How to have one really great idea in just ten minutes (and 99 bad ones).

You have a pressing problem. Something that needs a solution or something that needs to be improved. The problem could be any number of things. test

  • How am I going to teach these students trigonometry?
  • How can I convince my students to write more?
  • How can I get my students to engage with the feedback I give them?
  • How can I handle this difficult behaviour in my classroom?

When it comes to having ideas, I find the following to be true.

Having one idea is impossible. Having one hundred is easy.

When you’re trying to come up with one solution to the problem, the pressure is high. That one solution needs to be absolutely perfect. It needs to be the one solution that will fix everything. How do you stare at a blank piece of paper and write down your one, perfect solution. It’s paralysing. It could take hours before “inspiration” finally hits.

Now compare this to having 100 ideas. Most of those ideas are going to be rubbish. Some will be unachievable, unrealistic or perhaps even illegal! But hidden inside of those 100 ideas might be 10 pretty good ones. And from there you’re in business.

But I can’t think of 1 idea, how am I going to think of 100?

I know this seems crazy but having 100 ideas about anything is easy.

Step 1. Write down the problem that needs fixing at the top of your page.

Step 2. Set a timer. 10 minutes should do the job.

Step 3. Start the timer

Step 4. Write down every single idea you have, no matter how silly.

Now, if you’ve already done the maths on this one you’ll realise that what I’m asking seems crazy. One idea every six seconds for ten minutes. But it can be done.

If you’re writing/typing that fast, you’ll realise that you don’t have time to dissect an idea. You can’t second guess it or decide whether it’s good or bad. In fact, at this speed, you only have enough time to think of the idea and start writing it. While you’re halfway through writing that idea you’ll have to start thinking of the next idea. Ideas will start to repeat with slight variations, idea 32 might look like idea 7 with a twist. It’s a constant avalanche of ideas.

At the end of the ten minutes, somewhere in that avalanche you’ll find your one really great idea.

One great idea in just ten minutes. Guaranteed.

Note: Of course, you’re a teacher. Is there ever a time where your students need to come up with one great idea? Why not ask them for 100 ideas instead. You might be surprised with what they come up with.

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