Today was launch day. No, I'm not the newest British astronaut. This was a Brilliant Club launch at my university - Royal Holloway - to meet the latest pupils I would be teaching.
The day started with a briefing in Crosslands Cafe before we tutors went off to meet our pupils and some of the teachers that accompanied them on their visit here. Mine were so early arriving at RHUL that by the time I arrived to meet them, they were already on their campus tour. The tour guide's phone was switched off as it was suggested I find them and meet them. I have to say that secretly I was a tiny bit pleased as I know what a slog that hill on campus can be and I'd only just puffed my way up it ;-)
After being shown around, we had an introductory talk in the auditorium and I handed out the folders to my girls. Yes, 12 lovely girls this time for me. I know about girls you see - I have 3 of my own! :)
After the intro, we headed off for the first set of tutorials. My group were split into 2 x 6 and the first set of girls arrived. We got some good conversations going quite quickly and I think they quite enjoyed my 'spot the terrorist' game. It started some small debates. Yeah, that sounds kind of odd but trust me, it was all in the name of philosophy. It was when one of them said "we're learning terrorism" that I gulped a bit. I hope MI5 weren't listening in (I'm sure they are monitoring my Internet traffic now that I've been looking up terrorists online and downloading information on them).
Hang on...a black sedan is pulling in our drive....oh, it's ok, just a taxi for next door...but why is he talking into his wrist like that...?
First session completed and my second set of girls arrived. They needed a tiny bit more coaxing to speak up. I think once they realised there was no hiding or being quiet and that I would ask any one of them a direct question, they soon all joined in.
After the tutorials, we headed off for lunch. The rooms were packed with young people so I sat on the floor with a couple of teachers from another school and we had a chat about the Brilliant Club, what they did and what I was doing. Everyone was friendly - teachers and tutors alike - and lots of diverse conversations were happening which made it a very interesting experience above and beyond the tutorial element. In fact, I met another tutor who has a shared interest in WWII history so we've swapped details. Who knew right?
After lunch there was an opportunity to sit and chat to the lead teachers at my new school. It gave us an opportunity to get to know each other a bit and also discuss more about what the pupils would be doing in terms of learning and assessment. Naturally I ran over time a bit. I do enjoy finding out about people.
Finally, it was the close of the day. The time seemed to have flown past.
Everyone there did a great job - from student ambassadors walking groups around like tour guides, through to RHUL outreach personnel getting everything ready for us all, through to the lovely Brilliant Club staff who are always helpful and smiling (not in a manic way though).
Next week I have my first 'in-school' tutorial which I'm looking forward to. Most of my pupils have already explored the VLE and sent me a message. That's why I'm on my PC at this time of night (it's 10.30pm in case you're wondering).
The pupils have a lot of work to do but hopefully they will engage with it, enjoy it, learn and, ultimately, pass the course and celebrate their achievement in a graduation ceremony at another highly selective university in the UK.