Creativity's a funny thing. For most of us, it isn't something we can just turn on whenever we want, and trying to force it usually results in frustration. Still, there are a few things you can do to maximize your own creative potential and develop new strategies for teaching vocabulary. Here are a few suggestions.

Distract your busy brain.

There's a reason we tend to do some of our best creative thinking while driving, preparing a meal, walking, or showering. When we do these everyday tasks, they feel automatic, which frees the brain to generate innovative ideas.

Entering a state of "meditative distraction" allows your subconscious to evaluate different ideas and combine them in novel ways, which are then delivered to your conscious brain as bursts of insight.

For best results, thoroughly research your subject for which you’d like to teach vocabulary. Then go for a walk or perform some other relatively "mindless" task to transition into that state of meditative distraction.

Find out how your students have previously been taught.

If you want to teach vocabulary to your students in new ways, you'll need to know how they've received instruction in the past. Asking your students directly is a good way to go, but they might not remember precisely how they were taught.

A better approach may be to talk to your students' former teachers and ask to see some of the vocabulary exercises they taught and lesson plans they used. Hearing about previous methods of instruction might inspire you to come up with new ideas. You can always take an old method and tweak it to fit your needs, too.

Combine various methods of teaching to make something new.

Sometimes, the best way to create something new is to combine various bits and pieces of other things in an interesting way. Your students may need to see words dozens of times in different contexts in order to learn them anyway, so mixing and matching different techniques is ideal—certainly better than simply having them copy definitions from a dictionary.

Try using multiple approaches from this list:

Those are just a few ways you can kickstart brainstorming of creative vocabulary teaching strategies. What ways have worked for you? Let us know in the comments.​