VIPKID is a dream come true for me! Is teaching ESL online right for you?

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Confession:  I’m a full-on VIPKID sell out.  Now on my third contract, I’m one of those online ESL teachers who obsesses about the color orange (the company’s “team” color), and talks about my online ESL students to the point that my family knows them all by name.  I’m one of the ones who participates in all of the incentives and contests, and who lost her ever-loving mind when she finally got an orange VIPKID hoodie.  I could go on to explain the way the company has turned my life on its head in an amazing way–but you will understand when you get on board, if you find that this online ESL job is right for you.

It’s not for everybody…

See, since I started working for VIPKID, I have been in contact with hundreds of online ESL teachers who are amazed that they have found such an opportunity.  They love the freedom to work from home teaching English, set their own hours, be their own boss and build an online business for themselves.  Like me, they love being in charge of their own destiny, free of any office politics or climbing ladders.  But I have also seen some online ESL teachers who have a harder time adapting.  I started paying attention to what they were saying about their experience and comparing it to my own. What I found, is that it all boils down to expectations.  Some of the teachers had expectations for VIPKID to treat them as employees, while others understood what it meant to be an independent contractor. It makes all the difference to understand the role and evaluate whether it works for you.

Teachine ESL online is different from traditional teaching jobs

It can take some time to get used to being an independent contractor.  In a sense, you are your own boss.  You will manage YOU!  In many traditional jobs, someone else manages the teachers, like maybe the principal or a supervisor.  As online ESL teachers, however, we manage ourselves.  The very best VIPKID teachers are absolute pros at self-management!  After watching other teachers, and some personal growth myself, I have identified four key traits of self-management that can make the difference between fulfillment or frustration as a VIPKID teacher:

The four key traits to happy online ESL teaching

Independence

To be a successful online teacher, independence is crucial.  A VIPKID teacher sets his or her own hours and is entirely responsible for being in class on time and prepared to teach.  Since you are working from home, there is no other person between you and your student.  For me, this idea is liberating.  For others, who like a support team, it can be frustrating.  It’s worth considering, before applying, whether you enjoy finding what you need within yourself, or whether you prefer to work for a company as an employee with a built-in support system.  

Preparedness

VIPKID teachers have to be prepared to do the job.  As solo artists, no one else will make sure anything is ready for you.  It is entirely up to you how prepared you will be, both to teach, and to handle IT glitches, discipline problems, special ed concerns and difficult concepts.  What will you do to explain that grammar piece to a non-native speaker who is waiting on the other side of the screen?  Do you need to brush up on a subject before entering the class?  Do you have backup plan for when your WiFi goes out?  Do you need some new props, tools, or materials?  It’s all up to you!   You get paid for completing the class.  But if you are unable to, even for good reason, you don’t get paid.  It’s entirely up to the teacher to make sure that class goes off without a hitch and that the material is taught well.

Resourcefulness

Online ESL teachers have to solve their own problems.  VIPKID, for example, is in China.  They are up and working during class time when their customers are awake.  By the time you finish your last class, they are in bed and cannot get to your urgent email till the next morning.  For me, this means that most often, I need to be able to solve my own problems.  I need to have the skills of scanning forums and interacting with other teachers to find solutions and answers.  I may have to “wing it” with a solution that I come up with at the moment and be confident that I am making the right call on what to do in a difficult situation. It’s a great idea to ask yourself if you like solving problems yourself or if you’d rather work in an environment structured to help in that area.

Confidence

To work remotely as an independent contractor, I’ve found that I need to be confident of myself  and my performance when I don’t get validation from the company.  Unlike a traditional employer/employee relationship, I don’t receive annual reviews, constructive criticism, or pats on the back for a job well done.  If a teacher is not prepared for this, he or she may feel isolated and invalidated.  The truth is, as independent contractors, our job is to show up and do our work.  We will hear from the company if anything needs to be changed. If all goes well, however, we can go an indefinite amount of time with no direct feedback from the company about our performance. If I’m of the mindset that I must hear from the company whether or not I am doing well, I’ll drive myself crazy.  Some introspection can help you discover as well, whether you would be able to function well in an environment that demands you get your validation from within.

Will you enjoy managing yourself?

