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?
First, don’t freak out.
Bad reviews happen. You can’t please everyone. Why do you leave bad reviews? Have you ever docked someone points for something that they couldn’t control? Same thing happens here. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. In my first six months, I got ELEVEN 4-apple ratings. I don’t know why. Most of them didn’t include feedback. I didn’t see a drop in my bookings despite my very sad apple ratings. It took some work, but I was able to fix it.
When it’s okay to freak out:
If you think that a parent has left an unfair review that is 3 apples or fewer, you can request that it be checked. The class will be reviewed, and if VIPKid agrees that its unfair, they can invalidate these. They can be picky about your classroom environment when it comes to invalidating feedback. They might not invalidate if you didn’t use a reward system, or use props even if this has nothing to do with the comment the parent made. They will invalidate most feedback relating to technical issues.
Second, give it time.
Unfortunately, this is a numbers game. It will take time to increase your apple rating. The system calculates your average based on feedback from your 100 most recent classes. If a parent leaves a 4-apple rating from a class two weeks ago, it will be on your list until you have 100 5-apples from more recent classes. It seems unfair, but it’s statistics. The math is actually correct, unfortunately. With those eleven 4-apple ratings it took me probably 5 months to get my score back to 5.0.
Third, ask for feedback!
VIPKid has suggested that we simply ask parents for feedback with something like this: “If you enjoyed class, please leave feedback.” There are a lot of different templates floating around Facebook with varying degrees of success for different teachers. Most of these templates are similar to VIPKid’s suggestion, but here are a few variations:
“VIPKid rewards teachers for getting apples! If you enjoyed class, please help me by leaving a 5 apple review.”
“If you have suggestions on how to improve the class for >child’s name<, please let me know by leaving feedback.”
“Thank you for your kind feedback!” (my current favorite)
Be careful what you wish for, though! I don’t ask for feedback on classes where I feel I wasn’t 100% or the student and I didn’t connect particularly well. Asking for honest feedback can sometimes backfire. Which brings me to my fourth, and final suggestion.
Fourth, be honest with yourself about your teaching.
The harshest piece of feedback I’ve received to date suggested that I was low-energy, and that I should only teach trial classes because I seemed to go all-out for those, but that I was boring in normal classrooms. I cried. It was hard to hear! The student in question was in a lower level trial class that was too easy for him, and I did go all out for his class. In his next class, he’d been properly placed in a much higher, more in-depth level. At the time, I didn’t understand exactly how to teach the higher level classes. I was also over-working myself. There actually was a problem with my teaching. Luckily, the student was on my schedule again a few days later. I took a workshop about improving upper level classes, and took a ton of notes. I was prepared for this student! After the class, I got immediate positive feedback about the change in my teaching. That student has been on my schedule every week for a year since then.
If you can’t get the feedback invalidated, try to be objective. Is there anything you can learn about your teaching? About the student? The great thing about this kind of teaching is that if something isn’t working, you can change it! If the student is back on your schedule, try doing something completely opposite of what you did in your first class. Change the reward system. Change your energy level. Change the way you teach target sentences. Change something! If it doesn’t work, that’s okay! It was different.
I said that was my last one, but I have a fifth suggestion.
When you’ve done all you can do, let it go. If you’re making changes, your chances of getting continual bad feedback are pretty slim. From what I’ve heard, parents see a rounded score to the closest whole number. Which means if you’re at 4.92, they see a 5. If you’re at a 4.33, parents are probably seeing a 4. Keep being awesome, and let it go. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t have to. Be tough! You got this. 🙂 You’re still a good teacher.