education, kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Momma on a Mission: Part 2

When my husband and I decided that it was in the best interest for our family this year for me to take a year off from teaching by extending my maternity leave, I had mixed emotions. For the last eight years, I had been a teacher. It was my passion–it was my identity. While I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay at home with our son and have the chance to witness and be a part of each and every one of his “firsts”, I also had some guilt. I had ALWAYS contributed to our household income and that was something I took pride in. I wanted to stay home, but I also wanted to bring in some extra money so that our family could continue to live comfortably. I had very little idea at how difficult that could be.

For weeks, I searched the internet for remote jobs with flexible hours, allowing me to spend my days with our son and drop-off and pick-up my step-daughter from school. Very little results showed up in my search. I’m not very good at asking people to purchase things, so I knew direct sales wasn’t going to bring in the revenue I was hoping. With an infant at home who is nursing and dependent on me, customer service jobs requiring phone calls or set working hours just didn’t seem reasonable. Family and friends recommended I offer childcare, but to me, that wouldn’t allow me the same one-on-one, genuine time with my son–the reason I was staying home. I was picky, leaving me with very few options.

Then, I stumbled upon an ad on Facebook for VIPKids. I remembered that I had looked into this months ago, while pregnant with Kellen. I went through the initial steps, but when I saw I had to do a live demo class, I had abandoned my application. I was scared. Looking back at it now, I have no idea why. I have interviewed for multiple teaching and administrative positions in my career. I have had a successful career thus far in the field of teaching. So what was there to be nervous about? Out of options and desperate to find something that would help my family, I decided to complete my application and signed up for my live demo class. It was the best decision! I have officially completed my first month as a VIPKids teacher and am ready to share with you why this is a wonderful side hustle for any one!

What is VIPKids?

VIP Kids is an online learning platform designed to help Chinese students learn English. The company has a flipped classroom approach in which students study material on their own and then use the VIPKid classroom platform to demonstrate and practice their learning with a native English-speaking teacher. The students and teachers both log-on to an online learning platform with interactive slides for learning and practice. The company has headquarters in both China and the United States and offers flexible teaching hours to native English speakers who hold a bachelor’s degree (in any field) and has relative experience working with kids (volunteering, coaching, teaching, mentoring, babysitting, etc).

What is the application process like?

To begin the application process, you are first asked to complete an application form with basic information: name, education background, and work experience. Once your application is completed, you are then prompted to book an interview. You can choose to book your interview right away and then look over the preparation materials, or choose to book an online interview at a later date. Sometimes, they also give the option for applicants to record a demo lesson that can be scored and later reviewed. I did this at first, but still had to do the online, live demo class, so I recommend just starting with that! Once you schedule an online interview, you need to review the materials that are provided. They are extremely important in ensuring that you score well on the rubric you will be graded on.  They also have videos that help you see and understand how to use TPR (total physical response) and props in your teaching.

What materials are needed/ required?

In order to teach for VIPKids you are required to have a computer device of some kind (laptop, MAC),  a camera (most are installed on your laptops already and those are fine!), and a headset with a microphone. I found a cheap one on Amazon!

In addition, you must have a wired DSL connection of at least 20 Mbps. In order to do this, I bought a cheap ethernet cord to connect to my laptop and run it to the room I teach in. You can find these in stores, but I bought mine on Amazon, too!

VIPKids also recommends setting up a classroom in a small corner or room away from noise and distractions. With two dogs and two kids at home, I created a small teaching room in one of our walk-in closets for now! It sounds funny, but works great! They also recommend that you have good lighting, as you are normally teaching during the early morning or late evening hours, when natural light is hard to come by.  Thus, I could a few cheap lights from Wal-Mart to help ensure good lighting for my classroom.

What are the hours like?

The hours are something that I know can make some people hesitant, especially if you are still working a full-time job.  The big thing to understand about this job is that because you are teaching live to students in China, there is about at 13 hour time difference. Thus, the peak booking hours during the week are from 5:00 am -8:30 am Eastern time and 8:00 pm to 8:30 am Eastern Time from Friday evening through Saturday (there Saturday and Sunday). Thus, when I first started working, I signed up for the crazy 1am-5am time slots, hoping to get my first few bookings. While I did, I also realized this wasn’t the best option for me, while nursing a four-month old throughout the night! Instead, I open up booking slots from 5am-6:30 am three to four days a week and 6:00 am-8:00 am on Saturday and Sundays. This works well for me as most of my family is still asleep, and my husband is home to meet any needs the kids may have.

What I really love about this company is that there are no set amount of hours that you must work. Thus, if you can only work on weekends, that’s fine.

What is the pay like?

The pay scale varies, based on your education background and your interview. The base pay is between $8- $10 a class. Each class is only 25 minutes long. Thus, your base rate could be $16-$20 an hour. In addition, VIP Kids offers cash incentives. If you show up on time to a class and teach it through the required time, you can earn extra money per class. There are also incentives for teaching 35 or more classes in a given month (super easy to do) and other competitions and incentives that they put out each month to encourage teachers to continue to take professional development offerings or to get certified in additional teaching levels ( VIPKids has different levels of teaching for students–you must be certified through a demo to do each level).

To give you a brief idea, in my first month of teaching with VIP Kids, I taught 50 classes, equaling 25 total hours of work. I started all classes on time and taught over 35 classes, qualifying me for two additional income incentives. Today, I received a direct deposit payment for $565.00.

How much work/ prep is required?

