Congratulations! You successfully passed the VIPKID interview (not yet? click here for that post…). So what’s next?! To the VIPKID Mock Class you go!
Just like the interview, you will receive the lesson ahead of time and some tips on how to prepare – only this time you’ll be preparing to teach the full 25 minute class! Also, instead of a VIPKID office staff member, a veteran teacher (aka your teacher mentor) will be coaching and evaluating you. You will still have the chance to enter the classroom early, get comfortable with the platform, and wait for your mentor to arrive. Once they arrive, you will go through the standard introductions and your mentor teacher will most likely tell you that they will stop you half-way through the lesson to chat about how you’re doing, ask any questions, and then finish the second half. At the end of your lesson, you’ll wrap up with some feedback and the next steps to expect (I’ll share more about the next steps in a few minutes…).
So what is your mentor looking for? It will be very similar to all of the items I mentioned in the interview post here… but there are a few things you reeaaallly need to focus on.
Timing. In the interview, if your timing was a little off, it wasn’t a huge deal because the lesson was pretty short. However, if you are 20 seconds over/under on each slide in the 25 minute class…that’ll add up really quickly! Time.Your.Self. Practice with a timer. Use a timer during the lesson. Preferably the same timer. Set your timer (your smartphone?) in your line of sight and glance at it on occasion. The slide that you’re on should match the minutes on the timer. Are you currently teaching slide number 12? Your time should read 12(ish) minutes. Yes? Awesome, carry on. No? Adjust accordingly. You may find yourself going quickly through some slides (reviews, transition slides, etc) and that’s okay, because another slide may take a little longer (more in-depth activity slides). Timing is literally the number one area of feedback that I hear from all of the new teachers I have helped in the process.
Incidental Language. You are not a social studies teacher. You are not a science teacher. You are not preparing the student for a State Test. You are exposing them to English. What does that mean? When you get to a slide that has history or culture or science – don’t try to teach a classroom lesson. Don’t try to explain why the flag has so many stars and stripes. Just prompt the kid to read what is on the page and assist as necessary. If they are fast and advanced, follow up with open ended questions. You want them to talk. Not you. I know I went into great detail about incidental language on this post, so I’m not going to lecture you again…but…seriously…talk less and prompt the student to talk more. I have a tendency to start a lot of sentences in class, but I rarely finish them.
Objectives / Target Sentences. You know that spreadsheet VIPKID sent you about the student’s prior knowledge and learning objectives? Read it. Know it. Your goal is to get your “student” to use those exact target words and sentences as many times as possible. Repetition is key for learning a new language/word/phrase so don’t be afraid to have them repeat it. A lot. This also helps you to achieve a better teacher/student talking ratio…speaking of which…
The 50/50 or 70/30 Rule. Your intermediate/advanced student should be doing about 70% of the talking and you should be doing about 30% of the talking. Yes, this is more difficult for the lower level students so it is more of a 50/50 goal. You can achieve this by focusing on reaaaally reducing your incidental language and reaaaallly pushing repetition of the target sentences/phrases/words.
Correct your student. (Nicely). Your “student” will make mistakes. They may give one word answers. Encourage them to speak in complete sentences. They may mispronounce words. Repeat them a few times with the student to practice the correct pronunciation. The intermediate student may read too fast, skip words, or miss punctuation. Review and practice together.
Everything else your interviewer mentioned! You should have received a rubric from your interviewer. What areas did you lack in? What areas did you receive high scores in? Keep being awesome in those high areas and keep practicing those other areas.
Whew. You survived Mock 1. How’d you do? In about 24-48 hours, you’ll receive an email from VIPKID (again, always check your spam folder) letting you know what to do next. If you were super.duper.crazy.awesome, you’ll soar right to the new hire paperwork. However, if you (like the majority of us, myself included) still had some areas to work on, you’ll get an invite to schedule Mock 2. Mock 2 is very similar to Mock 1 with the exception of two things. One, they are seriously looking for you to improve on the feedback they gave you (like seriously), and secondly, you will teach a whole 25 minute lesson (still divided into two parts with feedback in the middle) based on whether you were stronger in the beginner level or intermediate level lesson of Mock 1. VIPKID wants to know that you can absolutely, without hesitation, teach any class that you encounter in the coming weeks, so it is vital that you treat this like a “real” class. (Wear your headset, have an appropriate classroom setting, have your props ready, incorporate a fun reward system, etc). Don’t be the person who says “Well….yeah, my other mentor told me I needed to _____ but I was waiting to see if I was hired before I _____.”
