It seemed like just yesterday morning that I was up at 4am and profusely sweating through my best interview outfit, pretending to teach a “5 year old” boy his ABCs, who was really a serious, middle aged, Chinese guy in Beijing. (yes, that’s how the interview was).
And now…6 months have passed since I’ve been working with VIPKID, and I’ve just signed my next 6 month contract! If you read my previous post about working for VIPKID, you’d have an idea of what it’s like to work for them.
In case you didn’t read my first post about VIPKID, here’s the lowdown.
What it is: a company based out of Beijing, who provide and source English teachers for Chinese children ages 4-12.
What it means for you: Making some extra money (up to $22/hr) as a side-hustle, or a main hustle working from home teaching English
Now, that 6 months have passed, I wanted to give you an update, and tell how I really feel about it. As with so many things, there are the Ups, the Downs, and here is how I really feel.
- Getting your “work” part of the day done by 9am. Like….what!? There’s a euphoric feeling to having gotten up, taught, and being done with that and on to the next thing in your day. The feeling you get, after having made 8 children or more laugh and smile, and learn some English – it truly is an endorphin high…speaking of highs…
- When you hear your first, “Thank you teacher”. You get to meet some of the most adorable, tiny, intelligent, creatures you will encounter in your life. Some of these children are so smart, I swear and they are so so smart and take their lessons so seriously. So many times, at the end of a lesson, after I sing (usually off tune) the goodbye song, they look at me over the webcam, and with all the sincerity say, “Thank you Teacher Dani”. Ugh…*all the feel* (insert ugly crying face).
- The time… FLIES. I used to work in a medical laboratory, and while we were mostly busy, there were some days that were torture man. It seemed like the clock’s hands were frozen, or even running in reverse. Teaching these munchkins, the time…speeds by and you are on your last class before you know it! Each class with each child is only 25 minutes, so there really isn’t much time to be bored.
- You are your own boss. Travel. You can travel…and do this job. You don’t have to choose one or the other. You don’t have to check to take a day off, or change your schedule. You literally set your own schedule. My husband and I were on the road traveling for the last three months, and I didn’t take any time off at all! If we were traveling, I simply wouldn’t put that I’m available for that day, and voila!I loved that I could set my own hours. I’ve never had a job that gave me that freedom.
- A 5 minute “get ready” routine. (make it 7 if you are a girl). That’s all you need! I swear, to be ready to work. My husband sets up the coffee maker on a timer, so when I get up at 4:30am, I go straight to my routine…which takes only 5 minutes, and should take anyone the same: I get up use the bathroom, brush my teeth, brush my hair (slick it back with a scrunchie), get coffee, sit at my desk and turn on my laptop. While my laptop is booting up, over my pajama top, I put on a neon orange colored shirt (the highly suggested, but not mandated company uniform of VIPKID). On a particularly rough morning, I have a travel size concealer, mascara, and foundation I keep in my desk drawer that I swipe over my face to brighten it up.
- Pacing, pacing, pacing. So the classes are only 25 minutes each. Yayyy. But. The downside is that leaves you with 5 minutes to leave your grades, feedback, and sign into the next class to teach. In theory it works, but not when you need a bathroom/food/water break. I’ve solved (most) of those needs by actually bringing several bottles of water and meals/snacks to keep near my desk. It doesn’t solve the potty problem though. So you kind of have to really run to the bathroom when you get a 5 minute break. Not fun. An alternative for that is to purposefully leave a half hour space in the middle of your shift to eat and use the bathroom. I don’t do that, but it could be a solution for that problem.
- Early morning/the chance of missing a class. You cater for the times of the children in China. That means you are on Beijing time, not USA/EST. So for someone who lives on, say the East Coast of the United States, that means you are teaching 5am-9am, or 4am-8am during Daylight Savings Time.
I am not a morning person, and my first couple of days teaching I literally thought I was going to die. Not to be too “Pollyanna”, but it will get better. Your body actually gets into a rhythm, and you go to bed a little earlier, and you get into the cycle. But in my first month of teaching, I overslept once. By an hour. Missing two classes. Not only did this mean a $10 deduction from my monthly pay, but also other parents could see that I was a “no show” for two classes. *insert sad face*
- Culture differences. I wasn’t sure if I should actually write about this, but I wanted this to be as honest as possible. You have to keep in mind, your “bosses” are in China. You are communicating across the ocean ALL the way to CHINA. Sometimes, I want an answer now, but I have to wait a whole day! Also, the Chinese have different standards on classroom management, and what is and isn’t ok. On one occasion, my Wi-Fi connection was spotty. It was my fault, not the students. I think it was due to the zone I was in. I was able to teach all of my classes, but management did not pay me for 2 classes, or for 1 hour. I did a lot of backing-and-forthing with management, but they concluded that because the student didn’t get the “best possible learning experience”, they would not pay me for those two classes. Let me reiterate. This happened only once, where I feel I didn’t get paid where I should have. For only 2 classes out of the more than 300 classes I have taught to date. However, I wanted to be as honest as I could in this update, especially after that experience left me “feeling some kinda way” about it. To me, it was not about the money itself that mattered, but the morale, and the principle of it all.
So…what’s my verdict??
Overall, I’m really happy with this job. To me, at the end of the day the pros outweigh the cons by far. I also like that the job itself is one of integrity, I believe in it, and I do feel like it’s contributing more towards the good than not.
I love the freedom, and flexibility it gives my husband and I – it’s very important to us. We have been traveling and on the road for the past three months, and even though we literally were moving every week to a different place, I was still able to consistently work and make a steady income.
Would you ever be interested in becoming a VIPKID Teacher like myself? If so, here is my referral link! If you have any questions, leave me a message in the comments below!