Theresa Hemingway

Theresa made the puppet herself!

Theresa Hemingway loves her job so much that she considers it her hobby. She also enjoys spending time crafting props for her classes. We can all relate to Theresa–we too love online teaching so much that it doesn’t even feel like a job! Thank you, Theresa, for taking the time to share your life with us.

Theresa Hemingway

Charlotte, North Carolina

What companies do you teach for?
Right now, VIPKID. I’ll also be teaching for Naativ, a brand new company, when they start offering classes in late January.

Do you have an outside job – related or unrelated to teaching?
I am a part-time chocolatier with a small, locally owned business.

How long have you been teaching?
9 months. It feels like I’ve been teaching longer, in a good way.

Have you always taught? Or did you start out in another field entirely?
I got a Master’s Degree in International Studies, with a plan to work for a nonprofit in international development. However, everyone in my immediate family is a teacher, and somehow I ended up teaching social studies for a small school instead. I fell in love with teaching and went on to spend many years teaching kids in a variety of environments. I’m thrilled with this new opportunity that (sort of) combines my love of teaching and my love of international studies.

Tricks for staying alert:
I wake up fairly alert, but I always start my day by drinking a fresh cup of coffee. I also stand to teach, which gives me a workout when I have a lot of level 1 classes!

What is your schedule like?
I teach for 2 1/2 hours from 6:30-9am EST, seven days a week.

Favorite lesson (or level) to teach:
I can’t choose. I’m certified for levels 1-5 plus phonics and grammar and enjoy them all. I can be funny and goofy with the little ones, and have amazing conversations with the upper levels. I love having a lot of variety with levels and lessons.

Theresa with her family — husband Bill, daughter Elizabeth, and sons Steven and Will.

What do you do between classes?
I have a tray with props and materials for each class. Between classes, I switch those out, drink some coffee, check to see if I got any feedback or classes rebooked (because I’m obsessed with the app), and then I’m ready to go. I make notes during classes and do my feedback right after my classes are done.

How do you use FeedbackPanda (what is your process)?
Every afternoon I set up feedback for the next day’s classes. I mostly teach regulars, so I check my last feedback to see what we were working on (pronunciation, reading, vocabulary, etc) and make notes based on my ideas for what we will do next. I look at some of the templates to get ideas and get my thought process going. Then I write my own feedbacks.

Describe your feedback style/structure:
I talk about the conversations we had that day. I write about what the student has mastered or did very well on. I usually mention something that really impressed me, or a particular success from the lesson. Then I talk about the main thing we are working to improve and give specific homework that they can use. I don’t describe the entire lesson, just the things that stood out.

Good feedback must contain
Every parent is different, so I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules. I know that parents generally want their child to learn to use English accurately in conversation, and they want them to develop a native English accent, so I always mention something about how they are improving in those areas or how we are working toward improving.

What do you like to see when checking the Teacher to Teacher Feedback (notes on students from teachers in the VIPKid portal)?
I love when teachers tell what the child’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s great to learn something about their interests too. I most want to know about the child’s reading ability, because that has such an effect on how the lesson goes.

Has FeedbackPanda helped you manage your job and personal life? Any specifics? (e.g. before and after)
What I love about FeedbackPanda is being able to see my previous feedbacks and store notes. It allows me to have a plan for each of my regular students, and to keep track of their progress. It’s easy and organized. I used to use other people’s templates for my feedback. Now I look at some of the templates for ideas but then write my own templates to use.

What are your interests?
I think online teaching is my main hobby at the moment :-). I also like reading, traveling, crafting, and quilting. I’ve enjoyed making things like puppets and props for my classes.

Where was your last big trip and what were your impressions of that place?
My husband and I went to Montreal and Quebec City, Canada last year. Both places were a lot of fun, but we especially loved Quebec City it’s beautiful! It was fun to use my high school French to talk to people in stores and restaurants I could talk to them, but it was hard for me to understand what they said!

What was the last book you read? Give us your personal review!
I just finished Left Neglect, by Lisa Genova. It’s a novel about a woman who is a high energy, fast paced mom with an intense career until she has a car accident that results in a traumatic brain injury. Her brain no longer recognizes the left side of her body, and she had to deal with rehab and healing while figuring out what her new life is going to look like. It’s very well researched and a fascinating read

Where did you learn crafting? Can you tell us what are the best resources for learning to make our own props and rewards?
My best friend is an amazing artist and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from her. And, of course, I use Pinterest. I’ve gotten some great new ideas from the VIPKid groups on Facebook too!