I'm not sure what it is about recognizing the kid who will be the biggest problem of the day. I can I.D. him the moment I walk in the door. It always seems to be the same kid. He starts off badly and gets out of control from there.
Today, I worked a half-day assignment in a 4th/5th combination class. The kids had a half hour of silent reading, and their teacher told me she allows them to read in the room or on the grassy area right outside the door.
When I went to check on the kids outside, there was a group of them sitting together. One of them complained to me that a boy was writing on the newsletter she was trying to read. The kid with the pen tried to stare me down. I told him to put the pen away and take out a book. Naturally, there was the back-talk. He put the pen behind his back with a "See! Now it's gone!" Now, at this moment, I could have stood my ground and made him put the pen inside, but another kid told me he wasn't really in their class, and a man who I assumed was a special ed teacher was watching the exchange. He didn't say anything, and didn't introduce himself to me, so I let the pen thing go and told the student that if he couldn't find something to read, that I would find him some work to do. He very dramatically picked up his book and held it in front of his face, pulling it down every few seconds to see if I was still standing there looking at him. I stood there for a while and then went to check on the kids in the classroom.
A few minutes later, pen-boy came in with marks on his hand complaining that someone had taken his pen and stabbed him. Seeing no puncture marks, I told him that if he had done what I asked and put the pen away, it would not have been available for anyone to take from him. He demanded that I go speak to the offenders. When I told him I would not do that, his response was, "Well, I guess you're really not good for anything." A kid who heard the exchange told me not to worry, that that boy speaks to everyone like that.
I really can't stand showdowns with students. This isn't the Old West. There is no reason for it. Thankfully, this one student was not representative of the attitudes of anyone else in the class.