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Program Preference

UFT members have specific rights regarding program preferences and professional activities. Here’s what you should know before you make your requests.

Program preferences

Each spring (or each term in some high schools), you request an assignment for the following school year (or term) on a preference sheet that your principal will hand out. (This is the same preference sheet as for professional activities.) You should indicate the subject and grade level you desire in priority order.

All teachers, but especially probationary teachers, should ask for assignments in their license area. Teaching out of license might result in an extension of probation, delaying tenure.

If you are a special education teacher, you should place in priority order the age range of special education classes you want, as well as the special education program designation you want to teach. Requests for special teaching positions (cluster positions) or compensatory time positions should be made in separate applications to your principal as they are posted and become available.

Professional activity options

Most secondary school teachers and elementary school teachers in eight-period schools are programmed for a professional period, for which they elect a professional activity.

Your principal is required to meet with your chapter leader to consult on the number of positions and the qualifications for each menu item. Each menu item should come from the list of professional activity options listed in the contract.

If your principal fails to consult, the chapter leader should file a grievance. You select your activity from a menu that is specified in Article 7 of the UFT contract. If you want to participate in an activity not listed on the menu, you can do so with the permission of your principal.

If you are assigned homeroom or a.m./p.m. bus duty, you are fulfilling the responsibilities of the professional period; you can use your professional period as a preparation period.

Professional activity procedures

If you have a professional period in your teaching program, your principal will give you a preference sheet listing the appropriate menu (this is the same preference sheet as for choosing your program). You must prioritize three of the activities and the principal will make the final decision. Selection will be based upon the established criteria for the requested activity and the availability of the item. If you are not given one of your three choices, you may select three other menu items.

If the principal assigns you to an administrative assignment (e.g., lunchroom, hall or yard duty) voluntarily or involuntarily, he or she cannot assign you to any administrative duty the following year unless you voluntarily agree to do it.

Principals must make all involuntary administrative assignments on a rotational basis in inverse seniority order. Before the end of the current school year, your principal must notify you in writing as to which professional activity you’ve been assigned for the coming school year.

If you are new to the school system or in danger of receiving a U-rating, the principal can assign you either professional development or common planning as your professional activity, regardless of your preference.


To see what the contract says about program preference, read articles 7A1, 7B1, 7C1 and 7K1.