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Working at Institute of Reading Development — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about Institute of Reading Development pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at Institute of Reading Development

3.1Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect3
Benefits3
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth3
Location3
Co-Workers4
Work Environment3

From Eastern USA — 05/21/2010

I was hired for the summer (2010) and fired after the first phase (there are three phases total) of training.

Pay: Not enough for the amount of hours you'll be putting in. Just the training process was a 9am-7pm (only a 30min break) commitment plus whatever else you might have to do to wrap up odds and ends in the material afterwards.

Respect: In general the supervisors were respectful, but only if you agreed with them. Incorrect answers were met quickly with a 'that's wrong'. Focus on the dogma and agree with whatever your teaching supervisor says and you should be fine. Asking questions, even if they are comprehension questions, is not a good idea.

Benefits: There aren't any, but that was clear at the start.

Job Security: Officially I was let go for not being 'enthusiastic' enough. Unofficially I think they didn't have the students to keep me around.
In relation to the official reason, the training process is mostly online tests and conference calls. In both areas I had performed just as well as the other teachers in the program, scoring well on the quizzes and participating in the conference calls by answering questions and offering opinions. Despite this I was let go and so I felt that in no way was my understanding of the material or my preparation factored into their decision. I made mention of this in the last email I sent to my superior (before my firing) after an initial phone call to discuss a 'lack of engagement with the material.' After thinking about it and feeling like their description of my work was not representative of what I had been doing; I contacted them, outlined the evidence supporting my engagement with and understanding of the material in the form of the quiz scores and conference call feedback, then asked for clarification on what indicators they were looking for from me so that I could use that information to focus my efforts where I needed to improve. My only response was being fired (the total time from first phone to email to being fired was 24 hours).
In relation to the unofficial reason, the start of the summer was so close to my firing I knew they weren't training someone else to take my position and so I can only wonder about whether or not they simply didn't have the students to support as many people as they had hired for my area and thus needed to force someone out.
The entire situation felt fishy because of the lack of communication about where they thought I was going wrong (I was never told explicitly until I was fired) nor what could be done to rectify the situation, as I had requested in my email. As an employee you expect that as much time and money they put into hiring/training you that they would be equally as willing to invest 1/5th the equivalent effort into keeping you around should they see something they think you need to improve on, clearly that was not the case.
To sum it all up, my parting thoughts on the situation were 'this should have been a conversation, not a dismissal....'

Work/Life Balance: What life? It's a demanding job. The training alone was incredibly time consuming (not necessarily difficult, but time consuming), I can only imagine that the actual teaching is worse.

Potential Growth: I suppose it's good for people who have never taught before and want to try it to see if they would enjoy it as you would get some experience being in front of a class, but the curriculum is both scripted and dogmatic. There is no room for wiggle in the lesson plans and it's essentially a lecture. It is not so much teaching as it is telling people this or that. It's fine in the sense that what they want from their teachers is to teach the curriculum as written, but in a broader sense of education it's not something that's going to sit well with people who are really concerned about their students.

Co-Workers: By far the high point. They do get teachers who are both intelligent and passionate about reading. Most are graduate students or recent graduates who are just getting out into the world. They're all an intelligent bunch, but perhaps a bit naive.

Work Environment: The supervisor was 'nice' in the sense that they always had a pleasant tone and would answer simple questions, but they have their own agenda. If you don't situate yourself as a part of making that agenda come to fruition than you'll be in trouble.

Overall: Frankly I'm happy with how things turned out. Nobody should work for and put time and effort into a company that isn't willing to do the same for you. I put a lot of time and effort into learning the material to the level they asked and was let go without effort on their part to communicate or articulate or give guidance in relation to their perceived problems with me. That's not the sort of place that values their employees and not the sort of place I would ever recommend to someone. So for people considering working for them, I'd say stay away....
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4.5Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Novato, CA — 02/18/2010

I think it's time to give IRD a big thumbs up. I know it's that time of year when people look up IRD to see if the experience is going to be worth it for the summer, and let me tell you, it totally is. There's a lot of negativity floating around the web about this company, and as a former teacher, I want to clarify a few things. Will you work hard at this job? Yes, of course you will. If you are teaching -anywhere- it's going to be time-consuming. Are the supervisors sub-human (as I read in one review)? Absolutely not. I had a wonderful supervisor who supported me in every step of the process, trained me in person for a week, and then helped me out of any pickle when I asked for help. There have also been complaints about being underpaid. Keep in mind that this a job largely for grad students and other teachers who are just looking for a temporary fix for the summertime. So look at it that way and think about how much less you would make if you were working in retail or at a cafe for the summer. Most importantly, look at this job as the opportunity for your students to grow and also for you yourself to grow. I learned more about my teaching style by teaching a few groups of kids of all ages than I ever had teaching high school and college kids. I also had the opportunity to really test my stamina, determination, and organization skills. Was I exhausted? Absolutely. But it's the type of exhaustion that you feel good about at the end of the day. If you're willing to work hard and do the best you can for your students, then this is a great opportunity for you. If you want a standard 9-5 job for the summer, then look elsewhere, friends.

