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Teaching at VIPKid Teaching on Outschool

Transition from VIPKid to Outschool

I’ve noticed a lot of my VIPKid friends are starting to do Outschool which is very exciting for me. I love that you don’t have to choose one or the other.  You can do both at the same time.  Let me give you some reasons why you might want to think about Outschool.  

The number one reason for me was the daytime schedule. You can actually teach Outschool classes pretty much at any time because there are students enrolled around the globe, but the majority of the kids are here in the United States and share our same schedule. Another benefit of Outschool is the flexibility.  You can choose your curriculum, you can choose your age, you can choose your own schedule, you can choose the length of your class, and you can choose your class size.   That’s a lot of variables and a lot of things that you have to think about. 

With Outschool you can have more than one student in the class.  You get paid for each student that comes to your class, so the more students you have in class obviously the more you get paid.  This is a little bit different than VIPKid and it does take a little getting used to.   

Since you can choose what it is that you want to teach, if you get bored with one lesson then you just don’t have to teach it. I have a couple of classes that are not really my favorite at this point and I’ve kind of left them off my schedule.  If I have a parent request one, I’ll be happy to put it back on but for right now they’re not really my favorites so I’ve kind of set those to the side.   I started with just a couple of basic classes and as I taught those classes parents gave me ideas for other classes. You have that flexibility on Outschool.  

 That being said, it does take you a little while to get that prepared,  It’s not like VIPKid where everything is already prepared for you.  You just have to show up to teach.  You can get to that point on Outschool after you have your lessons prepared and get your students.  Then you can just pretty much show up and teach, but you do have to spend a little bit of time developing what it is that you are going to teach.  I have some classes that are very simple I have absolutely zero preparation time, but then I have a few more that require a little bit more preparation.  

If you’re interested in teaching children, you don’t have to have teaching credentials to teach on Outschool.  Outschool was originally created for homeschool kids, and they’re open to a variety of people that have a variety of backgrounds.   So if you have expertise in an area, but not necessarily a teaching degree you could have success teaching on Outschool.  

Outschool is a great opportunity, but it is quite different from teaching ESL classes.  Check it out and if you need any support, please leave a comment.  

Watch the video here:

 

 

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Teaching at VIPKid VIPKid China Field Trip

Should I use WeChat?

WeChat is an app available for your phone that is more or less a Chinese government allowed combination of Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Instagram, and Whatsapp all rolled up in one.  You can message people as well as call or video chat with them. This is the one service that we found words very well while traveling in China.

If you are planning on going on the VIPKid Field Trip to China, you will be highly encouraged to get on WeChat.   Our tour guide would use it to find us if we got lost and post updates on meeting times and places.  It was very important that at least one person in every room had a working WeChat account.

That being said, there are some issues with WeChat.  It often decides that you are an unauthorized user and you have to get someone to scan in your QR code and verify you.  The problem is that it can’t be just anyone.  They have to have had their account for more than 6 months and they can only help one person per six month period.  My first account was blocked and I was never able to get back in.  I had to “borrow” a phone number from a friend in order to open a new account.  (This person will never have a need to use WeChat).  I’m not sure why it worked the second time, but I have a good theory.  The first time, I downloaded the app and opened an account, but didn’t do anything more.  The second time, I did the same, but set up my profile, added a few friends, and had a short chat with one of them.  I highly suspect that WeChat freezes any account that doesn’t complete the profile or add users.  So set up your account when you have enough time to add a couple of friends and add a profile picture.  (I can’t guarantee that this will work, but that is my guess why my first account got frozen).

Also, you need to start arranging with your students in order to meet them.  We had a very small window between when we found out about the trip and the actual trip, that I was only able to arrange one meetup.  I suggest even if you aren’t planning a trip, start adding your students’ parents to WeChat.  It’s fun to get to know their personal lives a bit more and they will appreciate learning more about you.  I struggled a bit with this as many of my students are lower levels and we had a hard time understanding each other.  However, holding up your QR code and saying WeChat usually does the trick.  I also add my WeChat name in feedback (although I haven’t had any additions from doing this yet).  I highly recommend adding a nickname to the WeChat as the request comes through so you can match the student with the parent (and most of my names have come through in Chinese characters).

