You hear this funny sound from your phone and look over to see this strange orange icon pop up in your notifications. It says: “Congratulations! You’ve been booked!” On your bookings page, there is a green box with a student’s name!
And FREAK OUT mode sets in!
But, don’t panic! I’m going to walk you through every step of how to teach that first class.
Check out what got booked.
Go to the portal and click on “Class,” then “Classrooms.” Your class will be listed there. If you are right at the end of a month, you might need to click, “Next month.”
There are 3 tabs at the top of the chart: Upcoming Classes , Missing CF (class feedback)/UA (Unit Assessment report), All Classes (where you can access past classes).
Your class will be listed under Upcoming classes on a spreadsheet type list. Here’s what you will see and an explanation of each.
- Scheduled time – this will be in your local time on top and BJT below. As long as your time zone is correct in your account settings, this will be your local time.
- Lesson code – this is VIPKID’s code for each class. If it is a Major Course, it will start with MC, Trials start with T. There are a few other codes for specialty classes.
Your code will look something like this: MC-L3-U2-LC1-3
This is a Level 3, Unit 2, Lesson Cycle 1, Lesson 3. I’ll discuss the breakdown of these codes below.
- Lesson name – what is the lesson about. If it says “New Lesson” that means you haven’t taught this particular lesson before.
- Student’s name – This may be a Chinese name (good luck pronouncing it) or an American name. Often the student’s or parents will choose an American name. If it says Bao Bao (rhymes with cow cow), that is Chinese for Baby. It is often listed for trials if they don’t have the complete info for the child yet. In your introduction, ask them their name. Have them repeat it and try to say it. If you can’t hear or understand them, just smile and don’t call them by name. In your feedback, refer to them as “your son or your daughter.” Click on the student’s name to bring up the student profile. It will have their name, birthdate (often the month and date are incorrect but might have the year correct), their computer placement test results, and the most recent feedback from the last several teachers. This can be helpful to you to know what they did well or need to work on. Oftentimes, teachers will leave notes about what the child likes to give you an idea for rewards. They can also warn you about behavioral issues.
You can also see here if you have taught the student before, the feedback you left, and how many classes they have had with VIPKID.
- There may be a little birthday cake by the name which means that their birthday is coming soon. The birthdates are often not accurate. Many times they are the date that the student joined VIPKID.
- Tags – these are things the parents want you to work on with their child. Only a few will have these listed.
- Short Notice (SN) booking – if it is booked within 24 hours of class time you get a $2 bonus! If it says YES, it is short notice.
- Status/Finish type – at first it will say Booked. Once you complete the class it will not change to Finished until after midnight Beijing time when everything starts converting over. It’s usually finished converting everything by about 1-2 PM Eastern time. Don’t panic if it doesn’t change and nothing shows up in your payment until after then. I will discuss Finish types in detail below. Your payment will not appear until it is marked Finished.
- Action – these buttons allow you to enter the classroom, view the lesson slides, view the student info, and listen to the songs in the lesson if any. I’ll discuss these buttons in detail below.
VIPKID has 7 levels of lessons.
- Level 1 (PreVIP) is for the very young children (4-6). They have 12 units of lessons and 8 lessons in each Unit. In each unit, Lessons 1-4 are Lesson Cycle 1 and Lessons 5-8 are Lesson Cycle 2.
Their codes look like this: MC-L1-U2-LC2-7. This code means it is a Level 1 (PreVIP) class, Unit 2, Lesson Cycle 2, Lesson 7. Since it’s Unit 2 you can see that the student had 8 lessons in Unit 1 and now is on the 7th lesson of Unit 2 so they are very much a beginner still.
In PreVIP, Lesson 4 is a checkpoint and Lesson 8 is a Unit Assessment where we evaluate how they are doing on the content. You fill out a form as you go along in class and rate each question with a 0 (can’t do it), 1 (can do it with help) or 2 (does it with little help).
- Levels 2-6 have the same numbering system and number of lessons. Each level has 12 units and 12 lessons in each Unit (144 lessons in each level). In each unit, Lessons 1-6 are Lesson Cycle 1 and Lessons 7-12 are Lesson Cycle 2.
