I am thrilled that 2018 is on its way out. I don’t know about you guys, but this year was a doozy! One thing I am taking away from it all is how resilient I can be, which, I never would have known if I hadn’t gone through this year. This year I wanted to step up and do more for my family financially. I had been seeing advertisements for VIPKID (teaching kids in China English online) come across my Facebook page and when I saw a friend share a picture of her “classroom,” I decided to reach out to her. Today just so happens to be my 100th day teaching so I decided to celebrate by sharing all the details about what this online teaching thing is all about.
With VIPKID you are teaching kids typically from age 5-12 years English via a web cam. You teach students one-on-one for 25 minutes at a time. The thing that I really like about this is that I can set my own times and schedule. Because China is 14 hours ahead most classes are either early in the morning or late at night. This works out for me because I can hustle after I get the kids to sleep and before they wake up. VIPKID provides you with slides for each lesson that you teach a student. Much like PowerPoint you work through each slide with teacher instructions on each slide.
The Hiring Process
I started talking to my friend Rachel about her experience with VIPKID on a Thursday and I was hired by the following Saturday. They require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree, a good computer with good internet connection, and a headset. I know the main thing people want to know is how much you get paid. When you are hired you get paid $8/25 minute class. If you hit 45+ classes in a month and you start your classes on time you get a $2 incentive which makes your possibility as a new VIPKID teacher $10/25 minute class. I always hit the 45+ class marker and am consistently making at least $20/hour 3 months in. After reading a few modules, taking a quiz, and doing a live mock lesson, I was hired on with VIPKID in a week. You will have to do a background check and provide documentation of your degree before being hired. Each contract is for 6 months.
VIPKID does not mess around when it comes to what they expect you to do and have to teach. Good internet is a must as well as a computer with a camera, and a headset. I recently got a Google Pixelbook that I use now for the purpose of teaching my classes. It’s super light-weight and the camera is great! My favorite part about it is how versatile it is. I have taught with it as a laptop, as a “tee pee” and as a tablet. The touchscreen makes it very easy to navigate around and draw on the screen for my students to see what I need them to notice in a particular lesson.
You will also have to make your own “classroom”. I have two. One that stays home and one that travels. I have seen other teachers with many different decorated walls and boards to fashion a classroom. But for me, I keep it simple. I set up a space in my home office with a colorful map. I have a few props on hand just in case I need them to help explain a lesson. I also have a small whiteboard handy for grammar lessons. My traveling “classroom” Is great for if I go out of town but still want to teach a few classes.
Getting To Work
The best thing about this job is that you get to set your own hours. China is 14 hours ahead of where I live (CST) so most of the classes I teach are in the morning or at night. VIPKID has a great teacher portal where you can open up time slots to show parents when you are available. I currently work in the mornings from 5 AM-8 AM Monday through Friday and I work evenings from 8 PM – 10 or 11 PM during the weekends. If I know that I have plans on the weekend then I simply don’t open the time slots. How easy is that?!
It is important to remember that you are an independent contractor with VIPKID. This means that they are not in any way obligated to help you get booked. When you are hired on you submit 3 photos and a video introducing yourself to parents. This is what parents see in your teacher profile. As you go through VIPKID you can get certified for different levels. This also plays a part in bookings. The more levels you are certified for the more children you can potentially teach. Because the parents are choosing you, some days (or even weeks) can be less consistent with bookings than others. 100 days in and I can say that I am at least 90% booked with all of my open slots. I can also say that I have a core group of “regulars” that I teach every week.
So…Chinese kids are just like American kids. For some reason when I started I had this idea that the kids I would be teaching would be very disciplined and the parents would be very rigid. Nope! Kids are kids are kids. When I started I was all about seeing the kids as dollar signs as I scratch off debt one card at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I still am skipping all the way to the bank come pay day! But now that I have regulars, I have grown to care for them. They learn about me and I learn about them. For some of them (and their parents) I am the first black person they have ever interacted with. Some of my regulars have been introduced to my kids and my dog. We send each other e-cards and letters. I have seen kids pick their nose for 25 whole minutes, and I have taught kids while they are eating in a restaurant, and I have seen kids learn in everything from bunk beds to mansions. This teaching gig is a truly unique experience and it is what you make of it. One neat feature that protects both the kids and the teachers is that each lesson is recorded. Parents are able to watch (even from their cell phones) as the lessons are going on. Teachers can also go back and watch a lesson after it’s over.
VIPKID has afforded me the opportunity to make an extra income while keeping a full-time job, and being a wife and mother. Things got started quickly with VIPKID but as a family we easily adjusted and didn’t skip a beat! If you are wanting to add to your bank account or are curious about teaching online, don’t hesitate to comment or message me! I’d love to help you get started! Thank you to Google Pixelbook for providing me with my Chromebook! All thoughts and opinions are my own.