“We presented at Comic Con!”
There is a bit of child-like glee in that statement, and I’m fairly sure we said it a thousand times driving home from Comic Con last night. Yeah, it’ll look nice on a CV, but the feeling of accomplishment alone is pretty awesome. We got to speak to our tribe.
I haven’t been in the classroom for two years, and that knowledge is hard to swallow some days because I just figured I’d always be in the classroom. I often forget what it feels like after a lesson goes incredibly well…there’s a legitimate high from it, and you roll over every moment, over and over again. The nodding heads, the whispers of understanding, the thinking faces, and the ones incredibly difficult to read–those are the ones you’re trying to get something resembling a reaction from and the moment you see a tiny flicker of understanding, a slight softening of the furrowed brow…success.
Adults aren’t that different from kids. They come in with an agenda of what they want to learn from a session like this. These people waited HOURS for our session and while surely they were off enjoying the rest of the con, they stayed to see US. We had the last presentation slot at 6pm. This is the slot reserved for the newest presenters or those that the organizers aren’t sure will pull an audience. It’s the pity slot. “Well, you’re new, and this sounds like it could be interesting, so we’ll see…and even if no one shows up, the experience will be good for you.” And in the world of education conferences, you take the slot they give you until you have built a name for yourself and can request something different. And that takes a minute.
But people came. I worried all day that no one would come and I tried to sell our session to everyone I sat next to in another session, everyone I stood with in line, and even those people waiting impatiently for their phones to charge while they people watched. I worried as our session time neared and people dressed as characters I couldn’t identify began making the mass exodus to the exit…who would be left to come to our sessions? Any Wookies and Daleks had left hours ago, and only a few Hufflepuff remained.
Educators often tend to go to those sessions for which they can justify having gone to their administrators. At Comic Con, sessions tend to lean toward the use of comics and graphic novels in the classroom, cosplay, a tiny bit of STEM. More than one audience member in other sessions I attended questioned how one could possibly incorporate comics and graphic novels into a very structured classroom environment, one in which what you teach and how you do it is dictated from on high and there is a price to pay when you deviate from that structure and insert anything from outside. It makes me so sad to hear that at any conference, but moreso at this one…innovation is a huge piece of Pop Culture Classroom and Comic Con… So teachers end up in sessions that they can tie directly to how they are told to teach. Sessions that stick strictly to their content area. Sessions that don’t challenge them to think outside the box for fear that they’ll bring back an idea and infect other teachers with the concept of innovation. Or they aren’t allowed to go to any conferences at all…no learning for you. Administrators often forget that their teachers are students too.
In the Harry Potter books, this was a spell used to unlock doors, windows, or other objects. It’s a real word actually, and it means “friendly to thieves.” As I worked through the slides the last few weeks it dawned on me that teachers invite others to borrow and steal their ideas, transforming them into something they can use to benefit kids.
Our hope was that our presentation might unlock some minds to the ideas we presented, the most important of which is that gifted kids need support beyond what typical learners do and creating connections to the things they enjoy is what reels them in and makes learning fun. I think our spell worked.
I was exhausted when we finally got home. I am still exhausted, but today, instead of being the presenter, I get to simply be at Comic Con, people watching, listening to authors talk about their books and projects, meeting a movie star, looking at the art I love that connects feeling to color and backstory.
I won’t dress up. My inner perfectionist won’t let me yet until my hair is longer, I am thinner, and I can create a perfect cosplay. I don’t want to insult the character by doing it wrong.
I’m still a bit on cloud nine about our presentation (hence the stream of consciousness) and the number of minds we might have unlocked…and exhausted or not, I’ll just let that carry me for a while.