May Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

It's time to show you what comes in this month's Teacher Care Crate, my self care subscription box for teachers! Watch the unboxing video to see all the items, and read the descriptions below to find out more details, as well as each item's retail value.



Green Tea Sugar Scrub This scrub from Serenity Bath Shop is created with a blend of sugar, coconut oil, and green tea that's perfect for exfoliation. {Retail Value: $5.95}

Art Print One of my favorite teacher instagrammers, Rachel Frescino from Learning With Mrs. Fresh, designed this month's gorgeous art print. Each print is 5" x 7" and is professionally printed. {Retail Value: $8}

Dream Notes Each crate includes a pack of these dreamy circular sticky notes, either in teal or purple. Perfect for dressing up your planner or just leaving yourself a note! {Retail Value: $5.59}

Celestial Hair Ties Handmade by me, these pretty hair ties look as good on your wrist as on your hair. {Retail Value: $4}

Jade Roller You may have seen these pretty rollers on instagram! Gently roll the jade over your clean face (the larger side for your cheeks, jaw, and forehead, the smaller for under your eyes and around your mouth) to soothe your skin. You can also use your roller after applying a moisturizer or serum to help the product absorb. Store your jade roller in the fridge to make it even more refreshing! {Retail Value: $25}

Turmeric Latte This powdered version of "golden milk" is a mix of sweet and savory spices from Golden Root. It provides natural energy without caffeine, and is also known to reduce inflammation. {Retail Value: $1.65}

Breathe Decal Handmade by teacher-maker Jaime Hipwell of Little Miss and Company, this decal can be applied to a laptop phone, or basically any smooth surface! {Retail Value: $5}

Instructions are included with your decal, but you can check out Jaime's video directions as well:




With a retail value of $55, this month's Teacher Care Crate is the highest value crate yet! More importantly, it's full of items to make your day-to-day life more positive and peaceful. Commit to taking care of yourself first by subscribing to Teacher Care Crate, starting at $27.99/month with free shipping.

Using Study.com in the Classroom



This collaboration is brought to you by Study.com and is based on my unbiased experience using the site.

A coworker of mine once commented that it feels like we're now in a "post-curriculum" phase of education. Gone are the days when you'd be given a set of textbooks and a teacher's guide for every subject. And honestly, that's probably for the best. I have lots of dull memories of elementary school taking turns reading aloud from a textbook. But in many schools, including the schools I've worked at, nothing has replaced those curriculums. We're left as teachers to both teach and create lesson plans from nothing. We might have standards or mandates to guide us, but that can make things even more difficult! While there are tons of wonderful resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, it's great to have some other resources at your disposal as well.

Enter Study.com. This site has hundreds of courses designed for classroom use, ranging from Pre-K to post-graduate! Each lesson within a course has an article and a quiz, and many include videos as well. There are sooo many courses and lessons available on Study.com, so I want to zoom in a little bit and show how you could use a given course and lesson.



Science and Social Studies are so important, but they often fall to the wayside to the oft-tested and tracked Reading and Math. I know my co-teacher and I last year were always frantically trying to figure out what and how to teach each week! 

Instead of having to search for resources each week, you could use a course from Study.com, like Biology for Kids. This course has 360 lessons, far more than you'd ever need in one school year! If you have access to technology, you can actually have the students read the articles, watch the videos, and take the quizzes all on their chromebook/tablet/etc. And then from your teacher dashboard, you can track their progress and see their grades, all without any paper or prepping involved! However, you can also use the resources provided without any student technology. You can print the articles and quizzes, and show the videos using your projector. 


Here's a quick video to see how another teacher uses Study.com in her classroom:



In addition to classroom resources, Study.com also offers study resources for teachers! You can study and take practice tests for the Praxis, TExESFTCEand more to help you earn, maintain, or expand on your teacher certifications.

You can try out Study.com for free with their 5-day trial period. Let me know what you think!

3 Super Cute End of the Year Teacher Gifts


I get such a kick out of giving my coworkers gifts at the end of the school year. As a special education teacher, I work closely with many different co-teachers and clinicians, so it's nice to show how much I appreciate them. Here are some of my favorite ideas!