WeChat is not like Facebook in the fact that you can go back and look at posts from years ago.  The “moments” only last a few days.  I usually get on WeChat a couple of times a week to check up new moments and I usually only post about once a week.  I don’t have a huge following.  I have a few students’ families and some of the new friends I met on the trip (although we tend to use Facebook more now that we are home and away from the Great Firewall).

Some teachers choose not to use WeChat.  I was on that side of the debate until I traveled to China.  Since then, it has helped me develop more of a relationship with the few students moms who have added me.  I love seeing pictures of my students on their trips and doing things with their families, and they always “like” the pictures that I post as well.  As always, keep your WeChat super professional and don’t post anything that would be against the Chinese government’s policies so you don’t cause any issues to your students.  Also, keep your professional standards when talking with parents and always be respectful of your work with VIPKid.  This is not the place to air your dirty laundry.

I still don’t think of WeChat as essential for my teaching.  Nevertheless, it was essential on the trip.  I do feel that it has helped develop a deeper relationship with the families that I am connected with.

Categories
Chinese Holidays Teaching at VIPKid

Is something happening in China? What is wrong with my bookings?

Today I have seen these questions repeatedly on the ESL groups I am in.  I will say, last night/this morning was the worst booking frenzy I have experienced so far.  I had only 3 bookings and 9 cancellations!  What is happening in China?

Well, this week is the beginning of the “winter holiday” for Spring Festival or Chinese New Year.  This is similar to the time our kids get off in December for Christmas.  They usually have a week or two of pretty intense exams leading up to this time (so you may have already seen lower bookings recently) and then they get a few weeks off.  This is a time when many Chinese families travel for family reunions.  I must say from the little bit of travel that I did in China in a non-holiday time, one thing you can expect is delays.  I’m sure that parents err on the side of caution and do not book any lessons for the days surrounding travel.  Also, who wants to be taking an English lesson when the whole family is gathered for a family reunion.

That being said.  I still have several classes and based upon my experience on other holidays, my students will show up for class.  I have been the “entertainment” of the hour for the whole family a few times, and often a cousin or a friend may join my student for the class.  While the general policy at VIPKid is to only teach one student for a class, I feel that this time of year is a bit of an exception.  Imagine the family is gathering and your student’s parent is boasting about the wonderful experience their child is having with your classes.  Wouldn’t it be reasonable for them to book a class so their family members can see what a wonderful experience it is?  I see this almost as a super-effective trial.  (I do make a note to the Learning Partner, but I teach the class as usual and try to make it extra fun in case the observer is considering signing up).

Will this affect my income?  Maybe.  But I don’t suggest that you have all your eggs in one income basket.  This is a great time to take some time off (sleep in!) and relax.  The students will be back!  You may need to plan your budget accordingly in order to make the numbers work, but don’t stress out.  Things will be back on track very soon.  I also have found that I can open short-notice slots (often in the evenings) and get bookings.  I think parents don’t book because they know they are traveling, but when they get where they are going they realize that their baobao could in fact have time for some English.  I don’t like to do short-notice in the morning as much (I fully take advantage of sleeping in the few days that I can), but I do open slots in the evening.  During the last holiday, I had several nights that were fully booked!

When I saw today that I had a couple of days with absolutely no bookings, I closed those slots and have officially declared them “vacation days”.  I doubt that I will travel as I have been traveling quite a bit recently, but maybe I will take a short trip to visit one of my friends or just simply enjoy sleeping in!  I will also spend some time in these next couple of weeks working on my other income streams to help build them a bit, and I probably will even add in a few extra Uber hours.

