At long last, I’ve gotten a job. Ryan is thrilled to see his dream of having a sugar mama become more of a reality, although I’ll have to put in more hours once I get used to everything to really make that true. I’ve been teaching online with VIPKID for over two months and things are going well.
For the first time in nearly three years, I’m back to a more traditional routine. A typical day begins with me waking up around 8:30am. I walk up and down the four flights of stairs in our building eight times (trying to ignore the already radiating Vietnam heat). Then I take a shower and get to work in my messy and cluttered work space. Ryan has graciously allowed me to confiscate the entire kitchen table.
The schedule for VIPKID is extremely flexible which was one of the things that drew me to the company in the first place. I teach 7 half-hour classes 5 nights a week (Thursday through Monday) from 5pm to 9pm (Danang time). This is one hour behind Bejing time. The classes are one-on-one with adorable Chinese students usually ranging in age from 5-12 years old.
Because I’m a new teacher (and a major perfectionist), it still takes me a ludicrous amount of time to prepare for each class. I take the morning to log into each class and go through the 25-30 slides (45-50 slides for assessments), taking notes as needed. A lot of the students are very young with a very limited English vocabulary and so I have to grade my language, cutting out any unnecessary words while still speaking in complete and correct sentences using language the students will understand. This was harder to get used to than I originally expected it to be and I practiced A LOT in preparation for the job interview, which involved teaching 1-2 mock classes after the initial interview.
VIPKID is a really fun company to work for and teachers are encouraged to use a lot of props and creativity to make the classes more engaging for the students. This is where I excel. I may not be an especially efficient person, but I know how to do fun! I use stickers and music and sometimes even dancing to reward the kids for doing a good job and to keep them engaged and focused throughout lesson.
It seems to be working. I currently have a perfect parent feedback rating (all five apples!) and more than half of my students are recurring students. Some of my favorites are Jake (age 7), Rose (age 5), and Liangyi (age 5). I always smile when I see these cuties on my calendar.
So, back to the typical day. After I arrange and organize my props for each class, Ryan and I head to lunch and when we’re finished eating we sometimes swing by a copy store on the way home. I’ve found that with some of my younger, lower-level students it helps to make customized flash cards to help them learn the new vocabulary. Sometimes, if they learn 1-2 new words a lesson it means we’ve done good.
I have a few hours to kill in the afternoon doing whatever I want. Sometimes I go to the beach or play a game of Settlers or work on one of my books (not much happening there, unfortunately). Around 4:45pm I eat a hard-boiled egg, brush my teeth, and change into my orange t-shirt. This is as much of a uniform as VIPKID has. Then I log into my first class and wait for 5pm.
When the student logs in, I turn on my camera and say “Hello! My name is Teacher Amanda. What’s your name?” I almost always get a response, although sometimes the kids have to be encouraged to speak by supporting parents (especially for new students). I haven’t had one run and hide from me yet, although I’ve heard stories of this happening from other teachers. I HAVE had one parent sit their child in the chair in front of the computer and literally pick up her hand to make her wave at me (she wasn’t having any of it). Most of the kids however, do seem to want to be there and I try to help them enjoy their lesson as much as possible. As far as I’m concerned, there are worse ways to make some money. Thank you VIPKID for this great opportunity!