What is your role as an educator and how long have you been doing it for?
I’m a sixth grade language arts teacher, the language arts department chair, and a mentor for new teachers. I have been doing that for twenty years.
Why do you feel that what you do is important?
I think it’s important because we as teachers don’t only get to teach the curriculum, we get to teach a life-long skill set of morals and values in order to produce great, productive citizens. I feel like we have a huge impact on students, and should spend a lot of time building those relationships.
What do you love most about what you do?
The work. The students. I love the students. The reason I teach is to create those personal relationships and let my students know that I truly want them to do well in school. It’s important to get to know each student individually and let them know that I may be stern, but I do care about them, and I’m not only interested in them making good grades. They are human, you know, little humans, and they have questions. Sometimes, they don’t feel like they’re being heard, and I try to make sure that they know I am listening.
It’s great to witness those moments when they finally understand something and realize why I may have been pushing them.
Some days I may come in feeling low, and having a hard day and all I need to hear is “Good morning Ms. Dagen!” and it has the power to change my whole day for the better. It is definitely powerful.
What is the best advice you ever received about your impact on education?
The best advice I received was to not downplay my contribution as an educator. A lot of times people say to me that I’m great at what I do, and I find myself wondering if they are patronizing me. Someone stopped me and told me, “Stop belittling what you do, you’re good at what you do.”
I learned that it’s ok to accept that, and run with it.
Another thing I’ll always remember is that we are all in this thing together. We’re here for the kids. We want them to do well in school, in life, and we want to make sure they know that they’re important. It’s not a competition about who the best teacher is. We have to remember that we have the chance to be life-long mentors to these students.
What advice do you have for future generations?
I think about these kids all the time, and I pray for them. I see what they go through, and they are so impressionable. I always tell them to remember that they’re important, that they matter, that they count, and they belong here too. We need your gift. We need your talents. You have something to offer this world, so be confident in what you do. Always come in with a willingness to work, even if you’re sad, and even if you don’t feel like it.
Always try to be positive, and even if you don’t accomplish it the first time, keep trying it over and over again and never give up. Keep on pushing, and eventually you’ll conquer your goal. Eventually, you’re going to have a breakthrough.
The last thing I always tell my students is to stand up for what’s right, even if you’re standing alone.
–Written by Talisa Caldwell
My name is Miriam Dagen, and I teach sixth grade Language Arts at Fox Meadow Middle School. I also served as department chair from 2008-2020. Serving students and staff in these capacities have provided many opportunities to collaborate, implement and improve students’ academic proficiency in the areas of reading, writing and communication. For instance, during collaborations with my colleagues, I was able to provide many strategies and ideas to enhance student learning. This includes implementing behavior modification techniques; creating effective lesson plans and progress monitoring assessments; and developing meaningful and attainable objectives. All of which allowed me to create enduring questions that can further my development as an educational leader. Teaching and mentoring is a true blessing, honor, and calling.