When students complain, “It’s not fair,” I tell them that if anyone told them life was going to be fair, they lied. But life isn’t fair; we were not all created equally (although we may have equal rights); and you may have to work next to a person you don’t like, so get used to that, too. We can still be civil to each other. This really cuts down on a lot of complaints.
Respect. Teachers need to model respect otherwise students won’t know what it’s supposed to look like. That doesn’t mean you let them walk all over you. Among other things, it just means you don’t use sarcasm unless and until you know the student VERY well and you know without a doubt that they understand that you don’t really mean what you’re saying. I also ensure that students respect my paraprofessionals. My “paras” have the authority to march a student down to the office immediately for any disrespect shown to them. I’ll back them 100% every time. It usually only happens once a year because word spreads.
Keep as low-keyed as possible. They really are trying to get your goat and push your buttons; don’t let them. Don’t take anything personally, even good comments. The parent who praises you because their child is doing so well, doesn’t understand that 9th grade boys do a lot of growing up during the summer before 10th grade and they usually come back much more mature. Give credit to the student; s/he needs it more than you do.
“I don’t care.” Every now and then those words come out of my mouth usually in response to a student who just had their cell phone taken away the class before mine and is now disrupting my class by complaining about it. The student retorts, “That’s the problem, you just don’t care.” So I now have to really come up with a better line. Maybe, “What does that have to do with multiplying a positive and negative integer?” But even that is sarcastic. I’ll work on it and let you know if I come up with anything.