Institute of Reading Development

  www.readingprograms.org
  www.readingprograms.org

Institute of Reading Development Reviews

Updated October 23, 2014
Updated October 23, 2014
87 Reviews
4.0
87 Reviews
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Dave Soloway
25 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • If you want to work from home the company does offer positions where you can do that (in 25 reviews)

  • In that way it's a very unique type of teaching experience that allows for more trial-and-error experimentation (in 6 reviews)


Cons
  • Everything* is scripted, down to the lesson plans (in 5 reviews)

  • At most, you teach 12 classes a week (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great company for teachers and those interested in becoming teachers

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    Former Employee - Summer Reading Teacher in Tampa, FL
    Former Employee - Summer Reading Teacher in Tampa, FL

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great company! I loved working for IRD. You will learn so much about teaching, from the ground up. You teach all age levels so the work is always exciting. They compensate well. Most importantly, they value the work of their teachers and the supervisor-teacher relationship is an excellent support system. If you are a teacher or you are considering teaching as a career, this is an excellent company to consider.

    Cons

    Although these are not necessarily "cons," there are some challenges when working as an IRD summer reading teacher. Be prepared to invest your time in this position. At most, you teach 12 classes a week. Be prepared to travel and learn how to quickly adapt to different teaching environments. Also, acknowledge that you will be working with parents and students who expect improvement, so every session must be adequately prepared for and executed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I thought the management of the company was great. I had a very positive experience with my training sessions and my supervisor. I think the supervisor-teacher relationship is crucial to the success of the program.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Great way to refine/learn teaching skills w/lots of support from supervisors, but intense summers and lots of traveling.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teacher
    Current Employee - Teacher

    I have been working at Institute of Reading Development as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The training that you get before your first summer really sets you up well, as long as you follow the schedule and cover all of the materials. There's no real way to prepare for the actual classroom experience, but the supervisors do well in coaching new teachers through role-playing and useful strategies.

    My husband began teaching at a charter school after my first summer with the Institute (IRD), and I was amazed at how much support I had with IRD compared to his "mentor" that he never saw. He struggled with classroom management, and finally came to me for help after asking the administration and fellow teachers. I was able to give him the concrete advice that my IRD supervisor had given me and things went more smoothly for him at the charter school.

    The short sessions (only 5 weeks) make it so you can "start over" in the second half of the summer using the things you learned during the first half with a different set of students. In that way it's a very unique type of teaching experience that allows for more trial-and-error experimentation.

    I have enjoyed the travel aspect of the job, but it can tire you out. Through IRD I've traveled to cities across the US that I would never have thought to visit and always found something interesting to do. They aren't doing travel as much now, but I'd recommend volunteering for a live-away assignment if you're able. You might end up in Kentucky, or Chicago, but a few of my coworkers spent 6 weeks in Hawaii (I was so jealous!). The hotels that they put you in are mid-range and they typically have some of the best reviews in the area. If you do a live-away then they try to get you a furnished apartment rather than a hotel room.

    I haven't been able to find another summer job that pays decently, plus goes on your CV.

    Cons

    The summers are intense. Frequently you will work at least one weekend day all summer, and your days off may not be in a row (so you might get Tues and Sat off). The workload is typically capped at 12 classes, which is challenging but doable. The students only see you 5 times, so each time you have to be on your feet and at your best. This can be hard after 8 straight weeks of teaching (there are 10 weeks, 2 5-week sessions).

    The middle and high-school students are usually more difficult to engage because their parents signed them up, and they are ashamed of being in a "reading class" for part of the summer. These aren't remedial classes, but even when you explain that, it doesn't make the students any happier to be there against their will. Luckily you only deal with those students for 5 weeks, and then there's a new batch of kids. Sometimes you really luck out and get an enthusiastic bunch.

    The traveling can also tire you out quickly, but I've found ways to make it more enjoyable: audiobooks for long drives, and Urbanspoon for finding the best places to eat.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    An Intense, Challenging, and Rewarding Summer Teaching

    Current Employee - Summer Reading Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Summer Reading Teacher in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at Institute of Reading Development as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    After a friend told me about her experience with IRD, I cautiously sent out an application and hoped for the best. I had previously taught cynical 18 year olds as part of my master's degree - but teaching elementary school kids? On my own?

