When I first started teaching with VIPKID about a year ago, I was paranoid about missing or being late for my classes. At least twenty minutes before my first class was scheduled to start, I would sit down at my computer and literally just stare at the screen. In between classes, I would rarely leave my computer; I just felt like five minutes was way too short of a time period to risk going to do something else.
Fast forward to today. I am still paranoid about being late or missing class, but now I know exactly how much I can get done during my 3-5 minute break in between classes.
Here are my top five things to do between classes:
1. Finish Feedback
Finishing my feedback is probably my number one thing I like to do in between classes. When I am finished teaching at 7 AM, I really don’t want to spend thirty minutes doing feedback on my own time. I absolutely hate working for free. Before I found Feedback Panda, there was no way I could finish my feedback between my classes; it just took way too long. I spent a lot of unpaid time preparing for my classes, organizing my props, and writing feedback.
Now, the day before my classes, I pre-load all my feedback templates into Feedback Panda. This takes me normally about five to ten minutes. During class I jot down:
- Notes on things the student can work on
- Topics we discussed
- Something interesting that happened during class
It has become so easy to tweak my feedback to fit my students after their classes. Even with editing and customizing my feedback, it still only takes me 2-3 minutes to write feedback for each student. Then, after I am done teaching for the morning, I quickly copy and paste my feedback into the classroom and submit it. Most of the time, I am finished with everything by 7:05 AM, and I can go back to sleep for a few hours.
One trick I found, is I like to use the Teacher’s Note section under each template to write my Teacher to Teacher (T2T) feedback. I know there is a ton of debate about T2T feedback, so I don’t want to get into it too much. Personally, I mostly write T2T feedback for myself. I like to make notes about what project option a student chose, something they like or don’t like, or if they had major IT issues that interfered with class. I don’t write more than a few sentences, and I keep it short.
Ultimately though, it’s your decision if you leave feedback. It’s great if you chose to leave something, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to not leave anything. What’s not okay is shaming someone for leaving the “wrong” type of feedback (according to your personal opinion) or complaining that the teacher before you didn’t leave any T2T feedback. Remember, we are independent contractors. As long as you follow the VIPKID rules and guidelines, you are able to run your business how you see fit.
I don’t know about you, but after about an hour, my back and legs really start to hurt when I’m teaching back-to-back classes. I’ve yet to find a chair that doesn’t cause me pain. I even bought a fancy chair pad which was supposed to be amazing according to all the Amazon reviews; it’s okay, but nothing to write home about. I know many teachers like standing while teaching, but I’ve never tried it.
Since I like to be able to move after my classes and not be in excruciating pain, I try to get up and stretch whenever possible. Some of my favorite stretches are the hamstring stretch, calf stretch, and toe touches. Walking around a bit also helps. Whatever you do, get up and move around. It’s good for your body and your sanity.
I know few people like doing chores, but they are a necessary evil. Sometimes, when I am unmotivated and don’t really feel like adulting, if I give myself a time limit, it helps me actually get my chores finished in a reasonable amount of time.
As long as you watch the time, the five minutes during classes work perfectly for this. I wash dishes or put a load in the dishwasher. I switch laundry from the washer to the dryer. I know, really exciting stuff, right? But it’s so nice to not have a bunch of chores to do after teaching all morning. It also allows me to sleep for a few minutes extra after teaching because I don’t have chores to do.
One thing I almost always have to do between classes is scooping the cat box because my cat, Sloth, loves to poop halfway through my first class. Since he’s old, he’s not very good about covering it up. I am really lucky that my students’ can’t smell my classroom.
4. Go to the Bathroom
I don’t know about you, but I live in fear for the day that I am teaching and have a “bathroom emergency.” You know, it’s that moment when you have to go right now! So far (knock on wood), I’ve been really lucky to not have had too much of an issue with this. One thing I always try to do is go to the bathroom at least once or twice during my classes. I feel like this helps minimize the risks of having an emergency during the actual class.
If you do have a bathroom emergency, I’ve heard of a couple of ways to deal with it. If you have a good relationship with your student, you could try telling them you need to quickly go to the bathroom and try to make up the missed class time in the end. I get nervous about this because the parent could leave negative feedback, or you could get in trouble with VIPKID. I’d be very careful about this.
I’ve also heard about teachers contacting the fireman, and they have canceled class with a Teacher IT. The last resort might be faking an IT issue, switching lines, or refreshing your classroom. I’ve actually used this one maybe twice when my dog has been barking or she wants to get let out. I hate doing this, but it’s better than my dog barking her head off or scratching at the door.
Truthfully, there’s really not a good solution for this situation other than to try to use the bathroom whenever you get a break. This helps minimize the likelihood of these situations.
5. Organize My Props
I will be the first to admit it, I’m a little, okay well, a lot OCD. I hate it when my desk gets messy, and I can’t find things. At least once or twice while teaching, I will put away props that I don’t need any more and organize the ones I am still using. I honestly don’t use that many props, but I like to be able to easily find the ones that I do need.
Hope you enjoyed this post, you can also check out Preparing for class with FeedbackPanda
Teacher Caryn EU