Working From Home (VIPKID)

May 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

   


I have to force myself not to eat brownies.

I have to force myself to exercise.

I do NOT have to force myself, however, to teach.  I truly love it.

I have to force myself to exercise.

(I just decided to say that one again because lately IT’S SO TRUE!)

I began teaching online many years ago when my weight made it difficult for me to stand for long periods of time in the classroom.  The bigger I became the harder it was to teach in a classroom environment.  Eventually, it became impossible.  That was heartbreaking for me as I had spent so many years working on my degrees and certification.  I also loved teaching.  I could light a fire though with my thighs just walking from one end of the hallway to the other.  I literally had to teach from behind my desk because standing up became an insurmountable task for me.  I taught middle school so it’s not really an age where being trapped behind your desk is a good idea.  You need to get out there and mingle.  Be alert!! And I couldn’t do much of that anymore.

When my kids were younger, I also found it difficult to juggle 4 children and work demands.  Not to mention the cost of daycare for three kids when only one was school age at the time.  Trying to get everyone to appointments or being there when they were sick was hard when it was just me.   I often felt overwhelmed.  Teaching online became a wonderful opportunity for me and eventually the career that I pursued.

I have worked in several online teaching positions over the years but a year ago one of my teacher friends recruited me to work for the company she had switched over to.    I had never worked for a company in China before and I wasn’t sure it was a ‘real’ job.  I didn’t want to leave something secure for something unknown.   It took me another 6 months to take the plunge.  I wish I had done it earlier!

 

I don’t think I’ve ever loved an online teaching job as much as I love this one.   I teach English to children using something similar to Skype.  They have created their own network and platform.  We teach children one on one for 25-28 minute class sessions.   It’s a total immersion program. I do not speak Chinese! The curriculum is already done.  No lesson planning! But I did have to alter my lifestyle completely to make this job work.  My students live mostly in Beijing, Shanghai and other areas of China so our hours are different.  3 am in Texas is 4 pm in Beijing.  I get up at 2 am almost every day to begin drinking coffee so I can teach from 3 am – 9 am.  I teach back to back classes for those 6 hours a day.  This works out to be about 12 classes a day.   I do this almost 7 days a week.

Coffee!

 

This job is quite different from any other teaching job I’ve ever had because you create your own schedule and in some ways, you are really building your own business.   You’re not given a classroom with students assigned to you.  You have to earn every student you get.  Parents choose you. Students choose you.  You must be chosen!  Every Sunday, parents go online and book their classes for the upcoming week with the teacher of their choice.

This is always how I feel when booking opens and I refresh my screen to see I have been chosen!

Booking opens at noon Beijing time.  To get booked solid is a very big deal for VIPKID teachers!

I book within the first 2 minutes!! As soon as bookings open, I can refresh my screen and see my schedule go from empty to filled.   Of course, it wasn’t always this way.   When you first start out, you have no ratings and no students.  You have no reputation–yet!

Parents will go on the VIPKID website to look at all the teacher profiles and ratings.  This helps them decide which teacher they want to book a class with.  You see the teacher’s profile, pictures, bio, intro video and other parent’s ratings/comments about that teacher.   In that way, it’s  like Yelp or Angie’s List I suppose!

At first, the comments/ratings that parents left were not available for teachers to read.  I was actually one of the teachers against them making it visible to us!! I felt like no news is good news.  I’m always anticipating the worst!! Now I check my comments obsessively!  I love to read them.  Occasionally I get a comment from someone who doesn’t like my teaching style but 99 times out of 100 it’s very positive.

I feel so truly blessed and honored that parents take the time to leave me such kind and caring comments!  They rate us from 1 to 5 apples and then they can add comments as well.  Sometimes parents will write their comments in English if they are fluent enough.  Most of the time it is translated for us which means our comments may not always be exactly as they were intended.  However, we usually get a general idea!  When you see some of these children almost every day you do start to build a relationship with them.   I have bonded with many of them and we really try to keep up with one another.  I pay attention to the weather in Beijing.  They do the same for me!

