From Down South — 08/03/2008
I've worked with the IRD for a few years now. Here are my thoughts on the above ratings:
Pay: Pay is okay. I'm a graduate student, so I appreciate the fact that it is seasonal work, because I always hate applying for non-seasonal jobs and having to either quit in the fall and/or tell the employer that I will be available to work when school starts back up for me in the fall, which usually is something I cannot do. Therefore, compared to other types of job opportunities I have explored for the summer, IRD offers the better pay and schedule that meshes with my schedule. On the other hand, I do think that the pay isn't stellar when taking in consideration all the work involved. The $50 some dollars per class would be okay if that didn't include the wages for all the extras like data entry, continued training meetings, parent phone calls, etc. All that adds up, so by that time, the pay isn't all that great. I've always been compensated correctly for my receipts, etc., so I personally can't complain about that.
Respect: For the most part, I've felt like my co-workers and supervisors have respected me. The disrespect in my experience has come from some of the students and/or parents; to me, this is expected as I have prior experience in teaching and I've gotten this in other teaching jobs I've had, not just IRD. Some parents do expect you to work miracles in five weeks' time (which maybe does come from their conversations with the Customer Service department at sign-up; I don't know since I don't really know much about the CS dept and what exactly they tell parents, though I suspect that it might be a bit overkill), and if their student doesn't make huge improvements, there is some anger, aggression, and/or passive aggressive behaviors. And of course, you have the students who don't want to be in class and freely let you know that and don't try very hard in class or follow the rules. I haven't had any really "bad" parents or students, but I have felt disrespected by some at times.
Benefits: I knew going into this that benefits would not be available to me, and it wasn't a surprise as a graduate teaching assistant. I'm not given benefits at that job either. Would benefits be nice? Sure, but the seasonal nature of the job makes it a bit difficult.
Job Security: It's hard for me to rate this one. I personally have always felt that once hired, I'd probably have the job for the entire length of the contract, barring no major mistakes on my part. I've heard a few stories about people being let go, so I'll rate this one at a neutral 0.
Work/Life Balance: Sucks. For the most part, I feel as if every waking moment is spent packing, reviewing lesson plans, answering parent questions via phone or email, traveling, teaching, or in a continuing training meeting. I suspected some of that when I signed up, but after a few weeks, it does catch up with you.
Career Potential: IRD does send out other job openings to past and present employees, and I do think they make you aware of those opportunities. It is a fairly small organization at positions other than the many teachers they hire to deliver the curriculum, so the possibility of advancement is there, though it is not open to a huge number of applicants. I think if you were very serious about wanting to advance your career with them, you probably would have a decent chance of doing so.
Location: Location is okay for me as well. I was told when I was hired that I may have to travel up to a couple of hours one way. Once a week I have had to travel about two hours one way to my teaching site. I have been compensated as per my employment agreement for my travel time and mileage. I was reserved a hotel room for the evening on those teaching days, too. Otherwise, besides my one day of teaching that requires me to "travel," the longest drive I've had one way is anywhere from 7 to 35 miles.
Co-worker competence: Some of the teachers they hire puzzle me a little as I listen in on our weekly continued training meetings. I think this is a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to the teachers they hire. I don't know many of the higher-ups, but my supervisors have been fine. The one thing that does bother me a bit is that it seems like many of the people in the higher up positions don't have much experience prior to IRD in education (while I have as have many of the teachers). This is a bit strange to me. IRD did offer considerable training, which is more training I received as I went into my first year of being a graduate instructor at the university I teach at. The support that I have received has been decent, though I wish that my supervisors had taken a bit more initiative at times to help me deal with some parent issues (I don't feel that I get paid enough to have to constantly check in with a parent who has a reoccurring issue that I apparently couldn't help him or her resolve in the first place).
Work Environment: Well, I can't say much about the actual "environment" of IRD as a physical place since I don't work in the actual offices, so I'll comment on the classroom experience. As mentioned above, some of the parents come in with incredibly high expectations, which if they are not met, you have to deal with (and it isn't always pretty). I have had surprisingly few very negative experiences in the classroom. Yeah, you have to deal with the normal misbehavior and attitude problems that exist in many classroom settings. However, the positives in my mind outweigh the negative experiences in this respect. I have felt, at the end of each term that I've worked for IRD, like I've made a difference in a considerable number of students' reading abilities and habits. That's mostly why I've repeated my summer stints with IRD; I like the students and getting a wide range of teaching experience a whole lot more than I like the company or the pay.