A little over month ago, I got the great privilege to present a panel at the biggest Star Wars convention in the world. (I am not exaggerating here. It really is the biggest!) Star Wars Celebration Orlando! Now presenting in itself isn’t a new endeavor for me, especially in the education field, but presenting at a convention attended by fans, families, and celebrities…..that was a first! To say this was an honor would be a gross understatement.
To give some history, I submitted a proposal in April of 2016, a year before the actual convention. I did it partially as a joke but mostly as a hope. My department last year was in the learning commons, a mix of technology, library, and meeting space, and it was a phenomenal group of individuals. You know how at work you are always wishing for that magical, perfect team that just clicks and works together so well? That was us. It wasn’t perfect, but damn was it nice!
As a team we decided to go full tilt into Star Wars Reads Day; a yearly celebration of reading hosted by Lucas Films and held in October every year. I had hopes of doing this for years before but never had the right team, school, or support to make it happen, at least not to the extent I had wanted! Last year though I had the team for it. 5 out of 7 of us were huge Star Wars fans and the other 2 were open to the idea. Right away we knew that simply mentioning it and going to some classrooms and reading wasn’t enough. So we expanded it. We incorporated all the divisions in the school (K-12), technology, literacy, art, and just had fun with it. (For more information on what he did, check out my previous posts here, and here.)
That was what I pitched to Reed Pop and Star Wars Celebration as a panel; how we used Star Wars and technology to change education in the classroom.
I added everyone from my team to the roster as presenters, crossed my fingers, and hit submit. 11 months later I found out my panel was accepted. (3 months AFTER I was supposed to know!) The rest of our team had become scattered with one in California, two of us in completely different departments, leaving 3 to the Learning Commons. It was such late notice that only myself and one other teacher were able to go.
The two of us had 2 and a half weeks to compile a 1 hour long presentation on materials and events that occurred over a year prior. Even with a few missing elements, we pieced together a pretty awesome slideshow. I also added a short video of interviews with my advisory girls. All this put together during a very busy season at school and in less than 2 weeks. We never rehearsed it really (shhh!!), just walked through the slides, but we felt confident and ready for action.
The convention itself, (The second I personally had attended and the first for my co-presenter, Dee,) was great. It had some problems here and there, but we were treated like rockstars and quickly learned the perks that came along with a presenters badge.
THIS cannot be understated! We got SPECIAL GUEST BADGES! Do you know what that means? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same badges the celebrities and their families get. Lines? Forget it. We walked right up. That six hour wait for the special convention store? HA! Nope. We got a special entrance AND check-out line. I’m betting we could have gotten onto the showroom floor early too, but I was never quite brave enough to try it.
Our panel went very well too. Besides the small hiccup of not bringing a dongle to attach our laptop to the projector (SPECIAL THANK YOU to my friend DEREK who happened to have an extra. LIFESAVER!) everything went smoothly. The staff /volunteers were so helpful and reassuring and gave us plenty of time to rehearse and test our materials. We had a good turnout of around 60 guests (which is saying something as it was scheduled the same time as the HUGE Last Jedi movie panel!) Everyone asked good questions and overall we were very well received.
For the record, there are a ton of educators who go to these geeky conventions I mention from time to time. I’m not the only one!
I could go into every detail of our presentation, OR I could just let you see it for yourself! Special THANK YOU to my awesome husband (The Kanan in the photo above) for video taping the entire thing! (Warning, it’s an hour long. Our main presentation ends at around 36 minutes. The rest is the Q&A.) I am also attaching the quick video I made of my advisory girls answering questions about Star Wars. It is super cute so you should watch!
In conclusion, I absolutely loved presenting at SWCO and honestly still can’t quite believe I got to do it! It was such a unique experience and one I will always remember.
So….who wants to present with me next time?!