A code of MC-L3-U2-LC2-7 is a student in Level 3, Unit 2, Lesson Cycle 2, Lesson 7. If they started VIPKID at Level 2 they have had all 144 lessons of Level 2 and are now 19 lessons into Level 3.
In Levels 2-6, Lesson 6 and Lesson 12 are Unit Assessments where we evaluate how they are doing on the content. You fill out a form as you go along in class and rate each question with a 0 (can’t do it), 1 (can do it with help) or 2 (does it with little help). The student presents a Final project in Lesson 12.
- Level 7 is 50 minute lessons for very advanced students. Once you qualify for it, you will be paid double for it, as if you had taught 2 classes.
- There are some supplementary classes like Phonics, Proper Pronunciation, Free Talk, etc. They all have different codes.
There are several links under Action on the classrooms tab.
Classroom – click this to enter the classroom. You can also enter it from the bookings tab by clicking on the slot and choosing “Enter classroom.” Make sure you are entering the right classroom!!! It can be confusing if you have several in a row. Look at the clock at the top of the screen. Is it counting down to the correct time for class or a lot more time than you are expecting?
You can get into the classroom about 48 hours before your class is scheduled. In the new classroom format, your mic and camera will be automatically muted when you enter the classroom. It will not start recording the classroom until your student enters or until you click “Start Class.”
You can click on view materials in the classroom to see the slides but they don’t actually load into the classroom until you hit “Start class.” The start class button will not work until 5 minutes before class time. On your first few classes, go ahead and hit “Start Class” , then turn your mic and camera back off to look around and see where everything is and make sure the slides load correctly.
Keep in mind that if this is just before class starts and the student is in the class, they can see you flipping through slides. You can also stay after class if you don’t have another class booked and get to know the classroom better. The slides will stay active for about 30 minutes after class.
As soon as your class is booked, you can see the slides for the class by clicking on materials. You can flip through the slides, and even draw on them or move things around if it is an interactive class. Currently, PreVIP and Level 2 classes are interactive.
Other teachers can leave notes about the lesson and maybe even sample feedback. They are working to offer videos of other teachers teaching each lesson.
You can also access the slides from your phone app. Click on the booking and there is a small icon that says “PPT” that brings up the slides.
If it is just before class and you want review but the student is already in the classroom, review them from the materials button or on your phone, not in the classroom.
Teaching the class
So you are all prepared! You’ve studied the lesson. You’ve read about your student. You have your props gathered for the class. You have your classroom ready and your orange shirt (not required) and red lipstick on. You are nervous as a cat until….you see that cute face! And suddenly you are having the time of your life!
- VIPKID has their own computer app now. Download it from the portal by clicking the down arrow button near the top right corner of the portal.
- They will soon move to only being able to teach from the App. As of now, you can still teach from Chrome but by June 1, 2019, all Mac users must use the App to teach. July 1, all PC users must move to the App and by August 1, Chrome book users will not be able to access the classroom to teach. This has to do with the use of Flash in the classroom. Chrome will no longer support Flash as of 2020.
- Everything else on the portal will still work on Chrome. So, you can still access your schedule and even do feedback from the website, but you must teach from the app.
- If you are still using the website (portal), have 2 VIPKID tabs open on your computer: one for your classroom and one on the classrooms page.
- If you’re using the app, have the portal open on your browser just in case you need to access your classrooms list or schedule on the portal.
- Enter the classroom from either the bookings tab or the classrooms tab.
- Your camera and mic should be muted when you enter the classroom. Check the settings on the block where your video shows to make sure that the correct mic, camera and speaker are chosen and all is working correctly.
- Once you hit “Start Class” the camera and mic will unmute, the slides will load and you can see your student. I hit the start button about 15 seconds before 0 to give it plenty of time load.
- Oftentimes the student will be in the classroom 5-10-20 minutes early! Do not start class early! You will be able to hear them but not see them. Wait until 0 to start class or the parents will expect every teacher to start early.
- Screenshot the beginning of each class just in case. Windows – Windows button and prt scr button. Mac – Shift command 3. Screenshot if you have any issues. Just hold onto these. You will only need them if there is a problem with the finish type of the class.
- Be ready with a big smile!
- Have fun! Make sure they are having fun!