And as for the product itself, you really need to trust the lesson plans and the book lists. You're only with the students for five weeks. IRD gives them enough materials/resources for an entire school year. You gave them the tools; they still have to build the house. It's your job to show them that it will pay off. My recommendation is to try the techniques yourself--really try them. I was skeptical at first, but once I started using them on a daily basis, I saw improvement in my own reading. Seriously, you don't have to drink the kool-aid, but you should really do this job with an open mind.

Good luck to everyone, and savor those quotable moments when your students say lovely things about reading...or embarrassing things about their parents. Those are keeper moments, too.
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4.1Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location3
Co-Workers5
Work Environment4

From California — 10/07/2009

I just worked my first summer at IRD for 2009, and had a vastly different experience from many of the much more negative reviewers here. The first thing i want to comment on is my supervisor, whom I felt supported me very well. Contrary to what many other teachers seemed to have felt, I never felt berated by her, or anything close. She did a very good job of encouraging me in my strengths and giving me constructive criticism when necessary. I enjoyed the fact that she made herself available to me (as well as all of her teachers) outside our scheduled phone meetings, something I took advantage of on occasion. Having this kind of support is incalculable in value for a job.

As far as the curriculum goes, at first I was nervous that it was going to sound scripted since everything is laid out for the teacher. However, as we were told to "unleash ourselves" in training, I took that as to take the lesson plans, and learn how to teach it effectively being you. Teachers who just read from the lesson plan without putting any thought into it, are going to sound like they are reading from a script. However, I know that many of the teachers in my area would look for ways to implement there own uniqueness into their teaching. This was highly encouraged, as my supervisor had us email our ideas back and forth.

The program's effectiveness does vary from student to student, which is the case with anything! I had mostly positive feedback, however. I think parents and teachers have to go into the program with realistic expectations, that growth can be seen and progress made, but it has to be worked for on both ends. If a parent thinks that they can drop there kid off in class for 2 hrs a week for five weeks, and pick up a reading genius at the end, then they are living a pipe dream, sorry. Yet if that's the message they are getting from sales, that is too bad. However, parents, students and teachers all need to come to class with the mindset that we are going to work hard to get results, and the results should carry through the school year if the things learned in class are implemented afterward. I did see progress being made in many of my students however, and I think that is what makes the job so rewarding!
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Santa Rosa, CA — 06/29/2009

I worked as a sales person for IRD. My experience of the company was really positive. I made about $21 an hour. This is a seasonal job, and its hard work. You have to be on your game each day. They are very honest about the demands, and how they allocate calls. The people that cant perform well in a sales environment are let go. This is not a surprise, it is commission only! When they start to let go of people they start with the bottom performers, that too makes sense. Again, they are upfront about this. The training rocked, and helped me to take sales theory I had previously learned and apply it to the real world. The managers are clearly passionate about the products as well.

Schedules were adjusted to your needs. The coaches / managers are supportive. There is no benefits or job security. It is a short contract seasonal job.
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Chicago, Il — 02/15/2009

I taught last summer and am intending to teach this summer. I am doing doctoral work and I also have a family. So, unlike several posts - I am not someone in the mid twenties with no other obligations. It is season work - and it is very hard. But, they are very clear of this in the interview process. If you are going to be a teacher - it is good experience. You not only teach - but you get good experience dealing with students, parents, and administrator-types. Is the job perfect, no. Could you keep the pace up for a long time, no. But, if you do not have a good job in your field, then this better than any pick-up job.

My teacher supervisor was always respectful, though her hands were tied with regard to the flexibility of the program.

It is a good job, with good people. I have recommended it to people who want something to do that is more than pouring coffee are selling books.
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From San Francisco Bay Ar — 09/05/2008

I worked for IRD for seven summers 1991-1999. I enjoyed the work and as I was a public school teacher during the year, I was grateful to have a job that paid pretty well for the time involved, especially once I had pretty much memorized all the lesson plans. I still use the reading techniques and found the teacher training very useful in my own classroom. The worst part about the job was sometimes being locked out of the classroom for weekend classes and unable to get someone to let me in, or having to move furniture around to accomodate my students. Sometimes classes were small, sometimes huge. It was a great way to get to know the entire Bay Area and its communities. I made a few close friends during my time there and always felt supported and respected by my supervisors and only rarely had parent problems.
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3.6Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers5
Work Environment3