Here are just a few examples:

 

 

 

When I first started teaching, I had to open every slot possible to try and cast a wide net and book as many students as possible.  If you work hard, though, and don’t give up you will build a steady number of students who become your ‘regulars’.  I’ve never worked so hard at any job or slept less!! And yet I love this job more than I could put into words.   It came at the perfect time.   I needed a job with a better income when financial issues hit me last year.  This job has afforded me the opportunity to make more than I ever did before doing something I also enjoy more!!

Sometimes I feel like a total failure in so many areas of my life.  But with this job, I feel successful.  I even feel proud of myself!  I haven’t felt that in awhile.  I know I’m good at what I do.  I know I make a difference.  And I’m told that on a regular basis by parents, students and my employer!  I’m appreciated.  It has really helped to rebuild the confidence in myself that to be quite honest had left the building long ago.

This was last week’s  schedule.  Usually, it’s a solid 3-9 am schedule but I actually took some time off on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings last week because I really needed the extra sleep!  I’m trying to get better at self-care! Getting enough sleep is important and I have had to accept that sometimes I just need to give myself a few extra hours to sleep in.  I have only taken 2 days off since I started working on this contract 6 months ago.  I have students that will book me every single time I open a class so I automatically feel guilty if I take a day off.  I know that there are certain students who will wonder where I am? However, I am a much better teacher when I’m not falling asleep on the computer!!

 

I am so grateful to have such a following amongst my students.   Today I had another parent hop on the webcam to ask me if she could reserve a spot in advance because her daughter is always so disappointed when they can’t get into one of my classes.

Last week they had some kind of contest for parents/students where the prize was getting to book your favorite teacher early before bookings opened to everyone else.  I got booked early!  It was kind of awesome to think…wow! I’m the prize!!

How amazing is that? It makes me feel better than I have felt in a very long time.  It is the kind of feedback that I’m not sure we often get as teachers.  To have it really confirmed that what you’re doing matters and that you’re good at it.

In my past teaching positions, I haven’t always felt that what I was doing made that much of an impact.  I think I did more grading than anything else.  This job is so very different.  I literally feel the love and warmth coming through my computer screen.   I can see the “aha” moment as it happens.  When they get it!! When it clicks! And then we cheer and clap and Hi-5 each other even though we are worlds apart!

When you are working with students whose English is very limited, you have to find additional ways to communicate.  TPR or Total Physical Response is a teaching tool utilized to the max!  You can’t just say it. You have to show it.  We must use gestures, movements, and motion to engage our student.  You have to keep them interested even when they don’t always know what you’re saying!   So we sing!  We dance! We laugh!  And the high five really is universal!

Sometimes I can’t even believe I get paid for this!

My ‘classroom’ is an area of my bedroom.  In it, I have all my props, flashcards and teaching supplies.  Of course, a plethora of wands, tiaras, cat ears and whatever else you do to keep things interesting!

I make my own schedule but I’m usually up at 2 am to start drinking coffee.  By 3 am, I’m ready to go! My neighbors probably think I’m crazy if they hear me talking to myself or singing in the middle of the night!  But we do get paid to have fun!

On Valentine’s Day, I gave heart rings out to all my girl students for right answers!

I also give out stars as rewards.  Our stars are virtual but it’s a lot more fun if you have star wands you put in your hair!

One of my regular students loves everything ‘princess’.  So, of course, we wear tiaras! Who doesn’t want to wear a tiara at 3 am?  It’s hard to be down on yourself when you’re wearing a crown!

 

 

We have an app that we use to check our bookings, schedule, parent feedback/ratings and communicate with the ‘firemen’ (tech help!).  I can even view all the materials/curriculum for my upcoming lessons right on the app!  It’s perfect for those times I’m at Target’s dollar spot or Dollar Tree looking for things that go with a theme.  *And if you’re a teacher you know that’s our hangout for inexpensive props, rewards, and resources!*   I can pull my lesson plans up right from the phone and see if anything I find will fit!