1. Chocolate + Champagne Pineapples. These take a serious amount of hot gluing, but the effect is SO awesome! Get the full instructions here.


2. Moscow Mule Kit. These are considerably less work than the champagne pineapples, but are still super cute! If you have a bigger budget, you could even package these in copper cups instead of jars. You can find the full details here.


3. Teacher Care Crate. For those extra special teacher friends, a Teacher Care Crate is the perfect gift! Help them kick off the summer with some much-needed self care. You can make it a one-time thing, or really spoil them with a three month subscription! 



While you're planning for the end of the year, try incorporating these meaningful classroom activities to end your school year strong!

3 Meaningful End of the Year Classroom Activities



The last few weeks of school can feel interminably long-- or maybe they're speeding by! Either way, you can make the most of your time by filling your days with meaningful activities up until the very end. Here are a few of my favorite ideas!

1. Reflect on the year with a growth mindset. While we often focus on growth mindset at the beginning of the year, it can also be a great tool at the end of the year. Prompt students to reflect on what goals they reached this year, as well as goals they have yet to reach. How did they achieve them? How did they deal with obstacles? My End of the Year Growth Mindset Reflection Journal pairs reflection with zen coloring pages-- perfect for students to complete independently when you need to work on end of the year tasks.


2. Focus on the positive. While you and your students alike may be counting down the days, you can still focus on what made this year great! These cute pineapples encourage students to think about what made their year "sweet," and they also make an easy end of the year bulletin board!


3. Build students up. Have each student take a turn standing in front of the whiteboard while other students write compliments all around them. Take a picture so the student can keep their compliments forever. You can do this all in one day or do a student a day leading up to the end of the year.



Enjoy your last few weeks with your students and have a wonderful summer!


April Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Want to find out exactly what comes in the April Teacher Care Crate? Watch my unboxing video and find out even more details below, including the retail value of each item.



Plant Pins Each crate will include two enamel plant pins-- perfect for rocking on a jean jacket, cardigan, or tote bag. {Retail Value: $9}

Zen Teacher Essential Oil Roller This 5 oz. essential oil roller from The Aloha Teacher is a
 blend of spruce, ho wood, frankincense, blue tansy, blue chamomile, osmanthus, and lavender oils— all known for their calming qualities. {Retail Value: $10}

Art Print This month's peaceful print was designed by Kristin Edwards of Live Well And Grateful and Teacher Therapy. It reads "Deep breaths are like little love notes to your body" and measures 5 x 7. {Retail Value: $8}

Planner Stickers I designed these fun self care stickers to help you prioritize your wellbeing. With reminders like, "drink water," "deep breaths," and "self care isn't selfish," they make the perfect addition to your teacher planner or bullet journal! Don't have a paper planner? Use them in a notebook or put them on a sticky note as a reminder to keep on your desk. {Retail Value: $4}


Patterned Socks Based on your shoe size, you'll receive either adorable creature socks (size 8 or smaller), peaceful plant lady socks (size 8.5-10), or an alternate item if you have shoe size larger than 10. {Retail Value: $6}


Recipe Card Cole Yaverbaum of Cookbookish created this tasty and healthy recipe for No Bake Chocolate Nut Butter Energy Bites. {Retail Value: $1}


Matcha Tea Have you ever tried matcha? It's an all-natural source of caffeine without the jitters or the crash made from green tea. It's also packed with antioxidants and is dairy free. Each crate includes an instant matcha pack from Panatea-- just mix with cold or hot water! 
{Retail Value: $2}

With a total retail value of $40 and free shipping, this month's Teacher Care Crate is a great value. 


Ready to starting taking care of yourself first? Subscribe to Teacher Care Crate here



5 Tips for Anxious Protestors


I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have Panic Attack Disorder. I also care deeply about social justice issues. So what to do about attending crowded protests in downtown Chicago? Crowds, driving downtown, parking downtown, public transit, noise, and uncertainty are all triggers for panic attacks for me. Thus, I typically avoid those things. But part of living with an anxiety disorder is deciding what you can avoid and what is too important to miss. For me, marching for Black Lives Matter, for women's rights, and against gun violence are all worth it. I completely understand and respect if your anxiety is too severe to protest, but I wanted to share a few things that have worked for me:

1. Go with friends. Having a buddy makes a huge difference. If you can, meet up with them before you even get to the protest. If you can't, see number 2.

