Guest Post by Nikki Eldred – “Preparation BEFORE a VIPKID midnight shift is absolutely crucial and can set the tone of the entire evening.”
New to VIPKID? Read here first.
Not new? Jump to “Why I work night shift”
If you haven’t heard of VIPKID, it’s an online English teaching platform for young students in China. Teachers from the United States and Canada work remotely. You can teach from home or anywhere around the world with a stable internet connection. Teachers are considered independent contractors. You choose your hours each week and build your own classroom for parents to book you.
If you haven’t applied to VIPKID and would like to get started on this life-changing platform, reach out to me. I will help you with tips, tricks and advice on how to get hired as quickly as possible. I am certified in multiple levels and would love to help you make extra income having fun with wonderful students. My referral link is: NICOL0817. Click here for my referral link if you are interested in applying.
Peak Hours at VIPKID
Peak times at VIPKID are at odd hours. The concept of a 9-5 is thrown out the window when teaching students in China. They are 15 or 12 hours ahead of us depending on your Stateside location. When it is morning here it’s evenings for them and vice versa. As most of us know, typical hours for a VIPKID teacher are early in the morning. We work from 3-7AM PST and 6-10AM EST.
Typically, students take English lessons with us after they have completed all their other classes and other activities. They’re pretty exhausted by the time they get to us. I regularly have 5 or 6 year old students taking class as late as 9PM for them. They yawn and some nearly fall asleep as I try to entertain them through a lesson.
Weekends at VIPKID
It’s a whole other world on the weekends. We are able to work from 5:30PM to 7AM PST or 8:30PM to 10AM EST (the vipkid midnight shift). This means the kids are mostly in class during the day (Chinese time). VIPKID is like a whole other world on weekends. Children are in much better moods. With just a couple classes as opposed to all day education, they are often more enthusiastic and excited for class. They’re more open to focusing and giving effort to perfecting their English. They have interesting things to share about what they are doing. They aren’t so exhausted and I hear a lot less yawning.
Why I work VIPKID midnight shift
With over 400,000 students enrolled, teaching the VIPKID midnight shift means a plethora of circumstances and a flurry of bookings. This is the time when students have more options to book English lessons and they’re feeling refreshed. I love teaching during this time!
Regardless of how long you’ve been teaching on the platform or how much educational expertise you have, sometimes slots during the week don’t fill. Even if they do fill, it seems nearly impossible to survive financially without the extensive weekend bookings parents pay for. Contrary to weekday bookings, on Friday and Saturday peak slots go from 8 to 20 slots per day. Off peak times are often booked as well. When we choose to do an all-nighter with VIPKID, we have the opportunity to book 27 slots. Yes, it takes some serious preparation and self-care to survive this shift. However, it’s our chance to earn a solid paycheck.
Pay for VIPKID Midnight Shifts
Aside from the fact that children seem easier to teach and pay is more reliable during the weekends, the change in daily routine is genuinely pleasurable for me. I look forward to weekends knowing I will get to see so many of my regulars. I also get to meet a whole host of new students. It’s a great time to make bonuses with loads of trial classes.
Although midnight teaching is an opportunity to get more bookings, you must prepare for surviving night shift. Try to think of these shifts as journeys in your teaching career. Remember that without proper preparation for a journey it can be challenging to complete feeling healthy and successful.
Tips for Surviving Night Shift
During the weekdays I will go to bed around 10PM and wake up at 3AM when it’s still dark outside. I often feel half-asleep as well. I get up as late as I can but it’s sometimes too early to eat. If I’m booked fully I get little chance to drink my hot tea between classes.
Before night shifts however, I get the chance during the day to sleep. I make sure to exercise, go outside and cook big meals before I sit down to teach again at 6PM. In the summer, I actually get to teach for a few hours during daylight. This helps stimulate my brain and naturally increase my happiness before transitioning into the all-night affair. I often feel a lot more prepared for my classes having slept, eaten and gotten some sun. Although bookings vary through the nights, there are often small gaps where I get to refuel or rest before the next continuous lineup.
