The Week Before Open Day

Before Report Bee

Friday afternoon 3PM: One hour for the school bell, lunch is yet to get fully digested, but the new born vacuum in the stomach is itching to have a bite. It is the time of all mood swings, complaints and laziness.

A class teacher enters the Principal room with the complaint that her mathematics teacher has not submitted the registry for report card preparation yet. Principal turns her head, looks at the calendar to trickle her organic clock and says, “One week to go, why is it not yet submitted? I don’t want to be signing Report Cards last minute.” Though she knows she is going to be signing more autographs in a night than the stars from daily TV serial would have done in their entire life.

Later in the staff room, when the class teacher is about to express her distress about the report cards, the corner loudspeaker gets everyone’s attention. Principal makes an announcement, “Attention to all teachers, please submit your complete subject registries to your class teachers by Monday. I hope that everyone is aware that we have our open day next Saturday. I request the class teachers to submit the completed report cards on my table for signing by Wednesday. Thank you.

Being a teacher herself the class teacher knows the pain in converting the rough registry to fair registry, so she waits patiently to get all other subject registries and rushes impatiently to finish hers. Some brainy teachers do their mental math, while some like English teachers who chose not to solve math problems are forced to use the calculators. It is obvious now that the weekend is going to be spent in addition, subtraction, division, average, conversion, grading and whatnot. The teachers start to share the student’s feeling, “Why do schools give report cards? It’s tough to get it signed.”

Monday passes as usual, the class teacher has not yet received all the registries. With patience tried up, she starts filling up the report cards with whatever is available and believes that it is the curse of kids who got writing imposition. Those who didn’t take their writing class as kids repent, writers with good handwriting, mathematics teachers, white markers, red pens, blue pens and black pens are in demand. With

all the calculations done, it’s the turn of the English teacher to help in forming remarks sentences. However short the sentences are, the teachers need to be careful not to make any silly grammar mistakes.

It was about to end with just the signature left for all the forty students, the social science teacher comes back and says that there is a change in the grade for one student, however inevitable change is, damn it now. The class teacher cries for white marker and hurries to the Principal room for correction approval. Finally with all the signatures done, hoping that the grades are right, the report cards reaches the Principal’s desk. Ironically, the class teacher is at ease but with fear and prayer for no more corrections. Principal has got privacy in her room with report cards piled up on her desk like walls, even the person sitting in-front is unable to read her face.

Its Thursday morning, few more classes’ report cards are yet to arrive. The Principal has been signing all official papers other than report cards, she needs to start the marathon now as time is running out. Signing 1900 report cards is no easy task in school hours. A trained attender is appointed with the task to put the report cards under the signing pen.

The privileged first ten report cards are fully read by the Principal before signing. In all other report cards, it was only some names, zeroes and centums which got the attention but mostly it was the lucky signature area which was under limelight. Even that was not looked up after a point of time. The little inspiration from the super heroes signing with both hands didn’t help as the Principal had to use only one hand to finish it by the next day.

Daring the stares and commotion of the family members, the report cards reaches the Principal’s home and starts filling up the living room. Principal thinks that even kids won’t hate open day as much as her family members. But no other go, having signed hardly 400 report cards in school hours, rest 1500 needs to be signed before tomorrow (Friday). Long night to come, have to be careful to sign only in the Principal signature place, Principal’s husband takes the place of the attender to open the report cards and place it under the signing pen.

Its Friday evening, subject teachers, class teachers and Principal seem to be satisfied as all the report cards are signed and class teachers are taking it back to their tables for open day, next day. Oh! The night doesn’t end without the subject teacher dreaming about talking calculators, class teacher hoping for no more changes, the Principal vaguely sure of signing all report cards in the right place and most importantly, the thought of the same stressful routine in the next term.

After Report Bee

Friday afternoon 3PM: The Principal is as usual drenched in her daily work-visitors, mediating student fights, leave application and so on. The teacher appointed as the Report Bee coordinator enters Principal room with the status report on mark entry completion and says, “Ma’am, it would be good if you could please make an announcement reminding the teachers about the deadline for mark entry.”

In the staff room, the black box in bird’s eye view demands everyone’s attention, Principal’s announcement over

the loudspeakers says, “Attention to all teachers, I request you to complete your mark entry in Report Bee by Monday. I hope everyone is aware that we have our open day on Saturday. All class teachers please make sure that the report cards are mailed to parents by Thursday. Thank you.”

