Legal Studies teachers would be well aware of the amazing services provided by the Legal Information Access Centre located in, and part of, the State Library of NSW. For all Preliminary and HSC topics you can find a vast array of information to support teaching of the topics for both new and experienced teachers. Research guides and publications have helped teachers and students stay up to date with legal developments. In the past, LIAC has been funded externally and this funding is no longer available. While support for Legal Studies teachers and students will be provided by more generalist services offered by the library, the research guides will no longer be updated. The LIAc website states: "Specialist support for HSC Legal Studies students and teachers will not continue after 27 June 2014, but will be integrated into the Library’s HSC support programs."
LIAC publishes the Hot Topics magazines which focus on one issue found in the syllabus (e.g. Shelter) and provide a range of articles with updated legal information. Until recently these have been published as hard copies for schools. At the recent Legal Studies Association Conference it was announced that the Hot Topics magazines would no longer be published as hard copies, but would only be available online. Thankfully, the LIAC staff are very organised and sourcing the online copies is relatively easy and they are quite user friendly. It would appear that these will now no longer be published. LIAC also maintained a blog of updated information for Legal Studies students with links to articles and updated legislation which will also no longer be maintained. Regardless, the State Library of NSW still has a vast array of online resources and a library card enables staff and students to access their online database of updated journal articles, legislation and other resources.
HSC Online for Legal Studies has relied solely on links to the LIAC Research Guides in previous years. In a political environment that has seen many state and regional office jobs cut in the previous few years from the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the demise of LIAC will have a profound impact on providing updated resources for our students. This will put added pressure on teachers and professional associations (mostly run by teachers).
In teaching, you don't have time to do everything and know everything you need to. That is why it is imperative that you make use of other teachers' knowledge. A Professional Learning Network will allow you to get the most up-to-date resources, best advice and time saving tips. I am currently faculty where only one or two of us use social networking for education purposes. Most of faculty don't really use it at all. This post is really for people who are in this category. If you found this post through twitter or Facebook or the like, then you aren't going to learn anything new here.
People you already know
I have always found it amazing that some people in a faculty or school will share everything while others will share nothing. My theory is that if you want to encourage other people to share then you need to show them how it is done. Start with your faculty and any teachers you already know - share your email address and ensure that you swap resources regularly. Once you start emailing copies of some of your handouts, programs, etc other teachers will start doing the same. For older staff introduce them to shared drives, cloud storage or whatever will work to get them sharing. Keep in mind that some people may not share because the technological side of things is too daunting. Make it easy for them and try not to get frustrated - otherwise you may miss out on a great resource.
Join groups like GTANSW, EBE, WESSSTA and MESSTA. Each group will have strengths and weaknesses and may focus more heavily on one subject or specific year groups. The more memberships you have the greater your exposure to all of this information. Also the more you get involved the more you can influence these groups to provide anything that you think is missing. Click on the titles below to find out more about each association:
Geography Teachers Association of NSW
History Teachers Association of NSW
Western Sydney Social Science Teachers Association Inc
Legal Studies Association of NSW Inc
Economic and Business Educators
Social networking, particularly twitter is a great way to connect with other teachers locally and from around the world. You can use social networking to connect with specialists in your field. For example, if you are a History teacher you might subscribe or follow @archaeologynews and get the most recent updates about excavations around the world. You might also find it useful to subscribe or follow general blogs or tweets about teaching in general. DEC and TAFE staff can use Maang/Yammer, but I think most educators prefer Twitter. There are also a range of Facebook groups for teachers of certain subjects. A particularly active group is Geography Teachers Online, but there are many others. Don't forget to use tools like Skype and Google hangouts to connect with people and share ideas.
Subscribe to corporate feeds from the DEC and BOSTES. You can do this using your email, Twitter, Facebook or a range of other social networking sites. You can also subscribe to organisations related to your specific subject such as WWF or Greenpeace.
You should also have a good knowledge of your rights and responsibilities. You can do this by staying up to date with union news through email subscriptions, the regular hard-copy publications and meetings at your school and within your region. When you first begin your career it can seem expensive to be part of the union, but it is important that you make yourself aware of what it offers. You should also download a copy of the most recent Award as this sets out core hours you need to be on the premises, breaks that you are entitled to, behaviours that are acceptable, etc.
For the NSW Teachers Federation (DEC schools) visit the website: http://www.nswtf.org.au/
For the Independent Education Union for NSW/ACT (non-DEC schools) visit their website: http://www.ieu.asn.au
The most important point in all of this is to share your ideas and be open to the ideas of others.
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.