Valentina is a teacher, teacher trainer, blogger and online moderator working at the University of Naples and has very recently been appointed Teaching Community Coordinator of the English 360 for Cambridge University Press.
Vale and I first ‘met’ back in June 2005 when we were both learning to be e-moderators on the same online course and we hit it off straight away.
It was a great course with a lot of wonderful students but Valentina, or Vale as she prefers to be called, immediately impressed. In fact, scared was my first reaction, because she was such a powerful, knowledgeable and dynamic participant in all the various exercises and tasks we had to perform.
I thought she must be a plant, put there to encourage the rest of us. But no, as I soon found out she was simply exhibiting one of her best virtues: her passion for online learning and teaching.
After the online courses, we started to work together, virtually, on eChatBoX which was an online resource for real-time moderators, which we made available on the internet.
This project and the talk we gave about it to the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in April 2006 was developed completely virtually - Valentina lives in Italy and I’m based in Germany so we did not meet face-to-face until the day before we gave our prize winning presentation on the project.
My first conference speech: we got through it with tremendous mutual support, giggling with enthusiasm for the topic.
We went on to teach together, online, in our separate countries and were a great virtual team.
Vale is always totally up to the minute on the latest online gadgets and tools and her enthusiasm has continued to drag me along and encourage my faltering steps.
We also spoke together on Blended Books in Aberdeen 2007 and worked on a chapter for the book Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators edited by Chris Kimble, Paul Hildreth and Isabelle Bourdon ISBN 1593118678 or ISBN 159311866X. Our chapter is called Gender and Moderation: The Style’s the Thing!
We also wrote various articles for online magazines e.g. Cornered-The Experiences of Freelance Business English Teachers in Europe for Humanising Language Teaching. In addition we co-wrote CD-ROMs for the Flying High series for Macmillan
Valentina has spoken at many events and the excellence of her work has been recognized by many. She inspires with, not only her enthusiasm, but also her genuine desire to help her students and colleagues.
When you are working and/or studying with her it is completely clear that she in not “in it for the money” like far too many people I have had contact with in this field.
She works extremely hard, always goes the extra mile and this is often only appreciated when you realize how much she actually has on her plate at any one time. She is like the duck floating serenely on the water but paddling like heck underneath to keep up and is a perfect example “if you want something doing ask a busy person”.
Because at the same time as all these online and face-to-face teaching activities she has found the time to bring up two teenage children.
So Valentina, on behalf of all the students, colleagues, conference delegates and teachers who have met and worked with you: you give such a lot to us all, you are an inspiring example of the best in ELT .
Sheila Vine teaches International Business Studies at University of Paderborn and is an online moderator at Cambridge Assessment. She is a freelance author of various EFL Books and CD Roms and writes a blog about books she's read or used in classes.
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