Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Employers: Get Out Of My Healthcare

The question isn’t whether employers should have the right to exclude certain medical care in health insurance plans, based on religious reservations, but why the fight over birth control, specifically?
Why is birth control the lynchpin of moral oversight on healthcare, as opposed to other medical coverage that might be morally objectionable, but doesn’t involve women and sexuality?
Most employers who exclude contraception from company health insurance plans fund its therapeutic use, with a prescriber’s prior authorization. Through this process, your doctor signs a form that confirms you will only use the prescribed birth control pills for acne or PCOS or to treat extreme PMS -- assuredly not as contraception -- and then insurance covers it.
But why this extra moral checkpoint for contraception? What about all of the other medicines that might enable behavior contrary to ideal Catholic morality?
In Christian thought, lust is accompanied by six other deadly sins, and a myriad of health-related sins. Should acne medicine not be covered, because it could contribute to the sin of pride or vanity? Should Cialis require prior authorization, including a note from one’s wife, confirming it won’t be used to commit adultery? Should hospitalization and recovery for attempted suicide not be covered? After all, it breaks the Sixth Commandment, and including it in coverage might communicate that an employer doesn’t take their faith seriously.
What if Viagra is used by a man who’s had a vasectomy? Should we require prior authorization? Can you imagine THAT conversation with your pharmacist?
“Well, it appears this is a restricted item by your employer's health insurance, and we’ll need to do a little more work to get it approved. I have your doctor on the line. He wants to know if you’re free this Thursday for a vasectomy reversal?”
Read the rest over at FemCatholic!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My Cool New Work-From-Home Job That's Not A Scam!

If I told you there's a part-time, work-from-home, online tutoring job that pays $16 - $22 per hour, and you can choose your own days and hours, and work in your PJ pants, would your first thought be that it's a scam? YES. 

But in the words of Bloomberg News, regarding VIPKid's Online English Tutoring Program: "If the U.S. Won't Pay Its Teachers, China Will." 

VIPKid is a Chinese company that hires English speakers (mostly Americans) to work with kids in China, ages 3 - 12, through 25-minute online lessons.

Two years ago, there were 50,000 Chinese kids using VIPKid. Today, there are 200,000 students. Estimates predict a million kids learning English through VIPKid's program, in just a couple more years. So they need teachers

My "work" hours are 5-7 am, Monday - Friday. These are after-school hours in China, so students fill these times quickly. There are many other hours available, including evenings and overnights, but my own kids need me the rest of the day.

Three things about my classroom: 1) Everyone's set-up is different. Some people just hang up a background map. I didn't have a map, so I used what I had around. 2) It kills me that the "Reward" sign is crooked in the background. 3) Pearls and pajama pants, friends.

All you need to start is a stable internet connection and a computer. Some people travel the world, while also teaching for VIPKid! (With a headset connected to your laptop, you don't even have to worry about the ambient noise of a public location -- though your animated teaching might attract the attention of strangers.)

To apply, you need a 4-year college degree, and some kind of teaching experience. Do you help your kids with homework after school? Have you ever taught religious ed or Sunday School? Do you homeschool? Have you helped kids that you babysit with their homework? This all counts, and at least three years of experience is ideal. (While it's not necessary, if you have a teaching license, you earn a higher rate. If you have ESL accreditation, you earn even more. Many full-time teachers also work with VIPKid as supplementary income.)

The curriculum is already done for you. Training videos abound in your online resource center. Mentor teachers provide regular free workshops. There's a Canadian support team for day-time needs and a Chinese support team to provide around-the-clock coverage. This is a huge operation!

If you look up online reviews, you'll see a mix of people who love the company, and others who don't think it's a legitimate ESL program. From what I've read, through hundreds of comments across several forums, most of the people who criticize VIPKid are licensed teachers in the United States, oftentimes ESL teachers, who did not get hired by VIPKid. They're offended, because they are experts in this field, with years of experience, and a private Chinese education company didn't recognize their credentials. Based on my interview experience, I can definitely see how veteran ESL teachers aren't a guaranteed hire.

VIPKid is looking for a very specific teaching style: someone who will go to any length to build a positive learning relationship with a child on the other side of the world, through a computer. They're looking for song, dance, props, very specific gestures and protocol. All of this information and training is available for anyone in the interviewing process, but a seasoned teacher might not think they need the extra resources.

This promo from VIPKid doesn't do justice to the ability to have a calm, happy, successful lesson in the midst of a messy house, or a table strewn with leftover puzzle pieces and pizza, just out of sight of the webcam.
I'm usually a very reserved person. In normal conversation, especially with acquaintances, I instinctively limit outward gestures, facial expressions, emotion, and speech. But I also have a background in dance and theatre, so my intent through the interview process was "fake it till I make it." To my surprise -- and my kids' delight -- I love the new interactive style I've adopted from VIPKid's approach to teaching. I use it all the time now, and it's made me a better mom! 

