How would You Handle a Situation Where a Student is Stuck on Brainstorming for an Essay?

​Welcome, fellow educators and essay enthusiasts! We’ve all been there – the dreaded moment when a student stares blankly at a blank page, grappling with the elusive spark of inspiration for their essay. 

It’s the classic case of being stuck in the brainstorming phase, and as teachers, we know just how crucial this stage is in shaping a compelling and thoughtful piece of writing. 

In this blog post, we’ll embark on a journey to demystify the art of essay brainstorming. We’ll explore practical strategies, share insightful tips, and offer a helping hand for those moments when your students find themselves in the clutches of writer’s block. 

So, buckle up as we delve into the world of creativity, fostering a space where ideas flow freely, and the essay writing journey becomes an adventure rather than an ordeal. Let’s empower our students to unlock their unique voices and transform their essays from mere assignments into expressions of creativity and critical thinking!

Understand the Student’s Perspective

​It is essential that teachers understand the student’s perspective in order to be effective in the classroom. The student’s perspective is their own individual view of the world and their place in it. It is influenced by their prior experiences, their current situation, and their own unique personality. 

When teachers take the time to understand the student’s perspective, they are then able to create a learning environment that is best suited to meet the needs of that individual.

There are a number of ways that teachers can go about understanding the student’s perspective. One way is to simply ask the student what they think about the material being taught. 

This can be done through informal conversations or more formal surveys. Another way to understand the student’s perspective is to observe the student’s body language and facial expressions during class. This can give the teacher clues as to whether or not the student is engaged with the material or if they are confused.

Once the teacher has a good understanding of the student’s perspective, they can then start to adjust their teaching style accordingly. For example, if a student is having difficulty understanding the material, the teacher can slow down the pace of the lesson or provide additional explanation. 

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If a student is not interested in the material, the teacher can try to make the material more relevant to their interests or find a different way to present the information.

Understanding the student’s perspective is an important part of being an effective teacher. By taking the time to understand how each student views the world, teachers can create a learning environment that is best suited to meet the needs of all their students.

Provide Creative Prompts

You sometimes need a little creative jump start to get the ideas flowing in your student mind. Whether it’s for writing, painting, photographing, or whatever your creative passion may be, sometimes you just need a prompt to get the gears in your students head turning. I’ve compiled a list of creative prompts that may help your students next time if they feel stuck.

  • Write a list of things you’re afraid of and then turn them into something positive (i.e. instead of being afraid of failure, be excited for the opportunity to learn and grow).
  • Think of someone you admire and write down 5 reasons why you look up to them.
  • MAKE a list of random phrases, symbols, or words and use them as inspiration for a piece of art or writing.
  • Go for a walk and photograph 5 things that catch your eye. Then, use those photos as inspiration for a painting, story, poem, etc.
  • Brainstorm a list of ideas for a project you’ve been wanting to start, but haven’t had the time/motivation to begin.
  • Do some research on a topic you’re interested in and create something inspired by what you learned.
  • Look at a map and choose a random location. Write a story about someone who lives there.
  • Go through old family photos and write a short story about one of them.
  • Think of an object that has sentimental value to you and write a story about where it came from and what it represents to you.
  • Choose a random word and look up its definition, history, etymology, etc. Use that word as inspiration for a piece of writing or art.
How would You Handle a Situation Where a Student is Stuck on Brainstorming for an Essay

Offer Examples of Previous Essays

Offer your students specific examples of essays you have written in the past. For example, if you are teaching a class on persuasive writing, share with your students a persuasive essay you wrote when you were their age. 

If you are teaching a creative writing class, share an example of a story or poem you wrote when you were a student. The more specific your examples are, the more your students will be able to understand and learn from them.

It can be difficult for students to understand how to write an effective essay. They may have all of the right ideas, but they may not know how to put them together in a way that will engage and persuade the reader. One way to help your students understand how to write an effective essay is to offer them specific examples of essays you have written in the past.

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For example, say you are teaching a class on persuasive writing. You could share with your students a persuasive essay you wrote when you were their age. 

This would give them a concrete example of how to structure and write a persuasive essay. They would be able to see firsthand how you used evidence and reasoning to make your argument, and how you addressed counterarguments.

