Twitter is my primary source for professional development.
Starting on Twitter: After you sign up for an account, take some time to think about how to best present yourself in your profile. When people come to your page, to decide if they want to follow you, your profile makes a difference. Be sure to include what you care about. Your profile and your tweets should draw people to you. Once you have that set up, you are ready to go. Make a commitment to look at the conversation on Twitter at least once or twice a day. You will never be able to develop your online community without making the decision that it is worth exploring. I guarantee that there are wonderful people sharing interesting ideas, but you have to take the time to look.
Start as a voyeur! Just read and take from the richness of the conversation. Follow educators who are using Twitter! Twitter Lists now make it possible to follow selected groups of people. For example, go to @shellterrell. Follow her. Then go to her lists: @shellterrell/edchat and @shellterrell/educator-pln and follow them. She has wonderful people on her list (including me, I am proud to say.) Read the conversation and start following the people who interest you. Do not feel any pressure to contribute to the conversation initially. Just read and save the significant resources. (More on this later, but I use www.diigo.com to bookmark the sites that are of interest to me.)
When you find a resource that inspires you, retweet it. Send it on to your followers, even if you are only being followed by your mother. Send it on! It shows the author that you liked it and that you are paying attention to their work. You can also send the author a Reply, expressing what you found interesting in their post. When you have an idea, tweet it. Twitter is a wonderful place to test ideas, see what responses you get. I follow fellow teachers, administrators, professors, edtech thinkers. As you participate, others will start to follow you. As your followers grow, you begin to experience the power of a Personal Learning Network. You are in dialogue with people who will help you grow and learn and who will grow with and learn from you.
I use Tweetdeck to keep myself organized in Twitter. I have columns for All Friends, Mentions, Direct Messages, and for #edchat. That way, if someone mentions me, by retweeting or answering my question, I immediately see it.
An important article by Chris Lehmann on how to think about teaching today’s students: http://www.principals.org/s_nassp/sec.asp?CID=1903&DID=61078