So what's the bad?

1. The interview process is grueling! Despite meteoric company growth, VIPKid is not looking for quantity in teachers; they're looking for quality. The entire hiring process takes about a week -- so next week, at this time, you could be teaching! -- but it's an intense learning curve. Here's an overview of the process:

- Sign up (5 minutes): provide your basic info and let VIPKid know you're interested.

- Demo Lesson Interview: study the short powerpoint provided by VIPKid, and teach it to a mentor during the first interview. Your interviewer will provide constructive feedback, to prepare you for your next interview. (There are many sample YouTube videos that VIPKid teachers have uploaded about successfully passing this Demo Lesson.)

- Mock Lesson Interview: study the longer powerpoint provided by VIPKid, and teach it to a mentor during the second interview. (Again, many YouTube videos on this exact lesson, about how to pass this interview.) Your interviewer is also checking to see how you incorporate the feedback from your Demo Lesson. At this point in the process, you'll find out if you're hired or not.

- 2-hour Online Orientation Class: everything you need to know about teaching for VIPKid, including how the online teaching portal works, resources, and worst case scenarios. I really enjoyed this class. It is empowering!

- Set up your profile, open your availability, and start to teach!

2. You're a contract employee. So you have complete freedom with the flexibility of your hours and commitment. But as a contracted employee, you're considered self-employed, which means you should probably set aside 30% of your income for taxes (conservative estimate). This also means that your home internet bill, home office space, and any optional supplies you use in class are tax-deductible! Woohoo!

3. There's no guarantee that kids will sign up for you as a tutor. Your profile can tell parents a lot about who you are, and how you teach. Parents can see your headshot, a 30-second video, a 4-sentence bio, and a few photos that you upload to your profile. They can also see feedback that other parents have left. It may take some time to build a reputation, but many VIPKid teachers have regular kids who keep coming back to fill their schedules.

VIPKid has just revamped their new teacher processing, so new teachers will begin teaching classes assigned by the company, instead of selected by parents. This is great, because while parents may not trust a new teacher who doesn't have reviews from other parents yet, you can build up your reviews through classes assigned by VIPKid. (These are usually sample classes for prospective students. They're called "trial classes," and the intent is to have fun with potential new students, while taking them through a sample lesson. In addition to your regular pay, you can earn a $5 bonus, if the student signs up for the program, after your class.)

Curious? More Questions? Feel free to ask!

My intent, when I started this process, was just to see how far it would go. My husband and I weren't sure we could swing something else in our family schedule, but we knew the extra income would be nice, and there's no risk, since there's no up-front cost commitment. What's the harm in trying it out?

The 12-hour timezone difference means I can work while my kids are sleeping, and then our family can all eat breakfast together, and start the day! 

This job opportunity is a blessing for our family, and maybe it could be a blessing to you too.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Awesome Gifts For The Geeky Catholic In Your Life (And A Giveaway!)

Not sure what to give the super cool, geeky Catholic in your life? Wonder no more! 

A Modern Prayer to St. Michael: "Kill it with your sword! Kill it with your sword! Amen." 

Click here for the story behind this prayer!

How about a translated replica of the "NO WHINING" sign Pope Francis posts on his office door?

A mug that truly honors Jolly Ole Saint Nick"I came to give presents to kids and punch heretics. And I just ran out of presents."

"Good Job" Cards For Parents With Young Kids At Mass (also good for grumpy people who don't like kids at Mass):

A subtle Prayer Necklace

[Fun?] Fact: St. Joan of Arc's First Communion ring, a gift from her parents, was kept by England after Joan was burned at the stake and only recently returned to France. This is a custom sterling silver replica!

A powerful spiritual warfare Prayer Magnet for your fridge: "Hail Mary, Full of Grace, Punch the Devil in the Face."

So a Caffeine Molecular Necklace isn't inherently Catholic, but it's cool.

Custom Morse Code Jewelry: send a secret message!

And finally... mail your gift with special packaging tape"Do Not Crush. Imaginary Friends Inside."

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN a gift set of Catholic meme magnets 
(including Hail Mary Punch The DevilSt. Nick Runs Out Of PresentsSt. Michael, Kill It With Your Sword!and "Good Job" Mass Cards), 
just do two things: 

1.) Share this link on any social media platform, and

2.) Comment on the Sunrise Breaking Facebook post that you shared. 

I'll choose a random winner from the comment feed on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. 

DISCLAIMER: I didn't receive anything in exchange for this post. I just really love DoorNumber9's Etsy Shop, and I strongly believe the world needs more Geeky Catholic Stuff.