Eland teaching English at WBHS

Her teaching philosophy gives students choices


NEW Media recently chatted with Brianna Eland, a new English teacher at Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School.

Q: What is your work/education background?

A: This is my first year teaching. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this past May where I studied English and math education. UW-Whitewater gave me experience teaching at Ronald Reagan High School in Milwaukee, Marshall Middle School in Janesville and East Troy High School, which is in East Troy. I also worked in the tutoring center at UW-Whitewater, where I tutored students one-on-one in math and writing, and I was a supplemental instructor for an English class designed for struggling first-year students. During these experiences, I gained a lot of knowledge about working with high-need students.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I spent my whole life until college in Green Bay. My family still lives there, while my fiance and I just moved to Pulaski. I really enjoy knitting and spending time with my family, especially my youngest brother, who is 8.

Q: What’s your basic philosophy for teaching?

A: My teaching philosophy is student-centered. I believe that people learn better if they are given choices and understand the importance of what they are doing. I also want my students to feel safe. That means safe to express themselves and safe to fail without worrying about their grades. All of these beliefs lead to me trying to be transparent with the students.

Q: Is the student/teacher population one you’ve worked with in the past or is it bigger/smaller?

A: This school is smaller than what I am used to. My high school graduating class is about the size of this school.

Q: What brought you to WBSD? Were you familiar with the area?

A: I am not familiar with the area. I did not know if this job would be the job for me until I came for the interview. I walked in nervous and left excited about the community. The building and the people have a great sense of family and community that were very important to me. I also really enjoy the small size of the school because I enjoy getting to know all the students very well.

Q: Where do you live and what do you like about the location?

A: I live in Pulaski, which is too far away for me. Pulaski is a small town and really does not have many exciting things going on. My fiance and I are hoping to move to Shawano very soon.

Q: Who was the inspiration for your becoming a teacher?

A: I’ve been helping my peers learn in class from a young age. In elementary school, I would finish my math homework very early, and my teacher would have me help other students. I was always told I would make a great teacher because I was great at helping the other students. Then, in high school, I had one really great English teacher and a not-so-great one. The really great teacher developed a love of literature in me and helped me understand how powerful writing and reading can be. I’ve always been a reader, but she really expanded my love. She was also flexible in her teaching and let us have choices in how we learned. Then, the other teacher tore my confidence and my love for English down. I know English class is not a favorite for people because of similar experiences, and my great and not-so-great teachers made me want to share my love English and build student confidence in the subject. I did not want students to lose a love of reading and writing because of a bad teacher.