- Use a warm greeting that is age appropriate. For lower level 2s, “Hello! My name is Teacher Penny! What’s your name? Rebekah, Hi Rebekah! My name is Rebekah.” For higher 2s and up you can add “How are you? How old are you?” and another rapport building question.
- If the parents are there, greet them. “Hi Mom! Hi Dad!”
- Have your reward system ready and visible at all times. DON’T FORGET TO USE IT!
- Don’t forget the stars either! I usually do a reward every 2 slides or so. One star, 1 secondary reward. Pace the stars out to about 1 every 5 minutes. So at 10 minutes, I should be giving the second star.
- Watch your pacing on the slides. Most lessons have about 25 slides so at 8 minutes you need to be at about slide 8.
- You are expected to teach all the slides and all the examples on all the slides. However, if the student is going really slow, skip a few examples on a few slides but at least do something on each slide.
- Finish at 25 minutes. Review their rewards. “Great job, Johnny! You got 5 stars and 8 ice cream! Yummmm! See you next time! Bye bye!”
- You must teach until the class timer hits 25 minutes. Don’t end class early! If you end early they could mark it as a Teacher No Show and you won’t get paid! Extend if you need to. Even if you started early, go to 25 on the clock.
- If the student is late, there are any tech issues, etc., you can go to 28 minutes, but you don’t have to.
- If you cannot finish everything because of one of those issues, say, “OK, our time is up! See you next time.” Use the little box at the bottom to go to the good bye slide, usually the next to the last.
- Don’t go over 28 minutes. If you do, the parent will expect every teacher to go over.
- If you have tech issues, refresh your page and switch lines. Often times that will correct the problem. If that doesn’t fix it, click on “Contact Firemen” and choose what the problem is. Then click submit. Type in the chat box what is happening.
- If you have any tech issues or the student is not in class when it starts, screenshot your page. You may not ever need it but if there is a problem, you have proof that you were in class.
- After your class, hit “Finish Class” and it will close the camera and mute the mic.
- Click on “Add feedback” to leave feedback (discussed on a later page) if you have time. If you have several classes in a row, you can wait until after all the classes to add feedback.
- If you have another class after this one, click “exit classroom” and it will take you back to the classrooms tab where you enter the next class.
- If you are still in the classroom at 28 minutes, the “Finish Class” button will change to “Go to next class and a timer will appear.” Click that to go directly to the next class.
- Run to the potty. Let the dog out. Take a sip of coffee. Reset your rewards and props.
- Enter the next classroom. Do it again!
After you finish teaching, the finish type will not change until after everything processes for the day, starting at midnight Beijing time. It takes a couple of hours for everything to convert over to the finish types and for your pay to show up under payment.
There are several finish types and each one affects your pay. They are also different depending on if it is a trial class or Major Course.
Finished as Scheduled – this is the one you want! Class went through fine with no problems and you get 100% pay for either a trial or MC.
Student No Show (SNS) – the student doesn’t show for whatever reason. They are very common on trial classes.
- If it is cancelled within 24 hours on a Major Course class, you get full pay and it cannot be rebooked. It will be marked “Finished” even before class time if it is cancelled. You do not have to enter the classroom.
- HOWEVER, lately these canceled classes are getting rebooked so watch them carefully and be ready to teach if it has been rebooked. If it was marked as available for short notice before it was booked originally, it can be rebooked.
- For a Major Course class, if you enter the classroom and your student does not show up for class, you must stay for the entire 25 minutes in case they show up late.
- Hit “Start Class” at 15 seconds before 0 and it will open your camera and mic. Screen shot to prove you were there. After 1 minute, you can click “Contact Fireman” and choose “Can’t see student” and then submit. You do not have to, but you can.
- Hit switch lines and refresh to reload the page. Type in the chatbox. “No student at 1:00. Reloaded and refreshed page.” Screenshot.
- The firemen will eventually come and may contact the parents. You can cover your camera with a sticky note but leave the camera open and keep your mic muted. You can read or scroll through Facebook or whatever but make sure you are listening and checking the classroom frequently to see if the student shows up. Type in the chatbox every 5 minutes and screenshot again.
