Good Job Teacher

I recently had an amazing teaching moment at VIPKID.  It was one of those moments that remind you what teaching is all about.  The class didn’t start so well.  Just as class started, my little four year old student spilled his bottle of water.  I’m not sure exactly what was said, but I heard adult Chinese voices in frenzy.  I’m assuming the conversation was something along the lines of:  “Move the iPad!  Don’t let it get wet!  Don’t you know you can’t have water near the iPad?!”  Either way, within just a few short seconds, my student was quietly sobbing and not ready to start class.

My immediate reaction would be to hug him and tell him it’s okay.  But, how can I do that from the other side of the world when his English is very limited?!  I did tell him it’s okay in the most soothing voice I could.  Then Dino came in and said hi, (this student usually loves to see Dino).  He was still very sad.  I played around with the AR stickers for about a minute.  After a couple, I asked, “are you ready?” He shook his head no.  So, we played with a few more stickers (he did really like the panda on his head).  The next time I asked, “are you ready?”  He gave a tiny hint of a smile and nodded.

Class proceeded as usual (of course it was an assessment).  But my student was well prepared.  He knew all the vocabulary being assessed as well as other vocabulary.  He did a great job and even wrote letters and a couple of simple words for me.  At the end of class, he switched roles and started asking me questions about the words.  “What is this teacher?”

Time was up and we sang the goodbye song.  Then he did the most adorable thing ever.  He started repeating “good job teacher” and showing me two thumbs up.  When I reminded him to do his homework, he cheered!  Knowing that he went from a silent sob at the beginning of class to cheering me up in less than 25 minutes is amazing.  I will admit, I got into the files and make a video of his gesture.  From now on, when I’m feeling a bit down, I’m going to watch this precious little boy from the other side of the world tell me “good job teacher”!

New Flashcards on TPT Store!

I have a whole new selection of flashcards available on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  I created these cards from a necessity for my ESL classes at VIPKID.  I had bought some cards at the Target Dollar Spot, but they weren’t quite what I wanted.  So, I made my own.  They were perfect to use in my bilingual classroom as well.

I made cards for shapes, numbers, and colors and they are available in English, Spanish, or a bilingual bundle.  Several more sets are in the making, keep watching my store for more updates.

These flash cards are great to use if your student got through the material early and you need to review vocabulary or even teach new words.  You can easily cover up the word on the bottom for a quiz style review.  The cards are larger in size so they show up well on the screen or can be seen across the classroom.  They are also great for learning centers.

Teaching Spanish at PandaTree

As much as I love teaching English as a Second Language online, I also love teaching Spanish.  I found a company that hires teachers to teach Spanish and Mandarin online… PandaTree.  I filled out the online application and sent in my resume.  Within a day, I had a response and a request for an interview.

First, I will let you know that there weren’t many available times for interviews.  Unline VIPKID that has constant availability for interviews, the interviews were mostly limited to weekends.  Also, I made a mistake.  I did not put my time with VIPKID on my resume.  I later found out this was a pretty big mistake (I’ll explain in a bit).

The interview was scheduled with Zoom…which I’m not a big fan of.  For some reason, I always have to take a few extra steps for my computer to connect with Zoom.  I was there in plenty of time and met the interviewer, Carlos.  First off, he noticed my VIPKID friendly classroom setting and we discovered my omission.

PandaTree does not hire independent contractors.  PandaTree hires part-time employees.  They require that you do not teach children online with any other company.  This was a deal-breaker for me (and for them).  They work much like VIPKID in that parents book you for classes, and there is no guarantee for a full schedule.  Even at that, they only hire “part-time” which means I would be limited on how many classes I could teach.  Therefore, after a pleasant discussion I know that PandaTree is not the right company for me with this structure.

I do highly appreciate the time I was able to chat with Carlos.  I learned a lot about his company and online teaching in general.  He was very supportive and wished me the best.  While this company is not going to work for me, I do know several friends who are native Spanish-speakers that are not interested in teaching ESL classes or do not meet the requirements that this might be a perfect fit.

