My First Year with VIPKID in Review: I Earned a Full Time Income in My Pajamas!

I finished my first-year teaching with 2,609 finished classes and greeted individual 817 students!  Not too bad for a new teacher. VIPKID has been the best job I have ever had, and the most rewarding.  It is even work waking up at 3:30 in the morning to teach!  (Well it doesn’t hurt the commute is great.) 

In this post, I will outline the basic, rewards, and challenges of pursuing a teaching path with VIPKID as promised in my 2019 New Year’s post!

Early morning teaching fun!

What is VIPKID?

VIPKID is an online ESL company based out of Beijing, China.  Its purpose is to connect North American teachers with Chinese students in order for them to learn English.  I teach one student at a time in 25 minute increments.  I work from 4 A.M. to 8 A.M. most mornings and anytime through the night on weekends. 

I teach using my computer, headset, and webcam in an office space in my room.  It requires a stable and fast internet connection.  I use an assortment of props to teach and rewards to keep the students interested.  My appearance is always well kept and a shirt in a solid shirt. 

A bachelor’s degree is an absolute minimum requirement.  It is also required to be able to legally work in Canada or America.  New sanctions by the Chinese government are asking for TEFL/TESOL certificates or state teacher licenses.  Do not let this discourage you from applying if you are thinking of it.  VIPKID has its own program available to earn a TESOL certification.  Pay ranges between 16-24 dollars per hour.  This depends on the amount of class and base paid assigned during interview.  Within three months, I was making more than I did in public school. 

VIPKID Teacher Requirements

Do You Speak Chinese?

I get this question daily.  I also hear, “How do you teach them if you don’t know their language?”  VIPKID is a full emersion ESL course.  This means, that only English is spoken in all instruction.  The program is staged so that a new learner just learns a few words using pictures while an advanced student holds conversations on topics focused in the lesson. 

It is essential to speak slowly, and do not add extra words.  It takes some time learn, but becomes second nature quickly.  Props, flashcards, and pictures is helpful as well in getting the point across.  For more information about teaching English as a Second Language I would check out this website. 

The Best Bits:

I can honestly say I love my students!  They are kind and genuinely interested in how my day is going.  I get sweet e-cards and messages from them.  As a rule, they are prepared for class, and willing to listen for corrections.  My students range from ages four to twelve.  Each age comes with its rewards and challenges. 

I teach in my pajama bottoms!  That’s right.  Out of the 2000+ classes I taught, I have taught them all in pajama bottoms. 

The schedule is flexible.  There is no minimum requirement of classes to teach each week.  If you can get up early, you can choose what days and times you would like to work.  Classes book every two weeks, and I choose the schedule I want at that time.  So if I have plans or a trip, I don’t open classes for that day. 

The prep and feedback time is minimal.  The longer I worked for VIPKID the less time I needed to prepare for classes.  Once I have seen the lesson in action, it is easy for me to strategize the next time it comes ups.  Feedback is roughly a paragraph per student describing their performance in class. It beats staying on campus past five in order to prepare for state testing.

On the same note, the time worked directly coordinates with my pay.  It’s simple, the more classes I teach, the more I make.  After years of salary, I appreciate this simple formula. 

My VIPKID Classroom

A Small Word of Caution:

There are three things to be in conscious of about VIPKID that comes to the shock of some teachers. 

  1. You are an independent contractor.  That means no benefits, and the possibility of being let go for any reason. 
  2. Bookings are not guaranteed.  Some teachers take a significant amount of time to book classes and gain regular students.  Other times, bookings are effected by Chinese holidays and exam schedules.
  3. Their cancellation and no show policy is strict.  You lose your job after 6 and expect fines. 

Do you have any questions? Ask me anything about teaching online! I wouldn’t take back this year of teaching for anything!  I’m excited to start another year with VIPKID, and a new company launching in January called Naativ

VIPKID Payscale

If you would like to join up follow up here. My referral code is MANDY0028

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I also share my teaching journey on my Instagram and Facebook page @teachingpineapple

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same! 2018 Quick Update

As is my pattern, I have disappeared off the face of the blogosphere for almost a year.  A few things happened that caused this including my leap into the independent contractor life, and taking a time machine back into the past.  Well not a real time machine, but definitely a figurative one.  Here are the two biggest things that have happened to me so far in 2018.

  1. I teach English.  How about you?

I mention in January that I was hired and opening up classes with VIPKID.  VIPKID is an online portal for teaching English to children in China.  At first, it was touch and go.  I only taught 17 classes the entire month of January with availability all night!  Then the flood gates opened one random Saturday night at the end of February.  I came home from a party prepared to teach a few midnight-1:00 A.M. classes to find almost all of my slots had booked from midnight to 8 in the morning!  Since then my schedule has been 98-100% full.

VIPKID Teacher Shot

I make more teaching online per hour than I did teaching public school in South Mississippi.  The prep time is under thirty minutes and it takes me roughly 45 minutes to write feedback for 8 classes.  It has been liberating to choose when and how I want to work.  I have built connection with some amazing students and got to learn about their life in China.

I plan to post in more detail about VIPKID later. Until then you can apply using my referral link: Apply for VIPKID Today!

You can also follow by weekly teaching adventures on Instagram at @teachingpineapple

My trusty classroom helper!

  1. Who says you can’t go back?

So being an independent contractor is great, but it has one big downside.  It does not provide benefits like insurance or retirement. As the year went on, and property values did not improve, I got nervous.  I began wondering what to do and how long I should tempt fate. Luckily, I had the opportunity to return to a job I loved before I became a teacher.  I have returned back to the special collection of my Baking Book Bunny days.

Making a coffee stop from job A to job B

The collection is now housed in a new facility that was completed as I submitted for my teacher’s license and went to be a school librarian.  It has been comforting and a great change of professional pace.  My teaching schedule and library schedule to not interfere with each other.  I get to be a ham and Teacher Mandy in the mornings.  Then I put on real pants and swing through awesome coffee shops like Jacked Up Coffee Bar on my way to my big girl job.

I love being around coast history and culture again.  I am also pocketing some new professional skills!

Some other bits that have happened:

*My sister was married to a great guy in October, and we celebrated all weekend in Louisiana!

Some Street Art Found in Downtown Austin

*I flew to Austin, Texas for the first time.  It is like the Portland of the south and a lot of fun.
*My hedgehog #2 Penelope passed away October 1stas well.  I miss her snuffling in her cage every night and biting her water bottle.

R.I.P. Penelope

* Started back with my own Trivia Team!

So my thirties continue to shift and change my prospective on what I want my professional life to look like.  Yes, I still want to go back to live overseas.  Yes, I still want to write. However, I am happy with my current teacher then librarian life.

What has been the biggest change for you in 2018?