I have a 17 year old boy in my algebra 2 class that spent roughly the first two weeks of class looking at me with a "Who do you think you are" kind of look. He made comments about me being young, about the ISN being "corny," about the types of bags I carry, he talked while I was talking, etc. I smiled through it all knowing that I would wear him down eventually. I'm fairly used to it. Kids (especially ones that are used to being difficult) feel the need to feel out a teacher, especially one that is young. I take that kid and make it my goal to win them over.
I don't yell and scream and punish them. I kill them with kindness. I show them that I'm not going to write them off as a "bad kid" and ignore them or give up on them. I am helpful and constructive and show them that if they let me in I can help them. I talk to them about my day and life and answer their questions when the time is appropriate. I let them see that I'm a person and that personal connection helps big time.
Well I'm on day 11 here and mission accomplished. And just like many of the other difficult kids I've won over, there's a pretty cool kid inside. Today a girl asked what 2^3 meant (she's from Jamaica and has never really taken a math class before...ever). So I explained it and showed her how a couple other ones would work and she was ok. As I go back to what we were doing the boy turns to her and asks her to try 2^4 and then helped her to work through it and get 16. He didn't just tell her the answer, but truly walked her through the steps. It was so simple, but I thought it was the just sweetest thing.