So, you survived (maybe, kinda-sorta) Mock 2. What now? At this point, VIPKID has a few options. If you proved yourself and wowed your mentor with all your teaching prowess, you are officially done with the training and ready to submit your teaching contract. If you still struggled a bit – VIPKID may decide to invite you to some extra coaching workshops to see if you are able to improve on specific areas before they turn you loose. If you still struggled a lot, unfortunately VIPKID maintains the right to decide that you aren’t ready at this time and ask that you apply again in 3 months. I know, this is a huge bummer, so I definitely want to help you get through this so that it doesn’t happen to you!!!
Let’s assume you’ve officially finished with your Mock Lessons. Yahooo!! You are done teaching grown-ups who act like 5 year olds! VIPKID will ask you to sign your contract and upload it to the teacher portal along with a copy (you can scan or take a picture) of your college degrees, official photo ID (driver’s license or passport), and any teaching certificates you have. Be sure to follow the timeline they emailed you in order to get everything turned in on time. You will also need to fill out a W9 for taxes (remember, you’re an independent contractor and will receive a 1099 to file your own taxes at tax time) and enter your direct deposit information in the teacher portal (Your bank’s international transfer ABA number is preferred, otherwise an ACH number will work). Finally….you will upload 3 pictures of yourself – one needs to be a headshot-ish (I just cropped my husband out of mine, sorry-not-sorry) and the other two should be life/family photos), make a 15 second intro video for parents to get to know you, and write a blurb for parents to read about you. Tah-dah! You did it!!! You are done.done.and.done.
And now it begins. Once VIPKID receives all of your info, you will have access to the bookings tab. This is how you will set your availability in order for parents to book your classes. The yellow/orange boxes are peak times and the whitish-gray boxes are off-peak times. You can choose either, but know that yellow-orange boxes are much more likely to get booked. When you are first starting out, I recommend that you open as many slots as you comfortably can handle, even if it is not your ideal schedule. This will give a lot more families the chance to get to know you and for you to not be such a “newbie” anymore. After you have settled in for a few weeks or so, you can begin to tweak your schedule to a more consistent and long-term-manageable schedule. Always keep at least 4+ weeks of availability opened. (You can always go back and edit it later if it hasn’t been booked yet). FYI – Parents can only book one week in advance but can see 2 weeks in advance, so they like to know that you’re going to be available in the future if their kid likes you!
What if you need time off? No worries! Just don’t open your availability those days! How long does it take to get booked? Ehhh…that’s a tough one. Some people literally get booked the day after they are hired, others take weeks. It is partly your availability, partly your teacher intro, and partly just the luck of the draw. Parents book on Sunday/Monday for the following Monday (7-8 days later), so your first week(s) will mainly be trials and stragglers. Speaking of trials, in my experience, about 30% of them tend to be no-shows. Don’t take it personally. They get the trial class for free so they don’t lose anything if they don’t show up. On the other hand, major classes (regular students) are rarely no-shows.
Next. Download the app. From here, you can check your schedule, contact the firemen, update your pictures, and more.
And that’s it! Off you go into the incredible, rewarding, magical world of VIPKID. As always, I’m so very happy to chat and help you through as best that I can. I chat A LOT on Facebook messenger, so that is probably the best way to reach me. You can also leave me a note here or find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Email.
If you’re still thinking about applying (and are trying to read absolutely everything that you can before you do so!) I would LOVE for you to use my referral link. VIPKID encourages current teachers to help new teachers with the process by rewarding us with a little extra bonus each month – which in turn helps me keep this blog up and running to help other new teachers! Click HERE for my teacher referral page. Already applied? Shoot VIPKID an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that Carolyn Meadors referred you (I will be really, really thankful!)
Looking for ideas for props? Classroom supplies? Creative rewards? Headsets? An orange shirt?!?! Check out my Pinterest board here…