    Usually, teachers are largely thrown some paltry materials, given a pat on the back and sent off to the trenches.

    IRD swears up and down that they will provide you with great training - and the crazy part is that they are accurate. Three weeks of looking over the material, discussing it with likeminded folks, and a three day in-person practice. Meeting up with twenty other people on a college campus, we practiced scribbling out notes, fielding questions from imaginary unruly ten year olds - it is EASILY the most practical and useful teacher training I have ever seen. Even before IRD launches you into a classroom, you'll be more prepared than you think. Promise.

    And then there is the actual teaching. Not gonna lie, I heard a lot of IRD horror stories about long bonecrunching hours. This isn't exactly true. You WILL easily put in forty hours a week, but you'll be doing a TON of different stuff. A typical day might start you off with 2nd graders learning phonics before running you through a jr high class that can feel like a strangely enjoyable reading camp romp. If you stay on top of the lesson plans and don't let your perfectionism drive you crazy, this job will not require a sixty hour commitment.

    And since this section is called "Pros", I should talk about my own time in the classroom. I'm an only child from a small family. Children terrified the heck out of me. And then, two weeks into teaching, I started getting hugs. I got to work with parents who want to see their kids become better readers - and are willing to make an investment of money and time and effort to make it happen. At one point, I was told that one of my students had a learning disability, but that his parents would work with him. And when I saw this first grader, he was reading out loud to his parents, flanked on both sides. This kid's father was a trucker who drove all over the country most of the year. But every sunday morning he was there, next to his kid, coaching him and encouraging him and just being an AWESOME person.

    When I taught university, I largely acted as a stern and imposing wall. All business, with a wan smile at most. But as I taught student after student (over 200 in the summer) I started to relax. And I started to share parts of my personality, parts of my identity with them. This summer I learned about far more than just how to double a student's reading speed. I learned a little about who I was, and maybe even who I wanted to be.

    Lastly, I want to go back to the question of support. Every week during the summer, you'll have a chat with your supervisor. These meetings will touch on important things, but they also become a chance for you to vent any tough days or share any great anecdotes. Throughout the summer, I did run into a few logistical problems. Locked classrooms, screwy enrollment data - things like that. But the IRD support staff was always available and lent a needed hand.

    Cons

    Okay, so that's the good stuff. What should you be wary of if you decide to work for IRD?

    Even though some of my teaching days had another teacher on site, you will spend a lot of time being the only IRD employee at a site. Though you'll have a constant stream of students, there are days where you can feel a little lonely. EVen with the occasional friend on-site or supervisor call, this is largely a solitary gig.

    Similarly, you've got to be flexible. You will be teaching throughout your area, at several different sites. Things will go askew. I had days where classrooms were locked, airconditioners were busted, students were unruly. You've got to roll with it. Know yourself, but don't be afraid to push yourself.

    I'm going to shamelessly steal from another review on this site, because it bears repeating - "There are days when you kind of feel like equal parts zookeeper, circus performer, and riot cop". You'll have brilliant kids whose insights will astound you. You'll have kids who will walk in with an attitude and by week 3 will walk in, flash a smile, and cooly tell you they've doubled their reading speed. You'll also have unworkable kids who will be a constant struggle. You'll have the rare parent who won't care that their child isn't doing the home practice. You'll deal with great people. And you'll deal with less great people. The former far outweighs the latter, but be aware that this is a job that requires some level of emotional attraction. You're going to have tough days, but I guarantee that a good day is around the corner. One day, I had a kid who walked into class in a bad mood. He got so angry he snapped a pencil in two and threw the book to the ground. I got him under control with some strong words, but it took a toll. And then the next day a young girl came up to me and high fived me and called me "a pretty awesome dude."

    Also, your car is going to be caked in class materials for the entire summer. During the start of each term, I had a backseat, trunk, and half my garage filled with boxes. This sounds small, but the sheer organizational side of the job can leech energy. I'm a naturally unorganized person, and I did survive the summer. But you're going to have a lot of THINGS to keep track of, and no office or space to put them in.

