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.
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…..
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:
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!
Love ❤️ you all
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