Mahindra International School’s Yearbook Committee works arduously behind the scenes throughout the entire school year to make sure each student is presented with their very own collection of memories – to rejoice and recollect the good times. I had the privilege of being the committee’s editor during the academic year 2021-2022. This process was extremely gratifying, yet stressful and overwhelming. Even though I had experience working as a co-editor in my previous school in MYP5, I had my editor to rely on for leadership support and advice. However, at MIS, most of the leadership was my responsibility, along with the provision of my supervisors, for whom I am extremely thankful.
In August 2021, our investigation stage involved identifying how the audience for 2019-2020, perceived the yearbook. My team and I sent a Microsoft Form to all members of the Student Council, which consisted of all grade representatives, asking general questions such as what they liked and disliked about the yearbook and if they wished to implement any improvements. Feedback included comments such as the font size being too small and the presence of more words than pictures on each page, which made the yearbook disengaging and unappealing to view. Furthermore, the yearbook contained many hyperlinked official documents created by students. The hyperlinks were a great idea, but there were too many documents present, which made the yearbook seem more like a summary of each class rather than a collection of memories. Our team suggested the color scheme was basic, with a lack of engaging patterns. What shocked us the most was that many of the students were unaware a yearbook had been released in 2020 due to the e-learning situation the Covid-19 pandemic had created. This helped us to identify the improvements we needed to work towards for the 2022 yearbook. These improvements included enhancing the memorable aspect of the yearbook, increasing its branding, and including a more visual appeal through pictures, color, and patterns.
The second stage was preparation. We began our preparation by clarifying roles and responsibilities within the team and developing a plan of action. Through mini-speeches for the election, we decided on the role of the editor and the co-editor by voting. All of this was done online through Teams as we were attending online school back then. We had a team of 3 designers who had a passion for art and the rest of the team, as writers. At first, we decided that each writer would be responsible for collecting data regarding each year group from various teachers. We initially planned for each writer to write small write-ups for events such as Mental Health Awareness Day and Mother Language Day. We planned to split the yearbook into 4 sections, PYP, MYP, DP, and Whole School. Our plans for an offline yearbook did not occur due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. In January, our preparation phase had setbacks when the team met with our supervisor and realized the planning was inadequate. Since we were in a race against time, we created a long-term plan that outlined when each section of the yearbook was due before the draft was sent for review. Together with our supervisor, my co-editor and I discussed the number of pages each section would receive and the application we would use to create our yearbook, which was Microsoft Sway. Our team underwent a shift in responsibilities when each year group was assigned two writers to collect all data required from teachers. This was kept track of through an Excel document. Working together as a team with a strong attitude and work ethic helped us overcome these challenges.
The third action stage was significant to the creation of our yearbook. Our team was initially surprised with Sway only allowed a slideshow format of displaying text and pictures, with limited design options. Yet, we decided a change in the application would result in a disastrous outcome. We went ahead with Sway and created four different slideshows for our 4 sections, including the message from the director and principals. Whole School was chosen to be excluded as we decided to make the yearbook more student-catered rather than school. To work towards this goal, we added another slideshow named “The MIS Memory Lane”, which was full of miscellaneous and fun pictures. We implemented patterns in designs and added mostly pictures to each slide to make the yearbook visually engaging. We did, however, finish the yearbook on time and made extra efforts to complete it, such as staying late during a holiday. We combined all yearbooks through a common Microsoft Sway Link, which was sent to the entire school on the last day, via email.
Once the yearbook was finished, we reflected on our strengths and weaknesses. The reflection stage is important to evaluate our decisions and to improve the efficiency of not only the committee but the creation of the yearbook as well. For example, planning within the team was a point of improvement as facing planning setbacks in January when the deadline was in June, was overwhelming and stressful with exams and other academic deadlines. For more creativity in design, we discussed using other applications besides Sway.
Conclusively, the creation of the yearbook in the year 2021-2022 was a rewarding project that demonstrated skills such as collaboration, leadership, and effective planning. Planning and communication played a vital role in making sure the team was working side by side with the deadlines on the long-term plan to ensure the completion of the yearbook on time. The project was successful in achieving my personal goals such as presenting a unique version of the MIS yearbook, being an active contributor to the committee, and making sure everyone was involved and organized. Throughout the project, I was able to develop connections to learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.