Welcome back to another VIPKid post! If you read my Six Month Update, then you will now know I’m teaching from Spain – the land of tapas, flamenco, bulls, and vino! I’m living in Spain because of the Auxiliares de Conversación ministry program through the Spanish government. Because I only work 16 hours a week living in Madrid, I need to supplement my income with additional work. While most of my fellow coworkers here prefer doing private lessons in person, I have found that VIPKid has been a much more convenient way for me to earn a bit of extra cash. I can teach from my home, the money gets direct deposited into my American bank account, and that money goes to pay off my credit card that I use here to rake up the travel rewards points! For me, VIPKid just fits the best. I know I totally missed my Eight Month Update post because I was very busy traveling around Europe for the holidays (sorry about that), but boy has a lot changed in the past four months! I can’t wait to get started.
October – January Pay Breakdown:
As you guys know, I’ve always been incredibly transparent when it comes to my pay with VIPKid. I’m not sure how interested you all are anymore, but I’ll continue throwing out that information because I think it could be beneficial for potential applicants to get a realistic estimate about how much they can expect to earn working (very, very) part time.
In October, I taught 31 classes and had zero referrals. I earned $262.25. In November, I only taught 25 classes (which means I didn’t get my 30 class bonus money 🙁 ) but I had two teachers sign up through my referral link so I earned $299.50. In December, I taught 27 classes (another month with no bonus) but had one teacher sign up with my referral link. In December, they had an extra bonus for referrals so my check was $297.75. In January, I’m currently looking at about $100 (bonuses haven’t been added yet but still 🙁 ) so if you guys want to work for VIPKid and you feel my blog has helped you come to that decision, sign up through my referral link (at the bottom of every VIPKid post). It doesn’t cost you anything extra, it just incentivizes me to continue pumping out VIPKid posts and answering all of your questions (to the best of my ability anyway)!
Frustrations with VIPKid:
I’m nothing if not honest, so here is the biggest frustration I’ve had since my last post: Daylight Savings Time. This killed my bookings during the week. Previously, I was able to teach for 1-2 hours (usually only one hour) after I got done teaching at my school on Mondays and Wednesdays. I did that the whole month of October and was able to get more than 30 classes (and hence my bonus) without an issue. Did you know that China doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time? Because I sure didn’t. Suddenly, my perfect noon-4pm schedule became 11am-3pm. Considering I don’t get back from school until around 1:30, I have to put in my availability from 2pm-3pm which is super late for the Chinese students. Occasionally I’ll get the 2pm slot filled, but not very often. This means that I have been relying solely on my Friday classes to earn my paycheck since November, which explains the drop in classes. I have to open up some slots on Saturday, just to make a bit of extra money, which I don’t love doing. Weekends are supposed to be my time, dammit! Still, I need the money.
Another frustration every teacher is dealing with is Chinese New Year/Holiday booking drops. While it was worse last year (according to the update on Freshdesk), all teachers have been experience lower than average bookings. This is especially frustrating for new teachers who don’t have a good rapport with students. Nobody is booking with them! I myself am used to having about three hours of classes on Friday, but lately it’s been more like 1-2 hours. According to the Teacher Update in Freshdesk, bookings are at about 1/3 of their normal rate. I get it, I do. It’s the holidays and the kids are allowed to enjoy some time off from extra classes. It’s just a bit frustrating for teachers because it’s not like the bills stop coming in while they cancel classes on us. Supposedly the bookings will increase to about 2/3 their normal rate after February 3rd and then return to normal “after the festival” which is something like 3 weeks from now. Oh well.
My final frustration may not be the fault of VIPKid, but it’s still a frustration so here it is: Internet Connectivity Issues. While I was in Montana, I had zero problems with my personal wifi. I paid $29.99 a month for it and it worked perfectly! I had one issue when I was staying with a friend using her internet (which resulted in a Teacher IT-Issue finish type), but other than that, I had no problems. When I first got to Spain, it seemed that my internet was working just fine! Then, about a month into teaching, I started having all these weird issues where my internet just seemed so much slower. I made sure to clear all my cookies/cache before logging in, but I would still have these weird periods of “network is loading” where everything would freeze and I would lose about 30 seconds of class before it finally loaded correctly. This wasn’t a huge issue because I am always on time for my classes so if I have to teach an extra 30 seconds or a minute, no problem. Then, one day, I had a huge issue where I couldn’t load the classroom at all. Of course it was with one of my regular students whom I hadn’t seen for a couple weeks, so that was a huge disappointment. I got another “Teacher IT-Issue” and was able to get into my second class of the day, a trial class. The Firemen (tech support) were talking to me through the teacher chat and giving me these ideas on how to stabilize the network, but the only thing that worked was awkwardly asking my roommates to turn the wifi off on their devices so I could have more bandwidth. I felt like an asshole, but there was nothing else I could do. What made me mad was that I was in the trial class the whole time and the student never showed up. I could have probably taught it since I was able to load everything, but there was nothing I could do since I had no student. What does VIPKid do? They switch the finish type from “Student No-Show” to “Teacher IT-Issue” so I don’t get paid nor is it counted as one of my finished classes for the month. I know it was a student no show since I was in the class the whole time, but I had to just let it go. It seemed a little shady to switch me to a finish type that didn’t have to pay me… Not cool. Luckily, our landlord upgraded our wifi to fiber optic speed last month and I have had no issues since then.
