29 jun The importance of being generous – a homage to Claudio Azevedo
June 11 was a very sad day for everyone at Casa Thomas Jefferson. It was the day our dear friend and colleague Claudio Azevedo passed away. He had been working with us for almost 32 years. In fact, we started together back in 1986, at the same branch. We worked hard together but had a lot of fun as well, when the Friday evening groups were full and we taught until 10 p.m. Of course, we always went out afterwards to celebrate the beginning of the weekend. We were young then, and there weren’t classes on Saturdays at that time!
Throughout these years, we grew together in the institution and both moved to leadership positions. Besides, we went to a lot of BRAZ-TESOL and Tesol Conferences, and one Iatefl conference, together. Claudio was liked by everyone in the institution and was adored by his students. I don’t think there was ever a student who didn’t enjoy having classes with Claudio. He was also a wonderful actor. Not only was he the lead actor in many plays at school, but for many years he also taught a theater course. He lived and breathed Casa Thomas Jefferson and dedicated his whole career to the institution in many different roles – teacher, actor, materials developer, course supervisor, and branch manager.
However, Claudio’s reputation went way beyond Casa Thomas Jefferson. He was famous for his award-winning blog, Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals. Everywhere I went, when I mentioned that I worked for Casa Thomas Jefferson, people asked me if I knew Claudio. Everyone in ELT who follows blogs knew who Claudio was and was a big fan. Not only was he a creative and experienced materials developer, but he was also a fabulous presenter. His workshops in BRAZ-TESOL conferences were always packed, and people stayed in long lines way ahead of time to guarantee their spot. He was invited to present about his blog in Argentina, Malta, Lithuania, and just recently, Cambodia. He also gave many interviews about his blog, one of them for Tesol France, among others. This year, he won the Best English Education Site of the Year award, and last year his blog was among the Top 100 ESL Blogs.
Very few people know how it all started, though. It was back in 2008 when we had some training on new technologies and one of the topics was blogs. Participants had to create a blog as part of the training, and Claudio decided to take advantage of his passion for and incredible knowledge about movies to create a blog with short movie segments targeting specific grammar points, with very practical worksheets. What started as just a course task became a real passion for Claudio, who posted a new activity every single week for ten years. This is not an easy accomplishment. It is challenging for someone who works full-time as Claudio did to keep up with this commitment for so long. Can you imagine how many movies he watched to create the hundreds of activities available, not to mention the extra attention he had to pay to identify the right segment for the right grammar point? He also started another very popular blog, Movie Segments for Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups, and through his blogs, Claudio made many ELT friends around the world, some of whom contributed with ideas and even wrote guest posts.
Claudio made ELT professionals’ lives so much easier by curating the movie segments and creating the activities. All the work is already done and the blogs are so rich and varied that we can always find something for every class, no prep time required. What is even more impressive is that his blog has always been free. He could have moved on to a paid blog – and there is nothing wrong with this because we need to value our work. However, he chose not to. He chose to be generous and make it possible for every teacher around the globe, regardless of their financial resources, to use his creative activities in their classes. His blog is a true gift to all of us.
Claudio is not with us anymore, but his legacy is. I hope many more teachers take advantage of this rich resource for many, many years to come. Claudio was selfless, extremely generous, and I dedicate this post to him and his contribution to English Language Teaching.
P.S. The picture above was taken in our last Teachers’ Day party. That day, Claudio was determined to take a photo with all his friends. It was our last picture together.