constant observation of a class: how to handle?

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I teach Basketweaving for Business Majors, a very common class that is offered on most campuses. When I agreed to cover a colleague's administrative duties while he was on sabbatical this semester, we had to hire another adjunct to take one of the sections I was going to teach. My department chair interviewed Potential Adjunct, who ultimately declined the position because she said that she didn't want to do a 90-minute commute during the winter semester. (We live in an area well-known for its snow.)  We parted amicably and hired someone else to take the section.

Potential Adjunct then emailed me the week before classes started and asked if she could come to my class and watch me teach because I was using Specific Textbook and she wanted to see how I was using it as they were considering using it in Basketweaving for Business Majors at the school at which she was teaching. I asked her when she wanted to come and she said that she'd like to come for the entire first week of classes. I said that I didn't want her to come on the first day of classes, but she was welcome to come to the other two days of classes that I was teaching that week.

Potential Adjunct came to my class last Wednesday and last Friday, and I met with her after class last Friday and we had a chat about the textbook and about teaching the course in general. She then revealed that she intended to come to my class FOR THE REST OF THE SEMESTER to watch me teach primarily because she wants to see "how I use the textbook" since she feels that it doesn't have enough support resources for instructors. (There are probably at least a hundred textbooks that she could choose for a class like this, many of which come with a large quantity of support materials.)

At the time, I was a bit flustered, and I couldn't think of a reason for her not to be allowed to come to my class, so I made some non-committal noises. I really should have handled it better.

My questions are these:

1) does this seem weird to anyone else? I mean, she declined to teach the course because she was worried about the weather, and yet now she's willing to come to my campus (a 90-minute drive one way) three days a week to watch me teach a class that her campus is offering and that she's going to teach.

2) is it wrong for me to say "no, you can't come to my class every day?" She hasn't been disruptive, and I don't feel like she's stealing my ideas, since the class is a really standard class that's taught on most campuses and I'm not using an especially original approach, but I just don't want her in my classroom every day.

3) how do I politely say "No, I really don't want you to come to my class" since I screwed up and didn't stand up to her when she sprung this on me last week?

4) has anyone else ever had a situation where someone wanted to watch them teach every single class? How did you handle it?

I know that our university has a policy that no-one may sit in on a class for an entire semester unless they are officially signed up as auditing the class. You may look to see if your institution has the same policy and then you can inform her of it.

There is also the issue of potential liability for your university. She is neither enrolled, nor in a faculty/staff position there. Except for rare instances where, in some classes, a parent might be allowed to bring a child with them when child-care falls through (which is still, technically, not allowed) there's no way that the uni would allow a completely unaffiliated person to sit through classes. They'd frown on one, an entire semester's worth would be out of the question. If something were to happen where she was injured (or, God forbid, killed) they'd be potentially liable, particularly if she was there with the uni's permission (your permission, by extension). I'd suggest checking with your Chair &/or head of security. I'd bet they'd say "no".

Quote from: standardnormal on January 20, 2013,  8:08:58 pm

I know that our university has a policy that no-one may sit in on a class for an entire semester unless they are officially signed up as auditing the class. You may look to see if your institution has the same policy and then you can inform her of it.

This is a good place to start.

I'd feel uncomfortable about having her observe the class for much longer. Even if there isn't a policy, it's your right to tell her that while you were glad to have her observe for a bit, it can't be a semester-long arrangement. I think you've done plenty by letting her sit in a couple of days. You need to focus on your students, and she's not one of them.

You don't need to justify yourself--just say, thanks for your interest and good luck with your course.

Is she teaching the course now or next semester? Perhaps she didn't take the job with your place because she wasn't confident she could teach it.

It is a bit odd but I don't see the harm. Clearly the adjunct feels unprepared to teach the class, maybe if she can sit in on your class she will do a better job. Welcome her.


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