When our house was on the market this past fall, one comment that we kept hearing from realtors and buyers was "I don't like the paint choices."
Now, I am of the school that if you do not like the paint in a house, you can buy it and paint it yourself, but since our house did not sell last fall, and we want to put it on the market again this spring, I am painting.
Now, painting is not a terribly intellectually stimulating exercise, so I began to try to think a way to make this task more worthwhile and engaging. First, I drew pictures in the paint. That got boring quickly. But then I began to think about why we paint, and what painting actually does. Paint is a decoration, it does not change the structure of the house at all, it just makes it look fresh and clean- and hopefully attractive. Good paint choices can highlight the strengths of a house, and hide imperfections.
Paint makes the old look new.
Now, either I just made painting an intellectual pursuit or the fumes got to me.
I think we can find ways to "repaint" our lessons. They may be our tried and true go-to lessons, but even the best ones need to be refreshed from time to time. This is not a structural change, not a remodel, just a layer of fresh, clean new "paint" on sound teaching. Here are three tips for "repainting" your old lessons.
Keep looking for new colors
Paint companies are making new colors all the time. Or rebranding old ones. It pays to keep an eye out for the new colors, the new mixes that make the painting work better or easier. In education, it pays to keep an eye on the latest current events. Looking for new stories or connections to the lesson you are teaching is a great way to update an older lesson. Use a new example that is more current or fresh. Read an article or find a new video to spice up things for the visual learners in your room. This can really make a huge difference in your pursuit of making the content relevant for the students.
Get some new paint tools
I have painted a lot. Mostly because my wife and I have a terrible eye for what colors work. I have had to paint our last two houses twice because of this fatal flaw. (The first house looked like a McDonald's for a year.) I also paint a lot because we prefer earthier tones than the gray most folks prefer. And I like darker colors, too.
A couple years ago, I got a paint sprayer.
Worth. Every. Penny.
It is faster and smoother in application. It is why I was able to paint 8 rooms in less than a week and a half while at school. OK, I painted after school, and I do not have a self-painter. That'd be cool, though. (Paint fumes, sorry.)
Educators, you can "repaint" your lesson with some new tools. Tech tools are a good go-to. One of my fellow educators, Chris Kovacs, just used a Kahoot to spice up a lesson that he had done before. There are new edtech tools all the time, so shop around. But maybe you still prefer low-tech, how about turning to new (or new-to-you) techniques. A Socrative seminar, a debate, student led discussion, philosophical chairs, etc. However you repaint your lesson, try out a new tool. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you like it.
Take a risk
As I stated, I have taken some risks in my painting choices. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. But you know what, it is just paint. I did not knock down a load baring wall or rewire the lights. Repainting to find the right color or texture next time is some work, but it is not that costly, not that difficult to fix.
So you repainted your lesson and the response was...not what you wanted. Do not be afraid to try again. To dabble in a new shade of red or purple or yellow- something to bring your students' attention to the content you need to teach. And if the repaint does not work, use it as an opportunity to solicit student feedback. Ask them the shades they prefer, or better yet, let them repaint the lesson, let them teach their peers.
OK, folks. I hope this helps you to think a little bit about how to make a cosmetic change to some sound, but maybe a bit dated, instruction. Now, what colors would you like to use?
(Any typos, or rambling, or anything that does not make since is due to copious amounts of paint fumes. My apologies.)
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.