Many of us have found that we enjoy independence, making our own calls, and not worrying about reviews, micro-managers, and office politics.  These are the payoffs for being independent, prepared, resourceful, and confident.

Find out more!

Do you have what it takes? Please watch my video review Click Here of working for VIPKID where I go in more depth about the pros and cons, and what it’s like to be an independent contractor for an online company.

Interested? Please Follow This Link 

If you use it to apply, I’d be happy to answer any questions for you that I can.  You can shoot me an email at therealhopewilliams@gmail.com.

 

The Perfect Work-From-Home ESL Job for a Teacher & Mom: Teaching ESL Online

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As a former classroom teacher, current online English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, and a full time mom to two little ones; I enjoy sharing with other parents how teaching online ESL has provided me with the perfect work/life balance. I get the opportunity to enjoy spending my days with both of my kids while also getting to spend my mornings with some of the sweetest students I have ever met. I get to share my love of teaching with the other side of the world, while also making sure my family’s needs are my priority.

When I found VIPKID last summer, I had already taken a year off of teaching to stay home with my son. I was also pregnant with my daughter, and desperate to be able to find something that would continue to allow me to be the mom that got to be completely involved in their early years of life. Going back to a brick and mortar school was not going to give me that. VIPKID sounded like a dream come true. Filling out the application was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. I have never looked forward to going to a job in the ways I look forward to logging into my teacher’s portal each morning.

I will be completely honest; ESL is not something I had ever previously considered. I thought it would be difficult and the thought of working with people who didn’t understand what I was saying scared me. So besides the English Language Learners I’d had in the schools I had previously worked in, I didn’t have much experience in the ESL department. After getting the hang of things, I love this way more than regular classroom teaching, and wish I would have pursued ESL sooner!

If you are like me and love teaching children, but also love being able to spend time with your kids while they’re little, VIPKID is a great fit! Here are some of the many benefits I have from working at VIPKID while parenting:

-Hours: I have complete control over my schedule. Obviously we are working on China time, so my schedule does have to somewhat reflect the times in China. VIPKID offers peak times, which are the busiest times. These times are 6-10PM Monday through Friday and 9AM-10PM Saturday and Sunday Beijing time. I am in Washington State, so the hours are insanely early (2-6AM and 5PM-6AM), but I also get to work when my kids are sleeping and have my full focus on my job during these early hours. I don’t work every day, but I do keep my schedule in these peak times. I work a minimum of 8 hours a week, and build on that depending on how busy my family is that week. This is key for me. There are not many jobs out there where you can completely control your hours based on your personal life. In the first few months of working at VIPKID, I was out of town a lot, and had a death in my family. I was lucky to have a job that could be scheduled around my life. I did not have to request days off and wait for it to be approved before planning my trips. I simply just didn’t work those days. I also only teach when my husband is home, so if emergencies do happen in the night (cue screaming toddler), he is there to help.

-Planning: Minimal! VIPKID has everything planned for you and the lessons are in a PowerPoint type format. When I first started I did spend a good 15 minutes looking over the lesson for a 25-minute class. The good news is you get the hang of the format and lessons quickly, so you spend less time planning for lessons after the first month or two. No more weekends stuck at school, no big events to get ready for, and no worrying about how to meet Common Core Standards. VIPKID takes the planning work out of teaching, which allows me more time to spend with my family.

Props: When you’re teaching children who have minimal English skills, props are your best friend! VIPKID only requires a white board and a puppet, but I personally enjoy having extra props to help students understand vocabulary. If you are a parent, you probably have all of the props you need sitting in your toy box. I have used stuffed animals, cars, airplanes, food, puppets, etc. to enhance my lessons. The amount of money I have spent on props is $0, all thanks to the overfilled box of toys that hangs out in our living room.

-Pay: As someone who spent hours looking for at home job opportunities, VIPKID does a great job making sure employees are compensated for their work. Depending on experience, their base pay is $7-9 a class! Classes are between 25 and 28 minutes long, so an hour of teaching ends up being between $14 and $18 an hour. On top of that, VIPKID offers multiple incentives each month for things like showing up on time to your classes and amount of classes you teach! Most people average about $20 an hour. I worked in preschool and kindergarten classrooms, and this is more than I made there- and don’t get me started on the other work from home jobs (one I only averaged 5 dollars an hour as a transcriber!). I also am not paying for gas and childcare, so I get to keep my whole paycheck!

