How to Set Your VIPKID Classroom Up for Success

by: Lara Dondello Lara Donadello | Last Updated April 27, 2020

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Getting started as a VIPKID teacher can be a little daunting. Before you get used to it, talking to students using a webcam can be awkward and you may find that the kids just aren’t engaging in your lessons. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you may just need to improve your classroom set-up.

If you want to be a successful online teacher, your VIPKID classroom setup is super important. Having the right background, tech and props can make your lessons easier to teach and much more engaging for students. 

In this article, we’ll be going into detail about what makes a great online classroom setup and providing a bunch of great VIPKID classroom ideas for you to try. To start, let’s take a look into the anatomy of what an awesome classroom should look like.

Make sure to also check out our full VIPKID hiring guide that breaks down the hiring process, requirements, and pay.

The anatomy of an effective online classroom

When you first start teaching, it can be hard to adapt to the online setup and you may find it confusing to create something that is both helpful to you and engaging to students. 

Whether you’re teaching on VIPKID or another platform, there are a few staples that every effective online classroom should include:

  • A good webcam
  • A reliable headset 
  • A student-friendly background 
  • Engaging props and toys 
  • Good lighting

All teachers’ classrooms differ. Some teachers are minimalist and use a few key props and background essentials to create their classrooms. Other teachers look like they are running a Toys R Us as their side job. 

However, all successful teachers’ classrooms include all of the items above in their classrooms set up. Without them, you may find that your lessons don’t go to plan and you may even get some grief from your company too. 

In addition to the classroom essentials above, you should also double-check if your company has any specific guidelines regarding classrooms. Lots of companies like VIPKID ask teachers to include the company logo in their setup. You may also be asked to wear a specific color T-shirt or use a company-wide reward system that you may need to print. 

If you’ve just started teaching with VIPKID, be sure to ask your mentor or coordinator about the requirements so that you can meet them for every class. 

Ok, so now we’ve gone over the basics, let’s take a look at each of the components of a successful classroom in more detail. Below you can find a bunch of VIPKID classroom ideas that may work for your setup. 

Technology

Technology is arguably the most important part of any online teacher’s classroom. At a minimum, you want your students to be able to see and hear you clearly at all times. Below are some ideas about what tech items you need for the perfect online classroom. 

Online teaching headset

Although most people just make video calls using the inbuilt microphone and speakers on their laptop, you will soon find that this is not sufficient for online lessons. The first reason for this is that most companies require teachers to have a headset with a microphone in order to teach. 

In addition to this, having a proper teaching headset makes the audio much clearer for both you and the student and it will really help to prevent communication issues throughout your classes. 

Our recommendation Logitech H390

When it comes to headsets, we recommend going with the Logitech H390. 

It has great quality headphones, a noise-canceling mic, and plush ear cushions to help you stay comfortable throughout long teaching shifts. It has a USB connection which makes it really easy to hook up to your computer, and you can get your hands on it for less than $120. 

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Webcam 

A Webcam is the second most important item to buy for your VIPKID classroom. Most computers and laptops include built-in webcams, but these are often low-quality, so our advice is to invest in an external webcam for online teaching

Most webcams aren’t too expensive, and you’ll find that a decent one helps your video feed to look smoother and higher quality. In my experience, bad picture quality can cause students to become disengaged quickly, especially if you teach younger students that rely on your visual queues and props to navigate the lesson. 

Our recommendation — Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 is one of the best webcams on the market, and it’s perfect for online teaching. It offers 1080p video quality and has a widescreen lens that will allow your students to see more of your background, and give you more space to work with. 

The camera easily clips onto the top of your monitor and can be adjusted easily if you want to show worksheets or props close up. 

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Lighting

Another important factor to consider when it comes to tech is lighting. If you already have a well-lit room to teach from, that’s great, but most teachers will find that lighting can be problematic from time-to-time. If you teach at night or early in the morning as most people do, then you may need to buy some VIPKID lighting for your classroom setup. 

Our Recommendation – The 8″ LED Selfie Ring Light

Regular household lamps may create shadows in a dimly lit room, so you may want to invest in a photography light such as a ring light that you can position at the perfect angle to minimize shadows and dark spots. 

For example, The 8″ LED Selfie Ring Light is available on Amazon and costs around $50 and it’s perfect for the job. It comes with an adjustable tripod, and you can also adjust the brightness too. 

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Background

Your VIPKID background is also an important part of your setup. What your students can see behind you can often be a source of distraction, so try to fill the space with as much student-friendly and educational decoration as possible. 

It’s also a good idea to include things that may come in handy during the lesson. Here are some ideas for what to include in VIPKID backgrounds. 

Maps

One of the major talking points for students and teachers on VIPKID is geography. Since all of the VIPKID students are from China, they often find it interesting to learn about other cultures and where their teacher is from. For this reason, maps are a very useful item to include in your VIPKID backdrop.

