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New Teacher To-Do List

Especially for first-year teachers

  • Keep note of your DOE file/EIS number and your employee ID number and make sure you can log in to your Employee Self-Service account on the DOE website. You’ll also need your Employee Identification Number or your EIS number to log into the DOE’s payroll portal, where you can enroll in direct deposit, see your pay stubs and more.
  • Be sure to carefully review and save the email you received from the DOE’s Department of Human Resources, which records all your current information concerning your New York City license/appointment and New York State certification. Most important, check that it is accurate. If not, be sure to follow the DOE’s instructions right away to correct any errors in the record.
  • Need a form or application? The UFT website has a wealth of useful forms — UFT, DOE and even New York State forms and applications. Go to UFT Forms to access or print forms pertaining to leaves, salary, Workers’ Comp, special education and much more.
  • Have you enrolled in the UFT Welfare Fund? The Welfare Fund provides your prescription drug, dental, optical and other benefits that supplement your New York City health plan — but this is separate from your health plan enrollment. Follow the instructions for sending in the required documentation. Save receipts for any prescription drugs you purchase so you can be reimbursed once your enrollment is processed. At the same website, you have access to all benefit information including ordering an optical certificate, dental forms and lists of our participating providers.
  • If you are a new teacher without prior teaching experience, you are entitled to school-based mentoring by an experienced teacher in your subject area so you get the support you need, ideally from the first day of school. The mentor should be an experienced classroom teacher, coach or lead teacher, ideally in your subject area. The mentor will provide a minimum of two periods a week of confidential, non-evaluative and nonjudgmental support. If you have not been assigned a mentor, speak with your chapter leader or UFT district representative. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your chapter leader.
  • If you are new to the DOE, you should have received a welcome enrollment letter from the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) of the City of New York, which will provide you with a guaranteed retirement allowance upon meeting certain age and service requirements. You must complete the enrollment form and a Designation of Beneficiary form and return them to TRS. You must include proof of your date of birth when you file the forms. You can complete the forms online at the TRS website.
  • Start your personal professional file, either in hard copy or a digital folder, that includes your official DOE appointment/placement email, your fingerprint clearance and your state certification email.

Staying connected with the union

  • Make note of your UFT member ID number located on your UFT membership card or in your UFT.org account. You'll need it when you call the union or sign up for union events and services.
  • It’s easy to stay on top of the latest UFT news. Sign up to receive UFT emails. Throughout the year, we send email to members about important information, including breaking news and alerts about union campaigns. You’ll also begin to receive the monthly New Teacher Bulletin by email.
  • Sign up for UFT text messages and be among the first to be notified about key information such as pivoting to remote in the event of inclement weather or breaking news. Text: UFT to 86366 from your mobile phone (standard messaging and data rates apply) or sign up online.
  • It’s important that the union have your up-to-date mailing address, email address and phone numberso you receive important information about your union rights and benefits. You can update your address on the “My Account” tab on the UFT website or in the UFT Member Hub.
  • Connect with the UFT on Facebook, Twitter/X at @UFT , TikTok at @uftny and Instagram at @UFTNY.

Certification and licensing

  • Make sure you’re on track with your certification requirements. If you have fulfilled your state certification requirements or are close to doing so, remember to apply online for your certificate as soon as possible. Processing your certificate will take at least 16 weeks. Log in to your TEACH account on the New York State Education Department website to check on the status of your application and to see if NYSED has requested additional documentation from you. Read more about teacher certification requirements
  • If you have fulfilled your state certification requirements or are close to doing so, remember to apply online for your professional certificate. No certificate is issued automatically! Check your TEACH online account for the documents you need to submit together with your $100 application fee (reduced to $50 if you have a college recommendation). Make copies of everything before you send it in. Mail your packet "Return Receipt Requested" to the New York State Education Department and file the receipt with the copies of your paperwork. Since it takes time to process your application, it's a good idea to complete all your requirements early and apply at least six months before your time-limited certificate expires. Read more about teacher certification.

Rights and benefits

  • As a new teacher, you should be thinking about tenure. First, be sure you know your tenure date by asking your payroll secretary or principal. Next, confirm that your license code matches the subject and level in which you are teaching. In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, and those pieces of information must match. Learn about the tenure timeline and how to prepare your portfolio at a tenure workshop, which you can find on the UFT events calendar at uft.org/events. If you don’t see a tenure workshop scheduled, ask your chapter leader when the next one will be.
  • Each spring, teachers request classroom assignments through the program preference process, indicating what they would like to teach in order of priority for the following school year. If you’re a K–6 teacher, you should receive a preference sheet from your administration by mid-March; if you’re a high school teacher, you should receive it by the end of April. As a probationary teacher, you should ask for an assignment in your license area; your tenure can be delayed if you teach out of license. Before submitting your preference sheet to your principal, make a copy of it for your records.
  • Are you covered by a New York City health benefits plan but also covered by a non-city health insurance plan of your parent, spouse or domestic partner, or through other employment? During the fall transfer period, you may enroll in the Health Benefits Buy-Out Waiver Program, which allows eligible city employees to receive an incentive payment for waiving their city health coverage. To enroll, log into your NYCAPS employee self-service account.
  • Did you recently get married, have a baby or add or drop eligible dependents? To cover new dependents, update your personal information. Both the UFT and the DOE require you to submit supporting documentation (such as a marriage license) if you are adding beneficiaries. Notify the UFT Welfare Fund by filing a Change of Status Form electronically within 30 days of the event. To notify the DOE, log on to your Employee Self-Service account.
  • Don't forget to designate your beneficiaries. Your designated beneficiary with the Teachers’ Retirement System is entitled to your accumulated pension contributions with interest, any Tax- Deferred Annuity contributions and possibly a death benefit. It’s important to keep your beneficiary information up to date with the UFT Welfare Fund, the Department of Education and TRS as your life situation changes (for example, if you get married or divorced or have children).
  • Enroll in the Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) program. It’s a good idea early in your career to start making voluntary contributions to a Tax-Deferred Annuity, which allows you to save additional money for your retirement. Taxes are deferred on your TDA contributions until you withdraw the money as income.
  • If you or your partner is about to give birth or you are planning to adopt, you can attend one of the union's free, virtual Pathways to Parenthood workshops to learn about your paid parental leave benefits. Visit our Parental Leave section of the website to learn more about this benefit and to register for an upcoming workshop. 
  • Check the Know Your Rights section of the UFT website for more information about union rights and protections. 

