I’m a sociology PhD student in the EU. Back in September, I started teaching a recitation class. My MSc is from another institution (which is also in another country – I moved from Finland to France...) and so I taught the recitation more or less how I was used to from my previous institution (with permission from the professor in charge – I didn’t do anything without consulting her first).
The problem began when I gave the students some bonus questions which could earn some extra points. As the semester ended I discovered how not only most students did not solve the bonus, but that they also expected me to give the extra points regardless (to which I refused).
To keep a long story short, they complained to everyone in our department about it, tarnishing me whenever they could – it even got to the head of department, who rebuffed them. Only that it didn’t end there. In the following semester I worked as a grader in a course with the same students, and they constantly appealed my grades – the reason, as I later learnt, is because a group of them decided to do whatever it takes to get me fired (their words, not mine). These bad teaching reviews and student complaints already cost me a job next semester. Also, most of these students are likely to still be undergrads in two-years’ time, so I can’t just wait it out until they graduate.
I have several questions:
Is there anything you suggest I can do to get better teaching reviews? At the moment, I have no idea how to do it (and I doubt it’s even possible).
Theoretically, I can take a semester off with no teaching. Personally, I wouldn’t mind skipping it altogether for the rest of my PhD – but I was told that if I’m to continue for a postdoc (let alone a permanent position), positive teaching reviews are a must have. Is it true?