A few days ago I had a great conversation with a couple of other math teachers while doing bus duty. One of the teachers is in his third year and he was describing what reminded me of the scene from Summer School where the students take turns humming just to piss off the teacher-really giving him a rough time. Some teachers offer advice like, "make sure you bring the hammer every day" or some other respect-my-authority-if-I-say-jump-you-ask-how-high type of classroom management philosophy. I remember being 23 and teaching younger brothers and sisters of kids I went to school with and how fine that line is between being relevant and trying to buddy up with students. As a result, I think I tried to impose authority unnecessarily and it didn't take too long to figure out that it doesn't work.
After a few minutes I asked, "did you get in much trouble when you were younger." I figured the problem is that he doesn't have a mischievous bone in his body and he has no way of getting into the heads of his students. He doesn't understand the thinking of a kid who doesn't automatically respect all the adults he encounters because he wasn't one of them.
What advice do you give a young teacher when his students are going out of their way to give a hard time?