For as much as teaching has aged me, the students keep me young. It helps to have a sense of humor. As one of my charges put it, "students like the teachers that can take a joke and not get all butthurt about everything." She's right - getting butthurt is not helpful. Keeping it light is an ace in the hole. On the Westside, nothing says "I care about you" like trash talk and teasing. It goes a long way in getting the kids to be compliant.
Case Study in the Application of Trash Talk to Gain Compliance
One of my favorite kids is a quiet, serious cholito. He has a little oppositional/defiant streak, and needs to be checked regularly. Of course, it is unwise to get authoritative on a cholito. It's always preferable to charm and disarm them, even if it requires an unorthodox approach. Today, he refused to take a writing exam that will account for 10% of his final grade. This was our conversation:
Cholito: "Maaaaaan! I'm not taking this stupid test! It's BORING."
Me: "It's 10% of your final grade. You're taking the test."
Cholito: (Throws test on floor. Smirks)
Me: (Picks up test, places it gently on Cholito's desk) "If you don't take the test, I'm going to pinch you."
Cholito: (Half horrified, half delighted expression illuminating face) "WHAAAAT!?"
Me: "You heard me. I"ll pinch you!"
Cholito: (completely delighted now, but faking indignance) "That's immature! You're immature!"
Me: "That's what happens when you hang around with 14 year olds all day. It rubs off."
Cholito: "You're like a 14 year old stuck in a 90 year-old body!"
Me: "Finish the test before I hit 100, OK?"
Ultimately, the little guy accused me of being a 14 year old boy in a 95 year old body, but I let him have that. In the end, he took his test.