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Taking care of your certification

New York Teacher

If you’re like many new teachers, you’re working under an Initial, Internship or Transitional B teaching certificate that will eventually expire. With the school year half over, now is a good time to take stock of the progress you’re making toward your professional state certification.

If you haven’t already done so, register on the New York State Education Department website for a TEACH online account. This will enable you to check which certificate you hold, when it expires, which certification requirements you have already met and which you still need to meet.

First-year teachers should consult a recent Department of Education email that clearly identifies individual appointment, licensing and certification details, including codes and dates. Otherwise, ask your school secretary to confirm the license under which you were appointed.

If you’re working under an Initial certificate, you have five years from the issue date to complete the requirements for a professional certificate. You’ll need to show that you’ve earned a master’s degree and that you’ve completed three years of paid, full-time teaching experience.

Your teaching experience can be in any public or approved nonpublic school, and in any grade or subject within the developmental level of your certificate — and the three years don’t all have to be in New York City schools. Any teaching you did under an alternative certificate also counts. Substitute teaching, as long as it was done in the same developmental level of your certificate, counts as well.

If you want to claim teaching experience as a substitute teacher or in a district beyond New York State, you will have to submit written verification with a short letter on district letterhead. Get these letters as soon as possible and while people who knew you are still reachable.

In your first year of teaching, you should receive mentoring by an experienced teacher. It’s your mentor’s responsibility to log 40 hours into the DOE mentoring system, and you should see this reflected in your online TEACH account at the State Education Department website.

You’ll also need to complete the new six-hour anti-bullying course mandated by the Dignity for All Students Act — and, if you haven’t taken those classes already, state-mandated courses on child abuse identification and school violence prevention.

Since it takes time to process your application, it’s a good idea to apply for your professional certificate as soon as you finish all the requirements, or at least six months before your certificate expires. You must apply and pay the fee online at the State Education Department website.

Then you should mail your official sealed transcripts and other supporting documents together with your $100 application fee (reduced to $50 if you have a college recommendation) to the New York State Education Department, Office of Teaching Initiatives, Room 5N-EB Education Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12234. It’s recommended that you make copies of everything before you send it. Mail your documents certified return receipt requested.

For help with certification issues, call TeacherLine at 1-212-253-8800; an educational liaison at your UFT borough office; or a certification specialist with the UFT Certification Services Department at 1-212-420-1830.