2017 Blackboard Award Honoree: Inna Djaniants

Inna Djaniants; photo by Marcus Photography

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2017 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Inna Djaniants
Grade 1, Dual Language
P.S. 20 – Anna Silver School

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as
a teacher.

I have been working with English language learners since I started teaching in 2008. One of my biggest challenges is supporting my students in English language acquisition. Many have basic English vocabulary, others have no background in the language or culture, and some are working on building academic language. On the other hand, one of my biggest joys is seeing how language comes into fruition with my students. Some begin the school year speaking no English and by the end of the year they are raising their hands, eager to participate in class discussions.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

One of the things I am proud of is the improvement my students have shown. For example, in the beginning of the school year, students would write 3-4 lines per page for ten minutes and now they are writing 6-9 lines a page for 20 minutes. A common word used in my classroom is “challenge.” We do not approach a challenge with fear, instead we approach it with confidence and eagerness to tackle it. My students love when I challenge them and they encourage each other to work through the challenge.

Elizabeth Willen of the Hechinger Report, Inna Djantiants, and John Hurley of Family Media at the 2017 Blackboard Awards. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

With my background in ESL, I have provided professional development to teachers who have English language learners in their classrooms. Not only did teachers gain knowledge in how to work with limited English proficient students but they also began implementing strategies in their classrooms to support their students.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated
and hard-working educator?

My students are the reason I come to school every morning. Watching a 6-year-old get excited about solving tricky words when they’re reading or sharing a fiction story they had just written puts a smile on my face. I push myself to be the best teacher I can be because I expect my students to be the best they can be.