As a full-time RVer (fifth-wheeler) and online English teacher, it has been my goal to figure out how to teach successfully from any location in the USA.
After several months of trial and error, I can finally say that I have mastered the art of teaching on the road. In this post, you will find all of the right tools and advice on how to teach English with VIPKID from your car or truck.
Why Would You Want To Teach Online From Your Car Or Truck?
Simple. As an RVer, it’s common knowledge NEVER to trust the internet at a campground. The signal is weak at best. In some cases, our fifth wheel is parked in a remote campground where I also don’t get service on the jetpack or my phone.
Being able to teach from our truck has allowed me to drive into town or the nearest location where cell service is strong. It has helped me teach from all over the country without any teacher IT problems.
Internet On The Road
This is the most common question I get about teaching from my truck. How do I keep a stable internet connection?
We purchased this jetpack over a year ago and it has been our saving grace. So what is it? A jetpack is a mobile hotspot. These jetpacks have unlimited data WITHOUT throttling (throttling is when the wifi slows down with the more data you use). We connect our phones and computers to this device and have dependable wifi wherever there is Verizon service.
We use an upward of 300 GB per month; this includes teaching for VIPKID, Netflix, browsing, etc. We pay a flat rate of $140/month, however, the monthly prices on these devices vary.
We are renting this device from someone who has a grandfathered-in plan through Verizon Wireless, which is why the price may vary depending on who you rent from. This is NOT illegal, but since we are renting it from someone, they choose the price. Be sure to contact the seller about their monthly price before purchasing.
We pay the monthly bill through Zelle, a safe and secure payment method. Again, we have had this device for over a year and it has saved us thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.
A Backup Internet Source
Although we haven’t had to use it often, a backup internet source is very important. Luckily for us, we have the coolest data network and phone service plan out there. I highly, highly recommend switching from your current provider to this:
What Google Fi does is take service from the strongest cell towers in the area. Perhaps the strongest in a certain location is T-Mobile.. our phones take from that cell tower. Perhaps we are in an area that has a really strong Sprint signal.. our phones use the Sprint network, etc. etc.
The best part? We only pay for the data we use. No, it’s not a prepaid phone plan. We simply pay $10/GB used. If we use 3 GB, we pay $30 for that data, plus a monthly charge of $15 for services, support, and calls.
Here is a peek at our bill from last month:
Google Fi’s International Coverage
Another awesome aspect of Google Fi is that it’s an international network. This means that our phones work from almost anywhere in the world (170+ countries). Data will continue to be $10/GB and texting is free. Calls are $0.20/minute.
When we were in New Zealand, Micheal had Google Fi and I had Verizon at the time. Micheal used his phone just like he would in the US, but I could only use mine when connected to WiFi.
Keeping Your Computer Charged
Computers die. What happens when you’re teaching from your car or truck and the battery light is flashing at you in the middle of a class?
This charger will charge my Macbook from empty to full power. It is more than enough to get through all of my classes, even if I have a long day of teaching. This charger is also good for charging any hotspot device, cell phone, rechargeable lights, etc.
Lighting Up The Vehicle
Teaching from the US means that we must wake up at crazy hours of the day or night to catch the peak time slots. This means teaching in the dark is going to happen. Keeping the vehicle well-lit without killing your car battery is a major issue.
Here is what I use to keep the car lit while teaching:
These puck lights keep the shadows from appearing on my face or background. I set these up all around the vehicle (four in total) by placing them on ledges or squeezing them into the headrests. These are battery powered and can be purchased from Amazon or at your closest Walmart.
VIPKID Background For Your Car
Your background is very important because you don’t want to give the students (or their parents) the idea that you are teaching from your vehicle. These families pay a lot of money to have their children take classes with us and it might not sit well with them that their child is taking a class from someone sitting in a car.
The background that I bought is perfect. I purchased a world map tapestry from Amazon:
First, I hang a bedsheet behind me (any sheet will do – the darker the better to keep the sunlight out). I cover all of the back windows so that the sunlight doesn’t beam through. Next, I hang the tapestry in front of the bedsheet. I use clear pushpins that go unnoticed.
I purchased the 59″X79″ large tapestry so that it was sure to cover the entire back window. If you have a smaller car, a smaller size tapestry will do.
1. I keep my props in a bin next to my feet for easy access.
2. I put a pillow on my lap where I place my mousepad and mouse.
3. I prop my computer up a pillow on the middle console so that it is eye-level.
4. Setting up this classroom takes me about 7 minutes. It’s much easier than it appears.
5. The cost for all the props and equipment was easily paid for after my first day of teaching from my truck.
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Anymore questions? Feel free to leave a comment. Have anymore advice for those traveling and teaching on the road? Leave a comment!