I was home trying to decide what to wear for work. It was a special day at Report Bee and I wanted to look my best! By chance, I found a new salwar set to wear and got dressed quickly.
I reached office at 8.30 AM. My colleagues, Jayashree and Siddarth were already in. Siddarth, pacing down the hall was trying to keep his cool. I could say he was nervous! The collaboration room was already filled with chairs. Lavanya, was running around to get snacks and tea ready, keeping the necessary stationery required and ensure everything else was in place!
While Rbians were hustling and bustling to make sure everything was perfect, I found a lady dressed in a beautiful blue and pink saree waiting at our office doorstep. I smiled to myself. Yes! We had our first guest coming in. To be sure, I went upto her and enquired,
Me: Hi Mam, Can I help you?
She: yes. Report Bee, right? I am waiting for my other friend to come.
Me: Oh Sure mam! You may please come and sit inside.
Smiles all over, I got back to my desk waiting for the rest to arrive. One by one they came, got seated and finally we were ready to start!
Siddarth took over the stage and had the entire audience listening to him in rapt attention. That day, I learnt he could actually be loud when he wanted. Halfway through his presentation, slowly a few questions were being raised, discussions starting to take place and we had Ideas popping right up from this astounding audience!
That moment we (and I speak for all RBians present that day) felt WOW! Our small dream was becoming a reality! A dream of having teachers, encouraging discussions among them, giving them a place to speak and share ideas, to make them feel like they were the most important person around!
How did we do this?
Report Bee launched its first teacher workshop for teachers on Data, decisions and beyond. We had 15 teachers from various schools across the city attending the workshop. Through this workshop, teachers learnt the importance of data, how decisions can be made with the help of data and learn the difference between intuition and data driven decision making.
It was important that we, from Report Bee conducted this workshop. When we say ‘we are a data visualization company, we have close to 8000 teachers using our product’, it goes without saying that it is in our hands to ensure that they understand the importance of our product in full and reap it’s benefits!
A small thought became a dream and grew to be a reality. Today, Report Bee can proudly say, we help teachers to discuss, ideate and learn with one another. We are a community. We are a team. Join us. Help us blossom. After all, spring is indeed here!
The last phase of Report Bee’s very first Teacher’s Day Campaign had our Team working almost round the clock, so much that I don’t even remember sleeping for over a week! We stumbled upon a variety of interesting but panic-inducing challenges – getting envelopes too small, repeated shut down on systems at the printer’s, discovering missing messages on the last day, power failure and lots more. We successfully waded through these monumental challenges to make sure each teacher received her ‘surprise’ this Teacher’s Day, hidden in a designer card from Report Bee with personalised messages from their own colleagues.
The non-stop thrill ride lasted 7 days! Countdown begins…
Days Left = 7
28th August 2014, Thursday
Target: Complete card themes and finalise Envelopes.
Challenge: To buy an untested envelope or accept late delivery?
1. Overall Theme Completed: Front and back of general theme for the A6 cards was done (in 3 days).
2. Subject-wise Theme: 1 day needed.
3. Advance Money for Envelopes : With everyone else occupied, I had to go to make advance payment at 7:45 P.M for the tested Yellow envelopes. The rush was because we desperately needed the envelopes by 10 AM, Monday. But when I found that Ganesh Chaturthi, the next day, would affect our delivery by a several hours, I had to settle for untested Green A6-Envelopes. I bought 2000 A6 size Green envelopes!
Reached home at 10:30 PM.
Days Left = 6
29th Aug 2014, Friday
Target: Make messages fit the cards, find the ‘perfect font’ and Make Madras Day Poster.
Challenge:To automate deletion of unwanted space characters and to get a great font for messages.
An example of message with extra spaces that led to the messages spilling out:
Teachers Days wishes.
Unwanted Space Deleted: (I started work at 11:30 AM after the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.) Excel, Umesh and Nikhil came to the rescue. Then, Sharanya asked me to check the edited messages and try Photoshop generation. “Works perfectly”, I replied at 3 PM.
