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Preparing for tenure

New York Teacher
Preparing for tenure
Jonathan Fickies

District 27 teachers celebrate receiving tenure at PS 377 in Ozone Park, Queens, last year.

If you’ll be eligible for tenure in the 2022-23 school year, there are steps you can take to prepare for your tenure decision as you approach the end of this school year.

Gaining tenure is an important milestone for new teachers. It means you can’t be terminated without due process, and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action that could lead to termination.

First and foremost, you need to know your tenure date. To find it, check with your payroll secretary. You’ll want to be proactive in meeting with your principal to review your work in advance of your tenure decision.

In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, which is why it is of utmost importance that your license code match the subject and the level in which you are teaching.

If you are thinking about changing your license area, be sure to speak to a UFT representative, who can help you understand all the implications of such a change.

Tenure isn’t automatically granted at the end of your probationary period. To be granted tenure, you must:

  • be on track to complete all your state certification and city licensing requirements and receive certification;
  • have a record of acceptable service during your probationary period; and
  • be recommended for tenure by your principal.

Your tenure becomes permanent only after you complete all your certification requirements.

In preparing for tenure, you’ll want to keep records and documents that reflect on your performance, such as observation reports; notes or emails to and from your colleagues, mentor, supervisors and students’ parents; and evidence of your professional contributions to your school. Add a brief explanation or context for each piece of evidence you include and be sure to show how you differentiate instruction to accommodate children with diverse abilities.

If applicable, you can document the work you’ve done for your school community, such as clubs or student groups you advise or activities in which you’ve participated.

There are many ways you can organize this information. Some teachers choose to build tenure portfolios using binders organized into subsections where they store lesson plans, student work and assessments, observation reports, certificates from professional learning activities and other records.

Other teachers recommend digital recordkeeping, using online resources to organize files. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud are all services you can use to store your work.

You should meet with your principal to review your evidence before it is due.

If you are up for tenure and your principal asks you to agree to extend your probationary period, you should contact your chapter leader or a UFT representative to help ensure that your rights are protected. We recommend every extension of probation be submitted to the UFT for an attorney from NYSUT, its state affiliate, to review before the member makes the decision to sign or not.

There are two ways to reduce your probationary period. If you were previously appointed or worked as a regular substitute in the same license and at the same school level, you can reduce the normal probationary period by up to two years. This is called Jarema Credit. It should be applied automatically, but you’ll want to check to make sure you received it.

Another way to reduce your probationary period is called “traveling tenure.” If you received tenure in one license area and elect to take an appointment in a new license area, or if you were tenured in another school district in New York State, you can reduce your probationary period by one year. It should be applied automatically, but you’ll want to check.

The UFT regularly offers tenure workshops in each district in collaboration with superintendents, who approve tenure recommendations. Check the UFT calendar for upcoming workshops. If you have any questions, contact the UFT at 212-331-6311.

Related Topics: New Teachers