Ciao, Miss Pazzaglia!

Recently, I got to sit down with the new Italian teacher at OC, Miss Pazzaglia.


Eagle Eye: I just wanted to start off by saying welcome to Oakland Catholic.

Alessandra Pazzaglia: Awe, thank you.

EE: I wanted to ask a few questions for the newspaper so the people who don’t have you for classes can get to know you because you’re new here. So, the first question is, are you excited to be teaching at OC?

AP: I am very excited. I really like the environment here so far. I love all the girls. I think you guys are really academically driven and driven outside of the classroom and I think it’s a great place to be a teacher.

EE: What made you want to become a teacher?

AP: My parents are both teachers. My father is a professor at Lehigh University and my mom is a French teacher at a local high school back where I’m from as well. I always admired their work ethic and what they did and just felt that I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to have a similar relationship with the students they had.  I wanted to be a part of an environment that helps educate young people to go out into the world and do good things.

EE: How long have you been teaching?

AP: This is my first year teaching.

EE: That’s really cool!

AP: I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) before this as a volunteer through the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. But this is my first full-time teaching position.

EE: Well, thank you for coming to Oakland Catholic to share it with us.

AP: Thank you for having me.

EE: What kind of teaching experiences did you have prior to coming to OC? Like high school and college activities that you did to get to know the job.

AP: I was a Sunday school teacher all throughout High School. I taught classes every week for four years. I also had an educational internship with an eighth grade classroom, a science classroom, with a teacher I had previously had in middle school. I got to learn from her a little bit about lesson planning, a little bit about activities, stuff like that. While in college I volunteered at the Carnegie Library, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, the Heinz History Center, a whole bunch of places that allowed me to learn how to use academic resources and how to reach out to people of certain demographics, certain age groups, and people of certain backgrounds.

EE: In a couple of words, describe your teaching philosophy.

AP: I think if I had a philosophy, it would be more that I want students to do well in my class not because they want to do it for a grade, but because they’re enjoying what they’re doing and seeing the value about learning another language and seeing how that will translate across the rest of their studies.

EE: How do you make learning fun for students?

AP: Well, I hope I do a pretty good job of making it fun. I try my best to switch up the sort of lessons we do, whether it’s including a Kahoot every once in awhile or whether it’s trying to find an interesting culture video that has to do with a lesson. I try to give the girls some space to work together and not just hear my voice all the time and give them the privilege to work with who they like.

EE: I can tell you that all of the girls here love playing Kahoot, so that’s a good way to go! Can you describe the best part of your job for us?

AP: The best part is definitely getting to speak in Italian every day. I don’t think there are many people who study the language who always have that opportunity to continue with it.

EE: Describe what you think the difference is between a good teacher and a great teacher.

AP: A good teacher does what they need to do to make sure their students know the material, that they’re doing well in class, that they’re comfortable. I think a great teacher pushes and challenges their students to go beyond that, to think about the bigger picture, about what they’re studying, and to think about how this can affect not only their future but the future of others.

EE: Why did you pick Italian as your subject to teach?

AP: I lived in Italy when I was younger and my family emigrated from there so I’ve always had close ties to my heritage, always really enjoyed the language. I have always enjoyed learning languages in general and traveling and when I went to Pitt I decided that I wanted to continue with Italian since they have a really great program. I’m happy I did.

EE: What is your inspiration for teaching? You said your parents, but just in general what inspires you to teach? People, quotes, media, stuff like that.

AP: I think media definitely inspires me a little bit because I see examples in media that I disagree with, I see some that I do agree with and I take from those and decide how I’d like to present this topic, this controversy, those ideas in class. I feel also inspired by a lot of my former teachers who helped me a lot in high school, which can be very challenging times especially as a young woman, and I look at them and see how much and hope that I can kind of do the same thing for my girls.

EE: The last question I have for you is what is your favorite teaching story?

AP: Favorite teaching story… that’s a good question. It’s not relevant to Oakland Catholic but I taught ESL for a while to a Ukrainian couple who had immigrated here recently. We were reading Catcher in the Rye and my favorite thing was when they got towards the end of the book, they started laughing at things Holden was saying because they were finally understanding the context and what was going on. It was kind of this great moment where they weren’t just reading and kind of saying ‘okay this is what this means,’ they were understanding the story and that felt really good. It was a moment that I was like ‘I’ve gotten through to somebody’ and also they’re enjoying what we’re doing beyond feeling that they have to do it.

EE: Well, thank you for sitting with me this morning and answering my questions.

AP: Yeah, of course.

EE: And again, thank you for coming to OC to teach!

AP: You’re welcome.