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Don't miss my website! Video lessons and more for teaching writers.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's Really Real! {CELEBRATE This Week: 181}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

*****


I launched my first course from the Discover. Play. Build. PD School. Less than 12 hours later and 68 people have enrolled!  I can't wait to hear your stories. Will you share them with me? Leave a comment and let me know how conferring with student writers impacts YOU. There are a ton of ways it impacts children, but I'd love to hear the ways it impacts you.

I'll go first.

Conferring changes me because I hear children's stories. I realize there is so much more to a child than learning the academics. When they share their stories or interests, I remember the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to make the world better one child at a time. It starts with knowing their stories. From there, I help them tell their stories better. I teach them to use their voices to change the world. And in some small way, it makes me know stories matter. Every story matters.

Thanks for celebrating with me. I can't wait to hear your celebrations about how conferring impacts you.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Special Extras! CONFERRING NOTES 101 is OPEN for Registration

I just sent this out to my Email Pals. My zany writing group convinced me to open the cart early for CONFERRING NOTES 101. There's a special bonus that's open for 12 hours. Read on!



Hi everyone!
The FB LIVE event was SO MUCH FUN! My writing group was true to form -- zany and fun. They talked me into opening the cart early for CONFERRING NOTES 101.
That's right, the full version of CONFERRING NOTES 101 is open! Just click the link!
My writing group insisted on a special bonus. So if you join the course before 9:00 am (Eastern), then you will get:
  • 15% off registration
  • A 10 minute online coaching call
  • A copy of CELEBRATING WRITERS
Make sure to use the coupon code: FBBONUS
The course has instant (and lifetime) access. You also get all of kinds of awesome encouragement and ideas for conferring. Check out the details on the course page. Here's what you get when you register:
  • 5 course sections to organize the complex topic of conferring with student writers into manageable portions.
  • 20 step-by-step video lessons that will help you establish a personalized note system, develop your skills during a conference, and analyze your notes as data.
  • Videos of primary and intermediate writing conferences with the thinking behind each move highlighted, along with how the conferring notes for those conferences were written.
  • A 40 page handbook filled with ready-to-use conference records, notes and quotes, and cheat sheets to help you put this to use tomorrow!
  • A private Facebook group just for course participants so you can get the encouragement, feedback & extra help you need.
  • Instant access to everything right away at a "go at your own pace" schedule to fit what works for you.
  • Forever access to everything because sometimes summer is the best time to dive in.
  • Unlimited email access to Ruth for one month.
  • Discussion questions for teams at the end of each section so you can discuss ideas deeper and create a culture of encouragement and support.
  • Earn up to 15 Professional Growth Points for professional development.
Remember: FBBONUS
After 9:00 am (Eastern) all the FB bonuses go away. (Although, there will still be a FASTMOVER discount of 15% for 24 hours.)
Thanks again for the FUN on FB Live!
Shine on,
Ruth

Friday, February 17, 2017

Let Us Eat Cake! {CELEBRATE This Week: 180}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***


I made cake on an ordinary Thursday. It was an old recipe, handed down through generations on Andy's side of the family. I sifted flour. I baked the Old-Fashioned Red Velvet Cake in heart shaped pans, just like my mom used to do. 

I put it on a fancy cake stand, the one with a pedestal and dome lid. It was waiting on the counter when everyone came home. They smelled it before they saw it.

Martha said, "I am so excited! Please tell me that's for us!" I didn't know cake is her favorite. 

This is how I fight the lie of busy. I sift flour and bake cakes in heart shaped pans. I make a two-step frosting, the kind with boiled milk, and I spread it pretty. I let them sneak-swipe their fingers in the icing and cherry pick the chocolate savings. I act surprised when I hear the glass dome clink and tattle on the culprits.

And just like that, there is much right in the world as we eat cake.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conferring Notes 101 LITE

My son Jay L.O.V.E.S. football. He is a hardcore football player. We love this about Jay, because he spent more than 7 years of his childhood bumping around the foster care system. So many kids from hard places don’t know how to follow their passions. Not Jay, though -- he has football.



Last summer Jay went to football camp for the first time. At football camp, Jay participated in many drills. In fact, most of the time at camp was spent in drills. Jay came home with a series of drills to practice. (He still practices them, in fact.)


