volkova wiutWhat is your educational background?
My first degree comes from the National University of Uzbekistan. It is English language teaching and educational psychology obtained in 1995. Between 1995 and 2002 I participated in a number of professional development sessions, trainings, workshops organized by different organisations in Uzbekistan. In 2002-03 I did my Masters in Trainer Development. During that year I took part in several seminars on assessment and feedback, materials development, research and publication.

What are your research interests?
A couple of years ago I was very much interested in action research as means of professional development for teachers. Now, the interests go beyond that scope and this year I formulated two more areas that I want to specifically look into. One of them is metaphors as the tool for teacher education and the other one is e-learning or blended learning as the mode of teacher professional development. Why my professional interests change is because from year to year I engage in different projects and different activities and they feed into my professional interests and sometimes I reshape the way I think about teaching and learning, and then the new research idea emerges from my experience. Definitely I am a ‘teacher education’ person but in specific areas I can say that I am still ‘drifting’.

Have you involved your students in your research?
It depends very much on what is meant by the question. Have I involved my students as co-researchers or have I involved my students as the population for data collection?

I think the answer for the second one is obviously yes. That is because my area is teacher education and my students are teachers so basically they are the major source of information for my research. One example can be that three years ago with the colleague we organized a set of seminars to explore action research, to help teachers to learn about action research. Participants of that seminar, my students became the respondents. And as co-researchers I invited two alumni Andrey Khodjayev and Anastasiya Bezbarodova to join me to look at the use of metaphors in teacher education. I am very happy that I work with them, they share my interest and my excitement and enthuthiasm about this research area. So let us see how it goes and what comes out.

What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?
One of them is definitely the course (University Certificate of Special Study in Teaching and Learning) which I helped to establish here at Westminster International University in Tashkent 11 years ago. The course is growing and it is very popular and it provides very good learning opportunities for teachers from all over the country. I am proud that it is sustainable and that the course is changing in quality. It is definitely not like it was back in 2007 when it was just validated. We try very many new ideas, techniques and I have very good team working with me, both of them are alumni from the course.
And the second achievement is three years old when I agreed to participate in the startup of the magazine for English language teachers in Uzbekistan, ALT FL. I think that most of what the magazine is these days are rooted in my ideas. This is satisfactory for myself both as a person and as a professional to see that intention and plans were implemented and the magazine is alive and we even plan to validate it with VAK this year.  Four months ago the publishing house llaunched a website for the magazine. I am afraid I did bit have enough time yet to think how it is going to function.
At the moment ALT FL is modest but the only local magazine published in English for language teachers. It has quite a good quality because we are trying to follow the international standard. It has potential, and there is future to develop the magazine further. I am happy doing that. I am doing that as my corporate social responsibility.

Do you have International work experience?
No, I did not work anywhere outside Uzbekistan formally. But I did exchange program back in 2007 where for one month I was doing trainings for teachers at the university of Adam Mitckevich in Poland. It was a valuable lesson for me that the achievements we have here in Uzbekistan were recognized in a western country. I was also involved in projects with British Council, but here in Uzbekistan.

Places you have visited and wish to visit?
I visited many countries, I have never been in the East, all my trips were to the western side of the world so probably I would want to visit China, Japan. The dream place is Peru, specifically mountain city Machu Picchu. I have been to UK, USA, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg. In all countries in Central Asia apart from Turkmenistan. I have been to India, Nepal, Russia, I have never been to Ukraine.

Favorite thing about working at WIUT:
I think I love this place because of its people. The team is vibrant and dynamic and I feel inspired and motivated and there are people whose professional advise I value most of anything else, and also I feel secured in this place and supported, so basically I think this is the best place for education for academics to work in Uzbekistan.

The most life-changing, transformative experience of your life.
In 2002 I got the scholarship from the Hornby educational trust to study in the UK. This is quite a prestigious scholarship. It is awarded for one person from Uzbekistan on the annual basis and I think that this was the truly the life changing event. I remember when I was at school I was reading the English books by Starkov, and I was looking at the pictures next to the text about Great Britain and I dreamed about seeing all these places myself. I could achieve this goal. I think this was my personal and professional transformation after which I realized I can bring value to our professional community in Uzbekistan.