Do what you love: Teaching is my passion. I have been lucky to work with some amazing families and students since I started out, and it was something I missed a lot when I took a year off. Even with a language barrier, I have students who are genuinely excited to see me. If anything, I have been able to build a more personal relationship with some of these kids because I am in my home. They have met my dog, cats, turtle, taken a virtual tour of my home, and the kids have shown me parts of their lives as well. I have met relatives, pets, talked about their vacations and watched many excited moms snapping pictures of me teaching their child. I have learned about Chinese culture through them. I find myself researching current events in China, so I can know what’s going on in their lives. I spend my mornings finding solutions to difficult parts of a lesson through puppets, silly hats, and lots of repetition! I find myself singing the “Hello Song” all day long, talking excessively with my hands, and sharing challenges and celebrations with other VIPKID teachers.

Community: Technology is wonderful! Not only can I interact with children across the globe, but I can with teachers too! I have been able to follow Facebook groups and get ideas from other teachers, read stories about their lessons, ask questions and shares parts of my life with people who are all sharing this amazing opportunity with me. I have even been able to meet some other VIPKID teachers in my area for lunch, which was awesome! Even though I’m teaching alone, I have never felt alone while working for this company. Everyone is willing to help each other out, so we can be the best ESL teachers possible.

The fact that I can do all these things and be with my kids every day is enough to make me shout from the rooftops that teaching ESL online for a company like VIPKID is THE BEST! If this is something that would interest you, you can CLICK HERE to APPLY NOW! I would also love to answer any of your questions or concerns you may have about starting to teach ESL. I know I had quite a few when I was starting this process, so I love helping others make this opportunity a reality!

 

Life Coming Full Circle with Passion: Teach ESL Online from Home the Possibilities are Endless

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My love of languages began in high school where I took 2 years of German.  After my senior year, I had the opportunity to visit our exchange student from Czech Republic.  I loved being in a new environment where I could not understand the language.  Her parents and I communicated in other ways, and I enjoyed the experience so much.  Some 20 years later, we are still friends!   As I began my search for what I wanted to do in life, I was drawn toward teaching.  Specifically, I wanted to teach English as a second language.   I looked into several programs.  Family members asked how I could possibly teach if I did not know the language of my students.  These questions and the events of life veered me off the path.  I still wanted to work with children, and I found my way into counseling.  I worked as a school counselor for many years, and eventually I stayed home to teach my own children.  

Throughout the journey of life, I felt a longing to interact with other peoples and cultures.   Home and family kept me from taking off and exploring the world.  I devoted my time to teaching my children about other cultures.  I taught them songs I learned in English and Czech.  We visited museums and Skyped with friends around the world.  I found that the connections we share as people are deeper than I had realized.  We met a family that does medical charity work in the Middle East and became fast friends.  They work with a group who many fear.   One day, my children and I were on Skype with them and the wife introduced me to a woman and her two young boys.  I laughed to myself as I saw this Muslim boy and my son making silly faces at each other through the screen.  We were truly in a new era globally!

In the middle of a career search this past October, I discovered an online TESL program called VIPKID.  I actually applied last year , but I was fearful of putting information online.  (I’m an old Gen-X lady ok?)  I clicked on the link and began the process of applying.  I did research online into the company.  I watched Youtube videos of enthusiastic teachers giving tips on things such as TPR.  (What was that?)  The light inside of me began to flicker once again.  The love of teaching English as a second language became a reality for me once again.  This time I wouldn’t let the naysayers or stressors of life get in my way.  This time I would seize the opportunity and pursue it with all of my energy.  

As I continue on this new journey in life, I can’t help but feel I have come full circle.  The goal I envisioned years ago is finally coming to fruition.   Life does funny things at times , and you have to be open to seeing the opportunities as they come.  I hope you keep your eyes open and pursue your dreams just as I have!  If teaching English as a second language has sparked some passion within you, I want to encourage you to try out VIPKID.  You can APPLY HERE,  and I want you to please contact me if you do as I will help you every step of the way.