These adorable students always remind me why I do this job, even when I get frustrated.
So What’s New This Time?
Ok, onto newer and happier topics! As frustrated as I get, I’m generally a lot happier than I am upset, so that’s important to keep in mind! There are some great new things for me to talk about, so here goes!
You might remember from my previous post that VIPKid is paying for me to get my TESOL Certificate from Arizona State’s online program! I have completed 3 of the 8 required sections and am officially starting my first Capstone Project. The course itself is not to intense, but the Capstone Project requires a lot more effort on my part. I’m on pace to finish before August, which is the only requirement that VIPKid has on the teachers participating in the scholarship program. I’m excited to keep working towards that and improving myself as a teacher both for my online students and Spanish students.
Tax Law Update
VIPKid is now getting into compliance for U.S. tax laws and requiring teachers to fill out a W-9 as an independent contractor through VIPKid. This means that they are now requiring all new teachers to submit that form before they can officially start teaching. To download the W-9 Form you’re required to fill out, click here. The whole idea behind this is that it will be easier for teachers to file their own taxes now. It’s crazy because there are now more than 2,000 teachers working for VIPKid! When I started, there was less than half of that amount. This company is growing rapidly, and I think I hopped on at just the right time!
NO MORE MINIMUM HOURS
This is something I’m super excited about, as should all people working a second job be! It has something to do with the tax law that I mentioned above. I think in the U.S. if you are an independent contractor, you are allowed to work when you want and only when you want. VIPKid is great for flexibility, but they don’t offer health care or benefits (aside from choosing your own hours). Because we are independent contractors and they’re following the U.S. law, we now can work only when we want! They do still recommend filling some out hours each week and letting them know when you’re going on vacation, but you no longer have to work 15 slots every week! YAYYYYYY!
Teach from your iPad?!?
In the past few months, VIPKid has made it possible for the students to be taking class on an iPad rather than a desktop computer. I absolutely love this because they are able to circle things and participate so much easier. There have been times when I’ve gotten a bit of a headache because the students have a tendency to run around the house with their iPads (can’t do that with a desktop), but overall, it’s been great. So many more people have signed their kids up with the iPad now! It makes learning so much more convenient for students. Now, that convenience may also be brought to teachers! It’s still in the works, but making the class available to teachers to teach from their iPads has great benefits! With the app, stability is more likely. There should be far less tech issues on both ends. While teaching from your iPad isn’t available yet, it’s in the works and will hopefully become an option for teachers soon!
I haven’t completed my TESOL yet, but the certificate should end up looking something like this!
Other VIPKid Information
I appreciate all of my VIPKid readers! As I mentioned, I think I hopped on the VIPKid bandwagon at just the right time. I have all of you asking me so many great questions in regards to working with VIPKid and I am happy to help answer any questions I can. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that I do not work directly for the company. I work as an independent contractor, as do all of the teachers. My thoughts and opinions on this job are my own and do not reflect VIPKid as a company in any way. My experience is unique, as would yours be if you chose to work for them.
VIPKid is the most popular thing on my blog at this time. As you can see, I have added a new section specifically called “VIPKID Info” at the top. Please make sure you go through my posts before you ask me questions that I may have already answered in a previous post. Thank you guys so much for your support! If you really want to support me, you can subscribe to my blog with the link on the right hand side of my page. Then, you’ll never miss any of my VIPKid posts! Or feel free to share your favorite/most informative post on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+! Thank you all!
If you think you might be interested in applying, click here for my referral link! What’s not to love now that there are no minimum teaching hour requirements?! Do iiiiiiit 🙂
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).
Click here to read my four month update (my honest thoughts on the job as well as different ways to increase your booking rates).
Click here to read my six month update (you can find an Excel document to organize your pay, learn about contract renewals, and teaching from abroad).