I’m sure you’ve had this everyday experience too. The one where you pick up a photo that has appeared unchanged forever, until you pick it up and realize the edges are faded, the corners yellowed. For me, it’s not so much the fading, but the realization that time has, indeed, changed the surface while I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes it takes a little fading to incite change.

That was my experience on a hot July day this summer when I went to my classroom to retrieve a book I was safely stashing there and in turning over the corners of all the familiar markers of learning in our room, I realized the colors actually weren’t as bright or crisp. I felt that twinge of having lost vigilance and proclaimed, “I’m starting over!” So back to the bare walls. Everything familiar, I stored away. The clean slate gave me a chance to think, yet again, about what learning should look like in this space. And I looked at the huge concrete wall across the back wall, the one that always felt like lost space.

I wanted to cover it. But I couldn’t use any hardware to attach anything. New paint could only be decided by district staff, not me. For several weeks, I wondered, I wandered, I worried. Then a conversation with my neighbor gave me an idea. Doors. What if I turned doors into huge, movable whiteboards and chalkboards? Suddenly, I found the new focal point of the classroom: the back of the room, not the front. With lots of blank spaces for students to cover, rather than ones I’d already filled up. And just in case you like a good painting project, here are the phases.

From usual doors to chalkboard doors with a little chalkboard paint!

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Then, create whiteboard centers with Idea Paint and add some color around the edges.

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But the best part…using them!

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