This week at Inkreadable, dear readers, brought a couple of nasty surprises. Well, only one very nasty surprise, and a case of me running my mouth when I shouldn’t have. We will start, as ever, with life over in VIPKid land.In addition to my dropping bookings, and the fact that the kids in Beijing are going back to school over the next couple of weeks, means that my schedule has more holes than ever. It was also a holiday in China yesterday so my bookings for Monday were sparse indeed. What surprises me about VIPKid is that my weekends are sparse as well. They start out well enough on Saturday filling 12 PM to 3 PM for the frenzy, and then gradually through the week they will drop off. I haven’t had a fully booked 3-hour Saturday in quite a long time. But what’s really surprising is that Sundays I open six hours and only one and a half to two hours have been booking. In the Zoom coffee that I host for VIPKidders around the EU the tune has now changed. Where before everyone was saying their bookings are fine, they’re not so sure of their prospects. I applied to Zebra English with a five minute video but hadn’t heard anything as of yesterday.
But that wasn’t the only kick to the teeth from VIPKid. In December 2019 they started a new pay scale for new teachers whereby they have developed an algorithm that takes away the incentives for participation and finishing classes. Right now I make $11 per class. That is a straight fee. In August, that will change. While I keep my base pay of nine dollars, the incentives go away and you are paid based on how many classes you have worked, and the rate goes up based on a tier system. There is a complicated range that I don’t even understand. But friends of mine have done the math and it seems instead of making more money we will be making less money. I wonder if this is a way for VIPKid to screw over the teachers by keeping their payroll attached to a formula that only they can understand. I also think they’re trying to separate the wheat from the chaff and trying to pay their veteran teachers less. It affects me because I have started working less classes. used to work only VIPKid and was working somewhere between 200-250 classes a month. I now work 150. Given that, that’s going to be a huge pay cut for me. Not that my English language teaching ever made me enough of a living to not rely on income from the US, but now it’s become even worse.
Things are not all copacetic at the English Center either. I really put my foot in it on Friday when we had drinks and said that I was done with online teaching. That it made me tired. I hope that I did not screw myself out of more classes taught online. But one never knows. I’m also not sure whether I should mention it to the owner or not. I am also not sure whether I should mention to my students that there is a course that comes after pre-intermediate English. I am afraid that the company will tell me that I cannot do it or they will tell me that I need to reduce my pay from the group rate to a private rate which is a loss of money, as well as a loss because they may shorten the course from 12 lessons over 6 weeks to 8 lessons over 4 weeks. On Monday, I had class with just the son of the pair as the Dad had to work. What do you do when you have just the kid? Homework, of course! I helped with an English class assignment and we spent the rest of the class playing homograph Go Fish. What’s that, you ask? Simply put you try to match words that sound alike are spelled differently. Once you have a pair, you ask the students to make sentences with the words, after you explain the meaning if they don’t know it. Its a great way to go over easily confused words and also a great way to build vocabulary.
Over in my private client world, things are a bit quiet. My private student has a job assessment and so we will probably not meet this week and her schedule will change as a result of a potential job. But I did help her with the job assessment writing assignment yesterday and I think she’ll do quite well. So I’m waiting to hear about that. Katya’s mom has said she will let me know about lessons for her as I think that it is children’s day in Poland and I think the kid wants Just spend the day doing something fun. If I was her, I certainly wouldn’t want to have to have a class with me. And I realize that it’s not personal. I think on a holiday I would be doing anything other than teaching. Unfortunately, I have no choice. Being self-employed means that if I don’t work I don’t eat.
The fourth critique session went well this week. I gave another couple of chapters and got some very good feedback. I was very surprised that one person said that my action was too slow and the other one said that my action was just right. I feel a little bit like the three bears. I definitely don’t feel like Goldilocks. Still is giving the grist for the mill and the ability to figure out where there might be problems in forthcoming chapters. In other news, we are probably going to meet for drinks on the terrace at our local pub on Thursday. Things in the Netherlands are opening slowly back up and some of the first places opening are bars and restaurants but with limitations. I am very excited to start seeing some of my friends in real life, however.
That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.