You’ve been hired and gotten all your paperwork in and approved. Now, it’s time to open up your schedule to get booked!
First, understand that you completely control your schedule! You choose when you want to be available and when you don’t. You open the slots you choose. There are no minimums or maximums.
We can teach anytime between 8:30 A.M. and 10 P.M. Beijing time. For us in the US or Canada, that could be 12-15 hours ahead of our time. I am in North Carolina on Eastern time, and I am writing this in May so it is exactly 12 hours ahead of me. 7 at night for them is 7 in the morning for me. During the Winter months, 7 at night for them is 6 in the morning for me.
The best times to get bookings (peak demand) are evenings for them (mornings for us) or weekends. During the summer months and when they are out of school, anytime is a good time to get booked. These times are marked on your bookings page “HOT” for peak times or “HOT” in red for Peak Peak Times (highest demand).
You can access your schedule on a computer through the teacher portal on a browser or on the computer app or your smartphone through the VIPKID Teach App.
Scheduling Classes on the Computer
On the portal (computer or app), click on “Class” then “Bookings.” You will see a week’s worth of slots on each page. Above the slots you can move to the next week. The blank slots are just regular slots. The ones marked “HOT” in gray are peak demand (more likely to be booked) and the ones marked “HOT” in red are Peak Peak Time (PPT). Those will be the ones that book quickest. Gray with diagonal lines means the time slot has already passed.
Make sure your time zone is correct or you could show up early or late. Check this by clicking on “My Info” then “Account Center.” There is a place there to choose your time zone.
The schedule is locked automatically when you open the page so that you don’t accidentally click on a slot while you are scrolling through. Click unlock in the top right to change anything. When you are through, lock it back. Once you exit that tab, it will automatically lock.
To open a slot on the portal, click on it and fill in the circle beside “Course C.” The slot will turn blue and say “Available.” This slot can now be booked up to 24 hours before the class time.
If you click the bubble beside “Short Notice,” it can be booked up to 1 hour before class time. Those are short notice bookings (SN) and pay $2 per class extra! The class can be booked more than 24 hours out. You only get the bonus if it is booked within 24 hours. If it is booked several days before, you don’t get the bonus.
If you have the 24 hour box checked, keep a close eye on it! It could get booked and you not see it and you would end up with a Teacher No Show. 6 of those and you could get terminated. If you have evening slots open, check them when it is within 1 hour. If it hasn’t booked, you can close it.
To close a slot, click the “close” button on the slot.” There is no penalty for closing a slot as long as it hasn’t been booked. For more about canceling classes see this page.
The best option for morning slots is to open them with the 24 hour box clicked. Check it before you go to bed. If nothing is booked, leave them open but set your alarm to get up and check them at least one hour before your first open slot. Wake up and check the slots on your phone. If they have not been booked, close them all and go back to sleep.
Scheduling classes from the Phone App
On your phone app, click on “Time Slots” at the bottom. Swipe left or right to find the date you want to open, then click the padlock to unlock the schedule. Find the time slot and click the little toggle button on the right side of the slot to open it. There will be a white oval with blue writing with “24 h” appear. This is now open but not available for short notice booking. Click the white oval and it will turn blue with white writing. This means the 24 hour button is on (short notice) and it can be booked within 24 hours.
To close an unbooked slot, click on the toggle button.
The picture here shows that the 7:00 AM slot is open for short notice. The 7:30-9:00 slots are already booked. The 9:30 slot is open but is not available for short notice. The other slots are not open.
You can set your phone to send you notifications for when you are booked. For the first few weeks, you should get notifications for every booking. After that, you will only get notifications for short notice classes.
DON’T RELY ON THE PHONE APP TO NOTIFY YOU! Keep an eye on it yourself!
Notes on Bookings
Parents can book you for a class any time in a 2 week period. The VIPKID week runs Monday through Sunday so if today was Tuesday they could book any time for this week or the next week up to Sunday.