2. Have a plan. Part of what can make protests so anxiety-inducing is the uncertainty. Plan out your day as much as possible. If you can't meet up with your friend beforehand, set a time and place close to the protest location, but not too close (to avoid mega crowds). A Starbucks two blocks south of the usual protest location in downtown Chicago is now my meeting place go-to. I can get there early and calm down if I need to. Because cell phone reception might go out due to the large crowds (this happened to me at the Women's March in 2016), set the time and place the night before. You could even set a time limit-- for example, if the other person doesn't show up within 20 minutes and you can't reach them, you'll march separately. Did I mention I have an anxiety disorder??

3. Take public transit. I hate driving, I hate parking, and I hate public transit. Usually I just try to avoid leaving the house (mostly kidding), but one has to choose between necessary evils for the sake of justice! Even though public transit can be crowded and noisy on protest days, I find it's easier to deal with than trying to drive and park. Any downtown area is already hard to park in, and then with additional crowds and street closings due to protests, it can be just about impossible. 

4. Bring a charger. With all the texting, GPSing, and picture taking, your phone could easily die, contributing to your anxiety. Bring a portable battery charger if you can, or at least a plug-in charger. You can always stop in a coffee shop for 15 minutes to plug in your phone if you need to.

5. Take your meds. I know this tip won't apply to everyone, but if you have anxiety meds, for goodness sakes, take them! I have a medication that I take as-needed for panic attacks, but for some reason I am always hesitant to take it. Taking it BEFORE the protest instead of waiting until I'm having a panic attack during the march or on the train has been a game-changer. 

How do you deal with anxiety when protesting? I'd love to hear your tips!


March Teacher Care Crate Unboxing

Wondering what comes in the March Teacher Care Crate? Watch my unboxing video and check out descriptions of each item below!



Teacher Care Coloring Book: This adorable pocket-sized coloring book was designed by Alexa Contreras of Bilingual Scrapbook. It features teacher favorites like donuts, cacti, and unicorns! {Retail Value: $6}

Copper Fairy Lights: These pretty lights are battery operated (batteries included) and add a cozy glow to your home or classroom. {Retail Value: $6}

Tassel Bracelet: Inspired by yogic mala necklaces, this handmade bracelet can be used for meditation (use the beads to count affirmations or deep breaths), or just as a pretty accessory. {Retail Value: $15}

Art Print: This month's professionally printed 5 x 7 art print was designed by Ashley Tiburzi of The Artsy Apple. {Retail Value: $8}

Pink Clay Mask: This mask from True Beauty Organics contains Rose Kaolin Clay, Fuller's Earth Clay, Bentonite Clay, and Goat Milk Powder. It's suitable for all skin types and will leave your skin glowing. {Retail Value: $2.75}

Chocolate: This month's crate comes with two organic chocolate treats-- Equal Exchange 55% Dark Chocolate and ChocXO Milk Chocolate. {Retail Value: $1.25}

The March Teacher Care Crate has a retail value of $39-- you pay $29.99 with a month to month plan, or you can save by prepaying for three crates at a rate of $27.99/month.

If you're ready to start taking care of yourself first, head over to www.teachercarecrate.com!



3 Actions to Take Against Gun Violence


Yesterday, yet another mass shooting occurred in an American school. This time, 17 people died. As teachers, we can't help but think, what if it had been my school? My students? Me?  I think we are all frustrated by the meaningless "thoughts and prayers" that are delivered after every mass shooting. Here are three concrete things you can do to help end gun violence.

1. Don't vote for politicians who receive NRA funding. You can look up your representatives by state or name here to find out how much NRA money they've received. As long as politicians are relying on the NRA for funding, they're not to vote for anything that limits access to guns. Take your vote elsewhere.

2. Support organizations working to end gun violence. Consider Everytown, an organization that "seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge in the courts and the court of public opinion."

3. Contact your representatives. Let your representative know that you want them to support measures to end gun violence. One of the easiest ways to do this is to text RESIST to 50409. You'll get a series of texts that will walk you through sending a letter to your representatives. Here's an example:



ANYONE can do these three things, and the last two you can do right now. If you're looking to do more, join the Facebook group Educators Against Gun Violence.

