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Shark Tanks are making their way from the television screen to conferences and….schools?

At the CUE National Conference in Palm Springs, Calif. on March 17-19, six teachers pitched their big lesson ideas as part of “LeRoy’s Big Idea Challenge.” Up for grabs: a $2,500 grant. One of the key criteria used by judges to evaluate each idea was whether it was innovative, relevant and replicable.

But you don’t have to wait for big education conferences to watch—or participate. Developing a Shark Tank or Big Ideas competition in your school can help educators feel safer to test and try new and innovative teaching models. Asking teachers tough questions at the beginning of the ideation process—such as whether an idea can scale beyond their classrooms—can very well increase the chances that their ideas can spread.

Want to create your own challenge? Here are some tips:

1. Create a Culture of ‘Yes, And’

Teachers often preach to their students that there are “no stupid questions.” So why, then, do teachers worry about pitching to their administrators for things that they believe would positively impact their students?

In improv, one of the main exercises is that whenever anyone says something, you always need to answer with, “ Yes, and,” followed with another idea. These ideas may seem off-kilter and outlandish, but there are no bad ones—just those that can be shaped and molded by the collective group. Schools need to make time to have these types of conversations among their teachers. To start, encourage your teachers to brainstorm their innovative ideas in groups using “Yes, and.” Making the brainstorming process more collaborative enables teachers to think beyond the walls of their classroom, making the idea more likely to spread.

2. Identify the ‘Big Idea’ & Develop a Pitch

Now that teachers have had a safe space to brainstorm, encourage those who want to move forward to choose the idea they would like to pitch and implement. A “big idea” may be as...

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