“What Ifs” in Teaching

I am always filled with “what ifs?”  Especially in teaching.  I started my application with Outschool a bit ago, but my “what ifs” filled me until two months had passed!  I realized if I had just done it when I started I could have been teaching this whole time.  Now that I have entered the platform I am STILL asking, “what if?”

“What if I make classes and no one signs up?”

“What if too MANY students sign up and I am overwhelmed?!”

“What if I have IT problems and I give the learners a bad experience?” 

We all have what ifs, but what can we do about them?  

I also work for VIPKid, and I had these same questions before I started with them.  It even took me a year before I finally applied!  It was Angela’s kind words and videos that convinced me I could do this, that it could change my life.  And it did!  I’m happier, I am supporting my family more, I can breathe easier.  I occasionally berate myself for not doing it sooner, for not solving my problems myself sooner. But I always say, “I can only do as much as I can do.”  I wasn’t ready, I couldn’t manage it. I am so happy I finally did.

As I was having all those, “what if” questions, I was still teaching my VIPKid classes. I had open timeslots that people weren’t booking.  I had some very busy days and was overwhelmed. I had IT issues and figured them out.  I was having a great time teaching WHILE experiencing all of those “What Ifs” from my Outschool concerns.  I realized that I CAN do it!

I’ve learned to write down my “what ifs”, to talk them out, and to get past my own self doubt (OK not really).  But I have learned that those are the steps I need to take when I am ready to tackle them.  I’m still working on planning my classes, I’m still figuring things out, but I have a plan. 

When I start to avoid things I know I want to do because of the “what ifs” and the “what abouts” I have learned to make a list.  I also do this for any type of everyday thing that I am distracting myself from.  I am a list maker.  Am I a list completer? Ha, no.  But it’s there, reminding me of what I can work on. 

Do something, a little thing, then check Facebook for the millionth time (I have also learned to set timers on my distractions!).  Move on to something else you can do.  Do what you can, when you can.  It will get done. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay.  Keep working on it.  

Here is a list helper I created.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to fit in the box.  It doesn’t have to be a big problem.  See if it can help you get past your “what ifs.”  I’ll keep trying to get past mine too. 

Christmas and Suffering – What You Can Do.

christmas volunteering
christmas volunteering

I laughed at a meme a few weeks ago that said, “You know, I could really go for some ‘precedented’ times.”

Afterward, my anxious, over-thinking mind started pondering on what that truly meant – the specifics of the, “unprecedented times,” to which it was referring. I realized that my ability to laugh at that meme shined a glaring light at the relative comfort of my life during a mass pandemic. And that’s nothing to laugh at.

My husband and I kept our jobs. Our income was affected, but not enough to disrupt our lives. I have felt anxious about the uncertainty of schools reopening, travel plans being cancelled or delayed, and running out of toilet paper. 

Poor Angela.

I have read heartbreaking statistics about the rise of domestic abuse during this pandemic. I have seen the emails from school districts promoting their free lunch program to everyone, worried about the children stuck at home without enough food to eat. I’ve listened to radio hosts give away laptops to children who have no way to participate in virtual learning, and then wondered about those who don’t even have the internet. 

But in all of that suffering I’ve been only a distant observer. 

I’ve read, I’ve listened, I’ve wondered. But I haven’t experienced any of it. 

Can I truly call myself an ally if my support and solidarity stays in the comfort of my home? 

Do I truly support equality if I’m not willing to face it with my own eyes, and not through a screen? 

Am I willing to leave my comfort in order to comfort those in need?

The truth is no, I haven’t been willing to leave my comfort. But once I took a good hard look at myself, the quote “Once you know better, do better,” popped into my head.

So what does doing better look like in this situation?