7 Puzzles for Teacher Self Care

If you follow me on Instagram, you know one of my favorite self care activities is puzzling. People are always asking me about it, so I thought I'd share how I got into it, as well as a few of my favorite puzzles.

What can I say? One day you're a normal 20-something, and the next you're spending all your free time completing puzzles while listening to audiobooks. 

What actually happened was that my therapist assigned me the task of doing "nothing" twice a week, which seemed impossible to my pre-self care self. Around that time, I visited my in-laws in their retirement community in Arizona and helped complete a jigsaw puzzle. I got surprisingly sucked into it-- finally, I was doing my "nothing" homework!

After that, I always had a 1,000 piece puzzle going on my dining room table. It's the perfect de-stressing activity when you get home from school. Pop on an audiobook and just work on putting those puzzle pieces together. 
.
I've done a lot more puzzles than this (seriously, 1 every three weeks or so for the last year and a half), but these are my favorites. I hate anything vaguely Thomas Kinkade-y, and honestly, the longer it takes the better. All of these are 1,000 pieces and can be purchased on Amazon. All links are affiliate links.

1. Avian Friends The grid makes this one pretty simple to complete, but there's a few challenging bits with similar patterns on the different birds.

2. Lady with a Fan (by Gustav Klimt) I complete The Kiss puzzle first, and I enjoyed it so much that I did another Klimt! This one is quite a bit easier, but still challenging. I also think the lady looks a bit like me!

3. Birducopia (by Charley Harper) The big blocks of color make this puzzle an easy one, but I enjoyed the unusual elongated shape of the puzzle and of course Charley Harper's signature style.

4. Succulents I love house plants, so this was a fun one! I normally don't like photo puzzles as much, but all the different plant textures and shades of green make it a fun challenge. 

5. The Kiss (by Gustav Klimt) This is probably the hardest puzzle I've completed! But I really enjoyed getting to know the intricacies of the painting and the patterns within it. Just be prepared for a bit of a long haul with the big brown patches on the sides! Also, pairs well with The Golden Compass trilogy audiobooks, in case you were wondering!

6. Twelve Sunflowers (by Vincent Van Gogh) This is one of my favorite paintings and one of my favorite puzzles as well! When you first start, it seems impossible because it's all gold and pale blue. But as you work through the pieces you notice all the different shades and it's actually quite fun to put together.

7. Your World When I look at a puzzle I instantly remember what audiobook I listened to as I completed it. In this case, it was Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Kind of a weird pairing I suppose, haha. Anyway, this is a pretty easy puzzle but a lot of fun to put together because of all the quirky animals. 

If you're looking for a monthly reminder to practice self care, check out my self care subscription box for teachers, Teacher Care Crate.

February Teacher Care Crate Unboxing



Wondering what you'll receive in this month's Teacher Care Crate? Watch the video above and read the description below to find out exactly what comes in February's crate! Subscribe at teachercarecrate.com by February 14 to receive this box!

Deep Detox Bath Soak: This soak is equal parts Himalayan Salt, Dead Sea Salt, and dried rose petals. Pour into a warm bath for detoxification and relaxation. {Retail Value: $5}

Organic Tinted Lip Balm: The lip balm included in February's crate is handmade by Serenity and Blossom. I love tinted lip balm for school because you don't have to worry about reapplying as you do with lipstick. {Retail Value: $3} 

Affirmation Pencils: I'm obsessed with these pencils designed by Becca of The Teacher's Passport! Each box includes three different color pencils with beautiful affirmations created by  Becca. {Retail Value: $3}

Quartz Pendant: Did you know quartz is believed to increase positivity, patience, and perseverance? It's the perfect stone for teachers! I'm so excited about these pendants-- I'm already wearing mine all the time! {Retail Value: $18}

Art Print: This month's professionally printed 5 x 7 print was designed by Jess of Ink Chicago. {Retail Value: $8}

Chocolate: The chocolate was a big hit in January, so I wanted to include a little treat this month as well. Each box includes an organic OCHO coconut chocolate. {Retail Value: $.75}

Take time for YOU this February with Teacher Care Crate



Teacher Care Crate: Your Questions Answered!