Salary and finances

  • You can access your W-2, 1127 waiver and 1095-C tax forms online on the NYCAPS Employee Self Service web page. If you asked for electronic delivery of your tax forms, you should have received them via email before the end of January. Otherwise, they were mailed to your address on file at the DOE.
  • As you prepare to file your taxes, remember that eligible educators can deduct from their federal income taxes up to $300 of unreimbursed expenses for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment and supplementary materials they use in the classroom, according to the IRS. The educator expense deduction is an “adjustment to gross income” so you can use it whether you use the standard deduction or itemize. To be eligible, you must work for at least 900 hours during a school year at a school that provides elementary or secondary education as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide. You should keep documentation, such as receipts or canceled checks, for any deductions. If you are not sure whether you are entitled to a deduction, or you have any other questions, consult a tax adviser.
  • New teachers may qualify for salary credit for prior teaching or related work experience, which can raise their wages significantly — up to 7.5 years of salary credit — bringing them to Step 8B. Newly hired teachers must supply this information to the DOE by indicating their prior work experience on the online salary step application at www.nycenet.edu/salapps. If you do not submit the salary step application, you will automatically be placed on the lowest salary step, 1A. You must fill out the salary step application within six months of your appointment date in order to receive any retroactive salary step payment. After your application is processed, the DOE will send you a certificate of salary status via email informing you of your salary step and equate (anniversary) date.
  • The UFT Pension Department is holding a virtual UFT retirement workshop for new members on March 6 at 4:15 p.m. Attendees will learn about their defined-benefit pension plan, the tax-deferred annuity program, the current time frame for retirement and tips for maximizing retirement savings. Early preparation is the key to a comfortable retirement, so keep an eye out for your email invitation to this workshop.

Observation and evaluation

  • If you are a teacher who has not yet been granted tenure, you can expect to receive one formal observation and three informal observations this school year. (If you received a rating of Ineffective or Unsatisfactory for the 2022-23 school year, you will receive one formal and four informal observations.) Half of the required minimum number of observations must be conducted by Jan. 30. Read more about teacher evaluation
  • Feedback (in the form of in-person conversations, in writing, via email or other forms of communication) for any observation that will be used for evaluative purposes must be provided within 10 school days. You should expect to receive a Teacher Observation Report within 30 days of the observation. If you have any questions or concerns about observations, contact your UFT chapter leader.

Professional development

  • LearnUFT courses for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credit are available in the UFT's borough offices and online. Browse the course listings and register. (Remember that you need to begin collecting CTLE hours only once you have earned your professional certificate.)
  • The UFT has a partnership with local colleges and universities to offer reduced-cost master’s degree programs and graduate coursework that can be applied toward a salary differential. Registration information for spring 2023 courses will be available soon at www.uft.org/courses.

More union benefits

  • Are you concerned about paying back your student loans? Luckily, you don’t have to face this burden alone. The Student Debt Relief Program, an exclusive member benefit brought to you by the UFT, runs webinars every month to inform you about federal loan forgiveness programs and help you navigate your options. The new deadline to apply for potential relief on your federal student loans via the income-driven repayment account adjustment is now April 30, 2024. The Student Debt Relief Program is exclusively for UFT members to help guide you every step of the way. Register for an introductory webinar to learn more.
  • Did you know that the UFT’s Member Assistance Program provides short-term counseling at no cost to in-service UFT members by professionally trained mental health staff? MAP is confidential, professional and supportive. For more information, call MAP at 212-701-9620 or email mapinfo@uft.org; services are provided by appointment only.

Miscellaneous

  • If you plan to resign from the DOE, you must give 30 calendar days' notice by submitting a letter of resignation. According to the DOE, any employee who resigns without providing 30 calendar days' notice will be given a problem code in their personnel file that will flag them for review should they wish to return to teaching in the future.
  • Do your students need help with their homework? Tell your students and their families that they can get free homework assistance by calling the UFT’s Dial-A-Teacher hotline at 212-777-3380. The hotline is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday when school is in session. Dial-A-Teacher staffers are licensed classroom teachers who are qualified and experienced in all subject areas. They can handle questions in 10 languages: Armenian, Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese and Fukanese), English, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.
  • It's a good time to think about contributing to the UFT's Committee on Political Education, or COPE. Your COPE dollars go toward lobbying state and city legislators to shape the laws, budgets and teaching and learning conditions that our members and our public schools need to succeed. You can choose to have your donation automatically deducted from your paycheck. Learn more about COPE and how to enroll