Being non-tenured basically means you're on probationary status for the first four years before your full due-process union protections kick in. For your first three years, you can be dismissed for any non-discriminatory reason, and the district need not give you that reason. In your fourth year, however, they must provide their specific reasoning, which makes it easier to challenge a dismissal. For this reason, school districts are actually encouraged to dismiss poorly performing teachers in the first three years instead of waiting, which means if you've made it to the fourth year without any previous evaluative or disciplinary issues then there's a good chance you'll earn tenure.
Furthermore, the school board is required to notify you whether you're being rehired or dismissed the following year at least forty-five days prior to the end of the current school year.
Something else that's good to know is that thanks to new rules for tenure under the PERA law, you're tenured after only 3 years if you receive 3 consecutive annual evaluations of "Excellent."
Finally, if you ever have any issues or questions within those first four years, never hesitate to contact someone in the union for guidance or advice. You're still a member, after all.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.