Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trying Something New with VIPKID

Trying Something New
After much prayer and affirmation, I made the decision to leave a job in October 2016.  While I didn't have anything lined up for after, I had complete faith that God was going to provide for my family and me.  He sure did!  Leaving that job changed the quality of life for our family for the better in countless ways.  My family became my priority once more, not the workplace.  I fully believe that God has designed me to be a wife and mama first...BUT, like most families, we still needed an income.  I was literally without a job for only two weeks before being asked to fulfill a maternity leave position at the school where my children attend (Francine Delany New School for Children).  Once that position was over, my husband hooked me up with another interim position at a school in the district where I grew up.  That position was extended until the end of the school year, and I was asked to return this upcoming school year!  WOO HOO!  While I had been looking for full-time work, it was God's timing that I didn't receive it.  Over this summer, I had to have an unplanned surgery that put me out of commission for 6, it was actually a blessing that I didn't have to take time off of a new job.

While looking for employment online, I used every site imaginable.  I submitted over 60 applications
 along with my resume and educational transcript.  In this digital world, the down side to applying online is you become just a form with statistics.  I only heard back from about half of the jobs, and the response was always "overeducated and overqualified"...translation, we don't want to pay you for your education or experience.  If any of those individuals, companies or schools would have talked with me, they would have known I have never been paid for my education or experience, and that I would have been very willing to negotiate fair compensation.  However, they just look at the form and move on.  There is no communication, no face-to-face.

While on one of my daily scrolling through's website, I saw several entries for a company called VIPKID.  I read the description and honestly thought "this sounds to good to be true", but my interest was definitely piqued.  I talked briefly with my husband about it, and we decided I should do a little researching to see what I could find...I found a lot.  VIPKID is a company based out of Beijing, China that hires qualified teachers from the United States and Canada to teach children English online.  There are several websites concerning job reviews--it's a simple Google search.  The majority of what I read all matched up.  Ok, I had heard from regular people like me, but what did the business world have to say.  TONS!  This concept of teaching English abroad while staying at home hit it big with many folks.  The following are some articles worth reading:

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After reading these articles and lots more, I started weeding through the world of You Tube to see what those guys were saying.  Again, much more positive feedback than negative.  I was talking with a friend of mind, and she had heard about VIPKID as well, and she was starting the process of working with them.  About that time, I was having surgery and a couple of weeks of inability to function normally.  I was looking through Instagram and saw that VIPKID was advertising on there as, I decided to contact the company for more information.

(As well all know, if it's on the internet, it must be true...)

On the VIPKID website, there is helpful information without even having to submit anything.  There is a blog with various contributors, and a FAQ section that deals with the nuts and bolts of it all.  The website is very organized.  Once you do contact them, you receive a checklist to walk you through the steps.  As a "list person", I appreciated the layout.  The VIPKID app also allows you to view the checklist.  The app doesn't really serve any other purpose until you are hired.  The picture on the right shows the steps to take---------------------------------------->
The "basic info" section is just that: name, address, education, etc., and it allows you to log in to the Teacher Portal.  The requirement for VIPKID is to have a Bachelor's Degree, but it doesn't have to be in education.  In this section, however, you do want to annotate ANY experience you have had working with kiddos: volunteering, tutoring, assisting, teaching, homeschooling, etc.  After submitting my basic information, I received an email within two hours asking me to interview.

VIPKID "Classroom"
Recording the Interview
The interview process allows two methods.  You can schedule an interview with a VIPKID team member, or you can record and send in an interview.  I chose the second option simply for ease during our crazy summer.  Once you say yes to the interview, VIPKID sends you links within the Teacher Portal of the lesson you will teach during the interview.  This lesson is truncated to allow you time to introduce yourself as well.  VIPKID makes the lessons and provides a powerpoint for you to follow.  VIPKID wants you to have supplemental supplies, like a whiteboard, magnetic letters/flashcards, puppets or stuffed animals.  This does not require spending a lot of money, and actually you can probably find things around the house to use.  I put together some supplemental supplies from a trip to the Dollar Tree (more on that later).  When you record your interview, you will be in the virtual classroom where the powerpoint takes up half of the screen, the picture of the "child" is in the top quarter, and you are in the bottom quarter (if you do a live interview, you will be conversing with an adult in that upper part of the screen).  After you introduce yourself, you rock-and-roll with the lesson!  Upon exiting the classroom, your interview is submitted. 

