One of the hardest things to do naturally as a teacher is to transition smoothly and logically from one topic or activity to another. Sometimes lessons are closely related; often they’re not. Sometimes a useful transitioning device will present itself; usually they don’t. I’ve been quite fortunate to discover some pretty clever ways of connecting disparate material at times (“So that’s how Romeo and Juliet ends. Speaking of teenagers wanting to kill themselves, it’s time for you to write an essay!”)
However, at some point over the years, when the muse failed to bestow upon my mind any genuinely useful means of segueing from one portion of class time to the next, I started to simply say, “Speaking of aardvarks,” and would then launch into whatever was up on the agenda, freely ignoring any need for continuity.
Most students respond to this fairly well, except for those few who a) have no idea what an aardvark is or b) are now honestly confused because they think they missed something important in class about aardvarks.
I suppose I could go with the old Monty Python standard of, “And now for something completely different,” but I like how the aardvark line hints at the frustrated desperation we pedagogues feel, and how funny it can be to give up on something.