So, I’ve been with VIP Kid for about 6 months now, and I’m really enjoying it!
It’s a really fun job, I love working with kids (although I’ve found that slightly older kids are what I enjoy the most – you can have actual conversations with them, and you don’t have to be as high energy to hold their attention as you do with the younger ones), and I LOVE that I get to set my own schedule.
My favorite part, though? I love that I can travel AND still have a pretty reliable income.
Psssst: Here are some ideas for reward systems!
Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 6 months:
YOU WILL EITHER GET ACCEPTED OR DENIED RIGHT AWAY
Once you apply, they either accept or deny you RIGHT AWAY. At least that’s what happened for me. I didn’t expect it to be this quick! You then have to schedule your interview immediately after (not that the interview itself takes place right after you submit the application, but that you have to schedule it).
I believe they let you choose from around 3 days on, but if you need more time, just ask! I figured a couple days of prep would be enough but I was busy with family stuff since it was around the holidays. However, I wish that I’d given myself a little more time to prepare because…
YOUR INTERVIEW PERFORMANCE DETERMINES YOUR PAY RATEI REALLY should have practiced more beforehand. I did one round with my mentor (shout out to Nic – she is amazing!), but I should have done more on my own. I kind of thought, I teach kids already, I’ve got this. I also felt a little silly trying to practice in front of my family – but I should have just done it anyway!
Be aware that the person interviewing you might be in a noisy call center (I had a little trouble hearing mine, which threw me off a little bit).
Also, they grade you on your class background and lighting which I didn’t know! So make sure to make it look like somewhat of a classroom. Hang up a poster and make sure you have good lighting.
And be OVER THE TOP energetic with LOTS of TPR. I thought I was pretty animated, but my performance feedback said I wasn’t energetic enough! I’m also not sure if I just had a strict interviewer, because there were a lot of areas that said they were fulfilled but I still didn’t get full points. This all resulted in me getting a lower than average base pay, so definitely be aware of all these things.
But it’s not like I’m bitter or anything…
Definitely watch all the YouTube videos to ace your interview (if you choose to go the live demo route – you can also record yourself, or do the new smart demo)! This video is super helpful.
DON’T APPLY UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO START TEACHINGI was hired for VIP Kid in January, but didn’t actually open my schedule to start TEACHING until mid-February! Huge mistake. Apparently, when you become a new teacher, you get put to the top of a list that VIP Kid gives parents when they’re picking teachers. If you start teaching right away, you can take full advantage of this.
And since I was traveling, my teaching schedule was pretty sporadic – I’d open my schedule for one week, but then only a few days (or even not at all!) the next. Since I never knew what my wifi situation was going to be, I’d only open my schedule for a week at a time. This made it pretty much impossible for me to pick up any regular students at the beginning!I was starting to panic in June as I’d thought I’d have more students by then. BUT it turns out that June is exam time for kids in China. Bookings were dropping for almost everyone apparently, so I was squeaking by with about 10 classes a week. Luckily, I’m getting more bookings now that it’s July and students are out of school. However, it will probably be pretty slow in the beginning regardless, so expect that. Most teachers say it takes about a 1-2 months to start getting consistent bookings. But still – I think that if I’d started right away my schedule would’ve filled up faster.
So if I could go back, I wouldn’t have applied until I was actually READY to start teaching, and then I would have tried to open the same slots consistently each week to pick up some regular students. Ah well, ya live and ya learn – just don’t make my mistake!
If you are low on bookings, here’s a helpful article to increase them!
FACEBOOK GROUPS ARE SO HELPFUL
Here are some Facebook groups I’ve joined that I’ve found useful:
- VIP Kid Official Education Group – run by VIP Kid.
- VIP Kid Teacher Q&A – run by Teacher Erin; more geared towards newer teachers but anyone can join! People in this group seem a little more helpful/kind than in the “Official” group, so if I have questions I usually post them here.
- All Things China for VIP Kid Teachers – run by Daniel Cai; the idea is for he and others living in China to post about their daily lives, help with translations of Chinese characters, and answer questions about China or things from their point of view.
- VIP Kid Google Slides Group (Official) – if you want to use Google Slides for rewards, join this group!
