Diandra Wilson Werner Made It Work—and Became a Teacher in the Process

Diandra Werner
Above: Diandra Wilson Werner

Diandra Wilson Werner, who earned her secondary education degree from UIS as an online student, grew up in Springfield and earned her English BA in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She took her first online class at UIS in 2013 because she wanted to become a teacher. Having three roles—taking classes, student teaching and being a mom—was tough, but she made it work:

“I devoted certain days to course work and certain days to lesson planning, and I was a mom all the time! I really appreciate that online classes allowed me to complete my education while still living my life.”

Two Projects That Stand Out for Diandra

In Diandra’s Curriculum, Planning and Assessment class (TEP 318), she had to create a test which in theory she could use someday in her own class.

She chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower for her test. She followed Bloom’s taxonomy, and included multiple choice questions, true/false, short answer, essay, and a creative performance piece.

“It took hours to finish that test,” she says. “Once I completed it, I emailed one of my high school teachers to thank her for all the time she spent making tests for us. Until you make an assessment of your own, you have no idea how time consuming it can be!”

Diandra is also proud of her candidate work portfolio—basically an online portfolio with materials from throughout her program.

A Special Professor

The UIS program has many excellent teachers, but Dr. Brian Kahn, who taught Diandra a middle school methods course and her student teaching seminar class, is amazing, she says.

“He is a teaching wizard,” Diandra says. “If Albus Dumbledore were a real person, he would be Dr. Brian Kahn. He has a way of making the mundane magical.”

As a former middle school teacher himself, Dr. Kahn really knows his field, and he will not have students do something unless it will actually relate to their classrooms.

“I had to complete a novel study for Dr. Kahn in my middle school methods class,” Diandra explains. “I did not realize at the time how valuable it would be, but once I started student teaching at the middle school level, I pulled so many resources from that project.”

Diandra does not think she would have survived student teaching without Dr. Kahn’s preparation: “I certainly would not enjoy middle level students as much!”

Future Plans

Diandra looks forward to teaching middle school or high school English. She especially looks forward to have her students outgrow her:

Yes, I will enjoy teaching them, but I also look forward to that moment when they do not have to ask me to look over something because they are confident in their work. Students are capable of more than they know, and I will enjoy that moment when they finally realize that.

She’ll be looking for work this summer, but in these first weeks after finishing the program, she plans on sleeping in and spending more time with her family!