Jamie Josephson joined Twitter after a stressful first year teaching in a public high school. On the social network, she found a community of mentors offering inspiration, commiseration and classroom-tested lesson plans.
Josephson, now in her third year at Woodrow Wilson High in Northwest Washington, said:
"Twitter essentially prepared me to go into my second year and not give up."
"I never would have imagined that it would have been the place to find support."
Josephson is known to fellow Tweeters as @dontworryteach and is part of a small but growing number of teachers using Twitter to improve their craft by reaching beyond the boundaries of their schools to connect with colleagues across the country and around the world, writes Emma Brown at the Washington Post.
The help and advice teachers share through Twitter is far more useful than traditional school training programs, many say. The medium is something of an antidote to the fixed agendas, airless rooms and canned speeches by hired experts of standard programs.
Greg Kulowiec, a virtual colleague of Josephson's who teaches in Plymouth, Mass., said:
"I always tell people the most valuable 15 minutes I spend, in terms of my professional growth, is when I jump on Twitter at night and see what's going on."
Twitter is used by teachers to share tips on anything from education technologies to facilitating classroom discussions and teaching about the Cold War.
"After a really good chat, all you are is excited to go back to work and try something," said Kulowiec, an eight-year veteran of the classroom.
"It's very motivating to see other people motivated."
A community of teachers Tweet together – in a forum open to anyone – every Tuesday night via the hashtag #edchat. The weekly event started in 2009 and, at first, there were about a hundred participants, according to co-founder Shelly Terrell.
Now there are more than 2,000 participants each week, and the topic to be discussed is decided in an online poll. The participants use all the hallmarks of a twitter conversation, marking their tweets with the hashtag #edchat, making it easy for anyone to search for the conversation, read and contribute, writes Brown.
The original chat has spawned dozens of other regular education Tweet-ups.