Photo courtesy of Cooties and Cuties

I recently launched Teacher Care Crate, a self care subscription box for teachers! Here are the answers to some of your most frequently asked questions:

1. What comes in a crate?
Each month will be different, but will contain 5+ high quality items to promote teacher self care. For example, January's crate contained a homemade lavender bath bomb, an art print, a mini air plant, a handmade beaded mantra bracelet, organic dagoba chocolate, and stress relief tea. Each box will contain at least one handmade item, and often more! I always make an effort to keep the contents natural and/or organic when possible. 

2. When will I get my Teacher Care Crate?
I ship the crates between the 15th and 17th of each month. If you order before the 14th of the current month, you will receive your next first between the 17th and 22nd of the current month. If you order AFTER the 14th of the current month, you will receive your first crate between the 17th and 22nd of the following month.

3. Can I buy just one Teacher Care Crate?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: The platform I use, Cratejoy, is set up for subscriptions. So, to get one crate, go ahead and sign up for a subscription, opting to just pay for one month. Then just make sure you cancel before the auto-renew date on the 25th of each month. 

4. Is the Teacher Care Crate a good value?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: You are never going to receive a box that is worth less than what you paid for it. Often, by working with sources and making products myself, the items in the box are worth significantly more than the subscription cost. For example, the retail value of the February crate is $37. That being said, this box is meant to promote teacher self care, so my focus is providing high quality, relaxing items rather than bargain basement prices.



5. Is the "Be Gentle" print still available?
I'm so happy you all loved the "Be Gentle" print that went out in January's box! I'm happy to send a digital download for free to any current subscribers. Just email me at thedesignerteacher@gmail.com letting me know you'd like one! 

6. Can I contribute to Teacher Care Crate?
I am always looks for high quality items and designs for future crates. I especially love including teacher-makers! Email me at thedesignerteacher@gmail.com so we can discuss!

Please let me know in the comments if you have any other questions! You can sign up for your first Teacher Care Crate here.

You can also follow Teacher Care Crate on Instagram and Facebook for daily self care inspiration.

An Interview with a Queer Educator


One of the things I love about the online teaching community is learning about and from teachers with different perspectives and identities. After getting to know Paige, an educator who identifies as queer, a little bit on instagram, I realized I knew very little about the realities of being a queer teacher. They were kind of enough to answer a few questions for me so I could share them with you! 

1. To start, could you tell us as much as you are comfortable sharing about where/what you teach, as well as how you identify?
I teach in Philadelphia, PA. My school is a charter elementary school in the heart of South Philadelphia and is a Title I school. This is my third year here as a special education teacher. Though I do not normally bring it up in my professional setting, I identify as a queer, non-binary educator. My pronouns are they/them.


2. You told me that you can be fired in your state for being a person in the queer community. Are you out to your school? What about your students?
In many areas of the United States and with our current political climate, many schools and districts do not seem to follow the Civil Rights Act of 1964  (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.) [aauw.org]. In public and charter schools, there are many that state you will not be judged regarding your sex (i.e. gender identification), race, sexual orientation, yet so many administrators caution queer educators into "being quiet" in regards to their identification, gender, and/or sexual orientation. This also goes for Catholic schools. At this time National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) says they will "not change" their stance on hiring queer educators. Unfortunately, this has been the reality as long as the institution of education has been built. I am "out" to some of my peers that I trust, but not to my administrative staff, students, or parents of students at this time. 

3. Do you think identifying as queer and transgender affects your relationship with your students in any way?
Honestly, I don't. Since I teach kindergarten through second grade Life Skills Support (LSS), they are usually the most kind and understanding group of students. Sometimes, they'll ask me if I have a husband and I say I have loved ones I live with. Or if they see a picture of me and my family, they will ask if that's my sibling or friend and I repeat that they're a part of my family. Keeping things as neutral as possible is key and I feel even if I were straight/cisgender, I would keep that part of my life separate (that might just be my own personal opinion).

4. Do you have any advice for other queer teachers, especially ones that might just be starting out?
I would say being as neutral as possible is key and be yourself from day one. Kids can smell out fibs (as we call them in our room) so be as honest as you feel comfortable with. But, be aware of your school and state policies and regulations in regards to your occupation protect laws. If you feel as though you are being forced to be someone you are not or lie, do not feel like you are stuck. There are so many different schools that would love to have you as an educator! 

