I have a seventh grade math student who is trying his best to engage me in a downward spiraling relationship. He does everything he can to push my buttons, which is quite easy if you think about it. He has chosen the path of greatest disagreement and argues with every thing I tell him.
If I tell him to pay attention when he is not paying attention, he looks up at his book and says, "I am paying attention." If I tell him to quit laying his head on his desk, he'll lift his head up and wearily and exasperatingly reply, "I am not laying on my desk." Today we reached the bottom of our descent; we had an argument whether he was arguing with me or not. It's an important issue and a battle I choose to fight because no student can make improvement if they are in denial about their behavior or work habits and turn any suggestion or criticism I make into a debate.
I have sent him to the office several times, and he now has after school detention and a required meeting with his parents and the Principal. The parents know about this issue because I called them, and they informed me that their son was doing the same thing to them. It was driving them crazy. Ditto.
I went to the Principal today and told him what was happening between this student and me, and he suggested that it's a fairly common occurrence in middle school. He told me to send the boy to the office and he would fix the problem I am sending the student to the Principal's office tomorrow. It is wonderful to have an administrator/principal that supports teachers and understands the issues they confront.
It is a weary and dangerous path you traverse when your guide is an incompetent fool, and how wonderful is the journey when you are led by a knowledgeable and considerate person.