After totaling nineteen thousand minutes, 760 classes and 263 VIPKID students in one year, it’s safe to say I have more than a few favorites. So many students come and go, but we all pick up “regulars” who you connect with, that book your class over and over and always look so happy to see you and tell you about their day.
Regulars are one of the best parts of this job. I get the opportunity to really get to know a student halfway around the world from me as we laugh together and share our lives. I offer encouragement on the tougher lessons and their parents trust me to guide these children in the difficult process of learning to speak English.
There is the amazingly bright and engaged level 3 girl who tells me about her vacations and her family. She loves to ask questions and learn more than we cover on the slides lesson. She works hard to be an amazing student and I’m in awe of her fearlessness and focus at such a young age.
Then there is the rambunctious 4-year-old boy who rarely sticks to the lessons. He knows what he wants and will always tell me, “I don’t want animals for my reward today – I want cars.” His pronunciation is amazing, he loves to sing and share his toy cars with me and talk about food and animals—he makes me laugh like no other student does.
I love the shy, little 6-year-old who is learning to read. None of these classes are easy for her and she struggles with confidence, so she is often quiet in class. She looks so incredibly proud when she understands something and can show me with a big smile on her face and it makes my heart melt. This is a student who is so much smarter than she realizes and the joy in helping her realize that is one of the things I love about this job.
My favorite is a 10-year-old boy who I started with in level 1. He was always distracted, playing games, and just didn’t want to learn. Every time I would teach him, he would look me in the eye and say, “Hello Teacher Heidi!” with a challenging grin that let me know he had no plans to make this easy for me. But he is now in level 2 and he is so smart and so sweet. He loves to write and show me objects and tell me the names of them. We always finish the curriculum early because he knows the material so well. We take the time to play games together. I start writing a word and I time him to see how quickly he can guess it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of students that I hope I never have to teach again, but more often than not, the experience is joyful and rewarding. That brief connection with a child in China a few times a week helps me understand and respect all people just a little bit better. It is so worth it!