Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

We all know that there are some days when life seems to stomp on all our plans.  You spend the evening in the emergency room with a child or spouse or you loose your voice or your basement floods and you spend all evening with a mop bucket instead of the lesson materials you needed to prepare.

It happens to the best of us–life doesn’t always seem to take into account that you are a teacher and have a room of students you have to lead.  (Really, how rude!)  So, what do you do?  Teaching is not like most other jobs where you can just call in sick or put your students off for the day.  Let’s talk about five practical options that you can use in your classroom when life gets in the way.

  1. Use some of those stories you never get to.  If your Literature book is anything like mine, there are about three times as many stories in it as you will ever have time to cover in class.  Keep a list of five or six of them that you never get to.  Post the list on your board and let your student pick a story from the list to read silently.  If you have time and the desire, you can even assign a few of the questions at the end of the story.  Not only does this get you 45 minutes of quiet time to regroup and reorganize, but it is curriculum related.
  2. Have a few fun pages on hand.  (Here are some that you could use.)  Sometimes you just need something to keep your students busy.  Teachers Pay Teachers has some great resources.  Keeping a set or two of fun activities on hand–crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, word finds, etc.–can be a life saver.
  3. If you have access to enough computers, educational websites are a great enrichment activity that your students will enjoy.  Keep a list on hand.  Two of my favorites are Free Rice and Spelling City (this one involves set-up ahead of time, but I use it frequently in my class, so I have it all ready to go at the beginning of the year).  Find ones that fit your class and subject material.  If you have more great ones, feel free to share them below.
  4. Show a video.  There are some great educational videos out there.  Your school library or public library can be a great resource for these.  So can Discovery Education/Discovery Streaming (This site requires membership, but if you can talk your school into it, it can be another great resource for educational videos and materials, etc.).  Along these same lines, I keep a copy of the old TV series Faerie Tale Theatre in my classroom along with printed copies of several of the original fairy tales.  Reading the fairy tale, watching the corresponding episode, and doing a compare/contrast exercise can be a great educational way to fill a class period or two, plus it is a great way to introduce your students to the world of non-mousified fairy tales.
  5. Study hall can be a great fall-back.  Sometimes you don’t have time for even one of these things I’ve talked about above.  There is nothing wrong with recognizing this.  When students arrive in your classroom, send them back to their lockers for work and give them the period to do it.  Maybe they can go home with no homework, and you can get caught up on a few things too.

What do you do when your life gets in the way of your teaching?  Have ideas that you would like to share?  Post them in the comments section below!

Have a great day and…

Teach On!


Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -


This Week’s Featured Product

“A Ghost Story” by Mark Twain Short Story Lesson
Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 4.36.52 PM

Halloween is coming.  This great ready-to-use lesson on a classic author is a fun and educational way to celebrate the holiday.  For more details or to download this product, click here!


This Week’s Journal Questions

For the teacher:  How is your year going so far?  What are two positives in your classes?  What changes have you had to make to your overall plan?  What is one goal you have for the rest of the year?

For the student:  How does your life outside of school help you in school?  How does it get in the way of school?


A Recipe from My Kitchen:

Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcakes
Thawed frozen berries work just as well as fresh for this, so it can be a treat any time of the year!


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • toppings:  sugared strawberries, fresh whipped cream


  1. Preheat your oven to 450º.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar flour baking powder, and orange zest until well blended and zest is evenly distributed.
  3. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Hint:  If you have a pastry cutter, it makes it easier, but this can be done with two table knives too.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and milk.  Pour it into the flour mixture, and stir the flour mixture is just moist.
  5. Divide into eight portions and drop each onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  (If you have parchment paper, you may want to use that under the shortcakes for ease of cleanup.)
  6. Flatten each mound with he back of a spoon or spatula.  Hint:  Wet your spoon or spatula before flattening each shortcake.  This will help prevent sticking.
  7. Bake the shortcakes for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Top with sugared strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather Graf says:

    This is so true! I keep this metrics measurement 1 day challenge available for days just like you are describing…and the good thing about it is that this activity fits into any day throughout the year-because Middle and High school students can always use practice measuring! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachel M. says:

    One of my favorite last-minute-no-prep activities is a nonfiction reading passage with a graphic organizer! My 6th and 7th graders always enjoy these pages about tornadoes and hurricanes…they love crazy weather. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rike Neville says:

    “I have to choose who lives and who dies?!” I’ll never forget the horrified realization as my student got caught up in negotiations for keeping alive the people she thought could contribute the most while agonizing over barring entry to others. This activity is one of my favorites because I never know how it’s going to turn out. To be honest, I rarely get anything done while the students are debating and negotiating through their life or death choices because listening to their reasoning and arguments is just fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For me, the time life seems to get in the way the most is the random oddities between and at the beginning of class. One way I use to keep the class on track while I get settled or regroup is a bell ringer. These can serve as writing prompts or discussion topics and have saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favorite lesson like this is my “Movie Lesson That Matters.” It allows for a movie day which – hey – can be a welcome break but challenges students to be analytical and independent learners. This print and teach lesson will give students the skills they need to write a movie review after watching the film of your choice. Give it a try!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sandypinder says:

    Teachers are people too … and that means we have lives that all too often do get in the way … or is it really that teaching gets in the way of life? Either way, my go-to resource (that works throughout the year in any middle – high math class ) is

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is all so true! Nice to feel guilt free about not being able to do it all every day! This is for the SLPs out there who are swamped with IEP meetings and goal writing at this time of year! Easy to print and go with these theme based worksheets!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Debbi Kapp says:

    This is a bundle of editing passages for the full year: back to school, Halloween, winter, spring and end of school. You can pull out pages to use anytime–no prep. They are unique because they are reviews of great books for 5-8. Students are challenged to figure out where periods go and other needed punctuation, and they are intrigued to check out the books! Win-win.

    Liked by 1 person

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