Or, say you are teaching a creative writing class. You could share an example of a story or poem you wrote when you were a student. This would show your students how to effectively use imagery and descriptive language to create a vivid and engaging piece of writing. 

Your students would also be able to see how you wove together different elements, such as character development, plot, and setting, to create a cohesive story.

The more specific your examples are, the more your students will be able to understand and learn from them. So be sure to choose examples that will be relatable and helpful for your students as they learn to write their own essays.

Encourage Brainstorming Exercises

​Brainstorming is a great way to encourage creativity and to get ideas flowing. By taking the time to brainstorm with your team, you can come up with some truly innovative ideas that you might not have thought of otherwise.

There are a few different ways to brainstorm, but one of the most popular methods is to use brainstorming exercises. These exercises help to stimulate the mind and get the creative juices flowing. Here are a few of our favourite brainstorming exercises:

1. The Three-Hat Method

This method requires everyone in the group to think about the problem from three different perspectives. The first perspective is that of an optimist, the second is that of a pessimist, and the third is that of a realist.

2. The Worst Possible Idea

In this exercise, each person in the group comes up with the absolute worst possible idea for solving the problem at hand. This may sound counter-productive, but it actually helps to get people thinking outside the box. By coming up with the worst possible idea, you may just come up with the best possible solution.

3. The Round Robin

In this exercise, each person in the group takes turns sharing an idea. The next person then builds on that idea, and so on. This is a great way to get a lot of ideas out there, and it can help to trigger some truly creative solutions.

4. Brainstorming in reverse

This is a great exercise for problems that seem impossible to solve. Start by brainstorming a list of all the things that would need to happen in order for the problem to be solved. Then, work backwards from there to come up with a plan of action.

5. The SCAMPER Technique

SCAMPER is an acronym that stands for: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, and Reverse. This technique can be used to help you come up with new ideas for products, services, or processes.

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There are endless possibilities when it comes to brainstorming exercises. These are just a few of our favourites. By taking the time to brainstorm with your team, you can encourage creativity, generate new ideas, and find innovative solutions to problems.

How would You Handle a Situation Where a Student is Stuck on Brainstorming for an Essay 2


In conclusion, how would you handle a situation where a student is stuck on brainstorming for an essay? While it may be difficult to come up with ideas at first, there are several methods that can be used to help the student get unstuck. First, try having the student brainstorm with a partner or in a group. 

This can help to stimulate ideas and can also provide support and motivation. Additionally, try providing the student with a list of potential essay topics to get them started. Once the student has some ideas, encourage them to freewrite or brainstorm a bit more to develop their thoughts further. 

Finally, remind the student that there is no “right” way to brainstorm and that they should just let their ideas flow. If all else fails, urge the student to consult with a tutor or teacher for additional assistance.


What should I do if a student is struggling to come up with ideas for their essay?

Encourage them to start with what they know or are passionate about. Sometimes, the best ideas stem from personal experiences or interests.

How can I help a student who feels overwhelmed by the brainstorming process?

Break it down into smaller steps. Begin with identifying the essay topic or prompt, then gradually move on to jotting down related ideas. This can make the process more manageable.

What if a student has too many ideas and can’t narrow them down?

Suggest creating a mind map or list of pros and cons for each idea. This visual aid can assist them in evaluating and selecting the most compelling topic.

How can I foster a supportive environment for brainstorming in a classroom setting?

Establish an open and non-judgmental atmosphere. Encourage students to share their thoughts freely, emphasizing that there are no “wrong” ideas during the brainstorming phase.

My student is stuck on the introduction. Any tips to help them get started?

Recommend focusing on the core message of the essay. What is the main point they want to convey? Starting with a clear thesis or central idea can guide the rest of the introduction.

Are there specific brainstorming techniques that work well for essay writing?

Yes, techniques like freewriting, mind mapping, or even group discussions can stimulate creative thinking. Experiment with different methods to discover what resonates best with each student.


Anne L. Reader is a seasoned professional in the realm of Essay writing, proudly serving as the Head Content Writer at With a keen eye for detail and a passion for crafting engaging and informative Essays, Anne brings a wealth of expertise to the table.