Angst is a part of many adolescents' lives; for these kids, it's inevitable, and educators see this phenomenon frequently. Picture this typical scenario: you're in the midst of teaching, and then you ask a question, only to be greeted with a rude retort. Do you: (a) punish the kid; (b) ignore it; or (c) yell at the kid and leave it at that?
For me, the answer to the above question is: it really depends on the situation and the individual. If there was a hard and fast way to manage these kids, teaching wouldn't be such a gruelling job. Educators everywhere would be kicking back and relaxing in Easytown. This gets even rougher when one has to deal with large class sizes (which I admittedly don't have, thankfully). In fact, I have an overwhelming level of respect for those in mainstream schools with large student-teacher ratios.
It's often said that a good way to deal with an individual's problems is to go straight to the root: the individual him/herself. However, there's also the worry about the there and then when the student shows signs of rebelliousness. Let's see what options we have.
Dealing With the There and Then
This is perhaps the hardest part, especially with large student groups. When the culprit gets uptight about something, the teacher's expected to react... right?
Well, no... not really anyway. I don't have the best temper in the world, but sometimes being detached and reminding oneself that it's just a job does the trick. I find it also helps immensely to calm myself down, imagine all the world's silence, and spend a quick second or two thinking about what to do next before responding (which is markedly different from reacting).
There are a few things I've done before, all of which have worked to pretty successful degrees. These include (but aren't and shouldn't be limited to): giving warnings, shouting, remarking amicably and retorting with a joke. It's important to find what works, because whereas raising the voice would work with one student, it might not with another. Similarly returning a rude statement with a joke may help to calm tensions, but it may also backfire and goad the student further.
Dealing With the Individual (Later)
This is my favourite part: dealing with the individual in isolation. A lot of times, kids who show angst or rebel do it with a reason behind. What this reason is depends on the educator's ability to uncover it. After that, it's a matter of just reasoning things out with them.
Is this guaranteed to stop rudeness? Heck no. It requires consistency and the educator to be vigilant about it. However, it is the first step to finding the leverage that will help us to steer the kids in the right direction.
That being said, it's really easier said than done, and I have no wish to get on my high horse and dictate one's 'best practices' (gosh I hate that term). Nevertheless, I hope that by sharing my own experiences, it may prove useful to someone looking for inspiration. Let me know what you think of this post, and as usual, opinions and feedback are welcome.
Note: This may well be the first post that has nothing to do with games whatsoever :P