Five Top Tips to Fill Your Palfish Schedule (Without Marketing)
So you’re up and running on Palfish, working your way around the app. Where do you start? Well, you’ll probably be wanting to teach some classes! Let’s look at the best ways to fill your Palfish schedule quickly.
First, a heads-up on how it works…
Initially, you will mostly be allocated trial classes. Palfish offers these classes – free of charge – to prospective students. You will get paid for the class. Naturally, to make this a sustainable business model, Palfish hope that this trial class will lead to the parent purchasing a package of classes afterwards. Palfish are likely to watch at least some of this class, and may even be in touch with the parent during it. If Palfish like your teaching (and better still if it leads to a sale!) you are likely to be allocated further trials.
Once a parent purchases a package of classes, they can choose whether to stick with you as their teacher or not. In my experience they usually do. However they may choose a teacher with a different accent, prefer time slots when you’re not available, etc, which could lead to them booking with another teacher.
It could also be the case that Palfish allocate regular students to you, whose packages you didn’t sell.
Also bear in mind that after a student’s OKC package finishes, they may choose to purchase another. Logic suggests that if parents buy another package after taking classes with you, this is going to bode well for you, in terms of getting more bookings. Read on to learn how to fill your Palfish schedule!
So Let’s Get Ready to take Palfish Bookings!
Strategy to Fill Your Palfish Schedule
Get things right at the outset.
I firmly believe that if you prepare well and teach to the best of your ability at the outset, the headteachers observing your classes are likely to send more classes your way and fill your Palfish schedule.
As a newbie, your classes are very likely to be observed, with headteachers subsequently deciding how many further classes to allocate to you. This is an awesome opportunity to make a good impression and see a dramatic increase in bookings quickly. Make a bad impression early on and it’s going to be much harder to regain those bookings later. You’ll need to be more proactive on the marketing side, which can be time-consuming. Invest time and effort early on to save time later. This is what worked for me.
Yes of course, new starters are never going to teach perfectly. But if you show that you know the slides, cover all the teaching points, have high energy levels in class and do your utmost to motivate the kid, this will go a long way.
So, what do you need to know?
1.Basic Prep to Fill Your Palfish Schedule
- Read the handbook so you know the rules, payments, bonuses and anything you might get penalised for. Most of this is common sense but it’s best to be familiar with everything at the outset. It doesn’t take very long to read.
- Ensure you have blue T-shirts and sweaters to hand – these are our “uniform” when teaching.
- Set up your classroom, bearing in mind you need to have a wall (or something) behind you displaying the Palfish logo. If you want to decorate it too, then go for it. I simply display my name on an A4 card in colour.
- Ensure you have a good Wifi connection with 4g as a back up. Ideally have another device as a back up too. Ensure you install the app on both devices in advance and auto-log in to both. Currently you can’t be logged into both simultaneously, but at least if your password is saved, you can do a super-fast switch in the event of technical problems. Oh and make sure they are charged too. Charging whilst teaching can result in some devices overheating and forcing Palfish app to close! I speak from stressful experience.
Ensure you’ve got at least a few props. As a minimum, I recommend a stuffed animal / puppet or two to engage the kids, an apple and / or banana for the PF1 trial and a bunch of flashcards.
As you preview the trials, you’ll see that each teaches a few key words. Make a set of flashcards for each trial (5 – 8 flashcards for each). I chose to get a stuffed monkey and fish because these animals are used in the PF2 trial, as well as throughout the course. Note, PF2 is the most common trial you’ll teach.
I also made a colour card, which I use a lot. Colours are a recurring theme in the lower levels. Additionally, use props of differing colours to test students’ memory of colours.
2.Write a Good Introduction and Short Video.
This doesn’t have to be time consuming. Many of the parents and indeed the Palfish team may not be fluent in English and don’t want or need your life history. So:
- Write in simple sentences.
- Include information such as where you are from, teaching qualifications, degree(s) and other relevant qualifications. Talk about any past teaching experience. If you’ve been to China, I’d definitely write something positive about that too. I also talked about my hobbies and love of travel.
- Use plenty of emoticons in your writing, so that it’s easier to understand. Not just the facial expressions, but the objects too. For example, if you write that you play the piano, use a piano emoticon. Ditto if you talk about food.