VIPKID does an incredible job with communication.  They are emailing helpful links, reminders, and encouragement throughout the entire process.  I have been really impressed with the email conversations I have had with actual people, not just automated responses.  Once the interview has
Teaching Prep Checklist
been reviewed, there is a HOST of videos, slides, and documents added to the Teacher Portal for studying for the next step--the Mock Lesson 1.  As a parent, I appreciate how thorough VIPKID is in looking for educators.  There is a lot of accountability and high expectations are in place.  Every step of the process is given a timeframe for completion; I imagine this helps weed out those who are serious and those who are just checking things out.  
In order to prepare for the Mock Lesson 1 (which you would do live with a VIPKID mentor during a time that you choose from the Teacher Portal), there is a quiz to take after viewing all of the given information.  The checklist for this portion is time-consuming, but is very thorough.  This information covers a myriad of questions about classes, timing, techniques, standards, curriculum, and pay.   It is a lot to digest!  Have no fear, you have more than one opportunity to take the quiz if needed!

Emailing Ninjas
Once the quiz is passed, you receive an invitation to set up your Mock Lesson 1.  Think of this as your dress rehearsal for the company.  The VIPKID mentor will be looking for your energy level, teaching techniques, ability to follow the lesson, and engagement level.  Again, the lesson is given to you ahead of time so that you can become familiar with it...and practice it.  The Mock Lesson 1 flow is a short introduction between the mentor and you, then the mentor assumes the identity of a 5 year-old Chinese child with zero English ability.  You teach the lesson to that child for 15 minutes.  After that, the mentor will offer feedback for your teaching and answer any questions you have.  Next, you will teach a 10 minute lesson to the mentor who has become an 8 year-old child with some English knowledge.  Once the 10 minutes are over, the mentor will offer you feedback again and give you helpful information for your next step.  The Mock Lesson 1 is sent to the head office for review, and there they decide if you are ready to start teaching or if you need to have Mock Lesson 2.  If you do have an additional lesson, it is not because of failure; it is simply in place to give you more practice using the mentor's feedback before teaching live in front of a child (and their parents, more than likely).  

After ALL of that, you will receive an email to go to the Teacher Portal for the "business end" of things.  This is when and where you can review your contract.  Your pay will be stated in the contract and the amount is based upon your interview, education, and experience.  You also are paid per 25-minute lesson, not by the hour.  There are incentives aplenty--for being on-time, for ending on-time, for the volume of classes taught, for teaching over the holidays, etc.  Also, the more classes you teach opens up the opportunity for additional certifications through the program--adding age levels to teach, becoming a mentor, leading workshops, etc.  This section also has a place for you to download, complete, scan, and load a W-9.  VIPKID doesn't hire you as an employee, but as an independent contractor.  They don't take out taxes; you have to talk that out with your tax genius.  This is also the section where you will submit 1 personal (professional) photo for your profile along with 2 casual photos, a 15-second introduction video, and a written bio for parents to view.  This is how you will get your bookings!  Parents will look up the profiles of teachers and choose based on what you have on your profile.  

Now, you are all caught up with me.  This is where I am in the process.  I just submitted all of the digital paperwork today.  I have been told that it can take about a month to get regular bookings.  I have also read and watched that the biggest negative to this job is the hours.  The good thing is, you get to pick your hours, the bad thing is the peak hours to work are on Beijing time...which where I live means Beijing kiddos are 12 hours ahead of me.  Their peak times for VIPKID are 6pm-10pm, which translates to 6am-10am my time.  There are other available hours and a few extra peak hours over the weekend.  I am going to give it a try and see if I can manage to book some classes before my other job and after my kiddos go to bed at night.  

If you are interested in learning more, I have so much more information; but, it is hard to get it all out there.  I have about 20 people in mind who I know would ROCK at this job!  Do your reviews, check out articles, head over to YouTube, and feel free to ask me!  I plan on keeping a blog going to share this experience.  I am hoping and praying that it is one that uses my skills and helps out our bank account--and, I am counting on it to be fun getting to teach little ones across the world!  If you are interested in checking out VIPKID, please click here to use my referral code!  (Accepted referrals are another financial incentive!!!)

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