So the most important take-aways:

  •  Enjoy the break!  Sleep in and rest assured your baobaos will be back.
  • Plan your budget accordingly.
  • If you are looking for a perfect vacation time from ESL teaching in China, this is it.  (That being said, I don’t think there is any way I would attempt to travel in China during this holiday!)
  • Open up short notice slots (especially in the evenings).
  • Things will return to normal soon!  Your students will be back (and you can have lots of extension conversations about what they did over the holiday).
Categories
Teaching at VIPKid

VIPKID Pay Structure

Please visit the official VIPKID website for up-to-date information.  This article is based upon my experience and the best information I have available at the moment. 

So the advertisements say from $19-22 an hour.  However, when you dive further into the process it is a little more complicated than that.  Let me try to make sense of the way you get paid at VIPKID.

First, depending upon your interview, your qualifications, and your mock class experience, you will be offered a Base Pay Rate.  This Base Pay Rate is usually between $7 and $9 per class.  Aside from the Base Pay, you will receive $1 per class for any class marked “as scheduled”.  You will also get a participation incentive of $.50 per class after you hit 35 classes in a month and $1 per class when you teach 45 classes in a month.

So let’s look at an example:

This teacher’s base pay is $8 and she has taught 40 classes in a month.  Her base pay will be $320 ($8 x 40) plus $40 (assuming all classes were marked as scheduled) plus $20 (participation incentive) for a total of $380.

If she hits 45 classes, that will be $360 base pay ($8 x 45) plus $45 (as scheduled) plus $45 (participation incentive).  That will be a total of $450.

As you can see it is worth the effort to reach the 45 classes to get the additional participation incentive!  You also get paid if a student cancels class within 24 hours or does not show up at all.  You can however get docked money for classes that you have to cancel within 24 hours.  All of these details will be discussed later or you can find the information on the VIPKID website.  There are referral bonuses if a teacher signs up using your link and several incentive bonuses are offered at different times for opening up slots in your schedule.  You may also earn a bonus if a student signs up for VIPKID after taking a trial class with you.  There is extra money available if a student books a class with short notice and you can also be paid to be a substitute.  After teaching with VIPKID for awhile, you can also be eligible for other positions to help train other teachers and further the community.

Let me give you a clear picture of what this means to me.  I was hired on at one of the higher base pay rates due to my experience teaching bilingual students in the public school system and my education.  During the month of April, I was able to make $450 teaching only about an hour a day on during the week and a couple of hours on the weekend.  In May, I increased my pay to $900 working mostly the same schedule until the last week of May when I was able to open up my schedule further since our school was on summer vacation. Now in June, we are only halfway through the month and I have already made $800 and I still have two weeks full of classes left to go.  I will easily clear $1000 even if I have multiple cancellations.

I only work from 6am – 9am Central time and a couple of hours on Friday evening because I have a regular student who requests that time.  And so far, I still have a few unfilled slots in my schedule.  I’ve only been teaching with VIPKID for a few months so I am very happy with this and I plan to continue to grow my online ESL business.  In particular, I would like to help other people who would like to teach at VIPKID get started.  If that is you, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I’d love to get you started.

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Teaching at VIPKid

What is the VIPKID Booking Frenzy?

If you spend any time with other VIPKID teachers you will hear about the “Booking Frenzy”?  This is not an official VIPKID term, but it is a very real event.  On Monday at noon Beijing time, parents are able to go into the VIPKID system and book their child’s classes for the next available week (which actually starts the following Monday).  This results in a huge number of classes booked in this magic time that hits around 11:30pm Central on Sunday nights.

Why is this important?  You need to have your schedule open in time for the frenzy if you want the highest chance to get bookings!  I like to have mine open as of Saturday morning in order to get some of the pre-frenzy bookings.  Your repeat students have an extra chance to book you before the frenzy.  I usually see these come in on Sunday mornings.  Students may also send a Priority Booking Request earlier in the week, but most of mine seem to book on Sunday.

