ANA round the Mulberry Bush We go with Principals and schools

Today was ANA Day - the day for the submission of scripts for moderation and for the submission of marksheets.  There was no other thought in our minds other than to give ANA her pound of flesh.  So we pulled up at Capricorn Primary School, packed out our laptops, spread out all our guiding notes, set up a whiteboard and then felt ready to start the ANA Rhapsody.  Colleen was fully armed with 20-page Flip file stacked with colour-coded sheets and every conceivable correspondence that ANA spawned since December 2011.

Yep, we were ready to roll...

Slowly the ANA-tourage arrived... and I would not have had a story to tell if ANA had behaved like a well-schooled kid....  You see, ANA is not quite your Sound of Music feel-good story.  ANA has been acting more like a hormone-fast-forward teenager and we were the ones to keep the balance. No one can accuse us of not trying.  We really did - just check our meeting minutes and our phone bills. We were completely infatuated with ANA at the office - and like a new kid on the block, ANA took full advantage of our advances. Even our schools believed we knew  ANA far better than they did - after all, they have seen our interactions with Miss A.
ANA so?  Lavinia and Cassy oblivious to the rest of us

ANA they wrote and pointed and ruled ... Ernest and Teresa
 You had better believe this. ANA was all consuming -SERIOUS business I tell you.. Schools have been hooked to the ANA craze  for a long time now.  First there were tons of circulars and minutes to impress on schools how important this standardised national benchmarking test is and how everybody needs to prepare for the BIG week. Then closer to the time we had briefing meetings equivalent to the scale of COP 17. Ana this wasn't all.  Then after the briefing we had more briefings to assess whether the briefings were understood. Lots and lots of sense making and we really drove the fear of hell into anyone who was hellbent on trying to compromise or even worse, undermine Queen ANA.
ANA recycling entrepreneurial exercise here? Lameez carefully sealing the precious cargo
Finally ANA happened and of course, not before the deliveries of consignments took on the role of a treasure hunt -midnight drive combo. Everybody complied and off ANA went into the classrooms then straight from the Principal's hands into the SAFE where it brooded until the teachers smothered them with loving red and green ink - depending on whether they were the markers or the moderators.  Well, by this time, everybody had devoured the Guideline and  I suppose,could recite it like Humpty Dumpty or even jazz it up to some Amy Whinehouse song. Such was the power of ANA.

ANA what should I do with this, asks Kevin to an equally puzzled Lorna with Greg looking on.

That is until we started the sms chain and the e-mail torrent and the bbm e-texts. The sms backed up the e-mail or forewarned of a 'slight' change and then another sms followed to hint at another e-collage to follow.

By the time - and this is TODAY - the A-day - we saw our school heads, heavily laden with their reinforced plastic bags, there was still a hint of a smile or a relaxed muscle visible before we struck.

The ANA cyclone headed straight to us.  We didn't see it coming with such major distractions.  ANA wanted the real sample, the red ticked sample with the triple-distilled 5.  "555" we chanted - we want '555'. And give us a 999, baby; give us a 999. We want a 999!  The cheerleading crescendoed.. the cyclone threatened and the smiles vanished.  We saw the knowing raised brows and the Heads looked at one another and we saw the huddles and the whispers.... Oooooh... we were sitting on the eye of the storm for a while.

I am sure the principals would have loved to knock us senseless, but this time we were armed with the black pens and the random sampling grids and the evidence of all our last minute shifts. Most of our Heads, usually jovial and upbeat, gave us sideways glances and eyes that sometimes spoke volumes of where they would like to leave our mashed bodies. But on we plodded and mediated and navigated so that we could still have some fun while making sense of ANA. Even we were ANA-claustrophobic at times.
The ANAtomy of paper and plastic

But the frostiness lasted momentarily. We were in this together and slowly but surely, our Heads and we had woven our humour back into the space.  We found sparks of fun and silliness - in fact we became quite ANA-mated while we slogged through numbers and papers and control sheets.

 Soon the camraderie spread its loving tentacles around the hall and there they were: helping one another, sprinting across the carpeted floor to lend a hand, to fetch the form or any ANA-inspired trinket that was needed. Heads were locked, torn bags were stapled and phones that rang were answered by anybody so that life could continue.

ANA Simon said: Put your hands on your hips - Faseeg doing a jig

Rashida letting loose while Cathy is hypnotised by the numbers.

ANA Cathy lets rip - with plastic and with  earth-shattering laughter
Deep concentration here for Ivor 
I really really enjoy watching how my colleagues can turn any situation into a life-giving, energising space - no matter how difficult or frustrating the situation is.  And so, after spending the greater part of today - from 9h00 to 18h00 in a school hall with reams of papers and boxes of pens - ever so wonderfully interrupted with freshly-baked scones ANAmazing chicken curry made by the Chief Chef of Capricorn, Shauna, we can only say this:

We have the most amazing partners in schools and we won't trade them in soon...

A lighter moment with Filly, Siddieka, me, Colleen and Rashida  - long after  5pm!

AnA so after all the checking and cross-checking Derrick (far right) and  Faseeg and his team  can finally smile


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