaching when I needed some extra cash so I wasn’t interested in investing too much money or time into it. I messed around with drawing different things on my whiteboard in the meantime. Simple, yet effective.
When I was making the change to a more consistent teacher, I invested some time into making new reward systems. I also scanned the FB groups for other ideas and some props to print off. Having these available have made my classes more interesting for my students and myself. Plus, parents really like the extra effort and they’re the ones who book the classes.
7. There’s no prep needed with this job but you will need to write feedback
All classes you’ll teach are provided for you. It’s just like you did in the demo and mock class. The only thing you’ll have to do outside of the classroom is write a short feedback about the student’s performance. One part will go to the parent, another part will go to the student’s upcoming teachers and you have the option to call VIPKID’s attention to something if you’d like. There’s no template for this and was honestly something I stressed over in the beginning. So, I’ll help you out. Here’s the basic template I follow for new students:
“I was so happy to meet ----! He/She is a smart boy/girl with a bright future ahead of him/herself. Today we focused on ----. I introduced the new vocabulary words: ----. He/She did a great job listening to, identifying and repeating/reading the new words. He/She was able to do many of the activities on their own. (Or- He/She did a great job listening to the teacher. We were able to do the activities together.) **Add in here any personal things the student should work on or pay special attention to.** I hope to see ---- in my classroom again soon. I am always improving my teaching. Please leave any questions or comments in the feedback section. Your 5-Apple review is important to me. Great job today, ----!”
Pro tip: The updated VIPKID interface allows you to write feedback during class. Click the feedback button on the top right of the classroom. The feedback now accommodates itself on the right hand side (over the chat box) so it doesn't cover the classroom. It's perfect for us multi-taskers!
8. The most boring for last- TAXES!
This is something I didn’t pay much attention to when signing up but is nice to know upfront. The following is for U.S. teachers as I’m not sure how similar or different Canadian taxes are.
With VIPKID, you won’t receive a W-2, you’ll receive a 1099. This is the tax form for small business owners. There is a lot of information about filling this kind of tax form out and even some free online programs so it’s not a big deal. It just caught me off guard my first year.
With a 1099, you can deduct any business expenses you’ve accrued throughout the year. You’ll want to keep track of your spending to be able to write it off during tax season. Anything you buy for VIPKID (a headset, a lamp, props, a background) can be deducted. Even part of your rent if you have a designated teaching area. Just check with an accountant to confirm what can and cannot be deducted. And keep your receipts!
Now, you're ready to get started on the right foot. Open those classes, teach those kids and make all the bonus cash you can!
Hey you! Read all this but haven't signed up yet? Get to it!