5. Are there are any books or resources you would recommend to teachers looking to learn more about the LGBTQA+ community?
There are different organizations and teachers out there that are either fellow queer educators or allies online and in person! Check out instagram, facebook groups, and twitter.  Social media can be a beautiful tool to get connected. The NEA-GLBTC is one group that may interest you in becoming a member and is something I am looking into myself. 

Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing by Stacey Waite and Queer Teachers, Identity and Performativity edited by Anne Harris & Emily M. Gray are great tools and resources to have. Teaching Tolerance has a site that is a digital magazine that has loads of helpful articles on how to be intersectional and supportive to groups of individuals that face adversity, and not only for the queer community. I think this is probably the most important key detail to discuss: not every queer educator is white. It is critical that we look at a person with all their identities and orientations in order to become a more empathetic and intellectual world. 

I find that there aren't that many books and resources about this specific topic. I actually hope to change that after I finish my Master's program. Shout out to Brittany Wheaton (aka The Superhero Teacher) for being an out and proud queer educator that is changing the world one classroom at a time! 

6. You sent me a great fact sheet about Workplace Equality, which readers can check out here. Do you have any specific actions you'd recommend for teachers who would like to advocate for LGBTQA+ rights?
GLSEN has a Safe Space Kit to support LGBTQA+ youth that is very informational. The kit provides educators tools and resources as well as Safe Place stickers to hang outside their doors or in their classrooms to alert others that they are an educator that is also an ally. Read the book The ABC's of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell! Also, have more books and posters and information dedicated to queer individuals that don't all look the same and identify the same. 

The last thing I'd like to add is that I only speak on behalf of my queer identity and journey. Though I am non-binary and queer, I still hold privilege of "passing" because I appear feminine. Additionally, I feel that the the fight for rights in the LGBTQA+ community is still something I will face probably the rest of my life. Intersectionality is key to unlocking freedom for the future.  


Paige, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for all you do for students! You can follow Paige on instagram here.

Teacher Care Crate January Unboxing

The very first Teacher Care Crate, my new self care subscription box for teachers, has been shipped and is starting to arrive! I wanted to give you a look at the contents, as well as some more info about the products included.



Art Print: Designed by me, this 5x7 print reads, "Be gentle with yourself. You're doing the best you can." It's professionally printed and comes in a protective sleeve. Display it in a frame, on a mini clipboard, or just tape it up on the wall with washi tape.

Bath Bomb: Homemade by me, this full-size bath bomb is scented with lavender essential oil and real dried lavender. I recommend using it within the next few weeks, as it does not contain chemicals or preservatives.

Beaded Bracelet: The beaded bracelets come in different color combos, but they all say BREATHE as a reminder to take deep breaths during the day. I hand beaded them myself using glass beads.

Tea: The tea this month is Lavender Honey Stress Relief Tea. It's made by Yogi Tea and each tea bag includes an inspirational quote.

Chocolate: This month's boxes include organic Dagoba chocolate. You could receive Lavender Blueberry, Ginger Lime, or Picante. All three are delicious! 

Air Plant: Air plants are amazing plants that don't need soil! Just soak it in a bowl for 30 minutes once a week or mist it a few times a week with water. You can display it on its own or a shelf, or place it in a pot or tray.

While the January box is sold out, you can subscribe now to receive February's crate. Each Teacher Care Crate will include at least 5 items, and at least one will be handmade. The focus is on handmade, natural products that will truly help you relax, not just clutter up your house or classroom!

Subscribe now to make your wellbeing a priority.


What's It Really Like Being A VIPKID Teacher?


This post was kindly sponsored by Elizabeth Pope, a VIP teacher.

If you're involved in the online teaching community, you've heard of VIPKID. But if you're like me, you don't know exactly what it is or how it works. So when Elizabeth, a VIPKID teacher, reached out to me about sharing her experience, I had lots of questions! Read on to learn all about VIPKID and whether it might be a good fit for you.

