Ah, the last few days of school. The time when marks are in, textbooks have been collected, and you find yourself with time to actually go out for lunch or grab a coffee. Heaven.

And there is also time to chat with fellow colleagues, a veritable luxury during the rest of the year with its ridiculously busy schedule. The topic of Twitter came up, with most teachers suggesting it was yet another waste of time. How can one possibly say something meaningful in 200 characters? It must be nothing but teenagers commenting on something useless…

Unfortunately for me, I was not there that day. But had I been at the table for that discussion, I would have definitely spoken up. Because for me, Twitter has made such a positive impact in my life. And it is actually only 140 characters, which does require a judicious selection of words, particularly for the excessively verbose (like me).

I admit, I was initially hesitant to sign up for Twitter. I didn’t fully understand it, but I knew other educators used it. And I was relieved to discover that it is fairly easy to figure out. I created an account, and then started to look for people I might want to follow. It’s easy to find them, as they usually have their twitter name or a twitter button on their blog or webpage. From there, you can begin to follow them. Often, people retweet others who have said something significant. You can then begin to follow those people. I found many of the 100 educators I follow by looking at my first few tweeters and who they followed.

I also search certain hashtags. Because I am working on a thesis about using mobile learning in a Social Studies classroom, I search both Social Studies, and mobile learning. And from there I can choose to follow the people who make meaningful contributions to those discussions.

What is also helpful is looking at the profiles of those who you follow, because they often have a link to their own webpage or blog, and that is often like finding a buried treasure.

So for me, Twitter has become the best professional development tool, bar none. It certainly beats Teachers’ Convention, which in Calgary means both paying the highest parking fees in North America to park downtown, and braving the often SUB zero February temperatures to attend sessions that may or may not be a good fit for what you are interested in pursuing.

So come September, I think its time to have a chat with my fellow colleagues, and show them just what they are missing. Would I use Twitter in the classroom? Probably. Luckily for me, there are dozens of people who have forged ahead with Twitter in the classroom, and have tweeted about it – so when I do decide to use Twitter with students, I have their experience to draw from.

So thank you, Twitter. You are making my professional career so much more enriched.