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How Teacher Dashia Went from Dance Instructor to Online English Teacher Without Skipping a Beat
Teacher Dashia (nickname: Dasha). Mother. Zumba Instructor.
Salsa steps to the side. Quick hip turns. Smile through the sweat. That’s Teacher Dashia’s routine as she leads another one of her high energy Zumba classes in Las Vegas. Naturally, Latin dance-inspired fitness was a great fit for Dashia as it tapped into her passion for health, dance, and her Dominican heritage.
Being a mother of two young kids requires a lot of attention and many trips to the park. Helping others shake it up and slim down gave Teacher Dashia the creative outlet she needed for 8 years.
In 2019, Dashia made family plans to be in the Dominican Republic for a few months during the summer of 2020. This called for supplemental income. She knew that she was in search of three things… a job that was remote, flexible, and something she’d love. After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in theatre, Teacher Dashia made herself a promise, to set manifesting happiness as a priority.
“I’ve always done things I’ve absolutely loved. That’s why I said I’m not going to work your traditional 9 to 5 because it doesn’t make me happy.”
After a few clicks online, she discovered VIPKid fit that bill. Its mission to inspire and empower every child for the future by connecting students and teachers globally through one-to-one personalized, online English classes sparked her interest. One of the benefits she found was that she didn’t need to be a brick-and-mortar teacher. Her experience teaching afterschool classes and acting lessons and as a camp counselor were enough to apply. She was also drawn to the role for personal reasons.
As a former English as a Second Language (ESL) student herself, working with VIPKid had a personal connection for Dashia. Her family relocated to the United States when she was 4. She was known as the kid in class who couldn’t speak English. Memories may be a little foggy during those early days, but that label echoed throughout her grade school years. Having developed this strong sense of empathy, the opportunity to teach English online through VIPKid drew up a great deal of interest in exploring how she could meet the needs of ESL students. And so, her journey to teaching online began!
There was just one outstanding question that would need answering. Was this something that she could see herself happy? She would soon find out.
Her experience as a Zumba instructor came in handy and made the transition to teaching online easier. Being over the top and having the ability to exude energy didn’t just come overnight. She learned how to self-critique from classroom recordings and credits this method as to how she improved her virtual teaching skills and keep students engaged. Every day she works at this craft to become a better teacher for her students. She discovered her biggest challenge wasn’t perfecting her energy through a webcam, it was navigating the cultural nuance of students addressing her ethnicity during a lesson.
“As a person of color, I consider myself as Black-Latina and sometimes culturally they [students] don’t understand. They might have an image of what an American looks like, not realizing we’re a melting pot of all things. So sometimes I have to correct that, and it’s okay.
What may start off as potentially an awkward encounter, she said often blossomed into something fulfilling with the student ending the lesson with “I love you, teacher!”
Seeing that level of growth and acceptance she said warmed her heart. Those moments are what keep her coming back to teach with VIPKid, “It’s more of a reason for me to be here. Wow, I can change their minds about certain things.”
Working remotely, check. Flexible scheduling, check. Passion? Check! VIPKid was able to mark all the boxes for Teacher Dashia.
“What I love the most about VIPKid that I don’t see with other platforms is that it’s very flexible. And many other platforms require an “x” amount of hours.”
Typically, Dashia teaches in the early hours of the morning between 4 am-6 am while the rest of her household is asleep. The pre-designed curriculum allows her to prep five minutes before each lesson and jump seamlessly into teaching. As she wraps up her final class, her youngest daughter is usually waking up, and Dashia kicks into mommy mode. Though the hours can be early, working from the comfort of her home has also allowed her to spend more time with her daughters.
“If I need time off to be with and enjoy my family, I don’t have to open any [booking] slots at all. It’s nice.”
VIPKid’s ability to cater to one’s lifestyle allows mothers and educators like Dashia much-needed flexibility. The extra income has allowed Dashia to save and provided additional financial freedom for her and her family. And the small cross-cultural exchange in class, inspiring young learners, is the cherry on top.
Teacher Dashia has been teaching on the platform for more than a year and taught close to 1500 classes.
“You can’t lose. We’re in an era where we see how essential our jobs are online as well. Teachers are very important.”