Dealing with anxious and/or defiant students is tricky and no matter what school you are working in, you will come across tricky moments.
I've learnt the hard way that raising your voice, trying to dominate, and creation of a win/lose situation does not ultimately work.
Knowledge from experience tells me that private or non-verbal, fact based praise, a sense of calm, and a positive relationship with the student goes a very long way.
Actually, I think it's the only way.
Nipping situations in the bud, being sensitive to student needs and tailoring the curriculum to include bags of student choice is the way forward as well.
When I started at Woodford House in 2013, I was returning to teaching after a long gap - 7 years in fact (Principal and overseas consultancy stints were the cause). I was rusty, plus I knew no one and had no relationship with anyone at the start. It was tough and some tough classes (hello Year 10 and 11 girls) were merciless.
After the first few terms, though, I had learnt names, established relationships and things began to improve.
I wish I'd read this Mind/Shift article back in 2013 when I was struggling with those Year 10 girls at Woodford.
This advice would have been good:
...a break paired with a cognitive distraction does offer respite from the “all or nothing” thinking that’s so common with anxious students. An older student might take a break and record herself reading a book out loud for a younger student with dyslexia. It’s impossible to read out loud and think another thought. Other distractions could include sports trivia, sudoku or crossword puzzles. Little kids might do a Where’s Waldo or look through a Highlight magazine for the hidden picture.
I'm particularly struck by the idea that it is impossible to read out loud and think idea. That's pretty cool.
There are 19 other tips in that article for your consideration. Even if you only think you can use 2 or 3, that's a win.