- When recording your audio intro, speak slowly and clearly. If the parents listen to your audio and can’t understand you, they probably aren’t going to pick you as their kid’s teacher. Ditto for headteachers who listen to it.
- Check mine out. I’m Laura-T on Palfish!
3.Open Your Schedule
New teachers are a priority for getting bookings!
That’s right. Once you’ve been accepted on Palfish, you will be a priority for receiving trial classes. In addition to being given pre-arranged appointments, you are also a priority for receiving pop-up notifications. (More on pop-ups shortly.)
Open as many time slots as possible, not just for the next few days but for the foreseeable future. Set as many slots as possible to “weekly”. This could mean more bookings from regular students as they’ll have a wide choice of time slots. Regulars typically fix 1-3 slots a week when you’ll teach them. If you don’t have any weekly slots open, you could be losing out on bookings. Typically, regular classes pay more than trials, once you’ve got enough points to reach pay level 2 and above.
My Schedule Explained
Firstly, note my time-zone. IndoChina is 1 hour behind China, which is ideal for working full-time, without compromising my sleep.
Put simply, green slots are open for bookings and white lots are closed.
As you can see from my schedule, I have six slots set to “weekly” from 17:00 – 20:00 on Wednesdays. These are all “fixed” meaning that I teach the same students at the same times each week. Additionally, I open a slot at 20:00, which is not weekly. I do this because I do not want to commit to teaching at this time every week, but I’m happy to do so ad-hoc if I have nothing else on. This can be booked by a regular student or a trial student.
Earlier in the day, I opened my slots from 7:30 – 15:00. None of these have been filled because most kids are at school during this time. Occasionally I might get a booking. When I screenshot this, it wasn’t the school holiday period. Over the main school holiday, I may well set more of these slots to “weekly”.
From 15:00 – 17:00, I close my slots because I have other commitments. These slots therefore appear in white.
What is a Pop-Up?
A pop-up is an opportunity to grab a class at short-notice. Regular trial class appointments are always allocated with at least 3 hours notice. Students can book OKC classes with 24 hours notice. So if students want to book at shorter notice, or another teacher cancels or doesn’t show up, Palfish sends a pop-up notification to teachers, whereby you can manual accept the class. These pop-ups are typically for trial classes.
Occasionally, you may also see a personal lesson request pop-up. This is for an OKC class.
Again, new teachers take priority for getting pop-ups!
If you’ve done the trial class training prep or you’ll have sufficient time to review the slides prior to the class starting, grab them! Note that some pop-ups are for emergency classes, ie the teacher has not shown up. These are displayed in red, warning you that you will enter the classroom immediately. I was shy to take these as a newbie as I wanted to know what class level I’d be teaching beforehand. However, if you have completed the training, throw yourself in the deep end!
If not, I’d personally decline the emergency ones. If the Palfish team see you stumbling through a trial, looking badly prepared, this probably won’t help your bookings. Whether they take into account that you took an emergency booking, I’m not sure.
Non-emergency pop-ups could give you up to three hours notice. If you know you’ll have sufficient time in the interim to prepare, then go for them!
4.Teaching Prep – Most Important!
- Preview all trial slides, especially levels 1-6. These levels are the most common, especially 1-4.
- Watch the mock videos in the training section so that you know how to deliver a fun class with clear communication. I watched them several times over as I had very little teaching experience prior. My favourite videos were by Rhys Jones.
- Practise. This is especially the case if you’re new to teaching online. As soon as you have access to these materials during the application process, spend as much time as possible familiarising yourself with the trial slides.
- Practising is key to time management. Although it can be challenging to complete all the slides in trial classes, you should aim to complete as many as possible to showcase the variety that exists in a Palfish class. Completing all the slides in regular OKC classes is thankfully much easier. Nevertheless, time management is something that usually requires some practise to master!
In my opinion, this is the most valuable advice I can give for filling your Palfish schedule. Everything else is secondary.
The sooner you familiarise yourself with all the key trials, the better. Why?
The Palfish team observe new teachers, especially when teaching trial classes. If they like what they see, this is your best chance of being allocated more classes. It’s vital that you know the trial slides inside out, cover the teaching points and appear energetic and enthusiastic in order to engage the kid.