    Lastly, the compensation is not great. IRD teachers are largely made up of people who are transferring from university to fully academic or teaching positions. We largely don't have credentials, and our experience will vary greatly. But be forewarned, if you're the sort of person who wants to obsess over every class and prep for hours on end - you can end up making less than minimum wage. You create your own hours, and I know several people who simply did not care for that treadmill.

    I eventually set up a schedule that worked for me, and worked around forty hours a week. I ended up making better than minimum wage, but could probably have made more if I worked at a decent restaurant and grabbed average tips.

    The job is varied, and will have you doing a ton of different things. The experience itself is hugely useful on both a personal and professional level. But it will suck when your friend makes more money than you working as a waiter at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The lesson plans take a lot of negativity, but I found them very useful. They are not meant to be a straightjacket but a roadmap. I encourage IRD to keep revising the lesson plans.

    Also, please consider adding books that are from non-white, non-male perspectives. The books are well-chosen overall, but the lack of diversity feels limiting.

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  5.  

    Passionate people, strong standards

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teacher Supervisor
    Former Employee - Teacher Supervisor

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    A lot of individualized support for the work. I met with my boss constantly about my performance, on-going training, group discussions with co-workers, and help with specific teacher issues.

    Cons

    I worked as a teacher supervisor at IRD and it was one of the most intense years of my life. A large part of this was my own personality - I'm a sensitive soul and it wasn't a great fit. I think even for folks who are the right fit, it can be intense. It's a short period of time (i.e. the summer) for a LOT to happen. You've got to be ready to react quickly and decisively.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    If you love books and are either interested in teaching or think you'd enjoy it, this is the job for you.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teacher
    Former Employee - Teacher

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development as a contractor (less than an year)

    Pros

    I was a teacher for IRD the summer of 2014 and it was a fantastic experience.

    So, IRD is really cool because you get to interact with all sorts of ages. You teach students in Program R (pre-schoolers and entering Kindergartners) up to Program 7 (high school seniors and adults).

    You share and read great books with them (Cat in the Hat; Where the Wild Things Are; Frog & Toad; The Stories Julian Tells; Banner in the Sky; The Fellowship of the Ring; Blink) and many other books. IRD gives you a program to follow during class, so you have some guidance as what to do.

    It's not just books, however. You also teach (depending on level) phonics and other grammar type lessons to prepare students for the next year in school. If a student's abilities are such that they need to be moved up or down a level, that decision is up to you, but IRD puts you through training so you'll know exactly what to do.

    For the older classes, you focus on reading speed. This isn't speed reading gimmick, it's just showing them how to make the most of their reading time.

    Also, during training (some of it is online, some of it is distance) you meet a lot of other fantastic teachers. We all did our training in Anaheim over the course of 4 days, and it was a great time. Each person got their own large hotel room where there was a continental-type breakfast served, and each day we were given lunch at the great cafeteria on Biola's campus.

    IRD is on top of everything. You don't have to worry about being paid late, not being reimbursed for gas or school supplies you buy, or anything shady. The staff is passionate about what they do. All around, great experience.

    But keep in mind, teaching is hard work. So, if you make it past the interview process, be prepared to do a lot of work. The first week is the toughest, but after that, you get into a groove.

    Cons

    I wouldn't call this a "con" so much as it is a challenge. Working for IRD builds character because it's a lot of work. So, if you don't want to work hard, then think twice before applying. Dealing with students (and parents) can be exhausting at times. Inputting reading scores and hours, does get tiresome. But, in my opinion, the people (other teacher and staff) you meet, the memories you make, and the experience you gain, is so worth it.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    The best hand-on experience for pre-service teachers.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Reading Teacher in Orlando, FL
    Current Employee - Reading Teacher in Orlando, FL

    I have been working at Institute of Reading Development full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The Institute of Reading Development has their stuff together. The training process is rigorous but essential, and I learned so much during that moth of training. By the time the first day of classes came around I really felt prepared. This job is an amazing opportunity to gain some practice with classroom management, lesson planning and time managements, and working with parents, not to mention you actually see your students get better at reading in front of your eyes. I recommend this job to all my fellow teaching majors every summer.

