Thanks to companies like VIPKID, the face of ESL instruction is changing. I, for one, am excited to be a part of it. It’s fun to think about how schools (both online and brick-and-mortar) might look and operate 20 years down the road.
“Class, when I was your age, we actually had to go to school. In a bus. And we had only one classroom computer, which did nothing but run the old Oregon Trail MS-DOS game, and kids would clothesline each other to be first in line to die from dysentery.”
“That’s great, Teacher.” (*mutes my mic*)
If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Ready Player One. Not only is it straight-up nerd candy for the brain of your inner 80s child, but it also paints a great picture of what it might be like to attend school as an avatar in a completely virtual world.
Anyway. The one thing I really miss about my days of not being a one-person faculty? Talking to other teachers. Being a VIPKID teacher is a great job, but it can also be isolating if you don’t make it a point to put yourself out there. Seeking connections with other like-minded educators comforts me. And seeing what you guys do in your own classes? Heaven.
In my past life as a public school teacher (and then a private school teacher after that), I loved it when our professional development trainings were held at other schools. During lunch break, I’d surreptitiously creep the hallways, peeking into other teachers’ classrooms to soak in their surroundings. “Cookie sheets as magnet boards?! Where was I the day they taught that in undergrad?”
So in between 5am classes and laminating the pieces of your new reward system, go make some teacher friends. I feel like the following five ideas are essential to building your VIPKID tribe:
This one’s a gimme. Despite being around since 2013, VIPKID still feels like a start-up company in many parts of the United States. (It was 2017 before I’d even heard of them.) And despite being 10,000 teachers strong, there are surprisingly few Instagram accounts run by or devoted to VIPKID teachers. So few, in fact, that I was able to swipe down the list and follow all of them while waiting for my SpaghettiOs to heat up in the microwave.
That means your voice is needed. Get on Instagram and become a part of the fold. (You can follow me on Instagram, too: @hi_hi_teacher)
My new favorite VIPKID Facebook group is VIPKID- Videos & Props. Probably because it feeds my aforementioned obsession with seeing other teachers’ workspaces. By joining 1-2 (or 37) VIPKID-related Facebook groups, you’ll have the valuable advantage of posing questions to the group (“How do I grab more regulars?” “What happens if I get negative feedback?”) and getting a slew of good answers from your professional peers.
(Note: If you’re a VIPKID teacher in the southeast U.S., I invite you to come join my new VIPKID Facebook group, made for all us “suh-thun belles”: Sweet Tea & VIP.)
VIPKID teachers’ blogs
The author of Wayfaring Wanders has done a great job providing regular updates (ever couple of months) on her VIPKID journey. Though her blog isn’t exclusively dedicated to VIPKID stuff, it was still my most valuable asset during the VIPKID hiring process because of how clearly she laid everything out.
Don’t see a blog that does it for you? Start your own! Heck, I’ll read it. Remember, I have a teacher-stuff addiction.
Now, if you live in a non-metropolitan area like I do, the VIPKID meet-ups that seem to be popping up more and more across the country (such as this one in Austin, TX) miiiiiight not apply to you. Or, you might have a bit of a drive ahead of you if you want to attend one. Dang you, small town America.
But I love the idea of meeting up with teachers who’ve been doing the exact same thing you have. The camaraderie must be fantastic.