It’s been slightly more than four months since I started teaching with VIPKid. I’m still enjoying my job, but to be perfectly honest, the last month has been more difficult. First, however, let’s start with June! The month of June was by far my best month to date. Here were my completed numbers in June:
- As Scheduled Classes: 31
- Student IT Problems: 4
- Student No Shows: 16
As you may remember from my previous 2 Months with VIPKid Update, you only get paid half the teaching bonus if a trial student cancels class (student no show). Most of the no shows you get will be from trial classes. One of those cancellations was a regular student, so I did get fully paid for that class. Also, since I officially taught more than 45 classes, I got an extra $1.00 teaching bonus per class! So that was good. My total paycheck for June ended up being slightly over $445, which was a huge improvement from the first two months! I taught so many classes and almost every time slot filled up!
Now, onto July. July marked the beginning of the summer months for the VIPKids. This meant that school was over for the students and summer break was upon them at last! VIPKid offered huge incentive bonuses to increase the “demand” that July would bring. More time slots opened up as the children would be available during mornings (teaching evenings in the United States) to take additional classes.
There are a lot more Peak Hours (orange slots) in summer months!
This led me to believe that July would be my best month! That was, unfortunately not the case. Here’s a quick breakdown of my July numbers:
- As Scheduled Classes: 15
- Student IT Problems: 5
- Student No Shows: 14
Nearly every single class I taught was a trial class… I’m not sure if it was just because summer break happened or what, but almost all of my regular students stopped showing up. My classes stopped getting booked a week out and were instead filled with trials a night or two before. You can see, I actually taught less than half the classes from June. Luckily, I still passed the 30 classes threshold, so I did earn an extra 50¢ for my finished class bonus (down from the June $1.00 bonus I earned previously). I also gained one teacher bonus for someone who signed up under my referral link, so I earned an extra $60 that way (note: July and August had a $10 bonus for each teacher referral). This made my total paycheck for July just over $300. This is still my second highest paycheck, after June, but only because I got that teacher referral bonus!
It’s hard to explain, but after having such a full, great month in June, July was really disappointing. I found myself getting up for classes where the students just didn’t show up. It’s frustrating to wake up at 5am to get ready for a class at 6am just to find out that the student couldn’t be bothered to make the class. I get that sometimes things happen, but I literally had more cancellations (counting both no shows and IT problems) than I even had classes! And out of the 13 or so of those classes that were trials, not a single student actually signed up to become a VIPKid member. I’ve heard of teachers having their trial certification removed for having poor sign up rates. If this happens to me, I’m afraid I won’t be teaching any classes! I still have two more months on my contract, so hopefully things pick up and I begin to enjoy this job as much as I did in June. I’m hoping that maybe these summer months are just an oddity and things will return to normal come September.
Improvements to VIPKid
This has also been a big month for the company itself! As you may have noticed from the picture above, there are now clickable check boxes in each time slot. Checking this box means that you authorize the class to be filled with less than 24 hours notice. Leaving it unchecked does nothing different, it just means you can’t be booked with a last minute bonus class (for each one, you get an extra $2.00). I haven’t found this feature to be particularly helpful to me yet. When I have empty slots in the morning, I always check the boxes the day or night before. I haven’t had any of the checked box classes fill (yet). Even with the box checked, the classes cannot be booked within one hour of start time.
There is also now a little headset and microphone icon you can see. This pops up in every class as well. It is a way for the IT help (the “Firemen”) to communicate directly to you during class. The students cannot see the chats between you and the Firemen. VIPKid is doing everything they can to move away from Skype. When I first started, Skype was all everyone used to communicate. Apparently there were some confidentiality breaches with that, and rival companies got ahold of teacher’s Skype names and tried to steal them away from VIPKid. Weird, I know. Ever since, they’ve been making improvements to try and move away from Skype to communicate with teachers.
The website for VIPKid also got a face lift! Instead of the informational page, it now plays a little video of a gal getting up to teach a class. It’s pretty cute, albeit a bit unrealistic. The video shows the teacher waking up at 7:30 to teach her class at 8am. I’ll just say this: pretty much every teacher I know gets up at or before 5am. Because of my timezone, I can’t even teach classes at 8am! Unless you’re teaching from overseas, be prepared to wake up early, usually before the sun’s out.
My favorite new update to VIPKid has to be the mobile app they just launched! It’s available for download on both iOS and Android. To download it, search “VIPKID T” for iOS or just “VIPKID” for Android. While it’s available for anyone to download, only teachers can actually log into the app. This app allows you to view your teacher profile, see all upcoming classes within 24 hours, check your schedule for the week, read their FAQ, contact their Help Desk, and read app announcements! You can view class times in local and Beijing hours. You can see the lesson you’re going to teach and see the finish type of previous classes. It’s pretty neat and I imagine the app will only improve over time!
Improvements to my Teaching
As you may have seen in my Two Month Checkin with VIPKid post, I have continued making fun reward slides for students! This is a fun way for me to show off my creativity and make the kids smile! I now have a reward slide for gathering space items, collecting bugs for a spider, and adding spots to a Dalmatian! The kids always seem to enjoy the slides.