    Cons

    The only issue I have ever had with this job is the lack of professionalism coming from our PARTNER companies and universities. We teach out classes in borrowed classrooms from universities and colleges in the area, and those partnered sites have given me problems with being late to open doors, not having the required materials, heating and cooling the buildings, and all around bad professionalism, none of which was IRD's fault.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    A Summer of Growth

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I really loved the training that I received from IRD. They taught us so much in a short amount of time, but now I feel like I could teach any class if I had the time to read the material first. This type of teacher training allowed for me to just love going into my first day class because I knew what I was doing. Also, the people are great. The trainers, fellow teachers, and IRD support are amazing. They are all willing to help and give you the best advice.

    Cons

    The worst part about this job is the balance between working and having a life. I felt that even in my free time I was still prepping for lessons or calling parents. You really have to force yourself to just let things go and give yourself free days or you will go crazy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I would encourage you to really give your employees some time off. Even during off days we had meetings or had to do parent phone calls. That should be included in work days.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Fun and Fulfilling Summer Teaching Opportunity

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    Current Employee - Teacher in Norman, OK
    Current Employee - Teacher in Norman, OK

    I have been working at Institute of Reading Development (less than an year)

    Pros

    This is an amazing learning experience for those interested in teaching. The training is thorough and ongoing throughout the summer, so I always feel prepared when I step in front of a classroom full of four and five year-olds or freshman and working professionals. Supervisors are readily available, receptive to concerns, and consistently helpful. IRD’s guiding belief, that fostering an early and life-long love of reading in our students is the key to their future happiness and success, as well as their capacity for compassion and empathy as adults, has been personally meaningful and professionally motivating for me. Especially on the really hard days, when it seems like all the kindergarteners skipped naptime and the high schoolers collectively decided they weren’t feeling discussion that class, it’s really helped me contextualize the work that I do. I don’t just teach reading skills in a vacuum. I give my students the skills they need to read that one book that changes everything. I know they’ll find their Harry Potter or their Hobbit, and they’ll understand what I meant when I said reading is the coolest thing I ever learned to do.

    Cons

    This job requires stamina and—occasionally—thick skin. 9 to 5 feels a lot longer when you’re teaching back-to-back classes that don’t go according to plan. There are days when you kind of feel like equal parts zookeeper, circus performer, and riot cop. Luckily, these days are few and far between. I have to remind myself that generally the grumpy kiddo or the flustered parent is out of sorts due to something completely outside of your control. All you can really do is ask what’s up, help where you can, and continue to bring your A-game.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Working for IRD provides a challenging yet rewarding work experience.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teacher
    Former Employee - Teacher

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    One of the best parts of this job was getting to work with kids and people of all ages. This job allowed me to share my love of reading with others, and to help them grow in their appreciation of reading and their reading skills. While the work can be challenging, and there is a lot of travel involved, IRD provides good compensation for their teachers. But the best reward is seeing the improvement of my students over the course of the summer. I have worked for IRD for four summers, and I have definitely grown as a teacher, becoming more confident with myself and with working with others. The staff and supervisors at IRD are wonderful to work with, they are very efficient, and they are willing to help you with any problem that arises.

    Cons

    The most challenging aspects of working for IRD are the schedule, the traveling, and being able to teach people of all ages. (This last one is not necessarily a negative aspect, it just brings its own set of challenges.) Working for IRD usually requires teaching on the weekends, and there will be travel involved. However, IRD does compensate you for this. You teach approximately 10-12 classes per week, so there is also a lot of prep work involved, but that does get easier as you get used to the class structure. It can be difficult balancing your personal life with teaching for IRD, mainly because of the travel and working most weekends.

    Recommends
  11.  

    Great seasonal employment, positive, supportive environment, good pay.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Enrollment Coordinator in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Enrollment Coordinator in Portland, OR

    I worked at Institute of Reading Development full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Excellent training both initially and throughout employment. There was always support for any question or issue. Everyone I worked with was professional and knowledgeable. The ability to work remotely is very convenient but you are never "alone". The position allowed me to be myself and offer products and services that genuinely help students. Pay structure and bonuses are very good.

    Cons

    The call volume does fluctuate as you go through the season. The are times when it is very heavy and times when it gets very slow so paychecks can vary.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue to incorporate new techniques and strategies into the programs. Change the high school program so that it is not so similar to the middle school program.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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