The schedule opens for parents to book the following week on Monday at noon, Beijing time. That is midnight Sunday Eastern for us (11pm in winter) and is known as “The Frenzy!” Many seasoned teachers with lots of followers and regular students, will fill their schedules instantly. New teachers do not do well in the Frenzy until they have been teaching for a while, so please don’t be disappointed if you get nothing for your first 2 months or so of Frenzy.
After you teach a class, you parents have the opportunity to priority book you for the same slot 2 weeks later. This is a great way for you to develop a full schedule of regular students. If you do not have the slot open, the system will ask you if you want to open it. The parents can also request that you open it through a priority booking request. That request will come through on your phone app or computer. If you can’t open the slot for some reason, when you hit refuse on the request you can tell the parents why you are denying their request.
Parents can also choose you as their preferred teacher and then put in the times that they would like to take classes. On your bookings page, you may see a slot with “1 interested student” or “2 interested students.” This means that a parent that has chosen you as their preferred teacher has indicated that this is when they would like to take lessons. If you open the slot, the parent will be notified that it is open but they may not actually book it.
Priority bookings are sometimes generated by the VIPKid system automatically. Some parents just let the system do the booking for them. So it will automatically ask you to open slots that you may have never opened before. You can just ignore those requests or refuse them. If you refuse it, the system allows them to priority book with another teacher.
Don’t feel guilty about denying a priority request. You teach what you want to teach. It’s ok to say, “No, I can’t teach at that time.”
If you need to take time off for vacation, medical reasons, moving, sanity, etc., just don’t open slots! You can click on “Change availability” on the bookings page and enter the dates and the reason. Know that you will probably still get priority bookings during this time, but you can deny them or just let them expire.
Tips for Getting Booked!
You’ve opened slots and now, the waiting begins. It can take a while to get booked so I’m going to list below a few ways you can help to get booked.
- Do both the Foundational and Advance TESOL certificates. Even if you are not required to do them or if you already have an ESL certificate of some kind, add them. The parents can sort through teachers and one of the first things they look for is that certification. For more info on the VIPKID/TESOL, click here.
- Add every certification that you possibly can as quickly as you can. The more certifications you have, the more classes you can book. Go to the portal and click on Resources, Certification, Major Course. Anything that is gray, you will be able to add. Click on it to see what is required. Sometimes, you will have to do some reading and a quiz. Sometimes, you have to submit a recording of you teaching a mock class. Some certifications are not available immediately and you have to teach a certain number of classes before you can add them. The most important one to add is the Trials certification so you can teach trial classes. For more about trials, read here.
- Stand out to the Parents: The parents are the ones who choose the teachers for their children’s classes. Some trials are booked by the VIPKID sales staff but most trials and all Major Course (MC) classes are the parent’s choice. On the parent portal they will see a list of teachers available for the time slot they are choosing. What makes you stand out as a good choice for their child?
- Have a great profile picture that captures attention. You want to stand out from all the other perfect, stiff, professional pics. Pets, colored hair, puppets, etc. draw attention. Sometimes they won’t accept them for your main picture but you can use them for your secondary pictures. Make sure it is in very good focus and great lighting. You want to crop it in where it shows your face well. Don’t use a stiff, formal, headshot. Show some personality! Your secondary pictures can have other people in them but you need to be easily recognizable. Have a picture of your family or you on vacation or outside.
- Have a great video. Add music to it or effects with Movie Maker or iMovie. Remember that this is sales! You are selling yourself to the parents and the student. Highlight what you are good at. Use a clip of you teaching something from a demo lesson. Include a picture of your family or pet or someone else’s child! If you don’t know how to edit it, ask a teenager! There are also several people in the FB groups that offer editing services.