Also, be aware that you may also get multiple cancellations as well.  Sometimes parents need to grab a slot and then juggle their schedule a bit.  I honestly don’t even take those cancellations into consideration because the parents are just trying to ensure their student has class at their preferred time before their favorite teachers are booked.  Honestly, I’m relatively new here at VIPKID so I’m not opposed to being a parent’s second or third or even fourth choice.  I’m still getting my schedule filled regularly and finding more and more repeat students.

To summarize:

  •  Make sure your schedule is open and available for parents to book you before you go to sleep Sunday night!
  • Be ready to see a larger number of bookings on Monday morning.

 

Categories
Teaching at VIPKid

Startup Timeline for VIPKID

I would like to share with you the timeline of how I got started on VIPKID.  I initially put in my application on March 16 and had my initial interview the next day.  On March 21, I had my initial Mock class for levels 2 & 3.  While I was waiting for my background check to complete, I also did the certification for levels 4 & 5 as well as trial classes and Pre-VIPKID (level 1).  My first class was on March 29.

I did not get many bookings for the first couple of weeks.  I had three bookings the first week and two the second week.  I was concerned and a bit disappointed so I spruced up my profile picture, worked on the TESOL Certifications, and took some workshops.  The next week, I had 12 bookings.  I maintained around 15 bookings a week as long as I was teaching school, but when I could open my schedule for the summer I have had around 30 classes scheduled a week.

My April paycheck was over $450 and May’s check was over $900.  June is already $800 and we still have almost half of the month left.

I want to point out a few things I have noticed:

  •  It usually takes a week for changes (new certifications) to take effect in bookings.
  • Feedback numbers are still very low (28 out of 185 classes taught).
  • Very few Student No Shows and cancellations are usually rebooked.
  • Many of my slots are already filled before the “Booking Frenzy” on Sunday nights.
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Teaching at VIPKid

May Update

The month of May was very productive.  First off, I finished up the 2018-2019 school year as a first grade bilingual teacher.  I’m not returning to that school in the fall so that includes packing up my classroom completely!  I’m also more than like moving over the summer so I’m working on sorting through a lot of stuff I’ve been piling since moving here…so that is a work in progress.

I met most of my monthly goals!  I wanted to get at least 5 products up on Teachers Pay Teachers and I did even more.  I have 10 products available in my store!  I wanted to get 100 Instagram followers and I did that.  However, I did not meet my goals on Pinterest or Facebook (I decided to spend May working on Instagram).  I did publish one YouTube video which was my goal and 5 blog posts (I passed my goal here too).  I wanted to teach 60 classes at VIPKID and I ended up teaching 82!  I wanted to teach 20 classes at ZebraEnglish, but I was not able to do the demo due to a problem with my Internet connection.  I will try again after I move.  (I will say they are wonderful to deal with and I intend to follow up with them.)  So overall, I met and surpassed most of my goals during May.

I also like to figure out the class breakdowns for the month so I can see which certifications are doing the best for me.  I’m not sure why I had zero trials in May other than my schedule filled pretty quickly.  Here is the breakdown of my booked classes (some may have been cancellations or no shows):

Level 1 – 19 clases

Level 2 – 23 classes

Level 3 – 6 classes

Level 4 – 12 classes

Level 5 – 6 classes

VIPKID Voice – 4 classes

Perfect Pronunciation – 7 classes

Free Talk – 5 classes

This was quite a change from April when I had more Trials and Level 1 students booked.  The balance shifted quite a bit.  Also, my level 2 students went up significantly.  I had only 3 in April and 23 in May.  I added in the “specialty” certifications in May and immediately got bookings.  I also looked at how many “repeat” students I have.  At the moment, I have at least 18 students that I have taught 2 or more classes (or they are booked for a repeat class this next week).  Overall, I’m extremely happy with what I have accomplished in May especially since this is only the second full month working with VIPKID.

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Teaching at VIPKid

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.