Your to-do list
Especially for first-year teachers
- If you are a new teacher without prior teaching experience, you are entitled to mentoring. 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.
- Be sure to make a note of your file/EIS number and your employee ID number and make sure you can log in to your Employee Self-Service account.
- 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.New York State requires every new teacher to receive 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. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your chapter leader.
- 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 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. Enroll in the Welfare Fund. Then 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.
- New teachers who qualify for salary credit for prior teaching or related work experience can raise their wages significantly — up to 7.5 years of salary credit — bringing them to Step 8B. Newly hired teachers generally supply this information to the DOE by completing their prior work experience on their online application for employment. Once they are hired, this information is automatically sent to the DOE’s online salary step application. You will be notified by email to validate the experience you have listed on your application through the Payroll Portal. If you do not validate your application, the DOE Office of Salary Services will automatically place you on Salary Step 1A. If you never filled out the work experience section of the online application, you must fill out the online Salary Step Application within six months of your appointment date to receive any retroactive salary step pay. To complete the DOE’s online Application for Salary Step Placement, go to https://payrollportal.nycboe.net. After your application is processed, the DOE will send you a Certificate of Salary Status via email informing you of your salary step and anniversary date.
Staying connected with the union
- It’s easy to stay on top of the latest UFT happenings. Sign up on the UFT website. 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 school closings in the event of inclement weather. Text: UFT to 30644 from your mobile phone (standard messaging and data rates apply) or sign up online.
- Connect with the UFT on Facebook, Twitter at @UFT and Instagram at @UFTNY.
Certification and licensing
- 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.
Rights and benefits
- If you are a high school teacher, the spring term begins on Wednesday, Feb. 2. In January, you should be notified of your class assignments for the spring term, including your professional activities. Remember, you should be assigned to no more than three consecutive teaching assignments and no more than four consecutive working assignments (including professional activities). If you have any questions or concerns about your spring term schedule, contact your UFT chapter leader.
- If you are new to the DOE this fall, you should have received a welcome enrollment kit from the Teachers’ Retirement System in the mail. 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 above forms. Call TRS at 888-8NYC-TRS or the UFT at 212-331-6311 if you haven’t received this kit by early November.
- 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.
- Are you covered by a New York City health benefits plan but also covered by the noncity health insurance plan of your parent, spouse or domestic partner, or through other employment? During the Open Enrollment Transfer Period, you may also 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 on to your Employee Self-Service account.
Your union benefits
- If you are a teacher, school counselor, social worker, psychologist, occupational or physical therapist, school nurse, lab specialist or school secretary, you should have received a Teacher’s Choice allotment in your late November or early December paycheck. To use these funds, you must save your receipts for educational purchases you made or make between Aug. 1, 2021, and mid-January 2022. These receipts must accompany a Statement of Purpose/Accountability form that you return to your administrator. If you receive the Teacher’s Choice funds in your paycheck and do not file an accountability form with required receipts by the deadline, you will be obligated to give back the money to the DOE.
- As a full-time DOE employee, you may be eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Certain teacher licenses may also be eligible for the federal Title 1 loan forgiveness program. These programs may help you reduce your student debt burden. Navigating your options and applying for the right programs can be complicated. The Student Debt Relief Program is exclusively for UFT members to help guide you every step of the way. Find out more or register for an upcoming information session.
- Classroom Café, the UFT Member Assistance Program’s podcast series, focuses on an aspect of well-being for educators in every episode. This school year, the podcast has new episodes on helping kids avoid substance use, prioritizing mental wellness during the pandemic and supporting students as they make the transition to in-person learning. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you don’t miss any of the upcoming episodes.
- The UFT has partnerships 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 2022 courses will be available soon.
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 in most cases. Half of the required minimum number of observations must be conducted by Jan. 31.
- 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.
LearnUFT courses for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credit are available in the UFT's borough offices. 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's Classroom Cafe podcast is the place for brewing conversations to help public school educators succeed. The podcast, produced by the union's Member Assistance Program, offers advice from experts and tips from fellow educators on time management, self-care mindfulness, classroom climate and other topics. In the latest episode of Classroom Cafe, you'll hear about the steps you can take to stay calm and focused and develop a growth mindset. Subscribe to this UFT podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you don't miss any of the upcoming episodes.
- The UFT's mobile app is now available to download for Apple and Android phones. You can use UFT-Mobile to access special member-only discounts for apparel, gifts, travel and more. You will log in to the app using the same username and password you use for the UFT website. If you haven't yet registered for an account on the UFT website, sign up.
- 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.
- 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 1-212-701-9620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; services are provided by appointment only.
- 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. To enroll in COPE, see your chapter leader.
- The UFT has a number of professional committees, from academics, like the English Language Arts Council, to heritage, like the African-American Heritage Committee. Joining a committee allows teachers to meet with like-minded colleagues and to keep abreast of the latest developments in their areas of interest. Browse the list of committees and join.