- The firemen may tell you class is cancelled. Check your classrooms list on a browser (refresh the page) and see if it is marked as “Finished – Student No Show.” If so, screenshot that or any conversation with the fireman and exit the classroom. No feedback is needed for a No Show. You will receive full pay plus the Participation and Finished Class Bonuses.
- If it’s a trial class, use the same procedure above but you only have to stay for 15 minutes before you can leave. You will only be paid half of your base pay for a trial No Show. You will receive the participation and finished class bonuses.
- Be aware that trial classes can cancel and be rebooked even at the last minute or a couple of minutes into the class! Refresh your classroom every 30 seconds. Have the classrooms tab open in another tab and refresh it every 30 seconds to see if they have switched you to another student and another classroom. If you don’t see that it was switched you can get a Teacher No Show. Even if the trial is marked finished before class time, plan on going to the classroom just in case it is rebooked.
- On a trial no show, once it is marked “Finished – Student No show,” (usually about 6 minutes in) you can screenshot and leave. No feedback is required.
- If a class is cancelled more than 24 hours ahead of time, you get no pay and it just disappears from your schedule. The slot is left open and can be rebooked. If it is cancelled within 24 hours and it was an MC, it is not supposed to be rebooked. Keep an eye on it though. Stranger things have happened.
Student IT – if a student has IT problems in class (can’t hear, can’t see, etc.) refresh the page on your browser, switch lines. Screen shot to prove you were there and your equipment was working well. Contact the firemen and tell them what is going on by typing in the chat box. Screenshot often! If it is called as a student IT – you still get paid full pay for a Major Course and half of your base for a trial. You still get the bonuses for participation and finished classes. Many times they will ask you to keep teaching even if it is marked Student IT. You still get paid so you may as well, even if there are issues.
Occasionally, firemen have asked teachers to teach extra time for an IT issue. Tell them that you will teach until 28 minutes. Then go to your next class. Even if you don’t have another class scheduled, don’t go past 28 minutes.
System Problem – If there is a system wide problem and you can’t teach, it might be labeled as a System problem. You get full pay for a Major Course or half pay for a Trial. These are rare. They usually like to mark them as Teacher IT so they don’t have to pay!
Teacher IT – if there is a problem from your end, it can be labeled as a Teacher IT. You do not get paid for it. If you have any problems getting into the classroom (computer decides to update, headphones won’t work, internet goes out, weather, etc.) contact the firemen on your phone app (message bubble at the bottom of the app) immediately and let them know you are trying to get into class. If you don’t they will mark it as a Teacher No Show which is very bad! Rebooting your computer, router and modem, emptying the cache and history, and testing all equipment about 30 minutes before class are great ways to avoid tech issues.
In order to get a Teacher IT, you must actually get into the classroom at some point. If you can’t get into the classroom at all, it may be marked as a now show. If you can contact them on your phone, you might get it marked as a an IT rather than no show.
You cannot teach from your phone but some people have been able to get into the classroom from Chrome on their phone by clicking on “Use Desktop Site” in the browser. Even if it’s just long enough to get your computer rebooted or whatever you need, it could save you from getting a no show. A TIT is better than a no show. As long as you are not getting them frequently, TITs do not affect your contract.
Have a backup plan.
- You can teach from an iPad using the VIPKID Teacher HD app. Sorry, this doesn’t work on Android tablets yet.
- Have another computer standing by, if possible. I keep my daughter’s laptop handy.
- Know how to connect your computer to your phone’s hotspot in case your internet goes out.
- Where else can you go to teach? Many people have taught from their cars using a restaurant’s wifi or gone to a friend’s house or hotel conference room. Just get a blank wall behind you and go for it.
****If you have any IT problems at all, screenshot everything. They may try to blame it on you (Teacher IT) when it wasn’t your fault. If you have screenshot proof, you can contest it and get it changed to Student IT or System Problem so that you get paid. They like to blame the teacher on these so they don’t have to pay you. If you have proof, you can contest that. If the student can hear you, try to keep teaching. I have taught classes where I couldn’t hear the student, couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me, etc. We kept going and got as much in as possible.
Note that if a parent complains about any little IT issue, they can switch it to a Teacher IT issue weeks after you taught and you may not see it. If you see one of these, protest it, especially if you have screen shots. Click on all classes and then “Cancellations & No Shows & Change Finish Types.” Select the class and plead your case.
