I banged my foot pretty badly and I went sprawling backwards. The children gaped at me. Normally, in a situation like this, I try to make a joke of it--lecture the desk for hitting me--basically try to save face, move class forward as quickly as possible, and show the children how to react positively when you make a fool of yourself in front of others. But I was stuck wondering how on earth I could do this with students who don't understand me?
Luckily, my brain worked fast, and as I staggered up, I realized how I could express myself in a way they could understand. I had just introduced a new method of discipline--four simple rules and a chart of student names that I keep on a clipboard (similar to what I've done in previous years!) If they break a rule, they get a "mark" (like a tally mark) next to their name. Each mark equals one minute that they must stay at their desk, with their head down, during the 10-minute break.
So I looked at the desk, explained that it had broken Rule #4 --Hands and feet to yourself--and gave it a mark on my clipboard. The students laughed, and that eased the tension and allowed me to move on in the lesson. My foot smarted, but I was laughing too.