- VIP Kid Digital Nomads – this group is specifically for traveling teachers and is so helpful/supportive.
I love using Facebook groups to ask questions, get updates, and connect with other teachers.
IT’S NOT AS SCARY AS I THOUGHTAfter I did my mock class to get hired (in which you have to ‘teach’ a 10 minute class to a hiring person) I was like, OMG I CAN BARELY GET THROUGH 10 MINUTES HOW AM I GOING TO GET THROUGH 25?????
Let me assure you – it’s not as intimidating as it sounds! I usually end up going over the time limit and teach until about 28 minutes with most students! And it’s a LOT more enjoyable once you ACTUALLY have a kid in front of you, and not an adult pretending to be a 5 year old LOL.
YOU DO YOU, BOOYou also don’t have to be as ‘high energy’ as I’d first thought. When I watched a lot of the VIP Kid teacher YouTube channels, or the promo vids from VIP Kid, the teachers had SO MUCH energy! I’m not super extroverted so this kind of freaked me out a little at first.
However, I’ve found that a lot of the kids that are a little more shy respond really well to my more reserved teaching style. And, you really only need that much energy with the younger kids – for ones in the older levels (Level 3 and up, which is what I personally prefer to teach) you can chill out a little more.
Here’s what I’ve seen repeated time and time again in the VIP Kid Facebook group: There is a student for every teaching style!
That said, here is a super helpful Reddit thread from a VIP Kid parent relaying how they choose their kid’s teachers. I really learned a lot!
IT CAN BE TOUGH TO ADJUST TO THE PEAK TIMES UNLESS YOU’RE IN EUROPE OR ASIAI’m also LOVING that I’m teaching in Europe. Since you’re teaching on Beijing time (the kids that sign up for VIP Kid are all in China, although I’ve heard that the company will soon be expanding to other countries like South Korea and India), you have to teach when students are awake in China.
Back home in California, peak hours were from 3AM-7AM, which made me want to cry. I did that for two weeks when I was back home and just about died. I don’t know how people in that timezone do it (although from May-August, the evening slots pick up since students are home during the day).
Here in Europe, the busy hours are from 11AM-3PM!!! SO MUCH BETTER. I am so happy and no longer sleep deprived.HOWEVER, now that it’s summer and the kids are out of school, a lot of them will take VIP Kid classes during the day. This translates to middle of the night Europe time, so until I get a consistent schedule going, I may have to rise to the occasional 3AM crack of dawn wake up call to make that money, honey.
TAKE ALL THE WORKSHOPSI’d also HIGHLY suggest taking as many workshops as you can, because they are SO HELPFUL. And do the VIP Kid TESOL cert. They’re all free, so definitely take advantage of these resources.
I also watch a TON of YouTube vids – I think the most popular (and ones I tend to watch) are from Teacher Nancy, Teacher Erin, Teacher Kristina, and Teacher Angela. Teacher Angela is also a bit more reserved as a teacher which made me feel more comfortable before starting out!
REALLY BEEF UP YOUR PROFILEThis is how the parents book you! So definitely make sure you make a great intro video, have a bright and eye catching profile photo, and talk allllll about the teaching experience and work you’ve done with kids!
Want ideas for a better profile? This YouTube video has some great tips!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY 2958489 PROPSIt can be super intimidating watching what other props teachers have! As a traveling teacher, I really can’t afford to purchase or take a zillion things with me. So, I just have the basics.
And don’t forget you can utilize the internet (sometimes I just Google things on my phone and show it to the kids)! Google Slides also works wonders (or so I’ve heard) for rewards so you don’t have to pack a million things with you.The props I do use the most are:
- A whiteboard
- Animal finger puppets
- Alphabet flashcards (Although I only really use them when I teach the younger kids)
- Animal flashcards (OBSESSED with these)
- Cut outs from See Nic Wander’s prop list (and she just released sets of printable ones on Etsy and they are SO CUTE!)
CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS IS SO FUN
I’ve been learning a lot more about Chinese culture as of late (and now really want to visit China!), which has been fascinating. I’m really excited to get some more regular students so that we can talk more about their backgrounds/cultures/way of life etc.
