Online Teacher Feature Series
In the next few weeks, I will be highlighting 3 current or former online ESL teachers who have used their unique talents, interests, and skillsets to find and create their niche in online education.
Teacher Lydia has worked with VIPKid since 2017 as an online ESL teacher and brand ambassador. She is an amazing artist and the founder of Learningcraft, a company that sells unique and creative DIY prop kits.
Fun fact: Her whiteboard drawing videos were the inspiration for the VIPKid Drawing Rewards group!
Online ESL Teaching
What drew you to start teaching ESL online with VIPKid back in 2017?
In 2016, I found out that my federal funding had run out and I could no longer pursue my Master’s degree in Anthropology. I was devastated.
My part-time jobs up until that point had mostly centered around kids, coach/camp counselor/nanny, and since it was easy work for me, I decided to get a “real job” as a long-term substitute at my local school district.
I loved the job but the pay wasn’t great so I put in my two weeks by Christmas. This was a mistake. The hours at my new catering job were grueling, overtime was everytime and everywhere I looked, people were getting hurt on the job.
One morning when I was pushing an 80 lb cart of fine china down a mile-long hallway I took a break to scroll the ‘gram and that’s where I saw an advertisement for VIPKid. The rest is history.
Creating a Business
When did you decide to create your Learningcraft company/brand and how do you incorporate your unique interests and talents into it?
In July 2017, about 3 months into teaching online, I realized that I didn’t have the tools I needed to supplement my classes. I envisioned mini versions of real items to use as props to help my students understand the content faster but I couldn’t find anything like that in stores so I decided to create my own.
During my time as a Pro Am cosplayer, I worked with craft foam to create my costumes so I knew that the spongy, colorful material would be perfect for the props. I originally planned to sell them fully assembled but it took so much time to make a single kit and the risk of human error during the process was astonishingly high so I had put the business on the back burner for a few years.
Finally, in January 2020, my sister suggested that I sell them as DIY kits, a genius idea that solved both my problems immediately!! With this new insight I hit the ground running and launched my first product, the DIY Prop Kits, on March 17, 2020.
Global Awareness Education
What is the Global Awareness Education Initiative and why is it special to you?
“I don’t remember learning very much at all about China, Kenya or Bolivia when I was in school… do you?”
I don’t remember learning very much at all about China, Kenya or Bolivia when I was in school… do you? The American education system is primarily focused on European history and largely ignores other parts of the world like Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East. Because of this, students are not given a historical/social education that is representative of the diverse populations of the world we live in, yet another huge disadvantage American students face as they continue to fall further behind in global education rankings.
I started the Global Awareness Education Initiative with the mission to provide students with free access to supplementary materials, tools and classes focused on world cultural education so that young learners have more opportunities to become insightful, empathetic leaders in today’s global society. Soft skills are becoming more important than ever so providing students with the knowledge to make informed decisions that involve others is paramount to their long-term success.
To support this mission, we are reimagining some of the most iconic landmarks and structures from around the globe as spectacular 3-D puzzle craft activities to supplement our free workbooks and classes. We start our journey around the world at The Summer Palace in Beijing, China, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The DIY craft will be available for purchase August 1 with the accompanying free workbook and classes rolling out in September.
Advice to Others
You’ve clearly put a lot of thought and care into your teacher business and brand! What advice do you have for other online teachers hoping to create their own teacher business in a way that’s authentic to themselves?
Thank you so much! My best advice for teachers looking to build their own brand would be to double down on the skills you already have and buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Starting a business focused around your strengths will give you a head start but you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get confused and frustrated because you don’t know how to implement or execute certain ideas.
When you face challenges and setbacks it’s easy to lose sight of why you started your business but no matter how many times it doesn’t work out, keep going. You only need to be right once.
- Want to know more about teaching ESL online with VIPKid, GoGokid, or other companies? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE resources and 1:1 mentoring.
- Join my Facebook group for support and resources on your #teacherpreneur journey!
- Interested in mindful and valuable social media use for educators? Check out my 1st , 2nd, and 3rd posts in a 4-part series!
- Keep up with my posts on my Facebook page, Instagram, or Pinterest!
The Introverted Online Teacher