Here’s the front page of the app.  It abbreviates your last name.  From it you can see your ‘apple’ ratings.  I have a 4.99 out of 5. Woo hoo!

I can click on “Bookings” and it will take me to my schedule where I can see my upcoming lessons.  I can even click through to see the detailed curriculum.

Here’s an example of my lesson with Elsa (one of my regulars who I just adore!)

I know that my job is a blessing.   My students literally fill me with so much joy every day!! They often draw me pictures and make notes to show me.  Even when their English is limited, we find ways to communicate.  This is a picture Elsa made for me.  She said we are both princesses playing on the playground together.   And she addressed it to “my” Holly.  How sweet!

She made this for me during Chinese New Year. She said it was the lantern festival and so we are carrying lanterns.  Also to the right, we are eating dumplings!

 

Here I am in the classroom….(For privacy purposes, I blurred out my kiddos faces )

 

 

When your student from Beijing realizes your day is their night!

 

 

When you break into song…..

 

 

But they’re just not feeling it..

 

The company I work for is fairly new but it has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years.  When I first got hired, they had 5,000 teachers.  Now that has doubled.  I was just offered (to my relief and excitement) a second contract with them! It’s been a wonderful experience.

Even though I work from home,  I belong to a wonderfully supportive group online full of teachers who are all working for them.  We communicate every day online and we help one another with questions or suggestions.  I’m up at 3 am all alone in my ‘classroom’ but all my coworkers are one tab away in the Facebook group!  I have made so many new friends through this job.   It is strange to say but I feel more supported now than I ever have.  We can get immediate feedback online when we have questions.  If we are frustrated, tired, sick or just having difficulty teaching a concept, there is always a teacher awake and ready to chat with you!  Once I had the flu and had to teach 12 back to back classes.   All my teacher friends were there to cheer me on and get me through it!  We all do the same for each other.

Locally, groups have popped up.  I was able to go to Austin a few months ago to meet up with many teachers.

 

One thing I am so grateful for is the mobility I have gained through weight loss.  Before I lost weight, I still could have definitely done this job from home.  In fact, the job itself is an excellent one for anyone living with extreme obesity or physical limitations.   Many people opt to work from home for that very reason. However, weight loss has allowed me to attend the meetups and social events that are happening locally.  It gives me the chance to meet other teachers and participate in all the fun that VIPKID has going on outside of the virtual realm!

Attending the local events would have been very difficult for me before if not impossible.

For example, the drive to Austin was about an hour.  It was located at a  very cute coffee shop but it was fairly small with narrow walkways.

Trying to fit in that small space would have been a nightmare.  I would not have been able to do it.   Weight loss has enabled me to participate in life on a level I could never have before.  And for that, I will always be grateful.  On June 10th, we are having a San Antonio meetup and I can’t wait to go! For the first time, I will get to meet other teachers who live in my zip code!  I am very excited to be a part of this community.  It is allowing me to make new friends and become part of something amazing!

Last night, my son had a fever.  My daughter had a bad dream.   And the alarm still went off at 2 am.  All I wanted to do was hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.   But somewhere in China, a little girl draws my name with hearts while waiting for me to log on.   No one in my life is as happy to see me as my students!! The dog growls at me. The cat knocks her food bowl over. My own kids love me but they don’t jump up and down with excitement when I walk in the room.  My students do!!!

“Teacher!! Hello Teacher!!”

Literally, I would do it for free because I get paid in love.

 

 

We show up for the people we love.  We show up for our kids.  We show up for our students. And we do that because they’re worth it.

So why do I hit ‘snooze’ when it’s time for the gym?

If I can show up for others then I can show up for myself.  I just need to start remembering–I’m worth it too.

We’re all worth it. 


