VIPKid: 3 Things I Stopped Doing and 3 Great Habits to Continue in the Classroom

Hello reader! If you are a VIPKID teacher, I hope you find this article helpful. If you are thinking about becoming a VIPKID teacher, I hope this gives you some tips for your interview and application process! Please comment if you have any additional questions.

3 Things I Stopped Doing for Class

After 525 classes, I have developed some routine and have downsized my props usage, preparation time, and stress! Here is what I have STOPPED doing and it has made a huge difference.

Printing and Laminating or Buying Toys

There are many great printable resources and whole databases with printable VIPKID characters. I would say print and laminate Mike and Meg for use during Unit Assessments, and maybe other staple objects or characters…but that’s really it. I have printed and laminated ALL the characters, but once I switched to using Google Slide Props, all that work kind of became obsolete.

prop example
My student had a flag when we were learning vocabulary words “flag, stripes” and “stars”. This sweetheart is a dream to teach!

I made some pretty nice rewards, but the fact it, once I began getting regular bookings it was just too much for me to reset the reward before class, and not every kid is sold on Drawing rewards. Granted, some really love “Guess what teacher is drawing”.

Instead, I now mostly use Google Slide rewards and lesson props and show them in ManyCam. Which, by the way, is amazing. The VIPKID Google Slides Group is full of teachers creating and sharing slides in a Drive folder. You can easily make your own if one hasn’t already been made to your liking. If you go down the ManyCam road, you can also easily show GIFs that can portray an action a lot more easily than you can do with TPR alone. Much more on that to come, but I have definitely NOT made anything paper or bought a new prop.  Needless to say, if one of the kids in my home has a toy I could use for class, I use it, but I don’t go buying more for specific lessons.

Over-the-top TPR

Just to clarify, I am not saying that I don’t use TPR. I am just saying that I don’t act a fool, haha. One of my teaching tags is “Low-Key”. Que my spirit animal: loki

Anyway, Low-Key is not a bad thing. It just means I am pretty chill, but in a more professional way. I tend to attract students who get frightened by the psycho American that’s bouncing up and down, or who need a level-headed mom glare to get them to listen. When I stopped trying to be interesting and started just being myself, I was interesting enough. Yes, I use TPR to portray meaning and elicit response, but I do not try to act super crazy because, at the end of the day, it isn’t me.

That being said, I do have a couple students who enjoy a crazy moment every now and then, but who doesn’t?

Writing Notes for Each Class

Don’t get me wring, I write notes. But you can only teach “This is a horse” so many ways. I look through the lessons before I teach, but after having taught some of them multiple times, it’s really pointless for me to write down the same thing I have already written before. Instead, I focus more on past notes from other teachers and pay attention to the age of the student. I try to find or make an engaging reward that either pertains to the lesson or to the students interest. If another teacher has noted “Bao Bao told me about his football game” I might get a soccer reward together. Or, if I am teaching an animal lesson, I might find some fun GIF’s of the animals we are learning.

I do write notes for upper level classes because I am new to  teacher level 4 and 5. Some of the math concepts I a lot more complicating that teaching a 6 year old ESL student “5+5=10”. There are long word problems with multiplication and division. No winging it or waiting until an hour before class to prepare–I actually have to write out and do the math and practice how I am going to word the lesson. The students typically know the math as itself and I am just there to teach them how to say the math they already know, just in another language. That being said, I do have a couple students who HATE math and really don’t understand the word problems. If they struggle with the math in general, it will be just as hard to teach math in a language they are not yet fluent in. Luck favors the prepared!

3 Great Habits I Will Continue

While there are many things I have stopped doing, some things I replaced with more efficient methods and others I have done from the beginning. Here are those Top 3 Habits I will continue to do as a VIPKID teacher.

Check Settings Every. Single. Day

ManyCam stopped showing in the classroom via Google Chrome
ManyCam working just fin in the PC App

As soon as you get booked for a class, you can enter the classroom to check your settings 24 hours before you teach. Just a few days ago I noticed something strange: my camera said it was working but there was no picture. This was out of the blue, and it worked just fine the day before! I contacted the fireman who gave me all sorts of things to do in attempt to fix it, but to no avail.  Ultimately had to reinstall ManyCam and my Logitech software and start over. Of course, that all took to long to do during class and I received a Teacher IT finish type. Since then, I have been using the PC App with no issues. VIPKID still thinks the problem was on my end, but my camera still will not open in Chrome. Nothing I can do about it now, but I will continue to check settings in each classroom. This was the first and only issue I have had in more that 500 classes, so it hasn’t hurt me at all. The student that experienced my teacher IT has since booked me per her usual schedule.

Leave Detailed Original Feedback

If you’ve been teaching with VIPKID for any amount of time, you have probably heard about a few different feedback generators and databases of feedback where you simply swap out the template with your students name. Sometimes, your feedback will be extremely similar to past comments you’ve made. Same lesson, same corrections, different student. I always make sure to leave a comment about something that specifically happened in our class that will absolutely prove my feedback was not copied from someone elses. Things like “Bao Bao showed me his favorite Lego set today!” or “Bao Bao was able to use the new sentence pattern to tell me about her favorite subject, Art.” Or if something particularly memorable happened “We laughed so much when…” The idea is to be meaningful and show that you really care.

I also a give something to work on that is not in the list of vocabulary or objectives (another thing easily copied and pasted). For example, in Level 2, Unit 12 we learn about the USA and Britain. It is not required to teach Buckingham Palace in the Interactive lessons, but when I teach it I will definitely mention that we tried those words in feedback. Also, if we are learning about, say, basketball and ping-pong but my little girly girl student is so bored, I will teach an additional word like “drawing” or “princess”. So we learn on the slide “I play basketball with my friends” I will note in feedback that we also practiced “I play princesses with my friends.”

Get personal. It makes a huge difference!

Hold the Last Star Hostage

This one is simple. The kids expect 5 stars each class because they get to spend their stars on things. While most students are very well behaved and well mannered, there is a good handful that well straight up log out as soon as you grant that 5th star. They say “Okay, bye teacher!” and they are GONE. I hold onto that last star and grant it on the “Goodbye” slide and review what they did well on that day with a shower of praises. Stars and a secondary reward system are for class management! Not just for fun, so use it to your advantage.

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