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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.
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
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.