Teacher Feature: Holmes English teacher Danae Dieken

Sophomore Morgan Ferch fondly remembers her former teacher, Holmes English teacher Danae. Dieken.

“Ms. Dieken is very caring and always made a deeper connection with all of her students by talking to them every day,” Ferch said. “She was very kind-hearted and cared about all of her students.”

Ferch recalled a special tradition Dieken had of taking her students on walks around the halls after long weeks, engaging them with trivia questions for upcoming tests. “Ms. Dieken is a good teacher because she has such a kind heart and cares about all of her students,” Ferch said..

Describing Dieken’s teaching style, Ferch said, “She never raises her voice unless absolutely needed and creates good bonds with her students. She listened to us and gave us options of how we can do things, and when we said we liked working in groups, a lot of our assignments were in groups from then on. A lesson in Ms. Dieken’s class was enjoyable because she would talk with the class instead of simply lecturing.”

Dieken shareds insights into her approach to teaching and the challenges she faces.

“There is a Danish concept, hygge, my grandmother taught me,” Ms. Dieken said when she explained about creating a positive environment in her classroom. “Hygge is all about coziness and cultivating a space where people feel comfortable. Physically, I try to make my space cozy with a rug and warm lighting. but I also try to do this by emphasizing the importance of respect and acceptance in how we treat each other.”

Reflecting on why her students might see her as a great teacher, Dieken humbly said, “Oh, goodness! Do they? I genuinely enjoy what I get to teach and spending time with my students. I think it makes it easier to learn from someone when you know they like you and what they’re doing.”

Recalling a cherished teaching moment, Dieken said, “Last year, my first period acting out the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. The role of Juliet was played exclusively by boys and several people pretended to be potted plants. There was so much learning and so much joy going on that day.”

Dieken explained her strategies for keeping students motivated. “I try to have clear, high expectations and acknowledge both areas for celebration and improvement. I also try to keep some routines while moving through the material quickly, so it doesn’t drag on too much.”

Among the challenges she faces as a teacher, Dieken candidly admitted, “I am the world’s slowest grader. Well, maybe not world’s, but I am not fast by any means. I take about a month to grade essays, so I think finding the time to thoughtfully respond to student writing has been one of my biggest challenges.”

Through her warmth, dedication, and commitment to student engagement, Ms. Dieken continues to make a positive impact on her students’ lives at Holmes Junior High, and for Ferch, the memories of Dieken’s caring nature and engaging teaching style will always hold a special place in her heart.

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