I also took the liberty of creating a Paycheck Calculator for myself. The only thing I don’t have on there right now is the $2.00 short notice bonus (totally forgot because I never get those classes). If you’d like to download my handmade VIPKid Paycheck Calculator Excel File, CLICK HERE. This is meant to be a guide and help teachers. If there are mistakes in my formulas, I apologize! Use it at your own risk. If you are very dependent on knowing your numbers are 100% accurate, use a back up method. That being said, I have found this calculator to be accurate for me!
My Thoughts on Where I Want to Go
This is a tough one for me. On the one hand, I’ve really enjoyed my job with VIPKid. I love the extra paychecks and the kids are adorable. On the other hand, I’ve become so frustrated with the no show students and a bit disheartened that my regulars haven’t kept up with me. There are all sorts of explanations on why this could happen, but I worry that it’s a reflection of my teaching. I always seem to have the kids laughing and singing and enjoying class, but is there something I’m doing wrong? Are other teachers doing something better to keep high booking rates? Is it just that they’re more qualified as teachers? I watch the example class videos and I feel like I’m just as good as those teachers, but who knows? It could certainly be due to my limited availability as a teacher. Many teachers teach far more than the 15 class minimum (I don’t).
In about six weeks, I’ll be heading to Spain to teach ESL in a classroom! This huge leap is really exciting for me. I am going to be an auxiliar de conversación, or a teacher’s assistant, through the Spanish government (Ministry) program. If you’re interested, you can read more about that program on my Different Ways to Teach English in Spain post. I’m considering keeping my contract with VIPKid (assuming they feel the same) because the peak hours in Spain are from 12pm-4pm, right during siesta time! This obviously depends on my work schedule, which I won’t know until I arrive in Spain, however. I’ll definitely have to see how that all plays out before I make any commitments. How awesome would no more early hours be though?! Should I decide to do that, I will probably need to do something to increase my booking rates.
Different Ways to Increase VIPKid Booking Rates
Increase Your Availability
The first thing you should do if you’re wanting to book more classes, is open up the Friday and Saturday evening slots (Saturday & Sunday morning in Beijing). In my experience, those classes almost always fill, typically with trial students. Be warned: they seem to cancel just as much as the other trials, but at least the time slots fill! Half pay is better than no pay.
These are various ways you can market yourself to the parents of the children. These tactics can take up to 6 weeks to take full effect, so if you’re considering this, don’t delay! Each teacher is only allowed ONE form of a marketing tactic, so choose wisely! I’ve heard most teachers have success with the video, followed by the voice recording, but it’s completely up to you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in submitting something.
Marketing articles written by teachers are published weekly on VIPKid’s WeChat forum. The average viewership of a marketing article is 2000 readers.
The topic of the article should be connected with your teaching experience with VIPKid. Articles should ideally be between 1-1.5 pages double spaced. You can give us three topics to make a decision before you start writing it or you can choose one of the following topics:
1. Please write about two of your top teaching moments with VIPKid.
2. If you have ever taught ESL abroad, write about some cultural differences in learning languages from your home country and the country where you were teaching.
3. How can parents help kids to review lessons after school?
4. How should a teacher praise or criticize a student?
5. Including pictures will enhance your article!
Your marketing article must be saved in word format! (.doc or .docx)
Another option is recording yourself reading bedtime stories, poems, or songs for VIPKid students. The average audience for a recording is 3000 – 4000 listeners. Teachers are free to choose reading material that is suitable for 5 to 12 year old students. Please keep the recording between 2-4 minutes.
Here are the instructions for recording:
1. Choose the best recording device available. Recording by phone is one method; however, the quality is not as professional as actual recording devices.
2. Select a good recording environment. This means a place that is quiet and doesn’t have an echo (not the bathroom please). We can provide examples of ideal recording areas if you can’t find one.
3. Set the recording file format quality as high as possible before you start.
4. While recording, it is better to speak softly than to speak loudly. It is easier for us to adjust if your volume is too low.
5. Put the microphone in a good position. The rule here is as close to your mouth as you can. You can choose to set the microphone, voice recorder, or phone near the tip of your nose or jaw, and let the recording port point toward the sound.
6. After recording, save the recording as .mp3 file and always submit the corresponding text/script in word format (.doc or .docx) with your recording!
This is an opportunity to show how you can connect with students or apply different vocabulary words, sentence structures, or concepts in real life. Always submit the corresponding text/script in word format (.doc or .docx) with your video. The video should be short, but sweet!
Teacher Referral Bonus
Ok, so this doesn’t technically have anything to d0 with increasing your booking rate, but it does have to do with increasing your paycheck, so it’s worth mentioning. As I said above, I had a teacher sign up through my teacher referral link (which you can find below :P), so I got a cash bonus on my July paycheck. For every teacher you get to sign up through your link, you will earn a bonus for that month. Normally you get $50 for the first and second teacher that month, and $80 for the third+ teacher. This bonus resets each month, so if you’re really into it, try getting a bunch of teachers in the same month to increase your bonus. This is easier said than done, however. A lot of people get cut because VIPKid is picky about who they’ll allow as teachers (no idea how I made the cut). It helps to have candidates beef up their resume or CV to emphasize working with children/teaching/ESL experience before applying for the best chances of hire (that’s just good practice before you apply to any job).
If you think you might be interested in applying, click here for my referral link! Please make sure you’ve researched the program before you commit to the hours!
Click here for my first post on what applying and starting work for VIPKid entails (there have been a few updates since I started).
Click here if you’d like to read my two month update with the company (I explain more about trial classes and reward systems there).