I’ve never seen Jay run a drill during a game. The drills aren’t part of the game plan, but they are essential to becoming a better football player.


I’ve been putting together a course to help teachers lift the level of their conferences. It is called Conferring Notes 101. I am so excited about this course, that I wanted to share it. So I’m taking some of the best content and putting together a three session Conferring Notes 101 LITE version.



What does this have to do about Jay's football drills?

You can think of Conferring Notes 101 LITE as an intense camp to lift the level of your conferring. Just like Jay ran lots of drills at football camp, we’re going to set up a simple paper system so we can “run some practice drills” as teachers of writers.  I offer a step-by-step guide to setting up a trusty go-to conferring note system.

Will you do two things?
  1. Sign up for the CONFERRING NOTES 101 LITE course. It is free and some of my best work in supporting teachers to lift the level of their conferring. Just fill out the form above.
  2. Tell a friend! Share this with the teachers across the hall or in your department or in your school. Or post about it on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat (whatever your preference). Here is the link: http://bit.ly/con101LITE and the hashtag is #conferringnotes101. Feel free to tag me, just get the R before the E in my last name! [@ruth_ayres]


Once you sign up, you’ll be on the list to get the Conferring Notes 101 LITE sessions as they release. You don’t want to  wait too long, though, because they are only available for a short amount of time. I’d hate for you to miss it!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dreaming Big {CELEBRATE This Week: 179}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***


Oh boy!
Have you ever had news that feels so big that you're a little nervous to say it out loud?
I think this is a sign of a dream coming true.

It only makes since that I whisper the news to you, this sweet community of people who celebrate.

It's been a big dream of mine to offer online course for teachers to help make teaching writers manageable. I've been dreaming this dream for awhile. Sometimes dreams feel more like wishes. Sometimes dreams feel impossible.

And every now and then dreams come close to coming true.

Lean in, my friends. I'm not sure I can say it above a whisper yet.

I'm getting ready to launch my first online course from Discover. Play. Build. 

The heart of writing workshop is conferring. Not surprisingly, the hardest part of writing workshop is conferring. If we want to make teaching writers more manageable, then we tackle conferring.

I've walked alongside hundreds of teachers who have learned and refined the art of conferring with writers. Strengthening conferring skills transforms writing instruction from vague ideas to clear teaching points and precise differentiation.

The fastest way to make this transformation is to learn to keep solid conferring notes. Conferring notes expedite the process because they hold us accountable to lifting the level of conferences, and they support more growth in students as writers.

Soon I plan to open a free 3 session mini-course to give a taste of the bigger course, Conferring Notes 101. It's been super fun to put together. For the free mini-course videos, I'm wearing some of my favorite writer shirts and sharing the best content from the course. I want it to have the feel and mindset of Saturday morning. No hurries and time to reflect. (We can ignore Andy who says if I really want to look like a writer, I'd be in yoga pants, a worn sweatshirt, a ball cap and wrapped in a quilt. That Andy -- he *thinks* he's funny.)

You might want to pick up my free training, 3 Secrets to Powerful Conferences, by filling out the form below. (This is different than Conferring Notes 101.) It's a good taste for how the sessions will go. Plus, we'll be Email Pals (if we aren't already), and you'll be among the first to know when the mini-course goes live!

Thanks for showing up each week and celebrating. It's nice to know that no matter the week, we can find reasons to celebrate.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Kids Don't Need Teachers for Learning Information


I'd like to invite you into my kitchen. It's one of my favorite places in the whole entire world. Rich conversations happen here. We figure out important stuff, and I need you to help me figure out what it means to be an effective educator. I've been pressing on, but I'm feeling tattered.

If you join me, this was our view after school.


Hannah and Martha are both in high school. Hannah is writing notes for her history reading. She is not allowed to use a device, even though her school is a 1:1 school. She must hand write notes as proof of completing the reading. Martha is writing out math problems that she fully understands step-by-meaningless-step. "I feel like a slave," she says. At least she'll have proof of her understanding for the teacher.

Across the kitchen, Sam shouts, "Woohoo! I don't have any homework tonight, so I can R-E-A-D!" He runs upstairs to get his book from his nightstand. Jordan finished his assignment and gets his book too. They both settle in the kitchen.


