Dana Johnson

Teacher Dana has a fascinating career outside of VIPKid. Her personal trials and tribulations led her to start working with insects–specifically the type that harms people and causes debilitating illnesses. She’s a brilliant scientist, but if you know anything about Teacher Dana, you know that she loves to be silly (oh that dreaded word) with her young students. Her tiny pupils love her infectious laugh and her easygoing manner. We, her colleagues, love her sparkly, yet pragmatic, personality. Here, Teacher Dana gives us a candid account of her life and rai·son d’ê·tre. 

Dana Johnson

Gainesville, FL

Instagram Handle: 

Other websites:
VIPKid referral code DANA00081

GoGoKid referral code ZPCTWVNA

What companies do you teach for?
VIPKid and GoGoKid

Do you have an outside job – related or unrelated to teaching?
I do. It is completely unrelated. I am currently a research technician at the USDA.

How long have you been teaching?
Including volunteer work, approximately 5 years.

Have you always taught? Or did you start out in another field entirely?
Ahem….Due to some personal financial situations, I needed to make some extra money on the side of my primary job to pay off some debt.  My aunt also works for VIPKid and she helped me get this side hustle. Well… fast forward 6 months later, I love it more than I could have possibly imagined. I did not know I had “Teacher Dana” status within me. I did not know that this was in fact, a passion of mine.

Tricks for staying alert:
Simple but not so simple to do.
1. Getting enough sleep.
2. Don’t eat garbage food.
3. Eat healthy snacks and
4. Stay hydrated!!

What is your schedule like?
Typically, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I teach from 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (5 p.m.to 8:30 p.m. Beijing Time) with a single 30-minute break in between 6 classes total. Tuesday and Thursday, I start at 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. with VIPKid, then take a 30-minute break, pick it back up with GoGokid at 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. My weekends are sporadic and depending on my level of exhaustion, I will either open or close slots.  Monday through Friday, I work my primary job at 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. (… boooooo)

Favorite lesson (or level) to teach:
Tough question. I am only certified for levels 1-4. I love my level 1 students, but I think as far as the curriculum goes, level 3 wins!!

Teacher Dana is at her day job in the lab.
Her lovely profile photo!
She loves spending time with her dogs, Sadie and Branson.

What do you do between classes?
Get my rewards ready (digital or 2D) and chill. Confession: I like to spy on some of my students because they make hilarious faces or will call out my name until I open the camera lol.

How do you use FeedbackPanda (what is your process)?
I am very basic, and I don’t think I contribute any templates!! I use the panda button within the platform, pick out a template I like best from the cloud and then adjust it to be specific to each student. I like to add my own touch and this is one of the reasons why I don’t create my own template and share, they are extremely detailed and I am sure another teacher will not want to comment about mom and students new haircuts.

Describe your feedback style/structure:
For my level one students, I really love Olivia’s template where she briefly reviews what the lesson content was about, then she writes “Listed below is what Baobao can work on at home: [night] [stars].” This is an awesome layout for me because then I can go in and write down my tips to help with a word pronunciation. For level 2 and up, I follow a similar structure but not as specific. I focus on the sentence structures and the ways they can practice this at home. I also tell them what we will work on in future lessons. For example, “Wubaixuan’s reading is improving quickly! In future lessons, we will work on sharpening his pronunciation and reading comprehension.” This way, the parents can see that I’m noticing the student’s weaknesses but also praising the student.

Good feedback must contain
raise for good behavior, mentioning where they need to improve, helpful tips that will help them improve, and what you will work on with the student in future lessons….. Praise again, then BYE 🙂

What do you like to see when checking the Teacher-to-Teacher Feedback (notes on students from teachers in the VIPKid/GoGoKid portal)?
I want to see short and sweet. I will typically avoid all of the super long paragraphs. I want to see, “Student needs to practice -in CVC words. Pronunciation of [restaurant] and answering the question What is your name?

Teacher Dana and her boyfriend, Eric.

Has FeedbackPanda helped you manage your job and personal life? Any specifics? (e.g. before and after)
Before FeedbackPanda, It would take me HOURS to finish feedback, especially after 10 b2b classes. Part of the reason for this is poor memory, I would write down small things that each student would need to work on but I would forget what the lesson objectives were. NOW, I don’t have to remember what the lesson objectives were, so it takes me no time at all to do feedback now! It helps me to be more personalized as well. I LOVE you so much FeedbackPanda, let’s get married ❤️.

What are your interests?
I love to paint and draw animal portraits. I love to exercise and go on hikes! If I had enough time, I would travel more! I love to read health books and science journals. I am infatuated with elephants, and I’m pretty sure that in another lifetime, I was an elephant curator….

You work as an entomologist at a university, which is totally fascinating. What made you get into this field of study?
Yes, I work as an entomologist at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). I’ve been here for the last 6 years while I worked on my Bachelors/Masters of Science. Here at the USDA, we are researching different methods of biological control (using the environment) on many insect pests. Thank you, I feel it is fascinating as well :). My story is rather long, so I will make it as short as possible. For the better part of my life, I was consistently ill with an unknown cause and no answers. In the span of 10 years I had seen dozens of physicians seeking advice, answers to my continuous, and debilitating ailments. When I was about 26 (I’m 33 now), I transferred over to the University of Florida to finish out my bachelors in Gainesville. I started to see a physician over here that finally listened. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease (a bacterium that infects vectored by ticks). I spent two solid years treating for this, most of this was spent in bed trying to recover. Finally, almost 3 years post-diagnosis, the clouds lifted, and the storm passed and I felt human again (I have been in remission for about 3 years now). I never want anyone to go through this but sadly it is out of my control as more and more people get sick with not just Lyme bacteria but many other different types of pathogens that are transferred by arthropods. I may not be able to control this number, but I can certainly try my hardest to control the insects/arachnids that are causing such devastating diseases.

Where do you want entomology to take you eventually?
Ultimately, I want to help control infectious diseases by the management of arthropod vectors.