By: Aideliz Miranda
March 27, 2012
Profile and historical format
Every morning, 22 high school students met at the small, crowded but welcoming classroom. This is not the common public classroom that you find; the walls, free of adornments, highly contrast with the most updated interactive whiteboard system installed in the front of the classroom.
As the classroom layout includes four tables and 12 desks, you will see students working independently, in small groups, or in large groups. In this learning environment, Yasiri M. Ortiz, a student from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM), is doing her teaching practice.
Driven by her desire to help people and her passion for mathematics, Yasiri decided to study Mathematics Education at the UPRM. “My aspiration of becoming a teacher is because I want to teach young people in a way that they can understand and even enjoy mathematics. I want to change the stereotype that math is the most difficult subject,” Yasiri said.
This cheerful young lady is deeply committed to her profession. She is always caring and respectful to her students. She makes a determined effort to be an exemplary role model to her students.
When asked about her experience in the teaching practice, she said: “It’s amazing! I had a lot of situations, good and bad, but the bad ones don’t discourage me. On the contrary, they motivate me even more because I know I can help my students to improve themselves. Now I know that this is what I really want to do in my life!”
The teacher preparation unit at the UPRM is known as PPMES (in Spanish Programa de Preparación de Maestros de Escuela Secundaria). According to PPMES, UPRM integrates teacher preparation into disciplinary departments either through specific programs such as Physical Education or augmented disciplinary programs such as the teacher certification curricular sequence.
The principal purpose of PPMES is to offer the curricular sequence in accordance with the norms and regulations of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico (DEPR).
In an interview, Dr. Grisel Rivera, the administrative coordinator of the PPMES, said: “The PPMES main goal is to prepare professional educators, that means that our candidates have a mastery of their discipline conceptual content as well of pedagogical content. At UPRM, PPMES is preparing highly qualified teachers, which is demonstrated each year through the high scores that our candidates achieved in the PCMAS”.
The PCMAS are the Teacher Certification Tests of the DEPR administered by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB). Every candidate for the teacher certification must take and pass the tests with the minimum acceptable score established by the DEPR.
Saturday March 17, 2012, Yasiri and hundreds of teacher candidates took the PCMAS Fundamentals Competencies test during the morning and the PCMAS Professional Competencies test for Secondary Level during the afternoon. Also, Saturday March 24, 2012, Yasiri took the PCMAS Mathematics Specialized test.
“All PCMAS tests were offered at our campus at the Business Administration (ADEM) building,” Dr. Grisel Rivera said. The large and bright classrooms with comfortable room temperature and the large student desks at the ADEM building were suitable for the lengthy tests. Besides some minor logistics problems, the PCMAS ran smoothly during each day that they were offered.
According to the CEEB, the first test examines candidates in the areas of sociology, humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, history, computer literacy, English as a second language and Spanish. The second test examines candidates in the areas of philosophical foundations of education, human growth and development, and social and psychological foundations of education, as well as teaching methodology and assessments. The specialization test depends on the discipline in which the candidate desires to be specialized.
“The first two PCMAS tests were difficult due the amount of knowledge that was evaluated and the length of the tests. Each test took about four hours,” Yasiri said.
After passing the PCMAS test and graduating next December, Yasiri plans to obtain the teacher license given by the DEPR. Also, she is considering pursuing a master’s degree either in education or pure mathematics.
This semester, for some students it is just a teaching practice, but for Yasiri, this experience reaffirmed her desire of becoming a math teacher.
“It is my hope that all my students will feel comfortable in my classroom so in the future they become good citizens,” Yasiri remarked.
• PPMES official website (http://www.uprm.edu/portada/ppmes/ppmes_mision.php)
• PCMAS College Board official website (http://oprla.collegeboard.com/ptorico/pr/program/pcmas.html)
• Dr. Grisel Rivera (Administrative coordinator of PPMES)
• Yasiri M. Ortiz (Math student-teacher)