On a serious note... Here are the best tips I have to give to those in the education field.
1. Be consistent. I can not stress this enough. If you say you're going to do something, you better make damn sure you do because otherwise the kids go ballistic on you. For some of them, you are the only constant, regular thing in their lives and you have high expectations to live up to.
2. Be Fair. If have set consequences for the breaking of specific rules, plan to follow them but always give the students a brief opportunity to explain themselves at the appropriate time or place (ie. after everyone else is quietly working on something or just before the class is over. You don't want to punish a kid who slept through class then find out he didn't sleep last night because daddy was beating mommy again).
3. Establish routines. The kids should know exactly what to do on days that you are absent. They should be telling the sub exactly what happens each day of the week.
4. Don't be afraid to be firm. The kids will lose all respect for you if your priority is to be their "friend". You CAN be firm without being cruel.
5. Always take a brief moment to take notice of something. "Hey Johnny, you were really quiet today, are you doing okay?" "Hey Susie, you did far better with the hand-raising today, I'm really proud" "Hey Bob, I like the new haircut". No matter how bad the kid, if you pick up on the tiniest positive thing, they will ALWAYS say "thank you" and view you differently. Don't make a big performance out of it, just a passing comment.
6. Document as much as possible. If you offered help, the kid refused, then failed the test, then you get an angry parent calling you, it sounds so sweet to say "well, Mrs. McScarylady, I offered to go through the whole study guide with him on the 23rd but he told me to get stuffed." Oh the delight!
7. Have a variety of assignments and assessments. Some kids respond well to multiple choice, some to creative presentations. Give them the opportunity to succeed in whatever way they can. If possible, give them the choice between different types of assignments so they can utilize their strengths and individual learning styles or types of expression. Also force some variety once in a while so they can explore different methods and maybe find new strengths.
8. Talk to the trees. By that, I mean the guardians. They can be invaluable with helping stamp out discipline issues in bad apples, giving insights, and also preventing the kind of calls mentioned in number 6. Also, please call giving enough time for the parent to help make a change in their child's performance BEFORE grades are set. The call should be a means of prevention and not an opportunity to whine about things that can't be changed because it's too late.
If I think of more quick notes of advice, I'll make further posts. Feel free to add your own comments/suggestions.