Always get back to rule number 1, but if you forget rule number 2, you might lose it all. By Roy Florey [[MORE]] Rule 1 – Keep smiling
I survived my first week with VIPKID. I signed up for my 7 ½ hours of teaching, wondering if I would have the time and energy to do it and then I saw my schedule. Some days had nothing and others had two or three students. It took a few clicks to figure out that the INFO button told me about the student; their strengths and weaknesses as well as what they want to learn. I saw I had a range of students from complete beginners to a 12 year old boy who could teach me a thing or two about grammar.
My first day I was supposed to have three students, including the aforementioned young man for two periods and then my other students vanished. With the boy, I found very quickly that the lesson was far below his abilities so I used my teaching experience to challenge him a bit more. I teach high school in Thailand and I have had the full range of abilities here, as well.
Rule 2 – Breathe
After that, I had a few days with no students. Finally Saturday arrived. I decided to take the morning off and do my teaching on the evening. My first student was an assessment of a sharp 10 year old girl who flew through the test with only a few errors. I didn’t have the link for the assessment forms, so I had to rush beforehand to get them. The Fireman said I was only down for trial and sent to email which reminded me that they had already sent it which reminded me that I had created a VIPKID folder that is at the bottom of my folders and I had forgotten to check it. Go back to Rule 2.
The assessment form looked simple at first but then I started seeing similar questions, Chinese characters, various scores and I started to break Rule 2. Then I remembered Rule 1. I smiled and enlisted the help of my wife who also had to read the form which I had printed out and listen carefully to the student. My young student did great and then we spent time going over her homework. I have no idea what she is to do with the homework so I just followed Rules 1 and 2.
Rule 3 – If your browser locks up, change browsers.
I had a young trial student who came online smiling and playful and ready to work. We got through Hello and How are you and then came to the circle. Over and over I said circle, demonstrating on the screen, showing my mouse, even using my puppet to draw a circle with the mouse. He just came repeating Circle and never drew a line. And then it happened. My camera locked up. I could still see him but I could hear him and his dad saying, “Roy, we can’t hear you.” We wrote notes back and forth; I tried refreshing only to have the screen lock up more. I could hear dad in the background muttering, possibly a few swear words, and then I decided to switch browsers. I was using Chrome so I moved to Windows. I also wrote the Firemen who said, “We’re working on it.” I continued to follow Rule 1, but Rule 2 went out the window. Finally, after what felt like a year, everything came back. We finished the lesson though I did have to rush through the last slides, and went into 27 minutes. Back to Rule 2 or I would pass out.
Rule 4 – When everything else fails, go back to Rule 1.
My last student had a lesson I had reviewed beforehand but had never taught before. I read that he was shy and I should do what I can to get him to talk more loudly. He came on line and looked terrified. I brought out my puppet which honks when I squeeze its mouth and that cheered him up. We got into the lesson and he also seemed to forget how to draw a circle. We continued. Now my fresh self is rapidly melting, dripping with sweat, and I am still SMILING. I somehow lost track of time and realized when we finally got to Activity Time, I was already at 23 minutes. I failed Rule 2 once again. We breezed through the pages, not as I wanted but we were able to stay together. We came to the closing Row Row Row Your Boat and he came back to life. He had started to nod off as it was approaching 930 his time, so I got him to sing along.
I was glad to remember Rule 4 at this point. I slept very well last night thanks to remembering Rule 2.