Applying to VIPKID: My Experience Part One
You know, the ones that send you all the jobs you’re not qualified for because you were too lazy to fill out another profile and upload, again, a copy of your resume. As a writer, I was looking for a remote job that could be done online. I basically filled in the minimal amount of information.
However, sometimes you find jobs you would have never really thought you could have. That’s how I felt when Jobcase.com sent me an email with VIPKID as a possible match. I clicked on the details and, much to my surprise and excitement, I was actually qualified to apply. So, I quickly hit the “Apply” button with a shaky finger.
Now, you may be scratching your heads and asking, “Chasity, what is VIPKID?”
Well, I’ll give you the basics. VIPKID is a company that hires native American English speakers who have a bachelor’s degree, or higher, eligible to work in the U.S. and Canada, and have some experience teaching (mentoring, coaching, homeschooling, or other types of life experience) to help teach Chinese students English one-on-one, remotely.
So, yes, you can wear pj’s, but I caution you to make sure your top half is professional. This is a job and you are interacting with young children between 6-9, depending on which level you feel comfortable certifying with. I chose the 1-3 level certification because I wanted to start out slow and work my way to a higher certification if I decided on that course.
I enjoy watching young children make those connections. I’m sure I’ll be happy with this age group. So there’s VIPKID in a small nutshell. You don’t have to prepare a lesson plan, yet, you should prepare yourself to present the VIPKID objectives with the slides provided.
After applying and answering the questions, I was prompted to complete a quiz with five multiple-choice questions on VIPKID’s teaching methodology. [The first time I only missed one. Yes, I had to do this and my demo video twice.] Upon completion, I was asked to complete a demo video of myself teaching the assigned slides to a pretend student.
My first video was upbeat and I picked up a few pointers from the material VIPKID sent me in an email. I admit it was pretty awful, I’m sure.
I didn’t even have a headset on. One of their main requirements! Energetic and friendly, maybe. However, I was not defeated just yet. Another email arrived asking me to redo the quiz and demo video. Starting here, I decided to journal this experience.
So this is crunch time. I read information-after-information, watch video-after-video until I pick up on some different things to try to make this class my own. I learn that props go a long way in helping the student and can give me extra points in the demo. I grab my granddaughter’s goat, Gabby, and a finger puppet. I reread the slides, going over each one and practicing my new teaching skills. I borrow my son’s headphones.
Might as well admit it now, he probably won’t get them back. (Now, at this point I’ve been using my smartphone.) I set up my phone in my bedroom, fix the lighting, position my headphones, and take a deep breath before hitting the “Start Demo” button.
I try my best to remember certain tactics I learned in the video while going over the slides. I have a big smile on my face and try to engage the “pretend” student. In the beginning, I introduce myself, and I ask what their name is and how old they are. Here, I just make up a name and pretend I hear answers.
I use my granddaughter’s name because thinking of her always brings a smile to my face, and she knows Noni will play with her and act silly. I give high fives to correct answers and thumbs up. When I get to the end of the slide, I wave goodbye. I hit end on the record button. I have 51 seconds left, but I feel confident that this video was way better so I hit send for the second time.
“Congratulations you have passed your demo video and can move on to certification.” The email read the next morning. Excited, I scan through the links I’ve been sent. I have to schedule a mock class to keep the hiring process going within so many days. I hurry to my computer and pull up the page I need.
Quickly, I decide on 2:30 Eastern and book the day. Then, I start studying Chasity style: I pull up any and everything I can find on mock classes with VIPKID, YouTube videos, blogs, journal entries, and certainly not least, comb the VIPKID resources.
On the day of Mock Class I wake up, drink my coffee, then prepare my classroom with a U.S. map (bought at the Dollar Tree the night before), displaying my reward system (PJ Mask characters, my granddaughter’s favorite toys), and ready my other props.
Pulling up the slides, I go over each one, sometimes practicing in the mirror. I watch a few more videos before I get myself ready. I’m wearing a plain yellow shirt, jeans, and no shoes. My hair is in a ponytail, like always. I apply a little makeup to brighten my face. I have everything set up and ready to go, but I want to see if my camera is working and if it needs adjusting.