Before Classes Start
Preparation BEFORE a VIPKID midnight shift is absolutely crucial and can set the tone of the entire evening. I always find it crucial to take a nap after my morning classes and then again before my evening shift starts. Maintaining naps of 90 minute rounds mean that your body completes its REM processing. That way it doesn’t awake in the middle of a full cycle, which can really set you out of balance. It’s not important how many cycles you complete. Just sleep for 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5 or 9 hours total depending on your personal needs. Divide that as necessary as well if you benefit from the dual-nap plan like I do.
Give yourself enough time to wake up and prepare before your first evening class. It significantly helps to set up your prop materials before your nap in order to shorten the time between sleep and your all-night shift.
Prepare Your Teaching Area for a VIPKID Midnight Shift
Clean your teaching area by picking up and rehoming miscellaneous items, leaving only what you will actually be using. This has been so important to declutter my mental state on these nights.
Then, upon awaking, eat a healthy meal, stretch and meditate in whatever way feels good. I prefer a 10-15 minute sitting meditation where I breathe, and release my life stresses. I accept that I’m about to embark on an all-night journey and envision myself in the best teaching situations. In this vision I am on point with my grammar structures, examples and extensions; able to adapt quickly to curveballs; tapping into my inner child, having fun with the students and bringing smiles and enthusiasm to their learning.
This sets a positive rather than dreadful tone for the evening. I allow myself to remember why I love this job. I do it for me AND the kids. If sitting practices are not your thing, a brisk walk around your neighborhood or short bike ride can bring adrenaline with a combo of healthy pleasure chemicals to your brain. This naturally increases your energy and enhances your mood before the long evening.
Lighting During a VIPKID Midnight Shift
At the beginning of my VIPKID career I once had an evening with 22 booked classes. They were almost all in a row. I was excited for this opportunity and had just found a new lamp to brighten my classroom. It was an extremely luminous fluorescent positioned right behind my laptop, with another lamp to the side of me.
Wearing an electronic headset for 11 hours and having bright lights shining in my face gave me a headache. It was so massive I didn’t think I would make it through the end. I felt like I might have to bolt out in the middle of one class from the roaring pain. Somehow I was (ironically) blessed with a teacher IT issue, in the middle of the most painful class. This provided me a short break to prepare for the very last lesson. For the next 24 hours after, my head was throbbing. I was bedridden from the effects of too much lighting and too many electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) waves floating in my vicinity so long. For this reason, I highly suggest being particular about what type of lights you use and where they are positioned.
What type of lighting?
My room is not naturally very bright. Don’t add additional lights if it’s not absolutely necessary. If you do need to add additional lights, try to have a tall or high lamp positioned above you. That way it’s out of your eyes. Add an additional incandescent or LED light behind your camera that you can turn on and off.
If bright enough, incandescent lights produce red light on the color spectrum as opposed to blue light like others. This mimics the sun more and is much healthier for the mind and body. Turning off your lighting in between classes, even if only for 5 minutes, can make a huge difference for the mental and physical space as well. And if you have the means, purchasing an anti-radiation EMF shield device to sit near your computer can help massively. They range in prices and you can find affordable options. Black tourmaline stones help shield you from the waves as well.
In between classes during a VIPKID midnight shift
Regardless of if you have 5 minutes or an hour between lessons, step away from your computer and other technology. Step outside or at least out of your teaching area if possible. This breath of fresh air can disrupt the monotonous routine and completely re-shift your upcoming lessons. Drink plenty of water and chow on a light snack. Perform some stretches. Take some deep breaths.
Eating Schedule for a VIPKID Night Shift
The right food intake and scheduling can also transform the way midnight shifts transpire. First, I want to mention how important the type of food you eat is. Certain foods, like dairy, excessive fat, sugar, oil and gluten all cause inflammation in the body. That can slow and tire our brains and bodies out. Eating healthy meals and snacks full of fruits and vegetables as main components are great for digestion and mental processing. Those foods often increase our energy.