From DC Area — 08/19/2008

I'm really surprised to hear a lot of the teacher's complaints. I suppose no one goes online and has much to say about it if they have laudatory remarks, and I'm certainly aware of the "corporate" environment of the "institute"; but I can't believe that people weren't expecting a pretty difficult job knowing they'd have around 300 students in 10 weeks and they were basically on their own after 10 days of training. They don't really pay their teachers poorly--I know that if I were to adjust a summer to a yearly salary, I'd get less than 30,000 a year before taxes and no benefits, but VERY few teachers at IRD have backgrounds in education as a career field. This is to say, I am sure that many have a FUTURE in the educational field, but not necessarily requiring a degree or certification in teaching. I must admit that I am a bit of a leftist (not to mention a future graduate student in education), but I do not really think that earning experience this way is any less legitimate than going the academic route--Education as an educational field is one of the least intellectually rigorous professional routes you can go, and it creates a sense of salary entitlement like no other professional in any field I've seen. When wasn't it obvious that teaching doesn't pay that well? The point is that you make a connection with students. Although the IRD classroom didn't permit much time for personal connection (anywhere from 1.25-2.5 hours per class for 5 weeks), if you are an educator, there ought to be some engagement and progress you can ascertain with your students, or you probably are in the wrong field. Teaching is very rewarding in many different circumstances, including with IRD, if you view the job as more than just a paycheck.
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3.1Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance2
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

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.
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3.8Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits3
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth3
Location4
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Chicago, IL — 06/20/2008

I can completely understand why there would be so many mixed feelings about IRD. Frankly, every single teacher hired each summer could have a COMPLETELY different experience with materials, students, parents, drive times, etc. The biggest problem with this company? It is a large-scale, countrywide operation mostly running from a single office in California. You talk to your supervisors on the phone or via e-mail. However, if you're the type who can take on teaching relatively easily, can organize your time pretty well, and is lucky enough to not have to drive to Nowheresville at 9am five days a week, then this is a pretty cool summer job. All in all, I am making what I would've made if I kept my office job full-time, except I'm teaching about 25 hours a week and doing about 5 hours of extra work from my compy. While I certainly wouldn't do this forever, it's great if you're a grad student and enjoy working weird hours.
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3.9Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect5
Benefits3
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance5
Career Growth3
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment5

From Santa Rosa, CA — 06/10/2008

Pay: I was working as an inbound sales rep, taking calls from parents who wanted to sign up their kids into the reading program. This is a commission position. You are paid for every child that enrolls into the program. When I started you would be paid $7 for every child but then that bumped up to $13. You were originally paid .50 cents for every family that you captured into the database (name, address, etc.). They eliminated. They also pay you $1.00 for every customer service call that you take. As a sales rep you would receive a mix of sales and customer service calls. If you are really good at sales I you could make $20-$30/hr. But the best closers in the company still are only in the 40% range. You will get about 3-5 calls an hour. Each call can last from 10 to 20 minutes. And sometimes they may not even buy from you. But if you record them in the system and they buy later then you receive the commission. I was averaging around $12-$13 an hour.

Respect: The supervisors are all really cool and are very helpful. They know the program and are super nice. Most of the coworkers were cool. I did run into one guy who was a jerk, but I'm sure that's like any job.

Benefits: Non-existent because this is a seasonal commission position.

Job Security: I was told that I would be working until July 4th or so but I was laid off about a month early. I only worked there for a month or so. They said that due to not receiving the amount of business that they had anticipated in addition to performance they had to let me go. They called me on the phone the same day that I worked after I got off and told me. I was not asked to finish out the week but that would be my last day. I was made the top performers list in my short time there so I'm afraid to think of what was happening with others that were really doing bad. As time went by I would come to work and not see certain ones. Whether they quit or were let go i'm not sure. It's like people were vanishing...

Wok/Life Balance: This was great! Although I chose to work a very early shift, starting at 5am, I would work till about 10am or 11am. Then I was off. Everyday that I requested off I received and it was a simple automated process.

Career Potential/Growth: Not very much unless you want to be a supervisor and stick around. But I wouldn't want to deal with all the angry customers and problems all day. Or if you are a real top performer they may ask you to stay.

Location: My location was cool, not too far from my house and in a nice office building. There was a creek outside so that I could go there to take my breaks.

Co-worker Competence: My coworkers were fairly competent and were always there to help me when I had questions.

Work Environment: The work environment was pretty cool. Very laid back feel. I wore a polo and dress pants to work but somedays would wear a hoodie. You could get up when you wanted and take a break or go outside but then you may be missing calls that are potential sales.

All in all IRD is not a bad place to earn some extra money over the summer. Try it you may like it, I hope this review helped!
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