Are you getting started with VIPKid? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed about how to set up a VIPKid classroom? There are SO many awesome classrooms out there, but it can definitely become overwhelming to think of how to set up something similar when you’re on a tight budget.
Luckily, you have your friend Stephanie here to narrow your focus to what is MOST important when setting up a VIPKid classroom. In fact, I’ve narrowed it down to FOUR essential things to consider, drawing on inspiration from our favorite yellow friend.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:
The DINO Rule for setting up your VIPKid classroom.
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D is for DISPLAY
At some point during your classes with VIPKid, you will want to display something for your student to see while you continue teaching. Some things that teachers often display for their students include:
- A poster with their “show name” to help parents remember which of the many “Stephanie”s they want to look for when rebooking.
- Rewards – It seems a little bit anticlimactic to show a student a physical reward and then put it back down on your desk, out of sight. Having a place to display these rewards is super helpful!
- Assessment Maps – Some teachers create a hard copy map to mimic the assessment game map on the computer as a way to keep students engaged during a unit assessment.
With this in mind, consider how YOU might want to display items during class. Do you want to use a small shelf or an easel? Do you want to have a magnetic board or sheet pan? Maybe a felt board? Do you want to go all digital and just display things on screen using ManyCam?
Once you have thought about how you will display items and rewards during class, it’s time to think about class time itself.
I is for INSTRUCTION
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the classroom set-up and decorating. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s so fun to cruise Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for cute classroom inspiration. Just keep in mind the reason for the classroom: To teach students English!
When setting up your VIPKid classroom, it is important to create an environment that allows you to provide the most effective instruction possible. Here are a few tips:
- Keep props and rewards within reach. You do not want to be bending over and looking down all the time during class. This wastes time AND it can impact student engagement. But I’m not gonna lie — Teacher Stephanie has had a few “reach-for-the-prop-with-a-foot” moments.
- Minimize visual distractions. As a special education teacher, I was always very conscious of every item that I hung on the wall of my classroom. Many of my students had attention difficulties and I did not want my classroom environment to make it more difficult for them to focus. The same is true for the VIPKid classroom. You want an engaging classroom (more on that in a minute) but there comes a point when it can become visually distracting for the students. You want the focus to be on YOU and YOUR instruction, not the five million trinkets hanging from your wall.
- Prepare for class with minimal “prep time.” I’m a HUGE proponent of classroom set-ups that minimize unpaid prep time. However, I’m also a huge proponent of creating a strong instructional experience for VIPKid students. There is definitely a balance! So consider what YOU need in your classroom environment in order to prepare for class efficiently AND sufficiently.
N is for NOVELTY
So you might be thinking…
“Hold up, Stephanie…If what you’re saying is true, then why do SO many teachers have busy and colorful classroom environments?”
Well, that’s where NOVELTY comes in. I’m going to break all of the cardinal rules of writing and give you the definition of novelty:
novelty: the quality of being new, original, or unusual
As a VIPKid teacher (especially as a NEW teacher) you are trying to “sell” yourself to parents and students. That is where novelty pays off: When your classroom is original and/or unusual, you will more easily stand out from the crowd of 60,000+ teachers!
However, novelty is still important as an established VIPKid teacher.
When you have a full roster of regulars, things can get a little stale if you never bring anything new to your classroom setup. As exciting as you and your TPR can be, students love to see fun new things in the classroom.
So my suggestion is to set up your classroom so that it stands out from the crowd, but you can still easily switch things up every so often (for the sake of your regulars).
This might mean using Command hooks and strips to make things easy to put up and take down. Or maybe you want to create a magnetic wall so that you can quickly switch up the decorations behind you. You might even consider using a green screen so that you have infinite digital possibilities!
Just keep in mind that “novelty” does not have to be expensive!
O is for ORGANIZATION
Keeping your props and rewards within arms reach can come at a cost: You might begin to feel like you’re on an episode of Hoarders, where you barely have room to maneuver amongst all of the STUFF! By the end of a row of back-to-back classes, you might find yourself sitting in the middle of a prop explosion.
This is why organization is the final thing to consider when setting up your VIPKid classroom.
Keeping your instructional materials close by is super important, but if you don’t have a method for organizing these materials it can get pretty crazy after a few back-to-back classes. Whether it is plastic drawers, magnetic boards, accordion files, or digital storage, it’s best to set yourself up for organizational success from the beginning!
However, I would not recommend shelling out ANY money on expensive organizational systems until you get a feel for your teaching and prep style. Instead, I suggest that you get some classes under your belt using organization tools that you already have on hand, then fine-tune your system as your budget allows.
For example, when I first started teaching I was CONVINCED that I needed one of those multi-colored rolling carts, with one drawer devoted to each time slot. It made my Type-A organizer heart all aflutter when I would see fellow VIPKid teachers share their setups with these beautiful drawers. Since my budget didn’t allow for that purchase, I made do with what I had.
And guess what…
I ended up taking my classroom organization in a completely different direction based on what I discovered about my own teaching and prep style. Those beautiful drawers would have been a waste! Now, that doesn’t mean I think they would be a waste in YOUR classroom. My point in sharing this is to encourage you to take some time before deciding what organization systems you absolutely MUST have.
You should definitely get started with some form of organization, but don’t pull out that wallet until you’re sure of what you need.
So when it comes to setting up your classroom, just remember our dear friend DINO:
I know that if you stay focused on these four areas, you will set up an awesome classroom that will invite bookings, enhance instruction, and keep students engaged…all without breaking the bank or feeling overwhelmed!
Which of these four areas do YOU think is the most important when setting up a VIPKid classroom? Which area is the biggest struggle for you? Join the conversation below!