Subject-wise Theme Completed: After lunch-break, I started working on the design at 4 PM; finished at 9 PM, or so I thought. Jack reviewed and gave a go ahead to the design but suggested a change of font type and colour for sender’s name and message.“Right Typography is important to convey the whole emotion of the design.” I tried 12-15 fonts from 9:30 PM to midnight till I found a close match. Checked with Jack; he gave a go ahead but was not 100% happy. My search for the right font continued till I found a beautiful one at 12:20 AM. Font applied with changed and balanced colours by 1:50 AM!
Poster for Madras Day: The day was not over yet as I had an important task of coordinating 375th Madras Year celebration with Madrasters at 6 AM (next day). I designed a poster by 2:30 AM and uploaded on Facebook.Now it was over!
Days Left = 5
30th Aug 2014, Saturday
Target: Coordinate Madras Day and Generate soft copies of Cards.
Challenge: Incorporate Umesh’s inputs before he leaves for his hometown.
Celebrated Madras Day: The idea was to get a selfi with all old monuments in Indo-Saracenic Revival Architecture Style or Indo-Gothic Style. Woke up at 4 AM (after just 1.5 hours of sleep), reached Central at 6:00 AM, and wrapped up by 11:15 AM.
Finalised Card Content: I reached office at 11:45 AM and found Umesh waiting for me to send the PSD template so he could check the PSD generation part. He came up with few more suggestions and made all changes himself despite being in a hurry to leave for his hometown!
Generated Cards: ..in Photoshop from 12:45 to 10:00 PM.
Reached home at midnight!
Days Left = 4
31st Aug 2014, Sunday
Target: Printing the final cards!
Challenge: To be patient and smart with Printers’ slow systems.
Increased Efficiency of Printers: Their staff took 1.15 hours to import 330 cards to Corel Draw and 15 more minutes to print them. We did not have 15-16 hours. I asked them to give me a good configuration system to try. I brought the time down from 30 seconds per import to just 5 seconds, or less. I Completed 777 cards in 20-25 mins!
Printed all Cards: Subjects cards were printed by 4:00 PM. I split the Generic Theme into two sets of 1000 and 1139 cards. Their system shut down twice after an import of every 1000 messages and took our momentum down. 1500 cards still had to be printed!
Reached home at 9:30 PM with more than 300 printed board sheets full of teacher’s wishes!!
Days Left = 31st Sept 2014, Monday
Target: Get cards cut and ready.
Challenge: Resolve all the annoying unexpected problems!
Got the Cards Cut: When I reached the printer’s Office at 7:45 AM, they were too busy to oblige. A bit of convincing and some luck saved me a delay of about 1.5 hours. I reached Office with the cards at 9 AM!
Nikhil Found 4 Problems: (1) Art & Co-curricular Theme card had 300 wrongly printed messages; (2) Few messages exceeding the cards by 5-6 lines were not visible; (3) The Green envelopes that I bought could hold only 4-5 cards; (4) Pasting printed Name labels would be inefficient and messy.
Sorted Cards by Number and School Domain: An efficient method (suggested by Jack) to simplify sorting took us 10 hours even with the help of Larva Bees.
Addressed the Identified Problems: Mothi and Kanmani went to get white Envelopes at 3 PM but we got them only by 7.30 PM (their bikes got towed away!) Sharanya reduced all exceeding messages individually; I generated cards from 8 to 10:20 PM. Sharayana suggested printing Name labels on stickers to save us time.
Reached home at midnight.
Days Left = 22nd Sept
Target: Get ALL the cards printed: missing cards, cards with errors, and Generic
Challenge: The day was full of unexpected challenges! So much to do in so little time.
Addressed the Identified Problems (from Previous Day): Work at Printer shop began at 10 AM after wasting 2 hours: 1 hour waiting for shop to open and half hour for the staff to figure out how to do the task. To top it, the two systems that I took hanged! The previous day taught me to make 11 separate folders with less than 300 messages each to keep their system from crashing (while importing files to CoralDraw).
New Problem: Just then, at 10:45 AM, the Manager said, “Electricity Board office is shut; go to Anna Nagar.” I reached Anna Nagar at 11:30 AM; completed 8 folder sets by 1:30 PM which Daniel came and took to Office. I finished the remaining 3 folder sets by 3 PM and reached Office by 4.30 PM.