So, if you are a native Spanish speaker (or Mandarin) and would like to teach online, this might be a good possibility.  If you need more information, you can always drop me a message or visit the company website directly.

My VIPKID Adventure

After giving my resignation at my public school teaching job, I have been really trying to figure out what I’m going to do now.  At the moment, I am extremely burnt out of the public school situation and I really think I need at least a year off to get some of my energy back.  Thankfully, I am in a position financially where I can explore other options.  (And since I’m in Texas and hold my bilingual certificate, I’m sure that if I need to go back to school, I can find a suitable position.)

One of those options I’m exploring is teaching ESL online.  The first company I interviewed with was VIPKID (besides, their ads had been all over my Facebook for the last several years).  I had looked at this company a while back, but since I’m not really a morning person, I didn’t really think about it too seriously.  After watching a few YouTube videos of people who have made this their full-time job, I decided to look into it further.

On March 16, I sent in my initial application (a simple web form) and scheduled my initial interview on March 17.  I was accepted and began practicing for my certifications and uploading the required documentation.  On March 21, I had my first Mock Class for levels 2 and 3 (which I passed), and I took and passed my levels 4 and 5 on March 22.  As soon as I was eligible, I took the TESOL certifications even though I have my ESL endorsement from Texas and the Trial Class Certification and the Level 1 certification.  (Did I mention I’m a bit of an overachiever?)

My first class was on March 28.  Just a week after my first certification.  The first couple of weeks, things were pretty slow, but I changed my profile picture to a more fun picture and it seemed like the bookings began to flood in.

Now, on May 4, I have taught 44 classes and should receive my first paycheck any day.  I have not opened my schedule up as much as I would like to.  I’m still teaching first grade and it’s our crazy time of the year, so I do not teach more than two classes in the morning (and only on some mornings).  I was able to take advantage of some “participation bonuses” in April that made my check a little nicer, but so far I cannot open my schedule as much in May due to my work commitments at the brick and mortar school.

Overall, I am VERY happy with VIPKID.  I have only had a couple of students that did not leave me breathing a sigh of relief at the end of the class.  Most of the students have been very well prepared, polite, and just a delight to work with.  I don’t know how many times I have said this month, “this is what teaching is supposed to be about”.

If you hold a Bachelor’s degree and experience with children, maybe you want to check out this great source of income.  I will be writing more about VIPKID and other online ESL companies.  If you have any questions or comments please let me know.  If you want to sign up for VIPKID, click here and make sure to send me an e-mail.  I’ll be happy to help you through the process.

Teachers Pay Teachers Store is now LIVE

Today marks the birthday of our Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  Come celebrate with us and download our free product:  Spelling Test Paper – Hoja Para Examen de Ortografia

I have used these test sheets in my classroom all year when we do spelling tests.  It makes it much easier to read and it doesn’t waste a full sheet of paper since I can get two tests on one full sheet (I just slice the paper down the middle).  This especially helps the younger students use the handwriting lines.  This will be included in our Spelling unit that will be released soon.

Please download this and leave feedback.  Every comment helps as we are just getting started.  Also, mark us as a favorite seller.  That helps too.

 

The “WHY” of My Bilingual Life

This project has been simmering in my brain for quite some time.  For several years now, I have wanted to put my resources up on Teachers Pay Teachers to share with others.  I don’t know why, but life kept getting in the way.  These last few months, I have been really disillusioned with the public school system and am ready to do something different.  I have been teaching ESL online and love that, but I figured maybe now is the time to start putting these resources out.

Next week, the other first grade teachers are planning to do a Mother’s Day Tea.  Last year, I bowed out because I was swamped with everything else going on.  (Did I mention next week is also our final Math Benchmark window?)  I had planned on skipping this again this year, but I was “asked” to participate.  I don’t have any problem doing this for the moms in my class, they are amazing.  The problem is that the first-grade teachers found a beautiful project on TPT that has everything ready to go, you just have to print it up.  So, what’s the problem with that?  It is not in Spanish, and it is only editable to a small extent!  Which means one of a couple of things.  One, I can send it home in English and know that some of the moms will not be able to read it.  Or, I can translate it and come up with my own version.

