Four Completely Obvious Lessons I Learned in Physical Therapy

Raise your hand if you’ve been to physical therapy???

I’m probably the last person on the planet to finally go to PT, which I guess is good because it means I’ve been injury free, right? I was given four weeks of physical therapy after … get this… spraining my knee playing horse-y with my kids…. This officially wins the award as lamest injury ever. I should also say that it was an incredibly minor injury. It’s not like surgery or knee replacement, or anything that is actually hard… I don’t think I’d have recovered successfully on my own, but I’d probably have figured it out..

But I learned some things that I think are kind of important for me! more “Four Completely Obvious Lessons I Learned in Physical Therapy”

Beginner’s Guide to Burnout

Burnout. It was a term I first heard in relation to diabetes when I was in college (type 1 since I was 6 months old). I’m sure all of you are much more familiar with the term, and don’t need a definition, but Google says that it’s a mental or physical breakdown due to stress or overwork. That sounds about right.

It can happen to anyone with anything. Parenting. Job. Marriage. Health. Finances. Anything can cause you to burnout. For some of us, it’s hard to see the signs until you’re shoulder deep in a tub of ice cream or crying your eyes out into the early morning.

My philosophy on basically every problem I run into is this: find a way to fix it, and if you can’t, find a (mostly) healthy way to deal. more “Beginner’s Guide to Burnout”

5 Steps to Raise Your VIPKid Apple Rating

At VIPKid, teachers are given apples instead of stars. These apples are visible to both parent, and teacher. They help parents choose which teachers to book, and can help or hurt a teacher’s booking rate.

These apples are averaged together to give the teacher a rating – 5.0, 4.67, 4.3. Most teachers are somewhere in the 4-5 range. These apple ratings are easily affected by negative feedback, and can be difficult to improve. The rating is calculated from your most recent 100 apples.

I am currently a 5.0 apple teacher. Fingers crossed it stays that way. In my first six months, I got a steady stream of 4 apple reviews. I admit that I was exhausted and struggling to adjust to the hours. I was not teaching at my best, and I don’t resent those ratings.

So what do you do if you’re overcoming a bad apple rating? more “5 Steps to Raise Your VIPKid Apple Rating”

Why Passion is So Important

Right before I got married, I went to work for Disney.

Best. Decision. EVER!

I worked on Space Mountain, and I learned so much about everything during that internship. I was far from home, and didn’t know anyone. I learned about professionalism, and hard work. I learned about performance outside of a theater. Most of all, I learned what it’s like to be passionate about your work. more “Why Passion is So Important”

Cheap or Free Rewards for the Upper-Level Classroom

I know it’s easy to start phasing out rewards in the upper level classrooms. They’re older. They’re not interested in little games, and they really don’t need rewards to stay focused.

Rewards in my upper level classroom are less about timing and focus, and more about practicing conversation.

It’s important to know that as our students progress, their learning progresses as well. They need to practice authentic conversation. Rewards a great way to integrate personal conversation.

Just like with the younger kids, these rewards don’t have to be complicated or expensive.


This one is popular in all levels. The older kids get through it faster most of the time, so I like to do best out of three. I do these rewards in the same way I do in my lower level classes. When the student does well, or they start to seem bored I give a reward. For this one, just ask them where they want their pieces and then take your turn. It’s easy enough to draw up a game on a whiteboard. If you want something more substantial, check out traveling games.

Board Games

In the vein of games, board games are a great way to liven up your classroom. You can customize them to the levels you teach most often, or make it more of a get to know you game. I have a few printable boards on my rewards Pinterest board.


I went rafting with a bunch of my friends in high school, and our guide gave us riddles to solve between rapids. It was so much fun. The only one I remember was about a gangster with a glass of gin. He made a bet and the answer had something to do with ice melting. I really like math riddles. Remember not to get too complicated with these. Keep your students’ English level in mind. I have a few examples on the rewards board I mentioned earlier. There are also wonderful riddle books for kids on Amazon. BONUS! You can get them on your kindle.

Fake Money

This one is wildly popular. I use this one a lot in my Level 3s. That’s where most of my kids seem to struggle and I need something that interests them but is also quick. I can teach the names of American money, or work on counting/addition vocabulary. The Dollar Tree sells fake money, but if you’re a homebody like me, there’s always Amazon.


I mentioned this in my first prop post. It works well with my little students, but it works well with my older students as well. I especially like it for assessment days when I need something fast. It’s also great with Level 3 students. There are all sorts of ideas on Pinterest. I’ve used animals and super heroes.


Remember that game the substitute teachers used to play at the end of the day? That’s the one! The student guesses a letter, and they either get it right and earn part of the word, or they get it wrong and they earn a body part. If the student gets the whole body before guessing the word, the teacher wins!

I’m weird maybe, and it freaks me out a little to do true hangman with ESL students. Like… why are we killing someone? I just don’t know. If you’re a little weird like me, there are a lot of other ideas! My favorite is one where you grow a flower instead. Same basic idea, but instead of earning body parts for wrong letters, the student earns flower parts. You could combine this idea with the drawing idea above to really add some variety.

