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Know Your Rights

Programs and professional activities

New York Teacher

The provisions in the DOE-UFT contract regarding teaching programs and professional activity assignments give teachers a voice while providing an objective selection process.

Program preferences

Each spring, all teachers should receive a program preference sheet to indicate, in priority order, the program (including grade/subject and special education classes) they would like to teach the following school year.

Before submitting the preference sheet to the principal, teachers should make a copy for their records.

All teachers should ask for assignments in their license area; this is especially important for probationary teachers, who could have their tenure delayed if they teach out of license.

Although some preference sheets may survey teachers about their interest in cluster or compensatory-time positions, cluster positions require a posting and some compensatory-time positions require a school-based option (SBO) vote before the position can be posted. These positions require a separate application to the principal.

Teachers can file a reorganization grievance if they believe their program assignment violates the UFT contract. Reorganization grievances must be filed within two school days of notice of the alleged violation.

Professional activity options

Most secondary school teachers and teachers in eight-period elementary schools are programmed to have one or more professional activity periods. In an eight-period elementary school, teachers should be programmed for one professional activity per week. Middle and high school teachers are usually programmed for five professional activity periods per week.

By April 15, the school chapter leader and principal should meet to consult on the professional activities that will be on the professional activity menu at their school.

Here is the list of acceptable professional activity options specified in Article 7 of the DOE-UFT contract:

  1. Small group instruction (not to exceed 10 students).
  2. One-to-one tutoring.
  3. Adviser for student activities such as clubs, teams or publications.
  4. Student assessment activities (including portfolios, performance tests and Individualized Education Programs).
  5. Professional development/preparing staff development workshops and demonstration lessons.
  6. Common planning time.
  7. Conflict resolution for students.
  8. Cafeteria duty.
  9. Schoolyard duty.
  10. Hallway duty.
  11. A.M. bus duty.
  12. P.M. bus duty.
  13. Homeroom.
  14. Provision of interdisciplinary articulation.
  15. Development of multicultural curriculum.
  16. Development of program to integrate technology into the daily life of the classroom.

Each menu item on the preference sheet should come from this list of professional activity options. A school can only add a new menu item through the SBO process, but it cannot be an additional teaching period.

The professional activity menu must have at least six options, according to an arbitration decision. If teachers want to participate in an activity not listed on the menu, they can do so with the principal’s approval.

No teacher at any school level should be given a split assignment (more than one professional activity assignment) unless the school chapter conducted an SBO vote for a split professional activity assignment.

Professional activity procedures

Each spring, teachers with a professional period in their teaching program will select, in priority order, three activities from the agreed-upon menu of professional activities that they want to participate in for the following school year.

Selection will be based on the established criteria for the requested activity and the availability of the item. If a teacher is not given one of their three choices, they will be asked to select three other menu activities.

By the end of the current school year, the principal must notify teachers in writing about which professional activity they have been assigned for the coming school year.

Teachers assigned to homeroom or to a.m. or p.m. bus duty as an administrative duty at another time in the workday may use their professional activity period as an additional preparation period. Teachers who are assigned to an administrative assignment (including lunchroom, hall or schoolyard duty), voluntarily or involuntarily, cannot be assigned to any administrative duty the following year unless they voluntarily agree to it. Principals must make all involuntary administrative assignments on a rotational basis in inverse order of seniority.