They are active kids, so I ask, "You want to sit and read after you've been sitting in school all day?"

"Oh yeah," Sam says, "You never get to read anything that matters in school. I love coming home and reading stuff I want."

"Me too," said Jay.

Silence settled around the kitchen. I started dinner and sorting my thoughts. I wish you were there. Sometimes it's best to talk through the tricky stuff.

The way kids learn and use information is changing. They have access to more information with a slap of a button than ever before. They can find the number of bones in a human body, the theme of To Kill a Mocking Bird, a video of metamorphosis, or the purposes of the three branches of the US government in 0.28 seconds on Google.

They jockey YouTube, email, iTunes and Google Classroom from their school devices, phones, and smart watches. They hear more about social issues, protests, and pop culture from their social media feeds at the bus hub than what their parents heard at their ages from watching the evening news. They navigate conversations in the lunch line and conversations through texts and conversations on social media. They deal with bullying and embarrassment in ways that used to be unfathomable.

They dream big dreams. They invent with video and music. They find ideas for their hobbies and interests. They learn to change a tire or make a duck tape flower or create a smokey eye with make-up. They figure out how to build a habitat for a new pet, create a vending machine from legos or stir a homemade remedy for acne.

It is only fair that teaching practices change as kids' learning needs change.

We are living this transformation. Teachers are no longer disseminators of information. They are no longer facilitators of learning. Kids do not need teachers for these things. Kids don't need teachers for learning information.

But, they still need teachers. They need us for different reasons than filling their minds with facts and knowledge.

Kids need teachers to be activators of curiosity and cultivators of deep thinking. 

Kids need teachers to spark interest, to nudge their thinking, and to tug them into exploration. They need us to give them space to fail and bounce back. They need us to build their confidence and empower them to think big and bigger.

Back in the kitchen, Jordan interrupts my thoughts. "Mom, do you mind if I use my device to look up something about bearded dragons? I want to know if Spike is more sensitive when he's shedding. I wonder if I should hold him when he's shedding."

Of course I said yes. Jordan has important learning to do as a new pet owner.

Kids don't need teachers to fill their minds with facts and knowledge. They don't need teachers for learning information. They have access to information. Kids need to go to school to learn how to chase curiosities, determine truth, grow ideas through collaboration, and share deep understandings in ways that make the world a better place.

Some kids need to go to school because it is a safe place. It is warm and has food. Adults won't hurt them in school. There are many kids filling our classrooms who come from hard places.

Kids need teachers to help them find a different way their stories can go.

This is why I press on. I want to encourage teachers to be activators of curiosity and cultivators of deep thinking. I want to help teachers know how to fill needs and heal kids who come from dark places. It's not easy work, but when I look around my kitchen, I see firsthand children who have been restored from hard starts to life. I see children who are curious and know how to follow their passions to discover new learning. I see children who deserve more from school than filling out a worksheet to regurgitate what the teacher said.

All kids deserve these things, and I can't think of a better place to get them than from a teacher.

Here in the kitchen we have conversations. I'd love to hear your voice, your thoughts, about whether you think kids need different things from teachers today. How can we navigate and fill the [new] needs of our students?


Saturday, February 4, 2017

I Have Time {CELEBRATE This Week: 178}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***



I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but somehow we went from toys and goldfish crackers to late night movies and high heels. We don't have a house full of little kids anymore. I don't miss it as much as I thought I would.  It reminds me of a stance I claimed a decade ago as Sam moved from infant to toddler.


I reread the caption [on an Instagram photo that could have been my undoing], My favorite season of parenthood yet, and I was reminded of a young momma who was completely captivated by her blue-eyed toddler. I was younger then, before I was scraped by the ugly of the world, and I was enamored by how quickly my little boy changed. I missed the late night bottles in the wooden rocking chair, but I loved that he danced in the kitchen while I cooked dinner. I missed pureeing the baby food, but I loved that he took the last sip of my tea each morning. 
I realized parenting was always going to be about missing something and loving something new. The seasons change. I decided then, as a young momma -- before I knew the way trauma changes a child and before I knew I had two daughters and another son out there facing the ugly this world offers, waiting to someday let me be their momma too -- I decided I would always allow my favorite season of parenthood to be the current season. 