 

****

Fellow Teachers (Or anyone interested in teaching ESL online from home):

I know many people out there might be looking for extra income opportunities or a career from home so I will add this information for those of you that are.   If you’re interested in applying,  my referral link is below.  If they ask who referred you, it’s Holly Rose 😉

 

 

MY REFERRAL LINK:  VIPKID Application

I have spent years working from home but it is very difficult to find legitimate jobs.  This company is the real deal but I will say the interview process can be quite involved.  It looks something like this:

 

Requirements:

Minimum of a Bachelors degree (any subject) and some teaching experience.  The teaching experience can be nontraditional.  I do have a Masters degree in  Education but this is not a requirement.  In fact, my teaching certification is not in ESL at all!  It is in grades 4-8.  VIPKID does provide a lot of training and resources.

They do have an agreement now with Coursera and TESOL providing ESL certification for select teachers. That’s my next goal.  You also must complete a background check.

VIPKID hires for part time or full time.  As I mentioned, you are essentially a contractor building your own student base.  I know many public and private school teachers who do this part time on the side as there is no minimum hour requirement. You can literally work as many or as few hours as you like.  I also know 3 single Moms aside from myself doing it full time!   I even have several friends who travel and do this on the road.  This is how they support their lifestyle of traveling and adventure! The interview process can be daunting.  There is a lot of preparation involved including teaching up to two mock classes for the interview.   There are a lot of resources available online on youtube that can help you prepare.   It really is an excellent opportunity though if you are hired and it is truly one of the most rewarding teaching jobs you’ll ever have!

I do get a referral bonus for anyone I refer who gets hired.  Usually, there is some kind of monthly incentive going that includes a bonus for the person that referred you as well as the person hired.  It changes from month to month.   I don’t make enough off referrals for it to warrant me writing about it.  That’s why it’s taken me this long but it’s a huge part of my life and I also want others to know of a great opportunity.  Thanks for listening!

VIPKID LINK

Love ❤️ you all

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayne Thompson May 22, 2017 at 12:18 pm

One more time I really enjoyed your writing Holly. What an interesting and fun way to work. Since I have lost 100# and have 2 bionic knees my world has totally changed. I can walk and am so much more active….still haven’t made it to the gym and probably never will…I can walk and that is what works for me!!!!!

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Amanda May 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Holly. The joy in your smile and love in your heart. You. Red to hold on to that everyday!!!! You are so beautiful and so much more than that damn number on the scale. I challenge you to love and believe in yourself just half as much as you give to those students! When you are struggling with exercise realize you are just exercising to keep good health so you can continue to inspire and educate as many children and adults around the world as you can. You are exercising to have extra energy to do what you love! Have a blessed week Holly!

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16blessingsmom May 22, 2017 at 1:59 pm

I love how happy you are about this job! Congratulations on your success!!!

Della

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Margaret Wolfinbarger May 22, 2017 at 2:49 pm

I really enjoyed this update and the info on teaching. You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful smile. Those children are blessed to have you teaching them. I’m so proud of you!
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LHA May 22, 2017 at 6:26 pm

What wonderful news! When my mother, who was a middle school teacher, was widowed she took a second job teaching ESL in night school for the extra money. She really loved it and took courses in ESL as she went to improve her skills. You are doing such a service for these students and I can see why you are such a favorite of theirs. I always look forward to seeing your posts but I am especially glad to read that you have found such a wonderful job that you are excelling in. Having a satisfying career really helps with happiness. I was thinking of you today anyway, Holly, because a I was talking to a friend and we were lamenting our on and off success with keeping our eating healthful, and I said “The only thing that can defeat us is giving up”. I think I read that here…..if not, it’s the theme of many things I have read here, so thanks. See how many people you are helping?!

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Mickie Gibbs May 23, 2017 at 12:51 am

What a cool job! And it’s obvious you love it. Thanks for sharing!