The seats in the computer lab get reserved, rumor says that the east facing computers work faster and are at demand. Unlike kids, computers obey all the teachers-teachers who are regular in updating

their marks and are left with only one recent exams to finish, teachers with the whole term marks pending to be entered, teachers who are tech-savvy, confident and undoubtedly last minute mark entry finishers, teachers who learnt to use mouse along with their grandsons but are the first ones to finish mark update out of curiosity or fear or sincerity. But no one is worried about calculation mistakes, preparing fair registry, documentation or submissions.

Half an hour after the announcement, the coordinator and the Principal starts receiving SMS notifications from Report Bee like “Mark entry completed by 3A for Term 1,” which happens as and when the mark entry for each class gets completed. Class teachers gets automatic SMS notifications of their class subject teachers mark entry status.

Monday passes as usual, teachers are only bothered to finish the

entry, no calculators and no calculations. All the calculations, conversions and grading is done by Report Bee automatically. Teachers with minimum knowledge of computers become stars. Those who have finished entry are sought for help and doubt clarification. Even with no one around, Report Bee’s Happiness Team is always one call away from answering questions. Class teachers are not worried about missing deadlines as there is no need to fill up report cards or get correction approval.

It’s Wednesday evening, the class teacher finishes typing remarks for all the forty students and checks the status of her class. Mathematics and science is yet to be done. Mathematics teacher promised to finish it from home as she had to leave early. Class teacher previews the digital report cards to make sure everything is fine. All is set now and is just two clicks away from sending to parents.

Thursday morning, the class teacher receives two SMS she has been waiting for- mark entry completed for mathematics and science. She login to her account to see that all the subjects with green indicator for mark entry completion. She goes ahead and clicks the sign-off button indicating my class is ready for report card generation and generates a class registry to see overview of all students’ performance. Finally, she sends report cards to all parents in one click. The same day, she receives call from two parents who have checked their kid’s report card and are worried with their performance.

The Principal and the coordinator is kept up-to-date with the proceedings by SMS & email notifications and they literally sleep through the report card generation and distribution. After Report Bee, the Principal is more concerned about the performance of each class than signing report cards. She uses RB Insights to find answer to all her questions without even calling a single teacher. Yes! She truly has the information on her finger tips now and is equipped with right questions for the upcoming staff meeting.

An Insider’s Account of the Culture at Report Bee

At Report Bee, we have an interesting organizational structure. There are three teams: Growth, Creation and Happiness. Each team has specific goals and the different projects taken up by the teams help them in achieving their respective goals.

Growth team is responsible for taking Report Bee’s products to more schools, thereby impacting the lives of more students and eventually bringing in cash-flow to the firm.

Creation team is in-charge of envisioning and developing the core products of Report Bee that are in line with our vision of making data more useful in schools.

Happiness team’s responsibility is to make sure that the schools and our partners love to use Report Bee’s products and services.

(More about the team structure and the thoughts behind it, to follow in a separate blog)

I’m a part of the Growth team and manage partnerships among other things, here at Report Bee. Along with it, I handle a customer school of ours’ as well. This is typically a responsibility that falls in the hands of the Happiness team. Handling a school involves setting up the school structure within the Report Bee software initially, then training the teachers to use the various modules within the software and being in constant touch with them to ensure that their lives are made easy.

Recently, we came up with this idea where we decided that each of us at Report Bee will handle one of our client schools and work closely with the teachers to make sure that each of us understand how a teacher uses Report Bee and the role of Report Bee in a teacher’s life. This in turn, enables the team to have a better perspective on how our product is being used and in turn make our internal discussions far more productive and relevant. Creation team will be able to better understand the needs of a teacher and the everyday constraints that she faces and inturn be able to develop a product that the teachers and the schools love. Likewise, we at Growth team can clearly see the value that the schools find in using Report Bee and inturn be able to communicate that effectively to other potential customers.

I’m loving this experience, of being loaned out to the Happiness team on a regular basis. I’m learning the challenges faced by a teacher, the pressures that she has to handle from the school and from parents and in a lot of cases, the extreme passion that she has towards teaching and moulding the budding lives of the kids whom she teaches. What started out as an added responsibility has transformed into a source of pleasure and fulfillment. Looking forward to more encounters with passionate teachers and education leaders.