I enjoy eating a large lunch a couple hours before my afternoon nap. This nourishes my body and increases the quality of my sleep. After my nap, I then consume my dinner (unless classes begin very early in the evening). My dinner isn’t too large. However, it’s still enough to keep me content for the first couple hours of my shift.
If classes begin very early, I like to leave a block off for an hour around 8 or 9PM. That allows me to cook a meal during my break and eat. Sometimes the time is so tight that I have to eat and prep simultaneously. But being intentional with my meal and stepping away from the computer when possible helps me enjoy it more. It gives me a relaxing break and allows me to fully taste and experience my nourishment. If I am not too tired, I eat after finishing my last classes and before going back to sleep.
Snacks for a VIPKID Midnight Shift
Snacks are super important for keeping me charged as well. I don’t worry about cooking elaborate meals if pressed for time. My favorite snack is a hearty smoothie. I can continue to sip it between classes. It’s filled with berries, bananas, and flax seeds (all incredible foods for the brain and stress). I also enjoy a bowl of frozen berries topped with peanut butter and a bit of coconut milk. Spoon scoops of sugar-free peanut butter are my best friend, when I only have 5 minutes between classes. Cherry tomatoes, fruit slices or a fruit salad are perfect, too. They are filling items that are easy to eat quickly and are satisfying but don’t weigh me down.
Although I know many teachers would have a few words to say to me about this, I actually avoid coffee during my midnight shifts. The combination of high caffeine with long hours of bright lighting and electronic waves heightens my anxiety and agitation. It increases the chance for headaches, and makes me more tired but less able to fall asleep after my shift. I enjoy making a pot of green, chai or ginger tea and continuously sipping that through the night.
Side Effects after a Night Shift
Depending on the amount of sleep and hours taught, the midnight shift at VIPKID is brutal. I’ve already mentioned my unfortunate occurrence after an early-on 11 hour shift. I was recovering in bed for at least an entire day due to the intensity of my lighting. This included a massive headache, fatigue, inability to process and complete any errands for the following 24 hours. This was an extreme case and I’ve already included some ways to avoid it.
However, this doesn’t mean some lighter side effects won’t occur even with all tips and tricks checked on the list. Your brain will be exhausted from the change in routine and schedule. You’ll probably want to sleep for a large portion of the daylight. You may wake up just a few hours before needing to go back to bed for your next morning classes. This can throw off the weekly cycle. I can’t always go back to sleep at the time I really need to. I end up staying up late and only sleeping for a couple hours before the next morning.
Solutions to the Side Effects
Regardless of what light setup you use or whether you drink coffee or not, EMF waves from computer systems cause overstimulation on the brain and fatigue on the body. When we continuously sit in front of the computer for days on end, this can really amp up and cause some long-term effects. It is important to me that I make time to step away for entire days. I push myself to go outside all afternoon in order to refresh.
This shift can can be very physically draining, just as much as working an overtime shift in any other job. Regardless of the fact that it’s at home on the computer. It pushes me into closing off open slots during the week if I haven’t scheduled a full free day. It is essentially 3 regular shifts pushed into 1 night. This can lead to simply feeling burnt out from teaching. Typically, it lowers my energy in classes for the next couple days. I don’t recover until I get an extremely short shift or take a day off. If I schedule breaks throughout the night, this need is not so intense.
It doesn’t have to be so bad
The midnight shift at VIPKID can be quite a rollercoaster. It comes with ups and downs, like any job or shift in the world. With proper awareness of yourself and the situation, you have the potential to make the most of this shift for your students and your career. I truly love the weekend night shifts on our platform, and I look forward to many more ahead. For any questions, help, tips or tricks, please feel free to reach out to me. For new teachers, use my referral code (NICOL0817) for immediate guidance and resources getting hired! Click here to apply. Happy teaching! Don’t forget that when we take care of ourselves, we take care of our kids and our future too.
If you are new to VIPKID and struggling with bookings, a midnight shift should do the trick. You can also learn some other ticks from my blog post by clicking here.
If you haven’t applied to VIPKID yet, Nikki Lubing would be happy to help you get started. You can click here to use her as your coach. Our guest blogger Nikki is also happy serve you if you click here.