Now, let me tell you.  This “invitation” to the party is beautiful.  It has pretty colored flowers and the text is several fonts with different colors to match the flowers.  It’s a really well-made product on Teachers Pay Teachers (I’m sorry I don’t have the name of the creator…I did not purchase the product, because after looking at the one my teammate had bought, I realized that it would not be editable).  Then comes the biggest part of the problem.  I was shown a copy during our conference period and I had to send the invitation that afternoon!

So what did I do?  I printed up a quick “title” for an invitation and a sheet with all the details the parents would need.  Rather than printing a beautiful color invitation, I had the students make cards for their moms using the title and details I printed along with their imagination.  I know the mothers will love the cards their babies made, but when I see the invitation the “English-speaking” first-grade class sent home and our version, I’m just sad.  I want our bilingual students to have the invitations with the pretty colored flowers on it.  I want bilingual teachers to have plenty of options to choose from when they search TPT for lessons.

I know I can’t do it all, but I can at least add a few more quality products to the mix.  I did a search on First-grade lessons for plants.  There are 12,635 resources available as of right now using the search term “plant” and selecting 1st grade.  The search term “plants Spanish” brings back 407 results and “plantas” gives 189.  That’s a huge difference!  Also, the quality of the products in Spanish is not the same.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are some amazing sellers that offer products in Spanish, but the majority of them seem to not pay much attention to the “cute” and aesthetic qualities of the product. Trust me I get it….they are probably just trying to get something done for their class and decided to share it.

So, that is my “why”.  I’m opening this store on Teachers Pay Teacher to offer products to bilingual and ESL teachers.  I have told several of my teacher friends, “send me pictures of what you want in Spanish and I’ll try to make something that will work”.  So friends, let me know what resources you need.  I’m putting in my granito de arena to help make sure bilingual teachers have equitable resources.

My Bilingual Life

Welcome!  I am Twila Godinez.  I was born and raised in southern Illinois and learned Spanish when I caught a love of the language when we visited a mission in Mexico when I was in sixth grade.  I studied and practiced until I became fully bilingual.  I have done many things with my language skills including teaching the GED in Spanish, ESL in an immigration detention facility, and translating for the Public Defenders in the Federal Court System.  But, teaching is in my blood. 

I’ve been teaching in public schools for more than 13 years, and to be honest I’m a bit burnt out.  Most of this time, I have taught Bilingual (Spanish-speaking) children in elementary grades.  While public teachers work their tails off to make things work for their students, there are a lot of things that need to be fixed.  I’m not here to complain about what needs fixing, but these things have left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  

For the past few months, I’ve been trying to find a way to keep enough money coming in without going back into a classroom this fall.  One of the options I have found is teaching English online.  I’ve only been at it for a short while, but I will say I’m absolutely LOVING it!  Every time a class ends, I breathe a sigh of relief and think, “this is what teaching is all about”.  I realized that most of my day in the brick and mortar school is spent on classroom management and discipline.  I feel like I get very little time to actually spend teaching.  

I’m also tired of the inequitable resources available to bilingual teachers.  Like most teachers, I absolutely love Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers.  However, the number of bilingual resources available is much smaller, and we have fewer of the amazing resources that are available in English.  Yes, I know, I could always make my own in Spanish, but who has the time?  That’s my next step.  If I am not teaching full time, then I happen to know someone who could have the time.  I’m going to be offering some of the resources I have used in my classroom on TPT.  (And if you have something you wish you had in Spanish, send a message my way and I’ll see if I can make something that will work). 

So, that’s me in a nutshell.  Outside of teaching, I love horses, reading, and traveling.  I’m hoping that I can do some traveling and teach along the way.  I hope you will join me on this new adventure!   Also, make sure to follow me on social media and let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.