Teacher No Show – this is bad! If you oversleep or miss that you had a class booked and just don’t show up, it is a no show. You will not be paid for the class and will be penalized $10 per class from your incentive payments. Do everything you can to be there. Read below for consequences. There is no excuse for oversleeping or setting your alarm wrong. You made a deal that you would be there to teach when you opened the slot. So be there.
Teacher Cancellation – if you must cancel a class, try to do it at least 24 hours in advance. There is no financial penalty for it then but it still counts against you for contract purposes.
Teacher Cancellation_24H – If you cancel the class within 2-24 hours, this is the finish type. You will not be paid for the class and will be penalized $2 per class that you cancel to cover them having to pay a substitute the Short Notice Booking Fee.
Teacher No Show_2H – if you let them know within 2 hours that you have to cancel, it counts as a Teacher No Show_2H. You will not be paid for the class and have a $10 per class deduction from your incentives. This is better than a Teacher No Show because they can arrange for a substitute.
Teacher Cancellations and No Shows – Consequences.
Life happens and sometimes you have to cancel a class or a whole day. Sometimes you have a no show for a legitimate reason. VIPKID hates cancellations and No Shows and has a very strict policy on them.
To cancel a class, go to the bookings tab and click on the class you want to cancel. A box will pop up with “go to classroom” or “cancel this class.” You can do this from your phone app too. Choose cancel and it will give you a chance to enter a reason and then offer a new time for the class. Note that this just opens up new slots in your schedule and anyone can book them.
The financial penalties for No Shows and Cancellations are listed above but these also affect your standing with VIPKID and whether or not your contract is terminated or not renewed at the end of the contract.
You are allowed 6 cancelations or no shows per contract (6 months). 3 classes canceled or no show in a day (Beijing time) count as 1 cancelation. You can have a max of 2 cancelations in a day. If you have to cancel 5 classes one morning, that counts as 2 cancellations. If you cancel 4 classes Friday night (your time) and 4 Saturday morning, that counts as 2 cancellations since it is the same day in Beijing. If you cancel 4 classes Friday morning and 2 classes Friday night, that would count as 3 cancellations (2 for Friday morning and 1 for Friday night) because those are 2 different days in China.
If there is a legitimate reason why you must cancel, you can ask for a soft or medium cancellation. The soft cancellation does not count against you for the 6 allowed cancellations and has no financial penalty. The medium cancellation does not count against you but still carries the financial penalties. They will ask you to submit paperwork (doctor’s note, death notice, hospital admission forms, etc.) to be approved. You do not have to do this immediately. You can just cancel the class and send in documentation later. Things like childbirth, a death of a close family member, hospitalization or sickness of a close family member, or weather related issues can all be reasons for a soft or medium cancellation. Apply for a soft/medium cancellation by going to the classrooms tab, click on “All Classes” then click on “Cancelations & No Shows & Change Finish Type,” selecting the affected classes and submitting your reason with documentation.
I have had to cancel classes twice: once when I had to go to the ER for kidney stones and was on major pain meds and the second was to fly to Texas when my mom had surgery. Both were granted as soft cancellations. If you have documentation, you will likely be granted them. If they deny them, you can request again through the same process or you can send in a ticket and use the subject “Teacher Voice” and it will be looked at by a native English speaker.
If you reach 6 cancellations or no shows within your 6 month contract, you can be terminated or they can refuse to renew your contract. The Chinese have a very strong work ethic and pretty much go to work unless they are dead! They expect the same of American teachers but are beginning to understand that we have a little different view of it and expect some flexibility.
Note that you may get an email after canceling a lot of classes that says your contract is under review. These emails are usually automatically generated and once you explain what is going on, they will take you out from under review. This is a part of the system that needs substantial improvement. There have been teachers terminated or put under review due to extreme situations in their lives. Once they can get human eye on the reason they have been reinstated but they shouldn’t have to deal with that in the midst of whatever crisis they are going through.
If you have an ongoing issue, just keep them informed of what is going on. I know of teachers battling cancer but still show up to teach every day. They may to cancel due to the effects of their disease and the company has worked with them as long as they have communicated with them.