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If you’re planning to become a VIPKID teacher, you might be wondering how to set up your VIPKID classroom. This online classroom setup guide covers all the teaching tools I use with my kiddos on a regular basis.
In the years since this post was first published, VIPKID changed its online teaching platform, modified the application process, and shifted to a worldwide student base. Some of the information below is now out of date. For details about their new programs, check out the official VIPKID website.
My VIPKID Classroom Setup
Your VIPKID classroom setup can be as simple as elaborate as you want. I personally like to keep things simple and but I’ve seen some adorable virtual classrooms online with impressive decorations and design features.
The most important thing is that your virtual classroom space is quiet and in a distraction-free area. Once you’ve figured out where you’ll work, you can begin setting up your VIPKID classroom.
Laptop or Desktop Computer
A laptop and charger are must-haves for most online English teachers. I teach with a 13-inch Macbook Pro 2015 and it works like a dream!
With VIPKID you can teach from an iPad, but at this time you can only begin the hiring/application process from a laptop or desktop computer.
To make I have a backup option if my technology decides to be uncooperative, I bring both a laptop and an iPad in my VIPKID travel classroom.
Read the full guide: What’s the best laptop for online teaching?
Adjustable Laptop Stand
I received a laptop stand as a Christmas gift last year and it was a total game-changer for my online teaching setup. Before, if my table wasn’t the right height, I’d have to rummage around the room finding books and boxes to stack my laptop on.
One time I even taught with my laptop on top of a stack of pizza boxes. So yeah, not ideal.
My adjustable laptop stand totally eliminates that problem and makes teaching for longer stints more comfortable. I use the Roost Laptop Stand and love it. It’s adjustable, lightweight, and collapses down tiny to fit in my bag.
The Roost stand is a bit pricy, so I’ll also link to a similar stand that’s less expensive and also has decent reviews. I’ve only personally tried the Roost and I’m very happy with it.
No matter which one you choose, I’d recommend grabbing some kind of laptop stand if you plan to teach and travel.
Headphones with Microphone
A headset is required by most online English companies to prevent echo and distracting feedback. It’s important to have a headset that’s comfortable and has a microphone attachment so that your students can hear you clearly.
This headset by Nulaxy makes a lightweight, affordable option that’s compatible with most laptops and computers.
Read the full guide: Best Headsets for Online Teaching
Blue-Light Blocking Glasses to Protect your Eyes
After experiencing some eye weird-ness and dryness after long hours of teaching, I decided to grab these blue-light blocking glasses!
They are super lightweight and actually look pretty cute! These are just regular lenses with no prescription so I wear them with my contacts.
Con: The glass has a yellow tint (to block the blue). You can also see the computer screen reflected back in the frame, which can look a bit funky. The frames are VERY lightweight so be gentle with them.
Pros: My eyes are much more comfortable and I like the way the frames look. They are so light I hardly notice I’m wearing them.
**Update** I recently ordered a pair of prescription glasses from Zenni Optical and upgraded them to have blue-light-blocking lenses. These blue light blockers are much less “yellow” looking than the pair from Amazon and don’t have as bad of a glare. They were a bit more expensive but now these are my go-to teaching glasses.
Online Teaching Background
I alternate between three different VIPKID backgrounds: a felt background with letters on it, a world map, and a collage of academic pictures. I also have a teacher name sign that I hang to welcome students to class.
If you need a teacher name sign and other online classroom decorations, you can download some for free in my Free Resource Library!
Read the full guide: 4 Teaching Online Background Ideas
Small Dry Erase Board and Dry Erase Markers
The online teacher go-to! Having a small dry erase board is great for quickly explaining the material and expanding concepts.
I started using one shortly after I was hired and the dry erase board quickly became one of my vipkid classroom essentials. The one linked below from Amazon includes dry erase markers too!
Small Animal Finger Puppets
I am amazed by how often I use these little guys. I grabbed my finger puppets from IKEA when I was going through the VIPKID hiring process and they have been some of my favorite props ever since. I love the variety of animals and how well they’ve held up even with regular use.
