Feeling Guilty About Saying NO?

“You have to take the bad with the good.” How many times have you heard this mantra, and how often has it rung true? It’s certainly true with online teaching. For countless weeks, and sometimes months, we teachers do our best to build our customer base, trying to gain popularity in a sea of qualified teachers. When we finally do gain popularity, we’re faced with the unpleasantness of denying classes for faithful students. How do we keep our personal lives intact while providing our students with what they need?

Change Your Mindset!

Teachers often feel guilty any time we are forced to deny requests from students. By nature, teachers give of their time, even when they don’t get paid for it. Naturally, we feel guilty when we have to say no to anyone. We have to get out of that mindset. Not only is our time precious, we are precious too! We deserve a day (or several) off. We have to be in a good state of mind to be able to help others. If we don’t feel rested and happy, there’s no possible way we can be of good service to anyone else. It’s better to decline a request than have to cancel and incur a penalty later on.

The Mechanism Behind Booking Requests

Schools like VIPKid provide automated functions for both teachers and customers. As you can imagine, parents get busy, and aren’t always free when the free-for-all “frenzy” time arrives on Mondays in Beijing. Early booking requests are a way to help the parents automatically book slots with their favorite teachers, at times that are convenient for them. 

VIPKid allows parents to request slots you haven’t opened. This helps teachers figure out which time slots would be most likely to fill. If we see a pattern of booking requests during a certain time, perhaps this will help us to make more money by allowing us to change our behavior according to the desired schedule of parents. Booking requests are by no means mandatory! They are simply friendly suggestions to help both parents and teachers communicate.

WeChat or Social Media

Teachers choose to connect to parents on social media because it’s so much easier to communicate with them in a timely fashion. In my case, I often miss replying to booking requests before they expire. I am connected to my regulars on WeChat, so if I come across a priority request from them, I simply contact them personally and let them know why I am unable to open the slot. 

This is the interesting part–a couple of parents have told me they didn’t send out the priority requests, and they have no idea how the automated booking system works! They profusely apologized to me and asked me to ignore the requests. So, if you were feeling guilty before, this is the perfect reason to stop! 

Real Booking Requests

It’s hard to know which requests are sent out by the parents, and which are sent out by the bots. If you suspect a request might be real (and you’re not connected on WeChat), just nicely explain why you aren’t able to take the request. It might be good to add that you are very hopeful you’ll see the student again soon and that you hope the parents will be patient and book you when you are available. 

Real or bot-generated, booking requests should never make you feel obligated to work. They are a feature to help you maximize your availability, and thus help you make more money should you wish to do so. In the event you must decline, you can be comforted knowing that your students are shared with a great ESL community, filled with talented teachers.