The Instagram post stung not because I'm an inferior momma, but  because it revealed that I'm not keeping up my end of the deal. I'm not letting right now be my favorite season of parenthood.

Parenting is always about missing something and loving something new. As they get busier, I have to be still. This isn't easy in a world where busy is a badge of honor. 

Hannah slid across the kitchen counter, her knees wobbly on the stool, and the stories and thoughts and giggles spilled out. I waited for dinner to finish cooking. There were a zillion other things for me to do, but I sat and I listened.

I sometimes forget that I don't have to be busy. Busy is a choice, a decision, a mindset. I do not have to decide to be busy. There is another option.

I have time.

It is true. 
Don't believe the lie the universe is telling. 
Busy isn't important. Busy isn't success. Busy isn't achievement.
I'm heading into a weekend filled with good stuff -- there are 8 major commitments on our calendar for the next two days. Rather than lamenting, We're so busy! Andy and I have decided to claim time. We are an active family, and there are events outside of our control. We didn't schedule the band competition or the boy scout outing. We didn't schedule the visitation times or the Super Bowl. We simply said Yes, we have time.

This weekend I'll wash laundry a little later at night than I prefer and my walks will be a little shorter than I prefer. This is the essence of having time -- we make adjustments to our preferences in order to have time to love more.

Because in the end, it's not about being busy, but about loving more.

I'm glad you are here to celebrate. Your act is one of claiming time. Cheers!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Right Beside Writers {CELEBRATE This Week: 177}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***




This place, 

right beside writers,

is where I 

watch 

and 

notice.


This place 

is where I 

celebrate 

and 

nudge 

growth.


This place, 

usually on my knees 

and 

always with a servant's heart

is the


one 


place 

where I always feel 

like I'm doing what 

I was made to do.


Helping others write 

what 

matters 

most. 


I'm pretty sure, 

in some small way, 

I will 

change 

the 

world.


I posted this picture and some of these words on Instagram. A former student left me a comment: I still hear your questions echo in my ear as I write. Sometimes it feels like you are right there next to me.


Her words have followed me around all day. It's been a dozen years since she sat on the floor of my 7th grade classroom, under the chalkboard, back against the wall with her notebook balanced on her knees.


I didn't know then that I spent my days in a sanctuary. We wrote in our notebooks. We read books cover to cover. We talked and laughed and teased and tried and failed. And in the end, we all became writers. 


I dedicated my first book to them. 


Because the truth is, sometimes when I kneel next to another writer, I still feel like they are right there next to me. 


*********


Thursday, January 26, 2017

9 Reasons I Keep Conference Notes

I'm putting the finishing touches on my new online self-paced workshop about establishing and using a record keeping system for writing conferences with students. (I really need a good name for it. Let me know if you have an idea. I'm terrible at naming things.)



I decided to collect some fresh conferences to use in the course, so I emailed a handful of teachers. Whenever I decide to invite myself into a classroom, I have two prerequisites --

  1. The teacher won't panic and flip out and spend extra time getting ready for me.
  2. The teacher will be honest with me about their writing workshop habits and thoughts.
Today, two of the three teachers pushed me about the point of keeping conference notes. Both said a version of this:

I know where my students are as writers, so why should I write it down?

My inbox is filled with questions in the same vein. 

How can I make a system that makes sense?
I have a hard time getting to my notes.
I forget to write down notes.
How do I take notes that are relevant?
How do I convince teachers notes really matter?
How do I know what's important to note?

(I have the best Email Pals who hit reply to this week's note and let me know their questions about keeping conference notes. If you have a question, leave it in the comments.)

I might have had a moment today when I thought, Is it important to keep conference notes?

After spending lots of time thinking (I drove more than 5 hours today), I feel the same way about conference notes tonight as I did when I woke up this morning.

Conference
notes
are
essential.