I haven’t been able to find a similar set of finger puppets on Amazon with good reviews, so if you can’t make it to IKEA, your best bet is to check out the toy section at Target or the dollar store.
Illustrated Flash Cards
I use Alphabet Flash Cards and Animal Flash Cards pretty often in my classes. These are easy to pack and can be used to cover many concepts. You can find similar ones at Target in the back-to-school section too!
Laminated VIPKID 2D Props
Most of my supplementary teaching tools are laminated 2D printable props. These are the ones I make sure I have with me all the time.
- Transportation = car, plane, subway, taxi
- Flags = China and America
- Sports = football, soccer ball, basketball, badminton (useful for asking kids about their day and clarifying as sometimes football and soccer get confused)
- Maps = World map, China map, USA map
- Shapes = 2D circle, square, triangle, and rectangle, 3D sphere, rectangular prism, cube
- Clothing = Dress, Shirt, Pants, Socks, Shoes, Shorts
- Months = “Year at a glance” calendar with all 12 months
- Weeks = calendar that clearly says the 7 days of the week
- Birthday = Happy birthday sign, cake, present
Check out my Etsy Shop for Printable 2D Props perfect for online teaching!
Laminated Reward Systems
Reward systems are a great way to keep students encouraged and motivated throughout the lesson! Luckily, even simple printable VIPKID Rewards work great on the road!
I started out with a drawing I did of an empty fishbowl. I laminated it and drew fish in the bowl every time a student did a good job. Since then, I’ve used tons of other hand-drawn VIPKID reward systems in my VIPKID classroom.
Read the full guide: 32 VIPKID Reward System Ideas + Free Reward Printable
Small Day to Day Items
In addition to my 2D Props, I like to have some small day-to-day items in my VIPKID classroom set up. Items like the ones listed below can really come in handy for teaching tricky concepts.
Four different fruit erasers – Great for teaching about food, healthy and unhealthy eating, and farms. I got mine from Target.
Small birthday candles – These are useful for teaching birthdays to younger students and past technology to older students
An old boarding pass and train ticket – There are a few intermediate lessons about travel and the students love to see these real examples. I just make sure to cross out any personal details besides my first name.
An envelope with a letter inside – This is great for teaching about mail, the post office, sending letters to friends, communication, etc.
Getting Good Lighting in Your VIPKID Classroom
My online classroom lighting setup is pretty simple. When setting up my classroom, I try to make sure I’m in an area with good natural light. Sometimes I get lucky and the natural room light is enough for online teaching, but often I have to use a supplementary light source.
Enter: My Magical VIPKID Ring Light
Rechargeable Selfie Ring Light
My handy ring light is great for getting good VIPKID lighting in any situation. This one clips onto my computer and lasts about 4 hours on each charge. Since it charges with a USB cable, I can plug it into my laptop while I’m teaching if I need it to last longer.
Using a Selfie Ring Light to get good VIPKID Classroom lighting
The selfie ring light (linked above) is nice because you have three levels of brightness to choose from. I usually use one or two depending on how much light is in the room.
One tip when setting it up, if you clip the ring light right next to your built-in webcam, sometimes the light looks blue/gray. Try clipping it to the top corner of your laptop instead of around the camera hole.
After trying many lighting options, this one is definitely my VIPKID ring light of choice!
Here’s an example of how my classroom setup looks with no ring light, with level one brightness, and with level two brightness. Aaaaand I just noticed one of my braids is about to be toast!
Transporting Your VIPKID Classroom Setup
Heading out of town for the weekend? Want to teach some classes on the go? No problem!
I know this looks like a lot of supplies, but since so many of these items are flat or collapsable. Almost all the props and rewards, for example, fit in a gallon ziplock bag.
No matter where you’re staying, make sure that you’ll have good internet when you arrive. If I’m going out of town to visit a friend, I’ll have them run a speed test using www.speedtest.net to make sure the speeds are fast enough. If I’m staying in a hotel or Airbnb, I reach out to the host beforehand to confirm the speeds.
