The following from an email conversation with a long-distance teacher friend:
I was wondering if you actually have met everyone who writes on your blog? Or are some of them people who just found your blog and wrote to you?
No I have not. I look forward to someday meeting some folks, but definitely do not know them all. And I read and comment on the work of folks whom I have never met in person. It’s like a parallel universe to which I am a relative newcomer. I find it fascinating.
What is the appropriate math-teacher etiquette? I don’t know if it is a “closed” community of people who all know each other (like if everyone who posts on your blog is a math professor and all of you go to conferences together and know each other really well).
No, no and no. Of course it is natural to feel more comfortable jumping in to a conversation when you know the participants personally, but there is no requirement or expectation at all. All are welcome and encouraged to participate. And of course, the places where that conversation is explicitly encouraged and nurtured will have higher rates of participation (viz. Dan Meyer’s blog).
I have spent precisely two hours in the physical presence of Dan Meyer (who is a grad student, not a professor), three or four with Karim Ani of Mathalicious (who is a teacher and entrepreneur, not a professor) and zero total hours with all of the other folks whose work I read regularly (very few of whom are professors). If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll identify with my claim that There is no inner circle. Really.
Are professors who run blogs usually open to hearing from middle school teachers (people they don’t know I mean)?
Absolutely. That’s why we write. We hope to have an audience and we hope to hear from and learn from our readers. (And again, the whole ‘professor’ thing? It’s just not so.)
Finally, from another source (a smart and talented former student of mine, now a high school teacher in North Dakota), let’s dispel this misconception:
And for no other reason than my spying on your blog, I decided to drop you a line
If it’s on the blog, you’re not spying. You’re reading. If it’s only on my hard drive? That’s spying.
And consider this your invitation to jump into the conversation.