Maria Cecília de Amorim Lemos is a PLN gem.
She is a good friend, a mom of 2 adorable kids (whose english is already great at 6 and 9), a dedicated and inspiring teacher, and she is my interviewee for the ELT blog challenge.If you haven’t heard of it yet, the premise is simple. Ask your favorite PLN person 5 standard questions, which you’ll see below, and from there, get to know them in ways that you might not otherwise have the chance to on twitter or other social media.
NOW BACK TO CECI, our PLN star for the day :
The one thing that struck me while talking to CC was how sharp her memory was— ridiculously sharp, making me feel like a “jackie” sharp, and humbly sharp because she calls it “selective. While relating her time spent in the US, she whipped off dates, numbers, and names without even the slightest hesitation. Whereas I have a hard time remembering my favorite band on iTunes, Ceci had the full story intact:
“I was 15 when I went to Kansas, and I was ahead of school so I talked the principal into letting me be a senior. He was reluctant at first, but, even at a young age, I wasn’t one to back down easily. :) He gave me a shot at it and said that if I got anything less than a B in the first 3 weeks, then I’d have to drop back down.”
Ceci didn’t drop down, she rose up among the 11 students in her class, of the quaint 43- student high school in the quaint town of 386 inhabitants. Recife, her hometown in Brazil, has 2 million folks, so “we’re not in Recife anymore, Toto” could be a nice pun she’s never heard before….
get it? if not… hint… WIZARD o OZ
I asked her what she liked about those 11 months in the states, and she paused and said deliberately— “community— everyone knows you—- the whole town goes to school sports events, whether they be at home or away. There’s a deep sense of belonging”
For example, folks came to support her while she “went to state” throwing the javelin ! Never would I have imagined… TRUE STORY ! ask CC
Ceci stayed with a host family, and now that they’ve learned how to use skype, she chats with them almost daily. Personally, I can relate to CC because I too left home when I was a young chap to study in France for 6 months (17 years old). The bonds I made then, both host family and friends, have remained VERY strong over the years. Likewise, CC has revisited them 3 or 4 times in Kansas since.
Travelling young has certainly seemed to mark us for life
STANDARD FIVE QUESTIONS
1) If your students were to label you with 3 adjectives, what might they be?
“Crazy… Commited to them… Caring 3 Cs for Cecis!!! hono(u)rable mention…creative”
2) What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Lots of fruit, but very specific fruit… grapes, strawberries, and pineapple.
Some wine, cheese, and mustard.(have u ever asked someone— “want some cheese with that whine”?)
Lots of zero coke, and Yogurt.
Her son, Felipe doesn’t drink milk, so CC mentioned a special fermented drink I didn’t know. Oh ! And her son is “such a cute nerd”. He’ll ask her what time it is, and then immediately pop out how many minutes until the next hour.
I asked later what was unique about Gabi, her daughter, and CC laughed—- she hadn’t wanted her daughter to be boxed into girly stereotype. To this end, CC decorated her room with a jungle theme— lions and elephants and the what not. Now, Gabi is a princess and loves pink and glitter. She keeps buggin her mom for high heels, and has for 2 years, but won’t get them till she’s 14. LOL
3) If you weren’t a teacher, what might your profession be?
Ceci didn’t have a real quick answer. Her background had been in graphic design, and she did work for a number of years in advertising— doing logos. Then she told me about her love for books and said:
“For awhile, I thought about doing something with books—- book restoration, editing, or even a translator.”
4) What do you find most difficult about the teaching profession, or What has been your most difficult class as a teacher?
“If you’re really commited to teaching and love it… you put a lot of time, effort and love into it… and you’re not financially rewarded for what you put in. In Brazil it’s not easy to make a good living.”
She also talked about problems with certain students—- younger teens 13-15, students who were a bit spoiled or had very lenient parents. They can often act arrogantly in class, and not respect limits, expecting the teacher to cede to them. That doesn’t work chez CC !
5) What was the last book/movie you read/saw, and what have you seen/read way too many times?
“The last book I read is embarrassing… silly novel I flipped through quickly on the plane— i am ashamed not to even remember the name of it… author is Sophie Kinsella… can’t remember the name of the book— “Confessions of a shopaholic” author…”
Google quickly answered for us: ”The Gate Crasher“, and CC quickly said she “wouldn’t read it again, though it had been entertaining enough“.
HOWEVER, she did have a great recommendation for philosophers out there:
Sophie’s world— by Jostein Gaarder
“It’s an introduction to philosophy— makes you reflect about the world, people, why we’re motivated to act/think in a certain way…. all through the mind of Sophie.”
CC’s copy is yellow cuz is 20 years old, and been worn to the brim.
A bit more about her classes, and then her cool brother !
CC has 100 new students every semester, and quickly knows all of her students’ names, though she only sees them twice a week for an hour (she calls this “selective memory”). :) I was lucky enough to catch her presentation at IATEFL, where she talked about teaching through literature, and mentioned one of her favorite books to work with— The Five People You Meet in Heaven.
The presentation was great and TESOL France representative encouraged her to apply to do the exact same topic in Paris in November. Keeping my fingers crossed, but I have a feeling it’s in the bag… plus, CC and Sherrell have already claimed my pull-out couch for the weekend. :)
(FYI 17 students per class, 15 years old on average, B2 level)
Lastly, we talked about so many other things, but one thing she did mention was her “baby brother” who produces concerts. She says he’s a very very cool guy with a very very cool cool lady. Considering his buiness, Baby Bro will most likely be hooking his sis up with Jack Johnson VIP tickets here soon. She’s her brother’s english email polisher because he speaks alright, but CC always handles the important messages. So— she deserves to meet Jack !
I made CC promise to take a pic with Jack simply to make the rest of us jealous .
Until then, you’ll just have to imagine… well… not too hard, I guess.