Teachers Finding Self-Confidence for Becoming Digital Creators

In my daily job in education, I find the most talented and vibrant community of educators. Their very specific skills range from making, sometimes with hardcore engineering skills, to arts, with those amazing strokes of light and hope. Many, though, lack self-confidence. They perceive themselves as just one more in the crowd. Their talent is seen as ordinary, something that has been with them for so long that they don’t even notice the distinguishing features of their own character and practice. I’ve seen many of them go unnoticed by peers and even by educational leaders. They go about their profession with dedication, they show care for their students, they go the extra mile in class planning, but still, it is as if those very special talents or skills are invisible to the ordinary eyes.

I always feel that one of my roles when I see those hidden-introverted-super-talented educators is for them to realize that besides using the gift they have and develop throughout their careers, they should share their ingeniousness with the educational community at large. Not only because we will all profit from a fresh perspective to our practice, but also because it feels good to be valued, to be recognized. It fuels our self-confidence to be praised, to see others using our ideas. It gives us invaluable feedback, creating a virtuous cycle of professional development.

So, today, I want to introduce you to one of those cases of silent work that should be shown to the world, for her art is amazingly well-thought, with a pedagogically-sound approach to teaching. Cleide’s strokes on paper and digital are so colorful and passionately created that we can easily relate to. Cleide works at Casa Thomas Jefferson, the binational center I work for, and I’ve known her since I started there. On a hard-to-find materials era, when we still had to cut images from magazines, she was always my savior. I’d ask her to draw some images for my classes for action verbs. In 2 minutes, she would have handed in to me like 10 wonderful sketches with her characters, and would say, “oh, when you are done, just throw them away”. What?! Throw them away?! I’d laminate those drawings and carefully add to my files.

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Fast forward fifteen years. Cleide has still that sweet smile and humbleness that strike me. And I keep poking her, sometimes more, sometimes less. I don’t want to overwhelm her, but I want her to see her full potential in evidence. I want her to see her teaching and artistic virtues and worthiness. We’ve gone far. I, in my role of encourager, and Cleide as a believer. A trust that was built in friendship and a professional relationship. She started with taking an online course we offered, Web Tools for Educators. In her final project, she had no choice. All the others did, but with her, I was prescriptive. I had something in mind and there was no disappointment. She did the cuttest paper video ever!

Then, the challenges took another shape, more complex and provocative. Cleide, once again, lived up to them and created a character that was incorporated into her lessons, Super Duper. He was part of many adventures, many grammar points, many fun topics. He had family, friends, a crush, an iguana as a pet. I think I don’t have to tell you how engaging Cleide made her classes with the amazing stories of Super Duper. It got to a point that Super Duper had a life of his own. It was time for the next big thing. I pushed, Cleide embraced it. She published her first digital book all by herself!

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Super Duper


Cleide would have her ups and downs, sometimes her lack of confidence stroke back. I would respect her breaks. Well, I was in one of those quiet periods, not bugging her, when she contacted me. She told me that she saw a teacher working on WordPress, and she was working on revamping her blogs. Yes, blogs! She has 3! So, she visited me in the school branch I was, we spent some time together. She wanted some tips on how to improve the look and feel of her newly migrated blogs. She wanted them to look professional, easy to navigate, cool for the users. We both left reenergized. I was glad to see the artistic Cleide back and she had the support and push she needed to carry out her vacation project.

Now, I’m honored to show you the result of Cleide’s numerous hours working on the blog and the number of years she’s been working on and collecting those handmade treasures.


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Throwing back to you, who would be the Cleides in your school? How can you show their work to the world?

I plea for all of us to praise and value the many talents our friend educators have that should be part of the World Educational Heritage.


Carla Arena

Carla Arena is a social entrepreneur, educator by choice. She left a promising career in the public service to become an English teacher and got the chance to take roles she could have never imagined, such as site content manager at the Binational Center she worked for, Casa Thomas Jefferson. There, she was also the Supervisor of Educational Technology, and more recently Coordinator of Innovation and Technologies. Carla is a Google Innovator and educational technology consultant. Currently she innovates in her own business, AMPLIFICA (https://amplifica.org).

  • Thelma Peres
    Posted at 14:52h, 30 junho Responder

    Cleide is one of the most talented, engaged and committed teachers I’ve met along my 38 years in the profession. She has no idea how precios she is to all of us around her! My idol!!!!

    • Carla Arena
      Carla Arena
      Posted at 14:40h, 02 julho Responder

      I know, Thelma! I feel the same, and that’s why I felt like sharing to the world her amazing work.

  • Lúcia Carneiro
    Posted at 17:36h, 04 julho Responder

    Cleide is a beatiful person. She has a way about her that even if you do not know her very well, you can see that she is special. I wish you all the best on your new interprise. Super Duper rocks!!!

  • Isabela Villas Boas
    Isabela Villas Boas
    Posted at 19:00h, 08 julho Responder

    Dear Carla,
    You were a great mentor to Cleide and helped her shine and show her talent to everyone. Congratulations to you and to her!

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