Gaining tenure is an important milestone. Having tenure means you can’t be terminated without due process and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action.
Teachers begin working on probation and are generally eligible for tenure at the end of their fourth year. 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;
- file an application and receive professional 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.
There are many steps you can take to prepare for your tenure decision.
- Know your tenure date. To find it, check with your payroll secretary. You’ll want to be proactive in meeting with your principal in advance of your tenure decision to review your work.
- Confirm 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.
- Keep records and documents that reflect on your performance, such as observation reports; notes or emails to and from your colleagues, mentor, supervisors and 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 to accommodate children with diverse abilities.
- 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 record-keeping, using online resources to organize files. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud are all services you can use to store your work.
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.
There are two ways to reduce your probationary period:
- If you 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, and you should apply if you think you are eligible. The application form is online.
- 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 should apply to have your probationary period reduced by one year.
If you think you are eligible for either of these options, or have any questions, please contact your UFT borough office. The UFT offers tenure workshops in its borough offices. Check the UFT events calendar for details.