It’s also really nice once you’ve seen the same student multiple times and can really get to know them! That way you can talk about things past the usual “how are you today?” and actually learn about their likes/dislikes, hobbies, etc. and build up a real rapport. I’m really excited to get more regular students.
…AND YES, THE PAY IS ACTUALLY PRETTY DECENT!Note: VIP Kid has changed their pay scale in 2020! It’s now based on how many classes you’ve taught rather than incentives (although you do still have a base rate, and you can still received the $2 short notice bonsu that I explain below). You can read more about the pay update on the blog Your ESL Journey.
I know this is what you’ve all been wondering LOL. The pay is pretty good (I make about $20 an hour on average, but am hoping to bump that up once I start teaching more and taking more advantage of their incentives). In my opinion anyway – obviously if you work in tech or finance you might not agree with me haha.
Here’s how the pay works: You make $7-9 per class based on how you did in your interview. Most people apparently get $8. Each class is 25-28 minutes, so that means you can make $14-18 per hour; but then you get an extra $1 per class for starting and ending on time, as well as 0.50 if you teach 30 classes per month, or $1 if you teach over 45.You can also get an extra $2 per class if it’s booked short notice (meaning it’s within 24 hours of the class start time – I get these every now and then, but some more established teachers ONLY teach short notice classes).
VIP Kid will also occasionally have incentives for extra money. For example, if a student signs up after you teach them in a trial class you receive $5. You might also receive variable amounts if you open a certain number of PPT slots (peak time slots) that week, or for getting certain certifications. You can get a $100 bonus for referring new teachers, and some teachers get a TON of money from that (like the popular ones on YouTube).
So in theory, you can make about $18-22 per hour on a consistent basis, and more if you end up getting those other random incentives and teach lots of short notice classes.
YES, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN HOURS, BUT…This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the job! I love that I don’t have to ask for time off, and can choose how many and which hours I’d like to work.
That said, you definitely want to try and be somewhat consistent so that you can build up a group of regulars, at least in the beginning! Again, I think that was my BIGGEST mistake when I first started this job.
And yes, you can take all the time off in the world, but again – at least in the beginning, it might be difficult to keep students coming back if you’re there one week and not the next. I think this is what happened with me. Once you’re more established you can just tell your regular students when you’re going on vacation, and then enjoy your well-deserved time off!
FEEDBACK IS SO SO IMPORTANT…And I was doing it completely wrong. I honestly used the templates for feedback that I found in the lesson materials section and pretty much just summarized what we’d done that day, added in one thing I thought the student should work on, and ended with praise. But nope nope nope. Stop what you’re doing RIGHT now and go watch these videos – it’ll totally change how you view and write feedback!
This is an interview with a VIP Kid parent. Um, need I say more?
This is an excellent video with really helpful feedback tips that I hadn’t thought about before! If you’re having trouble getting bookings/parents to rebook you, or want more reviews from parents, this could really help.
AND DEFINITELY MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD WIFIBecause if you don’t – this will absolutely SUCK. And if you’re traveling like me, you may want to consider investing in a portable wifi device if you KNOW you’ll be going to places with spotty internet.
The internet in Europe has been pretty good so I haven’t needed one, but DEFINITELY invest in a super long ethernet cord regardless! It has saved my butt on numerous occasions – especially at one house sit in Germany where the Wifi wasn’t fast enough for streaming so I was thankful I had my ethernet cord to speed up the connection. Here’s the one I currently have (it’s 100 feet LOL) but to be honest you can probably just use the 50 foot one. I’ve never needed to use the entire length of mine haha!
You can also always ask your place of accommodation to send you a snapshot of their internet speed – they can find this by going to speedtest.net. Or, you can FaceTime with them (like I do with some of my house sits) to check if it’s spotty or not.
I also make it very clear that I’ll be teaching via video chat and NEED to have fast internet. I’ve only had one host who told me theirs wasn’t fast enough, but it’s been fine everywhere else!If you’re interested in teaching for VIP Kid, too, feel free to reach out! I’m more than happy to answer any questions. And if you’d like to use me as a referral (full disclosure, I get a little kickback if you do this) I’d be more than happy to help coach you through the hiring process!
Here’s my referral code: KELSE0243