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Switching to pre-K: What educators should know

New York City plans to hire thousands more prekindergarten teachers over the next few years. If you currently hold a New York State teaching certificate and are interested in becoming certified to teach pre-K, here’s what you need to know about the process.

The question of reappointment

It’s important to note that while you may teach prekindergarten without being reappointed under an early childhood license, it is up to the discretion of your principal whether to reappoint you under the early childhood license or allow you to teach pre-K under your current license.

If reappointed, you’ll need to serve an additional two years of probation before having the opportunity to be granted tenure under your new license.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you speak with your principal and a certification specialist at the UFT before making your final decision.

Next steps depend on your certification

It’s also important to be aware of what is on your current teaching certificate and under which license you were appointed to your teaching position.

If your certification is in birth–grade 6, nursery–grade 6 or prekindergarten–grade 6, you are already certified to teach pre-K. But you may have been appointed under either a common branch license or an early childhood license.

If your current certification is in childhood education (grades 1-6), then becoming certified in early childhood education is very straightforward. You’ll need to complete just one additional three-credit course that focuses specifically on early childhood education (birth through 2nd grade), as well as the six-hour course in bullying and harassment training mandated by the new Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

At the UFT’s Courses and Workshops page (www.uft.org/courses), you’ll find information on local colleges that offer courses in early childhood education, as well as information on how to complete your DASA training. Some early childhood education courses are even available online.

After completing your three early childhood education credits and your six hours of DASA training, you’ll apply for your additional certificate through the state’s “additional classroom teaching certificate” pathway. This means that you’ll need to submit copies of both your undergraduate and graduate transcripts to the state, as well as certificates of completion from required workshops. You can use the state’s online TEACH system at www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert to apply for your certificate.

If your state teaching certificate is in a different area — for example, if you are a middle or high school teacher certified in a particular subject — and you are interested in becoming certified to teach prekindergarten, you’ll need to verify that you’ve earned 30 credits in liberal arts courses. You’ll also need six new credits (or two courses) that focus on the early childhood developmental level. In addition, you’ll need to take the multisubject Content Specialty Test (CST) and complete six hours of DASA training.

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