- Bio – make sure you have a great bio written that highlights your education and experience. Don’t list the name of the school but do list what your degree is in and any certifications you have. List what you have taught even if it is “Private tutoring (homeschool), religious education (Sunday School), Community group leader (girl scouts), etc.” State that you are an expert in pronunciation correction, grammar, music, etc. You are marketing yourself to the parents in this bio. The sales team also looks at these to match you with potential students. List hobbies in it that would match the students as they use those to match you up. Even if is, “I enjoy watching my children play soccer.” What do you have to offer their student that no other teacher has? For example, I was a music education major and I sing, so I played that up in my bio and video. Live on a farm, include your animals in the video.
- Translate your bio on this website into Chinese then back to English to make sure that it translates well. I did that on my first bio and it came out so weird. Use simple wording. Once it translates well, use the original wording, not the translated and retranslated wording.
- For teachers of color and minorities: it is no secret that the Chinese people have a cultural bias against people of color and minorities. I’m sorry this is the case, but it is what it is. You have the opportunity to change that one child at a time and one family at a time. So use this to your advantage. The parents who are investing a significant amount of money into their child’s English education are preparing them for a future in a wider world than they had. They want the cultural diversity that you offer. Put something in your bio about offering their child the opportunity to get to know someone of color and experience a different culture.
- Send in a ticket (portal – support – contact support) asking for bookings. Keep it positive, not complaining. “I am so excited to teach for VIPKid! Please book me for classes. I’ve taken X workshops, studied the curriculum, and have my classroom ready. Please ask the sales team to book me for some classes.” Include a picture in your classroom.
- Market yourself on Weibo. This is Chinese Twitter. Look it up on the Play Store and download Weibo International. Sign up with your Teacher name – I am Teacher-Penny-JT-VIPKID. Post your profile pics and video. Make a video in your classroom reading a simple children’s book. Tag everything with #vipkid# and #vipkidteacher#. Say, “Look me up on the parent portal and book a class with me.” Join this group for help: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VIPkidTeacherUsingChinaSocialMedia/
- Every day, close your unbooked slots for the next day. Log out of the portal then log back in and open the slots for the next day with the 24 hour box checked. This will bump you to the top of the “I’m available” list. We think this helps but it is not an exact science.
- Open as many slots as possible, especially those in the Peak Peak time slots. Especially if you are doing trials, have the 24 hour box checked. But keep a close eye on those! When I first started, I would check them the night before and then wake up as if I was going to teach. If I had a booking, great, up we go! If I didn’t have a booking, I would uncheck them and go back to sleep. If you have the 24 hour box checked, you must check it an hour before to see if it has been booked. If you miss it, you get a teacher no show and $10 deducted from your account. Open at least 3 weeks of slots (current week plus 2 more weeks) so the parents can see your consistent schedule.
- Take workshops on Fresh Desk. Some are done live and some are recorded. You can see a listing of workshops and a ton of other information on the Portal under Resources, then Library.
- Substitute Teach: Some people have great success with substituting. You can send in a ticket to ask about being a part of the official subbing program.
You can ask to sub through the phone app, but some are told they can’t sub without an invitation. You can try it but beware that you may be thrown into a class with no notice or even after the time has already started.
To try to sub from the phone app: Be logged in to the app on your computer and on the classrooms page. Go to the phone app and click on the speech bubble at the top. Then click on “substitute teacher” and type, “I am not an official substitute, but I am available to sub from now until…..” Give the times in BJT. Keep refreshing the phone app (pull down on the chat box) and your classroom page every minute. It may not message you to tell you that they have added a class. Start messaging about 10 minutes before the next class starts and keep refreshing it until at least 10 minutes into the time slot. It is very easy to get a Teacher No Show with subbing so proceed with caution.
- Check your profile to make sure it has your degrees, certifications and experience listed correctly. Click on “My Info” portal, then “Account Center.” Scroll down to Education Background and make sure it is all correct.
- Pray and be patient. I promise they will come. A few at a time but they will come. It took me 5 days for my first class and about a month to get fully booked. Some take longer.