When I arrive, I set up my VIPKID classroom space in a quiet corner or bedroom. I look for areas with good overhead or natural lighting but of course, I have my selfie ring light as a backup.
As a rule of thumb, I like to set up my classroom the night before my first classes so I have time to get organized, hang my background, and test the WiFi.
Final Thoughts: My VIPKID Classroom
Thank you for joining in for my VIPKID classroom tour! I hope you found everything you were looking for and I’d love to hear about your classroom go-to’s in the comments below.
Wow you certainly have everything organized so nicely—you sound like you are a fun teacher too!!
Hey there! LOVE THIS! I am not sure if you are part of the travel group or not… so we may have crossed paths already… but we are leaving in 2019… and I was like OMG what about props… I figure it is time to downsize what I have now… and practice with limited props while I am still at home! THANKS for this list… I am brainstorming. I am going to allow myself the large packing cube of props, so I love that most is flat! do you teach all levels? I teach level 1-5.
Awesome!! So excited to hear about your adventures in 2019!! I have actually really loved downsizing the props. I mostly have level 3-5 with an occasional trial in level 2 or 1, but it’s easy to be light on the props with the older kiddos. It’s a great idea to practice a bit and see what you actually use. I use my characters most and the finger puppets and the flags, strangely enough. 🙂 Happy travels!! Feel free to message me if you have questions before leaving 🙂
Love, Love how detailed you are with your posts. Thank you. Do you know of ANY way that I can view a video or a teaching online class so I can visually see how props are incorporated with an online classroom?
Yeah!! There are some awesome videos on youtube of teachers demonstrating VIPKID classes and once you start the application process you’ll be given example videos with actual students in them to see some ideas! 🙂
Ahh! Thank you. I’ve always wondered what an actual class looks like. Will cruise around YouTube.
Hey! I am also an online, travelling teacher. I’m in Asia and just had my first experience where I did actually need an adapter. I haven’t needed one yet surprisingly. How about a converter? I can’t figure out how to know if I need both.
Hi! I didn’t need a converter in Asia because my chargers were rated for 100-240V. Most of the Asian outlets are 220V so as long as your devices allow up to 240V you’re good! You can read the range on the device itself, it’s usually written in light text near the plug. 🙂
I have a quick question. I will travel and teach online for a short while. I’m nervous about my expenses, even though I’ve saved a bit. What are the best ways to save money while enjoying myself and not feeling broke or the need to save so much money? I was planning to stay in Airbnbs along the way, but if you know a cheaper or better alternative, I’m all eyes!
P.S. Any tips for traveling and teaching online are welcome.
I love Airbnb and house sitting for cheap (or free!) accommodation while traveling! You can also look into programs like couchsurfing and workaway for volunteer and homeshare options! 🙂
Hi, thank you for all the great info, I wanted to ask something about the light ring, is that one you mentioned also suitable for working in the dark? For example when the room is dark, using the ring light would be enough?
thank you for you response
Hi!! I usually use mine as additional light. I’ll have the overhead lights on in the room and the ring light makes my face brighter but usually, it’s not the only light source. That said, I’ve used it to teach through a power outage before and it was enough to mostly see my face and still have class. I wouldn’t rely on it for my day to day lighting though. 🙂
So glad I found your blog. I JUST got hired by VIPKID and taught my first three classes early this morning, California time 4-6 AM. The funny thing is, I was supposed to be leaving with my family on a big world trip, but for very cool career reasons, we decided to stay here. Then I just started noodling around with VIPKID to maybe earn some extra cash while we stayed here this year…and bingo! I just found the job I’m going to have when we actually do travel in 2020. I was just wondering today…what in the HECK am I gonna do about props? Thanks so much for your great posts. I loved the background one as well!
Hi Julie!! What an exciting adventure!! Have the best time teaching with VIPKID and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about teaching and traveling! 🙂