When we lived in Virginia, the local moms’ Facebook group hosted an annual Holiday Secret Santa event. The moderators and admins of the Facebook group contacted local schools, churches, and social workers to identify families in need, and also asked the group members to submit any families that they knew could use support. Then they would create index cards with the age, gender, and needs of each child in the family, as well as a few wants or wishes, keeping the names anonymous. They assigned each family a number that would be written on the top of all cards of children in that family, post the cards in the Facebook group, and members of the group would comment with the number of the family they’d like to sponsor. The Facebook group accepted donations and gift wrap, tape, etc. when all of the families had been claimed. They also had a non-perishable food drive and grocery store gift card drive to give the families. They set a deadline for the gifts and supplies to be dropped off to them, then they’d dedicate a day to wrapping and delivering it all. It was truly a remarkable endeavor to be a part of, and the admins and moderators who ran this operation were truly incredible women.

Each year I’d look for a family that had a daughter around the same age as mine, and she would help me shop for her. Although the names were anonymous, some of the stories of these families were shared. And that was important. Because although we like to tell ourselves our security and safety is our own doing, life is fragile. All of those families experienced heartache and tragedy of some sort, and those two things do not discriminate. Any of us could get the call at any time that we’ve lost our partner. Any of us hear the news that our home is in the path of a natural disaster, or find out we’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And for those lucky enough to have not dealt with such tragedies, we must lift our suffering brothers and sisters. 

So how do we do better? There are 3 months until Christmas. I’m a big proponent of saving and avoiding debt as much as possible, and I begin planning our savings strategy for the holidays early in the Fall. So first, I recommend you also start planning ahead financially for the holidays, and this will allow you to make a plan to save for the needs of your community.

Then, do some research. Call local schools, churches, and social workers to identify needs in your local area. Search your local Facebook community groups to see if any sort of organized efforts are already in effect and, if necessary, help out with or organize the efforts yourself. If you do a Google search for your county and then “community outreach” you may find organizations in your area. Also, call your local animal shelter to find out their needs, and make a plan to contribute there, as well. Hospitals sometimes have holiday events that you can contribute to, alsol.

But the real first step is to simply get still. Put your phone down and count your blessings. Consider the families who need your help, and that they are no different than you. Realize that simply re-posting empathetic images on social media is not going to translate to helping real people in need.

Make a vow to eliminate the screen between you and the suffering. 

Then get to work.

I’ve taught for VIPKid for 3 Years. Here’s What I’ve Learned.

In 2017 VIPKid was the answer to so many of my problems. I needed a source of income, desperately. But I needed a flexible job, one that let me choose my schedule, and I needed to be home with my little kids. That criteria made it difficult to find a job, so my search took a long time and most jobs that DID fit that criteria were too good to be true.

VIPKid sounded too good to be true, as well. I didn’t tell anyone about it until I’d done it for a month and got paid. I thought it was a scam the whole time. I got booked for my first class and still didn’t think a student would show up. But, he did.

I worked the whole month and loved it, but didn’t think I’d get paid. But, I did.

I would work from about 5-7AM, then my husband would need to leave for dental school and I’d step in and take care of my kids for the rest of the day. Between teaching for an hour or two in the mornings and doing a few longer shifts on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, I was able to make an extra $1000 per month, give or take.

It. Was. Life-changing.

A lot has happened since then. I started sharing about VIPKid with others who asked about flexible, consistent jobs that don’t have start-up costs. I started a YouTube channel to help others learn the teaching style to help them get hired. The company brought me to China because of how many people I’d helped get hired. I got to meet my students in person and experience Chinese culture first-hand. I became a brand ambassador for the company and attended their conferences to meet other teachers.

My world was very orange, and very fulfilling.

A lot of changes have happened within the company since then, as well. They’ve added more subjects to their curriculum, grown their teacher and student base like crazy, and hosted virtual meet-ups and conferences to help teachers connect during the pandemic. They are continuously evolving and keeping up with the changes in technology and the needs of their students and teachers.

I honestly haven’t always loved the changes they’ve made. I’m an advocate for teachers first and always, and sometimes I get frustrated at business decisions that I perceive as a hindrance to the teachers’ growth. But I still hold that VIPKid provides one of the best opportunities for teachers to work from home, set their own hours, and make a meaningful impact in the lives of children around the world.

If you want to become a VIPKid teacher, I’d love to help you out. Send me an email to thevipkidcoach@gmail.com and we’ll get you started!