When first starting out as an independent contractor for VIPKID its easy to assume you may need a lot to get started. Lets bypass technical requirements (computer, mouse, headphones) and assume you’ve got that covered. So, what do you REALLY need on day 1 to teach? I don’t think anyone should invest a ton of money in their job until they are actually hired. So I highly recommend you get creative and find stuff from around your house to use vs buying before your first paycheck. After all, a huge part of being a teacher is finding ways to be creative on a budget!
Supplementary Tools Improve Learning Environment
For my interview & mock classes, I didn’t even realize that props & supplementary tools were so important to helping keep kids engaged and learn. I simply used them because it seemed natural. I started out using letters swiped from a scrabble game, a white board with the marker it came with, and some Happy Meal toys. I had watched a bunch of youtube videos using the tooth & smile incentive and wanted to be different so I found an old nursery room decor monkey to use. I only used things on hand for the interview process. I was not willing to invest money in a contract job I didn’t even have yet. Since then, I’ve added a few things (mostly from the dollar store) and decided to share what I think is the basics. To get started (or to have for your travelling classroom if you plan to teach from different places without packing a ton.)
Getting Started for Under $20
- A white board (I have a small magnetic one from Target for about $8 but they are also available on a cardboard material in the teacher section at the dollar store)
- A variety of dry erase markers (I use black most often, but if you don’t have other props or tools yet, use multiple colors to keep it interesting, available 3 in a pack for $1 at dollar tree)
- A couple fun toys, pictures, or puppets to demo (I don’t always use them, but if a child isn’t understanding what to do, you can have the lion and monkey talk to each other to demonstrate, mine are from a McDonald’s Happy Meal $8 for the two with lunch included!)
- An orange shirt! (this is not mandatory, but is very much encouraged, you can find them in “safety orange” at Walmart for under $4)
Extra, extra, extra
I have continued to add a few things each time I get a paycheck and the dollar tree, once a place I never visited, is now a weekly stop on my errands list. Upgrading the wall behind you with decor or a secondary white board would be one of the other “first” things I’d do. The kids like to see their incentive awards and if its on the wall its easiest for the teacher! Desk organization would be another top priority, you’ll quickly find yourself making flashcards vs only writing on the white board, collecting more small toys for demo purposes, and generally just collecting “stuff” to use for classes. I have a nice computer tray with a pull out drawer that I got from Target for $17 that works great. I can also stick my magnets to it so that’s great too!