We know that good teachers become great teachers when they collaborate with other teachers. No matter how good you are, you can always improve when you share ideas with other teachers and listen to ideas from other teachers.
Today "other teachers" doesn't only mean the teachers in your building. It could mean other teachers in your school district, or other teachers in your state, or (really) anywhere. Social media makes it possible to communicate with teachers virtually anywhere and virtually at any time. And when we do, we improve.
Yesterday, the middle school math specialists in my school district met with their counterparts in a neighboring school district--along with math specialist from other surrounding districts. We call ourselves the Mid-Maryland Math Specialist Group (Twitter hashtag #M3SG). The theme of the day was Preparing for a 1-to-1 Learning Environment. It was a great professional experience in which we got to hear ideas and plans from people in nearby school districts.
The highlight of the day was a virtual panel discussion with help from Google Hangouts. The people on the panel were from Arkansas, Illinois, and Utah. One principal, one middle school teacher, one technology resource teacher, and one school-based technology coach. All but one of the panel members were people that I "met" on Twitter (never in person) who have had some experience with a 1-to-1 learning environment.
We were in a big room with a large screen in the front of the room. The panel members were visable on the screen. We could see and hear them and they could see and hear us. This isn't "cutting-edge" technology, but it is a new way to learn and gain professional knowledge in a very "21st century" fashion!
This is how we learn today. Blogs, twitter, edmodo, and lots and lots of other similar venues are the new "teacher lounges" of today. We still learn from teachers at our school, but we are no longer limited to such a small group of professionals. Today we learn and improve by communicating with everyone and anyone who has knowledge to share.
This is how we learn today.