If you are currently a teacher, or have been a teacher, then you will absolutely LOVE this. The lesson planning and prep work is done for you! The slide shows are interactive in nature and are loaded into the classroom platform for you during your class time. All I have to do to prepare for my class is glance over the slide show and the learning objectives ( which I can do from my laptop or my phone app). I then gather a few learning props, usually flashcards from the $1 bin at Target or toys I have in my kids’ room, and I am ready to go! If you Google videos of other VIPKid teachers, you will see that there are some that really go above and beyond! More power to them, but I like to keep it fun and easy. Yes, I provide high energy and enthusiasm to my students, as well as some fun props, but I don’t go all out in decorating my “classroom” or buying expensive props.

At the conclusion of the lesson, you are asked to provide feedback for each student’s lesson. All that is required are a few sentences stating what the child learned and/or excelled in during the lesson, as this goes to parents. You are then able to provide feedback for the child’s next teacher (as it may not be you), as well as feedback for the VIPKid lesson itself. That’s it. My “grading” takes about 2-3 minutes.

Why I love VIPKids :

VIPKids has allowed me to continue to practice my profession and love for teaching, conveniently from my home, while not taking away from my precious time with my little one. The online platform is safe and secure, and allows me to teach and help students learn in a fun environment, without all of the stresses of teaching such as lesson planning, grading, and parent issues!

If you’re looking for a side hustle while staying home with your little ones, or simply would like to make some extra money to help pay off debt or an upcoming vacation, I HIGHLY recommend looking into VIP Kids. Don’t let the application or interview process deter you, like it first did me. It’s an amazingly fun and easy way to make some extra cash, while helping students along the way.

If you’re interested in signing-up, use my unique referral code to help fast-track your application!

https://t.vipkid.com.cn/mkt/landing/personal?referralToken=7259445c1bebde6c0dad82d35b85f970&refereeId=13799653

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kids, Parenting

New Year, New Priorities

Happy New Year! I have been MIA for the past few weeks, taking time to enjoy the holidays and winter break with my family. After all the prep of presents, traveling, and meals, it seems that the holidays just simply fly by! I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to soak up a few days with the ones I love!

The impending holidays also brought a hard decision for my family and I–to extend my maternity leave to the end of this year so that I can stay home with our sweet little man until he is almost a year old! I am so blessed and excited to have this time with our son–time that I truly believe I can never get back–but it was also a very emotional and difficult decision for me.

For the past eight years, all I have ever known is teaching. I have poured my time, heart, and soul ( and let’s be honest, pocketbook!) into teaching. From the moment I received my first classroom in North Carolina in 2007, I knew that teaching children (especially elementary) was what I was made to do, the gift that God had blessed me with. I loved every minute of it–even the hard days when I wasn’t sure anyone had learned a thing from me that day! I decided to begin graduate school when I was 25 to earn my Master’s degree in administration, so I could one day be a school principal and extend my reach beyond just the four walls of my own classroom. Education ran in my blood and I had huge aspirations to make a difference in the lives of children.

Then, on August 27, 2018 at 9:00 pm my priorities changed. For the first time, I laid eyes on my sweet Kellen Robert Ray and everything in my world looked different. My priorities changed. I wanted to see every smile, hear every giggle, and witness every milestone that my little man would have in his first year of life. To me, four months just wasn’t enough. I loved teaching, but the thought of being away from him for seven to eight hours, to return home exhausted and with only a few hours before baths and bedtime, set me on an emotional rollercoaster. My heart was telling me to soak up this time. That my career path would always be there, but my little baby would not.

My head, on the other hand, reminded me that we had car payments, a mortgage, groceries, and other expenses each month that needed paid. We planned for a four-month maternity leave, but not a full year off. I have always been a planner. I have always lived with a safety net for my finances. I have always had a plan. Thus, an internal battle between what my heart was telling me versus my head began. My husband and I decided to lean on God to guide us, just as we had just under a year ago when we found out we were expecting our little man.

As the deadline for my decision neared, I was still undecided. And then I looked at the calendar and I saw the end of December glaring back at me, sweeping me back to the memory of last Christmas. Last Christmas where I woke up early to take a pregnancy test–praying so very hard that it would be a positive. That the past few months of doctor’s appointments and medications would be worth it. Praying that I would be able to call the fertility office to cancel our impending appointment at the first of the new year. Staring back at a negative, feeling devastated, I put on a brave face for Christmas morning (and my 29th birthday) with my family.

I looked at the calendar again, seeing December 29. Again sweeping me back to that day last year when I decided to be brave and take just one more test. The day I cried in the bathroom and FaceTimed my husband because I couldn’t believe it. The day he left work early so we could get an official test done at the hospital to confirm that yes, we were pregnant. The day where I was told that we would still need to visit the fertility doctor–that we would be seeing him for the first 12 weeks of our pregnancy. The LONGEST 12 weeks of fear, excitement, and anticipation.  Looking at that calendar, thinking of how much I had prayed and waited for the moment I would meet my little man, confirmed that it was time to follow my heart and not my head.

And that leads us to the present. I am currently sitting at home on a Friday morning, watching a five-year-old play school and a four-month-old peacefully nap (well, he woke up before I edited this!). I am soaking up these moments, because I know how blessed I am. I know that by the end of today, I will have stressed about finances and have been plagued with the guilt that I am not working a multitude of times, but I will continue to lay both those onto God in prayer. We trust that he will provide for us during this time.

 

Happy New Year and may God bless you and your family this year!