Every so often, one of my beloved relatives makes noises about coming to visit me in flyover country. Most recently, she and her partner were going to be in a neighboring state for a couple days, and she proposed flying up to see me. I happily assented. She said she wanted to see me teach.
I'm uncomfortable with having family members come see me teach. Mostly, it just makes me uncomfortable. I've been a student in classes when profs had their parents visit, and it didn't bother me, but did seem a little weird. And yes, I've let my Mom visit my classes when she came to visit once. Guilt is a powerful motivator in my world.
I hesitantly told my relative okay, partly because I know I live in flyover country, and that actually coming to visit, even if she's within a few hundred miles, is unlikely. As it turned out, I was right about the odds, and she decided not to visit after all.
I find having extra people in a class slightly disruptive at best. Sure, we're all observed, and we all observe, and it's okay. The disruption is slight. And there's a purpose served in being observed, and in observing. When I observe, I learn from other teachers, and when I'm observed, I learn from my observer.
I don't think most students mind much one way or another. Some probably feel a little shy or uncomfortabel about having an instructor's family member in the room; others probably enjoy getting a sense that their instructor has parents and such. It's probably a wash for most students most of the time.
I don't quite get the urge to watch someone teach, though. I can't imagine asking my sibling or cousins if I could come watch them do their jobs.
But then, on the RARE occasions when I went to work with my Dad (when there was a small project I could do to make some spare change, wrapping stuff, or stuffing envelops, and mostly on weekends), I didn't watch him work. And when I worked there on occasion as I got older, I was busy doing my own tasks, although I did get to see him do some kinds of work (such as asking me to make copies of something, or type up stuff). My Dad spent a lot of time at work doing figures, keeping track of things, making phone calls, and handling questions. So maybe it just wasn't the kind of thing that seemed likely to have entertainment value for a kid?
I think the relatives who want to watch me teach think that there's going to be some entertainment value involved. While I do make an effort to be less than fatally boring when I teach, I don't really think I'm generally entertaining. And a lot of what value I bring to a discussion depends on my audience bringing in knowledge and context. If you haven't read Titus, then seeing me talk about it really isn't likely to be interesting.
I also think the relatives who want to watch me teach have a sense of ownership, a sense that my performance reflects on them, perhaps? I'm uncomfortable, often, with the ways family members express ownership or possessiveness; one effect of living so far from the home turf is that I confront the issue infrequently.
The next likely confrontation is just ahead, though, when my Mom comes to visit for a few days. I think she's once again going to want to watch me teach, and I want to say "no." That guilt thing will get me, though.
Still, why is it that she thinks it's okay to want to come to work with me, when she wouldn't dream of bringing that up with my sibling?
Is it the teaching thing, or is it something about our relationship?
Do other instructors have family members who want to watch them at work? Do people in other fields?
Or is my family just special?