Get to Know You Questions

This is an idea I just recently tried. It’s amazing! It’s fast, so it works well for L3/L4, but the older students love the ridiculous options. I found a few great lists online, but this is the one I’ve bookmarked and come back to a few times. It’s on Ministry-to-Children. I leave out the religious questions, but there are so many options. They’re simple and fun.

Rolling Dice for Points

The Dollar Tree sells these foam dice that are the perfect size to store at a desk. I have a regular level 3 student who loves math. It’s been a huge part of building my connection with him. When he starts getting bored with math problems on a whiteboard, we roll dice, mark it on the white board and add them up every time he gets a star. There are many ways you could make this into a more challenging math game for quick upper level students. Did you know that they make white board dice? They’re amazing! I’ve ordered a set of these for my math student. I plan on writing math problems and just rolling the dice as we go. So cool. *BONUS! You could write sight words on them for practice with your younger students. You can also get the regular dice like I use currently.

Guess the Object

This game is almost like “I Spy” but they’re not looking in your classroom for some specific object (although that could be a fun variation). Choose an object – from the lesson or not – and give the student clues about what it could be. For example, if my object is a lion, my clues might include that this thing can probably be seen at a zoo. They live in Africa. They are big cats. They like to hunt at night. The boys have a mane. And so on until the student guesses the animal. I’d imagine that this game is much like the guessing of the word – make sure you have an extra object in case they guess your first one quickly. I love these animal flashcards. I use them all the time, but they’re especially great for this activity.

Would You Rather Questions

This is my absolute favorite right now. My level 5 students get a kick out of the funny options. I found a great list of kid friendly questions on an awesome blog called The Measured Mom. I just keep the page open in my browser and pick one at random. It’s been so much fun hearing some of the reasoning behind my kids’ choices.

A New Idea – Adulting on a Budget

find all the VIPKID necessities at free or reduced price

Hey friends!

We’ll just treat this like a letter, shall we?

This is a pretty short update. I can’t wait to see all of you there!

I just started an awesome Facebook group of my own. It’s an Amazon deal group that caters to VIPKID teachers. While the group is small, I’m curating a list of the biggest markdowns currently available on Amazon. As the group grows, I will be able to add deals directly from third party sellers. These will be ultra-specific to VIPKID – whiteboards, markers, tech, DIY supplies, props, office organization and decoration, etc.

I hope you’ll join me!

Join Adulting on a Budget here!


10 Children’s Books That Helped Me Love Reading

I love Facebook Messenger. My family has a great family chat that keeps us all connected.

We recently had a great discussion about our favorite children’s books. I’m the oldest of five kiddos, and my mom read to us almost every night. We have a lot of favorites.

I’ve read almost all of these to my kids, and they love them too. I’m waiting for my kids to start reading on their own for a few of the others.

All of these are picture books. I can’t wait to start reading chapter books, but I’m really enjoying these. These are the books that helped me love reading.

more “10 Children’s Books That Helped Me Love Reading”

Tips and Tricks for Adjusting to VIPKID Hours

There are a lot of reasons you might not want to apply for VIPKID, and I imagine that one of them is the early hours. We teach on Beijing time. It’s hard. It’s an adjustment for most of us.

I am not a morning person. I never have been. In high school, my mother would blast the Beach Boys so that I would wake up semi-normal instead of waking up cranky. I warned my husband many times before we got married that I didn’t mean anything I said before 8am. I’ve apologized for my early morning attitude on more than one occasion.

Most people can’t believe that I get up before 5am to work these days.

So how do you make the adjustment? Is it worth it? more “Tips and Tricks for Adjusting to VIPKID Hours”

Cheap Rewards for VIPKID Classroom Management

So you have your mock class scheduled. You’re prepping your materials. But heck…. what are you going to do for rewards. They want you to add teeth to a smiley face, or chase a game piece up a ladder onto a helicopter. Well the smiley face seems awfully cheesy… even for a five year old. How in the world are you going to display the helicopter thing? Didn’t it say to keep your reward visible?

What do you do? When I was doing my interview and mock classes, I didn’t want to spend too much money on a job I might not get. There’s a saying that says “you have to spend money to make money”. And maybe that’s true for some things, but I’m cheap. I don’t want to spend too much, especially if I don’t even have the job yet.

more “Cheap Rewards for VIPKID Classroom Management”

Where to Find Orange Shirts for VIPKID

I have never thought I looked good in orange. Orange is just not a flattering color. But when you work for VIPKID it starts to rub off on you. But like I said, it’s just not a flattering color.

I would be interested in knowing the sales statistics on orange shirts for women as VIPKID has grown. My first orange shirt was from the thrift store. I have since discovered that Amazon is amazing.

When I look for a work shirt, I want something that’s bright without being neon. I want something that isn’t too boxy, and might be comfortable enough to sleep in. These are some of my favorites… more “Where to Find Orange Shirts for VIPKID”