“Several VIPKID teachers/mentors recommend signing into the mock class at least 10 minutes early.”
I enter the practice class and turn on my camera and mic, even though the room is empty. I notice I’m a little off-center and that you can’t see my name in the background or my props well. I try repositioning myself, my computer, and my small background shelf, holding my props. I practice each slide just in case I’m asked to teach slides A or B.
[You are reminded to be familiar with both lessons because your mentor chooses which lesson you will teach.] With 30 minutes to spare, I grab a drink of water, practice a little more in the mirror, and try to relax.
Several VIPKID teachers/mentors recommend signing into the mock class at least 10 minutes early. I was 25 minutes early, making sure everything was in place and working. An internet interruption usually causes the hiring process to stop and you are disqualified. So if you don’t have another email, you’ll have to wait a bit to try again.
I had my smile with me, my energy up, and butterflies in my belly. I practice the slides again, especially the tricky ones I knew were going to trip me up. Just as I come to the last slide, my mentor shows up.
She is very friendly right from the beginning and tells me not to be nervous and to have fun. She goes over a few things, asks if I have any questions, which I didn’t, then had me begin. I was enthusiastic about introducing myself and asking my “student” their name. I have them repeat it back to me in a full sentence. I keep my voice slow and my face expressive, smiling always.
The first slide is introducing a word, a simple word. I repeat the word twice then cup my hand to my ear to get “student” to repeat. She says it twice also but together. I need to say it once in isolation then get her to repeat, then say the word again in isolation. You get it, ping-pong. My mentor types in the chat box, “You say it twice and they will too, say it once.”
After that little bump, I feel like I am breezing through them. Until we get to the slide I practiced the most. You know, the tricky one. My “student” doesn’t understand what I need her to do because I forgot to show her earlier on. I try to get her to understand but my ball has rolled away from me and I’m trying to use as much TPR as possible.
I try not to panic. I show her what I meant by doing the first one. After that my “student ” gets it. I reward her because that was a little stressful for us both.
“Old habits are hard to break, I guess.”
I keep my smile and go on to the next slide. My time was up, but I taught all the objectives. Teacher Joelle went on to give me feedback. Forgetting my southern accent, I mispronounced the synthetic phonetic sound of “r.” I said “rah” and it’s supposed to be “err” with the jaws not really coming apart or the mouth opening very much.
I also did all the work on the slides instead of having the student do them. VIPKID goes by the teaching methodology of I do, We do, You do. I knew it too, having read it over and over and hearing that phrase in the videos. I was bad about doing my son’s homework for him instead of just guiding. Old habits are hard to break, I guess.
We discuss the importance of having the kids interact on the slide and how it helps them to start making connections. She’s still friendly with a genuine smile. We exchange pleasantries then she lets me know VIPKID would be in touch within 24-48 hours.
She wishes me luck and tells me to stay cool (like in the AC). We had a conversation about the weather at the beginning. I feel optimistic and decide as I put my props away that if I have to do another Mock Class, so be it. I would just get better and apply the feedback from my mentor. I’m sure that’s what they will want to see.
No sooner had I put away my small classroom, I had an email. Missing just a few points, I am invited to book another Mock Class within three days. So I schedule for Friday, July 12th. Hoping the weather holds out and allowing myself two days to study and practice incorporating more TPR and Modeling for the student. It’s Thursday night and I’ve been through Nancy Taylor’s videos again for the zillionth time in the past few days.
“I’m beginning to think I’m overthinking the whole process.”
She is one of my favorite VIPKID teachers because she is just so friendly, down-to-earth, and extremely helpful. I wish I had known about her and her referral code when I applied because I would have loved to have her one-on-one help. But the videos on YouTube are totally helpful too! I love her teaching style and it’s closer to my own personality around little ones. I also love her energy. Okay, I am going to stop fangirling over Nancy.
So, tomorrow is the big day. I plan on getting up early, drinking my coffee, going over the material again, and everything I did the day of my first mock. Just a little nervous, but I’m making sticky notes to remind me of things I need to remember, especially TPR and Modeling. Otherwise, I feel ready and hate that it’s middle afternoon because we’ve been having afternoon storms the past few days. I hope Mercury gives me a break this time and lets me grab this achievement.