You know all about the "teacher brain." This is the part of your mind that kicks in when you are casually listening to someone who says something that makes you sit up straight, eyes wide, and see a lesson plan.
Or you are standing, as I was the other day, in line at Peet's Coffee minding your own business when you notice the rack of pamphlets about their products. So you mindlessly pick one up, scan your eyes over the table that tells you how many calories the lowfat banana blueberry muffin has (275 FYI) versus the regular cranberry bran muffin (500 FYI!). Then your brain lights up at the sight of the table and thinks: Heeyyyy, I could create a cool character chart like this, put slots for characters' names down this side and run character traits across the top!
Or you are wondering what you can do with the Odyssey, something that allows them to get into the text but also work in a more collaborative way. You happen to be looking at an image of the Bayeaux Tapestry (see below for an engaging video based on it) and you decide to have your kids create the Odyssean Tapestry. Teacher brain!
And then there is today. I'm sitting here thinking ahead to the coming semester, trying to think about what we need to read, learn about. Poetry is one thing. Then I am listening to my latest audio book American Prometheus, about J. Robert Oppenheimer, and it mentions the periodic table of elements. Teacher brain freeze comes over me: I hear Periodic Table of Poetic Elements! So now I am busy making notes, trying to figure out if I can do this as a wiki, why I should do it, how and when.
The point is: the world is our palette. Our work is much more like the tinker's than the artist's on most days: we hunt around to use what we have to do what we dream. Don't get me wrong: there is art in that tinkering.
So be on the look out. Watch the world around you for ideas: They are everywhere.