Our Recommendation – Funnytree 7X5FT Durable Fabric World Travel Map 

This map is perfect for any online teaching classroom. It has brightly colored countries that are easily visible for students, and even includes some world monuments which can be a great talking point in class. 

Also, if you’re a teacher that travels a lot, this VIPKID backdrop can easily be stuffed in a backpack and rehung at your next location. 

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Whiteboard

It seems like a simple idea, but a whiteboard is one of the most useful tools in a VIPKID teacher’s arsenal. You can use it for almost anything from playing games to practicing letters to drawing funny pictures to keep the students engaged. 

If you have a limited amount of space, you may want to go for a handheld whiteboard, but larger whiteboards are great for VIPKID backgrounds. You can use them to stick things on, keep track of rewards and it makes it easy to change up your background regularly. 

Our Recommendation – XBoard Magnetic Whiteboard 

This whiteboard is a great size for a VIPKID backdrop and it’s affordable too. It’s also magnetic, which makes it easy to stick up printed resources and magnetic props. 

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Educational Backdrops and Posters

Another option for your online classroom is educational backdrops like posters and tapestries. It can be really helpful to have alphabet prompts, number posters, and other educational aids right there on the wall to utilize in lessons. Colorful backdrops and posters that are appealing to younger children are also a good choice. 

Our Recommendation – Educational Preschool Posters for Toddlers and Kids

This 12-pack of preschool posters from Amazon is perfect for a VIPKID backdrop. All the posters include useful educational information that can be used in class, and there’s a good range to choose from so you can change it up depending on your lesson plans. 

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Props

Props are also super important for VIPKID teachers, and sometimes, they are literally the only way to communicate and engage with your students. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a good selection of permanent VIPKID props in your office or workspace. Here are some suggestions of things to have on hand when you start teaching.

Printables and flashcards 

Printables are a life-saver if your students are still struggling to verbally communicate. It’s always a good idea to have a bunch of printables and flashcards to hand, especially when you’re teaching younger students. Websites like Twinkl are great for finding printable resources, but you may want to have some laminated flashcards and visual props to hand too. 

Our Recommendation – 50 First Words Flashcards 

These cards are available on Amazon, and they’ll come in handy in almost any situation. You can use them to revise vocabulary with your students, and the pictures are helpful for teaching new words to younger kids. 

Puppets 

Puppets are also very useful things to include in your VIPKID classroom setup. From my experience, having a puppet friend to help you model dialogue really helps children to understand new words and phrases. 

Also, cute puppet friends really help nervous students to relax into the lesson.  Many students become attached to puppet helpers and will be excited to see them every class.

Our Recommendation –  BETTER LINE 20-Piece Story Time Finger Puppets Set

This puppet set is perfect for a VIPKID classroom. It has 20 different puppets to choose from including people, jungle animals, farmyard animals and more. 

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Other Toys 

If you have space, it’s a good idea to accumulate as many toys as you can and leave them in an easy to reach place. All VIPKID students are different, and it may take a while to find the perfect toy or prop to bring them out of their shell. 

Costume items, dolls, super-hero toys, and animal plushies are great conversation starters for kids, and can really help you through an awkward trial class or first lesson with a student. If you have kids of your own, don’t be afraid to borrow from their toy box too! 

Examples to follow

If you’re still in need of VIPKID classroom ideas and you want to get an idea of how other teachers organize their setup, here are some VIPKID pro’s that have mastered building an awesome VIPKID classroom. 

Nancy Taylor 

Nancy is a VIPKID veteran turned YouTuber that has some great videos for anyone who is just starting out with VIPKID. She’s a stay-at-home mum and her setup is second to none. She has some great ideas about organization and props. Check out this video to see her full VIPKID classroom setup.

What we like

She has a great selection of props and toys. Her background is clear and educational and she has some awesome ideas about reward systems! 

Teacher Micheal

Teacher Micheal is a seasoned traveler and VIPKID ambassador. He’s taught online whilst living in countries like Vietnam and China, and he has some awesome VIPKID classroom ideas. Check out his classroom tour. 

Micheal has quite a minimalist setup but he still has everything he needs to teach great classes. He uses lighting well to enhance his classroom, and he goes all out to make his props unique and useful. Micheal proves that literally anything can be an online teaching prop if you use your imagination! 

Final Thoughts on VIPKID Classroom Setup

Setting up your VIPKID classroom may seem like a challenge, but as long as you have a good headset and webcam, the rest is really up to you. 

Don’t be afraid to be creative and use what you have to create awesome backdrops and props for your students to enjoy. If you’re an online teacher that has some great ideas about setting up your classroom, please share them in the comments.

Lara Dondello

Lara Donadello

Lara is a CELTA-certified teacher, content creator and host of the English Vocabulary Booster podcast.  As a digital nomad, she’s learned she can make do without most things, except Netflix and good ice cream.

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