Sorted, Separated and Enveloped the Cards: Larva Bees, Nikhil and Sharanya continued the marathon of sorting the cards. The high energy levels of the Team got this back-breaking task done by 7:45 PM!
Packed the Cards: Nikhil, Sharanya, Jack and myself packed from 8 to 9:30 PM.
Reached home at 11:30 PM!
Days Left = 1: The final DAY!!
3rd Sept 2014, Wednesday
Target: Pack and Courier.
Challenge: More missing messages; Pack and Courier before 8 PM!!
Packed the Cards and Gifts: Nikhil, Sharanya, Larva Bees and myself packed the whole day starting 10 AM.
Printed Missing Messages: 7 messages were found missing! I rushed to get them printed at 7 PM and returned (drenched in rain) by 8 PM.
Couriered: All looked good to go.
Principal opening the cards on Teacher’s Day.
Chasing a Tight Deadline as a Team Taught me a Few Lessons:
It’s good to experience challenges once in a while.
Printing brings unforeseen challenges; so be wise in blocking time for this job.
Nikhil’s ability to understand the problem in all its aspects by first asking questions, well before starting to solve.
Sharanya taught being smart and cute helps.
Larva Bees’ child-like curiosity to make things happen was very impressive. They are a great team!
The game ended at the final ball of the final over with a sixer!!
It was one of those days when I was completely exhausted with work and decided to take the day off! I made this decision at 12:00 AM on Friday, when my mind was switched off, completely oblivious to my actual plan for the day! One of the most enjoyable moments when you take the day off is that you have a lot of time to kill! Completely whiling away my time, I decided to get some work done for the day finally. I started to think about my tasks for the day and suddenly realised that it was FRIDAY! “WHAT? It’s Friday! Oh god! I need to move right now!!” (Of course, I missed a meet!). Quickly I got dressed, left the house, somehow managed to get an auto after a lot of bargaining with the auto guy, and reached the destination on time. Phew!
You all must be wondering what this important meeting was! Meeting my Cloud Vidyashram students on this special day was one of the most important meetings, which I almost missed. But since Teacher’s day is one of those days when all students want to do is have fun, I was faced with a dilemma whether to let children play that day or to ensure going by class schedule so that Cloud Vidyashram project finishes in time.
My sense of responsibility made me opt for the latter; so, I called the students to come and watch the videos in the classroom. The batch turned up reluctantly. This was unusual since the students love attending this class and they happily sacrifice their Games period for learning Math. But that day being a Teacher’s Day, obviously, they wanted to enjoy their free time; and I could sense that they were not at all interested in attending my class. Just then, a student from a different batch came in and said, “Akka*, we are going to cut cake for Teacher’s Day”, and took all his classmates back along with him. He stopped, looked at me and said, “Akka! you should join too!” I said, “no you guys go ahead! I will wait here!” Five minutes later, two other students came and said that the cake cutting has been cancelled since the Headmaster had given them permission only during the last two hours to cut the cake. At this moment, one of them said, “Akka, Happy Teacher’s Day! I forgot to wish you; this is my first wish for the day! ”
Having realised that the children were interested in everything except studying for the day, I decided to cancel my class. The moment they learnt that the class was cancelled, the students dragged me out to play volleyball. I played volleyball after 9 years with the class!! What a lovely feeling it was to spend time with the children! They made me happy, made me feel one amongst them and they felt so true with me! Managed to take a pic too in remembrance of the event!
Being a teacher is one of the best professions in life. It is a great opportunity to motivate a set of children to do the right thing and make them feel happy. It is indeed a huge challenge and we are fortunate to have many teachers thriving in this profession. Today, I am happy to be on the path of being the right teacher. Children can teach us so much in life! This was the best gift I got for Teacher’s Day, which I was so close to missing due to a lethargic start in the morning! Morning felt like a distant past as the Volley Ball and all the love filled me with a fresh new energy to last a long time. I am so happy to be doing what I am doing!