Investing the time now into perfecting your delivery of these trial classes is key to filling your schedule quickly. Make a good impression at the outset. Otherwise you will be relying on the methods below to drum up your business. Whilst these work, they may take longer.
Also, you will be in a better position to accept pop-up classes, (even the emergency ones!) if you’re confident in the material you’ll be teaching. You might not see pop-ups at this frequency for long, so make the most of them!
If I were to start my Palfish journey again, I would….
Ensure I was ready to teach at the outset. I was in Thailand when I applied and didn’t know how soon I’d be accepted. I was staying in dorms and was unable to take any bookings for three days. Now I look back, pained by all those pop-up classes I had to reject, haha.
5.After the Trial
After the trial, Palfish will be in touch with the parents, and in an ideal scenario, sell a trial. If you gave it 100% and they were a serious potential buyer, the rest is down to Palfish now. But there are a few key things which I always do after a trial to help things along.
- Fill in the trial report instantly, even if you have another class afterwards. (It takes under a minute, but in any case don’t risk being late for your next class.) The trial report tells the parent and sales team what the kid did well in and if this trial was the correct level for them. The sooner the sales team gets this feedback, the sooner they can strike whilst the iron is hot!
- Send a brief written and audio message to the student. I have one message for each trial, in which I say it was great to meet them and list out the vocabulary with emoticons. I end by saying I hope to see them in class soon. Subsequently I follow up with an audio message of the vocabulary so they have it for reference if they want to practise pronunciation.
- Send “class feedback” to the Palfish team after each trial. You’ll find this under “After class” and “Write feedback”. This is purely optional, but in case Palfish staff didn’t watch the whole trial or they missed something important, it’s worth summarising anything relevant here. Additionally I think it’s good to show you’re keen by consistently filling this box. If they know they can rely on you to give them useful info to help sell a package, they might be more likely to send trials your way.
Filling in Class Feedback for Palfish
The type of thing I would cover in the class feedback is what the student was good at, and if they liked something in particular about trial. For example, did they like the filters, did anything you said or did make them laugh? Did they master a particularly challenging word or sentence? These points can help sell a trial. Equally I would justify why you have chosen the level you chose for them. This is especially the case if you are bringing them down a level from what the parent initially chose. Include anything relevant, whether it’s positive or negative.
For example. “Student A struggled to pronounce x, y, z. / She was unable to repeat the sentences comprehensibly. / She could not understand the questions on the slides or simple free talk.” I would always try to say something positive though. For example, “student A was very focussed throughout and I am confident her pronunciation improve with regular classes and reading aloud at home. / Student A quickly mastered / memorised…. ”
Note, I send all these things in the class feedback section to Palfish, not the parent. They are better placed to discuss the class level with the parent in Chinese.
I believe that by consistently communicating useful feedback to the Palfish team, this helps them to sell packages to parents. In turn, successfully converting trials into package sales should enable you to fill your Palfish schedule.
You’ll see this discussed in detail in various Palfish groups on the app. If you take the advice in the above tips, you may not need to do any of this. I did very little. However, I’ll include the main things can do to help potential students and Palfish staff notice your profile. I do some of these things from time to time if I want some extra classes to fill my Palfish schedule.
- Post moments. The are similar to Facebook posts, but aimed at the potential students. Also like other students and teachers’ moments.
- Do a “Live”. This is a live lesson you can teach, which parents and students can participate in. This can be used to showcase your teaching skills and attract students.
- Listen to students on the Palfish reading app. Like and comment on their reading. You can also record books on here, so students can listen to you too. It’s a good chance to be seen by students and for them to hear your voice. So, speak slowly and clearly.
Summary – Five Top Tips to Fill Your Palfish Schedule
The key to filling your Palfish schedule is to make a good impression with Palfish headteachers and parents at the outset. First impressions are everything. Create a bad one and you’ll be relying on a lot of marketing to build up your students.
Preparation is everything. In my opinion, the single most important thing you should do is know all the key trials inside out. Practise them, perfect them. Imitate the people in the training vids who do trial demos. High energy and big smiles might be a cliche but they work. Enthusiasm sells. I had only a few months teaching experience when I joined Palfish and I learnt everything I needed to know from these videos, and following the other tips above.
Palfish is ultimately a business, so if students and their parents love you, you will sell trials. Make learning with you as fun as possible!
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