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Lynne May 23, 2017 at 1:47 am

What a cool job! It’s so great to ‘hear’ you happy – finding joy! It’s great when a job can do that…and you get paid!! Thanks for sharing.

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Blue candy May 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Love this update. I’ve been reading your blog since 2013 and I love your writing. I check everyday just to see if you have a new blog post. I especially love reading all the posts when you happy

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Steelers6 May 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Oh, that was fun to read, teacher Holly! I’m rejoicing with you that you have found something so perfect for you. I can certainly see why your students love you! The kooky stuff you do is so fun and memorable.
Those good ratings are such an encouragement; I get that! I’m glad you are at that point.

Maybe you will have to have them teach YOU one Chinese word per week. I think they would all love that.
It’s also very wonderful that you will be connecting with other local teachers face to face.
It was just plain so good to hear from you, & hear your enthusiasm about your work! The kids see that too.
Do the students pick a name for themselves for VIPKID classroom?
I wish you the best! Chrissy

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down May 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Thank you Chrissy! Yes most of the children do pick an English name. Not all of them but the majority. They love the movie “Frozen” because I teach many Elsas!!

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Linda J May 25, 2017 at 5:08 am

Such a beautiful and heart-warming post.
You’re such a shiny star, Holly x

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Lea G June 1, 2017 at 9:10 pm

How awesome!! What a great post, I’d never heard of such a thing! I am so happy that you are finding joy in this, and it’s cool to hear about something you know you are good at and clearly LOVE!

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Ashley Regna June 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm

I love you Holly! What a great post. I love your enthusiasm and I can relate to your journey. Overall I have lost 81 lbs myself and I have about maybe 39 lbs to go. You inspire me to keep going and to pick myself up when I fall down. Keep smiling Holly <3

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Laura July 27, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Very very inspiring, Holly. It was fun reading. Keep it up!

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koi seo July 28, 2017 at 1:57 am

thanks ! I really enjoyed this update and the info on teaching. You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful smile. Those children are blessed to have you teaching them.

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b wetteris October 18, 2017 at 11:49 pm

Whoa! I have to say, I am inspired by you already and I have only read 2 of your blog posts. I am overweight, have been all of my life it seems, and I currently have this crazy schedule that is making me feel like all I do is eat, sleep and work. Well, it makes me feel like that, because that IS all I am doing! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my new job, I started back in July of this year, but it can be a crazy schedule. I work late nights and early mornings, I am at the mercy of my schedule. Does this sound familiar at all!?! I had to stop reading and write immediately because, my job is VIPKID! I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job!!!! The inspiration I need is looking at me in the face! When I googled maximum weightless, planet fitness and inspiration, it brought me to YOU! And, I couldn’t help but tear up when I saw that you are a VIPKID teacher!!! I keep saying that TOMORROW I will go to the gym after teaching, but so far, it has been a constant of sleeping for a few hours, eating, getting through my day feeling like a zombie, taking a nap and then back to teaching. This cycle is not going to aide in my journey, but to know that at least one person of in our sea of teachers has gone through, is going through, the same journey… makes me feel better already. I am looking for my inner voice to be inspired and I look forward to read more of your posts to be a light on my path… I already appreciate your words and look forward to reading more!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 26, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Well hello there fellow VIPKID teacher!! How exciting to read this! I totally relate to everything you said especially feeling like a zombie at times!! LOL I have definitely had to tweak my work schedule after coming close to a burnout due to the hours but it is worth it. Also I drink a lot of coffeee!! I am so happy to meet you!

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Leo Tat November 27, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Such a beautiful experience to transitioning into a self-employed online teacher for Chinese children. I totally understand your feelings as my wife is also a teacher. She teaches Chinese to English speaking kids. There is such joy and satisfaction to see how your tuition is making a difference to the children’s education.

International teachers in China are paid very well. Maybe you can consider moving there with the whole family, to work there in an international school. With the package, they will pay for your accommodation too.
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