Hello all, I’m Elizabeth! I’m a VIPKID teacher, a former classroom teacher, an accidental farm wife, and a stay-at-home mom! When I left my teaching job to move to the family farm and stay at home with my 3-year-old, I knew I would eventually want to be in the classroom again. After about a year of staying home, I began searching for an opportunity to earn a little money. In August 2017 I began teaching with a company called VIPKID and I fell in love with my students, with teaching, and with the company!

1. First of all, what exactly is VIPKID?

VIPKID is an online platform for teaching ESL-- it connects native English speakers with Chinese children learning English. Classes are conducted online through VIPKID’s “classroom”, which is basically like Skype. VIPKID provides their teachers with curriculum which is viewed by both the student and the teacher during the lesson, much like a powerpoint (that has teaching instructions at the bottom!). They do require that their teachers have a degree (in any area, mine is Business Administration) and a year of teaching experience, although it doesn’t have to be professional teaching experience.

2. How much planning do you have to do before a lesson? How much time do you find yourself spending on it outside your paid lessons?

I have been teaching with VIP for about 6 months, and when I first started I spent a lot of time looking over lessons before class. I prepped for my first class for like an hour, (I may have been a little excited!) but by the end of the first week I was only spending about 5 minutes looking over the material before class, and now I read the objectives right before I turn on my camera to teach my class! So, in the beginning you may find yourself looking over the material more, but as you get familiar with the curriculum you know what to expect and how to adjust to your student. You are required to write feedback (5-6 sentences) for the parents once class is over. Many teachers do this between classes, but I take notes and do all mine when I’m done teaching for the day. This really doesn’t take long-- on a regular day of teaching 5 classes I spend 5 minutes or less per class writing the feedback. The trick is to create a template that you use each time, but to take a few notes to personalize it and let the parents know that you were listening to what the student said. Overall I spend about 4-6 minutes outside of my paid lesson, but remember that was not the case when I first started.

3. What was the interview process like? Is it difficult to get hired?

Honesty is the best policy right?! The interview process is demanding, and hands down the most difficult part of the entire job. Luckily, if you give it your best effort the first time, chances are you won’t have to repeat it! Being hired is a 4 part process:

1. Application: This is just basic info and work history. I would recommend just giving them what they are looking for. They don’t want to know that you worked as a Wal-Mart greeter to pay your way through college, but they would consider it important that you taught private swim lessons when you were a lifeguard in high school!

 2. Interview: A live interview can be scheduled with the company over video chat. An English-speaking Chinese person will ask youabout your experience, and then you'll teach a very quick lesson to determine if you are a good fit, as well as your pay. They now also give you the option to submit a video interview. This is when you might seek out your referring teacher (that's me!) for some guidance. They can tell you what VIPKID is looking for and how to pass this interview, and even video chat with you in advance to give some pointers!

3. & 4. Mock Classes 1 & 2: This is just what is sounds like: a mock class. You are able to schedule your mock class and are set up with a current VIPKID “mock mentor” teacher who will visit with you for a few minutes, and then ask you to teach a lesson (which you will have beforehand). When you are done teaching, they'll give you some tips and you're given a chance to implement their feedback while you teach another short lesson.

Many people are overwhelmed by the interview process because it seems demanding! I’m not here to say the process is glittery rainbows and unicorns, but I will say that VIPKID does an awesome job making sure their teachers are prepared to start teaching classes the moment they are hired.

4. That does sound intense! Once you're hired, how is teaching online different from teaching in the classroom?

You get to teach. Which is why I absolutely fell in love with this company. I’m not planning the Junior class prom decorations, or answering emails, or working the concession stand, or planning lessons for 7 different classes, 160 different days,  20 different learning types…. I get to TEACH. I wake up about 30 minutes before my first class, grab a cup of coffee, orange shirt, and a little makeup. I log into my classroom, and focus all of my energy, attention, and love on one student for 25 minutes. I get to make that 25 minutes the best part of their day, and help them learn English in the process. I have the freedom to adjust each lesson to my student’s needs-- for example, if their understanding of the material is excellent but they need help with with pronunciation, I can adjust my teaching. If my student can read like a native English speaker, but doesn’t know what the words mean, I get to bring that text to life for them. I have absolutely built incredible relationships with these students from half a world away, and been invited to China for ice cream more than once! It’s the best feeling to know that they depend on me to be there to have fun with them, to focus on their needs, and to just teach!



5. That sounds awesome and really freeing, but of course prospective teachers will also want to know what the pay is like!

When I started my goal was to make an extra $500 each month to pay for our boat. I’ve ended up making anywhere from $1,200-$2,500 each month since I started!

VIPKID advertises pay between $14-$22/hour, but let me break that down for you:

Base pay for each 30 minute time block is $7-$9/class ($14-$18/hour). You get this for showing up to class and basically existing. Your base pay is determined during the interview stage of the hiring process and is based on your interview demo lesson, your experience, and your education.

In addition to your base pay you earn the following:

  • $1 incentive per class for being in the class on time
  • $1 incentive per class for teaching over 45 classes a month (which is easily attainable)
  • $2 bonus per class if they are booked with less than 24 hours notice (you can click a button that allows parents to book your class “last minute”, but they still must book at least an hour before the class begins)


6. How many hours or lessons do you need teach a week?

VIP truly lets their teachers choose how much or little they want to teach. There is no minimum or maximum number of classes that they require their teachers to complete each week. I personally teach about 5 classes a day, 6 days a week. When my family planned a ski trip over Christmas break I was able to take a week off, no questions asked. Leading up to that ski trip I crammed as many classes as I could into my schedule so I could actually afford to ski!

7. I know a lot of full-time classroom teachers do VIPKID part-time. Is it possible to teach just on weekends?

Absolutely. In fact, weekends are one of the most popular times for students to book classes. That’s the beauty of this job-- you set up your own schedule, and it can change from week to week. I included a picture of my schedule below. On it you see some time slots are a dark orange and some are a lighter orange. Any of those orange classes are great times to be available because they are the times most in demand by students. In the summer there is an even wider range of “in demand” times since the students are on summer break. Please note that these times are Central Standard Time.



8. Are there any big cultural differences you find teaching Chinese children vs. American children?

The biggest cultural difference is how valued education is in China. My students are held to very high expectations when it comes to their education. One of my favorite students that I teach on Saturdays says I’m his last lesson of the day, after private lessons for Math, Chinese, Piano, and Violin-- plus a day’s worth of homework! Many American children spend their weekends playing on a sports team. I have honestly never had a Chinese student tell me they did anything but homework on the weekends!

There are a few other interesting things I’ve learned about their culture since teaching, such as the fact that many students live with their parents AND grandparents. My students love to grab the iPad and introduce me to their kitchen, their bathroom, their little brother, mom, dad, and almost always a grandparent! I have also noticed this winter many students were wearing their heavy coats during class... in front of their computer, at home! By chatting with some other VIPKID teachers I found out that the South half of China is not equipped with central heating facilities! Eesh! Count me out on that one, I can’t imagine not having heat!

For the most part, Chinese children are much the same as American children. They are motivated by rewards, and they have good and bad days just like everyone!

9. How many students do you typically teach? Do you get assigned students or do parents choose you specifically?

All VIPKID classes are 1 to 1, although many of the younger students have parents sit in on the lesson just to help redirect their focus if needed. The parents have the freedom to book any teacher they choose. This means you have some responsibility to present yourself well in your profile (parents can see this before they book a class with you) and of course to teach a great class! I love it when the parent re-books you immediately after class, since you know it means you did a great job and the child had fun. It is also nice that you can build up a schedule of regular students that like you.

10. What's their level of English proficiency when they start with you?

Each student’s level of English proficiency varies. VIPKID’s curriculum is divided into 6 level: in level 1 students know zero English, in level 6 students are extremely proficient. When you go through the hiring process your hiring team then approves you to teach the levels that they feel you will be the most successful teaching. When I was hired, I could teach levels 3, 4, & 5. After I taught 100 classes I was then able to take a class and quiz to be certified in level 6 and level 2.

If you're not already a VIPKID teacher and teaching English from home seems like a good fit for you this is my referral link. I appreciate your support and would be absolutely thrilled to help guide you through the hiring process! Shoot me an email over at elizabethhpope32@gmail.com if you would like more information!

Elizabeth, thank you so much for answering my questions and explaining VIPKID to The Designer Teacher readers!
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