  1. They help me make sure I meet with every kid. Not just the ones who need me, but all of them. Regularly.
  2. They keep me intentional and purposeful. They hold me to affirming and teaching in all conferences.
  3. They prevent me from going in blind to a conference. After a couple of weeks, I've noted needs for every kid. Before a conference, I just look at the previous notes and I have an idea of what I'll teach.
  4. Let's face it, no matter how great we think our memories are, they fail. I go into the grocery store for three items, grab two things and can't  remember the third item I needed. I don't remember where I put my car keys. I forget to turn in my mileage. We are human. We are teachers. Our brains are filled to the brim. There is no reason to use storage space on something I can write down.
Those are just the reasons that make me a stronger writing teacher. My real motivation for keeping conference notes is because they allow students to become stronger writers.
  1. They allow me to select the most pressing need for every kid. It's not always the first thing I think of and it isn't always the way the conference is leading. Conference notes force me to think through students needs and goals as writers and then make a decision to teach the writer during every conference.
  2. They offer evidence of growth. Through my conference notes, I know where students are in relationship to writing standards, as well as at different milestones in the year.
  3. They allow me to have a single writing conversation with students across time. Conferences are connected. Previous teaching points guide me in reteaching or affirming new learning. Accomplishing goals allows me to see the new needs. Conferring moves from a whim to an intentional teaching move.
  4. They provide patterns in the class. I can determine upcoming minilesson objectives or organize small groups for differentiated instruction. 
  5. They become rich data sources for others in the school -- special education or high ability teachers; principals and RtI teams; as well as future teachers. We can work together instead of working harder to meet students' needs.
Leave a comment and let me know:
  1. Why do you think conference notes are important?
  2. What questions do you have about conference notes?
  3. A stellar title for me new course!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Love is an Apple Core {CELEBRATE This Week: 176}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***



It was a busy day, the kind where I eat lunch in my car to make the schedule work. No matter how harried a day is,  I am still committed to living unhurried. So when I eat apples, I'm mindful. I pause and chew and taste.

I realize apple cores are evidence of true love.

In a world where creative dates and big bouquets of roses and gushy affirmations on social media for #mcm (Man Crush Monday) or #wcw (Woman Crush Wednesday) is considered true love, an apple core might seem laughable. The world says love should be fancy and make you happy.

This is a dangerous lie to believe.

Happiness is not a dependable marker of love.

Love is about sticking through the hard, even when the hard isn't happy. 

The truth is, true love doesn't care about personal happiness. It's not egocentric. It cares about offering happiness to another person.

It's apple cores.

Because the reason I have an apple core is because someone else did the grocery shopping late the night before. Someone else left the apple in plain view for the next morning. Someone else put my happiness ahead of his own.

Rarely is true love fancy.

It throws in a load of laundry at 11 pm and stays up to fold it together.
It takes the dog out in the rain.
It changes the sheets after the toddler gets sick in the middle of the night.
It does the dishes.
It makes the coffee.
It bakes cookies.
It runs into town to pick up and drop off and pick up kids.

It believes making another person's life pleasant is more important than personal happiness.

It is unlikely a bouquet of roses with a love note will ever be delivered to my work. The chances of a profession of love for me on social media is statistically impossible. Unless I believe a creative date is when I ask friends to meet us at a favorite bar for dinner and beer, it isn't ever going to happen.

But I have apple cores and the truth about true love: it isn't fancy and it isn't about my happiness.

The truth remains. The more I love in selfless and unprecedented ways, the happier I am.

This is the paradox of love.

Thanks for sharing your celebrations today.


If you haven't grabbed my free topics guide, check it out today.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Video Minilessons: Independent Writing Projects

One of my go-to ways to breathe new life into writing workshop is to invite students to create their own writing projects. This doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming. It can happen between units or in the middle of a unit. It can happen in one workshop or a handful of workshops. 

Trust me, invite your students to create their own writing projects, and their energy for writing will increase.


Below are two minilessons (one for primary and the other for intermediate writers) to springboard into a invitation for students to pursue their own writing projects.


I'd love to know how you breathe new energy into your writing workshop. Leave a comment and let us know!






Lesson: WRITE YOUR BEST BOOK EVER (K-3)
Playlists:

Grades K-1
Grades 2-3
Routines
Launching Writing Workshop

Description: Launch writing workshop with students writing their BEST BOOK EVER! In this lesson, students are invited to consider the things they know as writers to write a BEST BOOK EVER. 


Special Notes: There is an explanation of the routine for "turn and talk" in the middle of this video.

Extra Resources: Check out the webpage I put together with the chart and inspiration boxes.




Lesson: WHAT WILL YOU MAKE IN WRITING WORKSHOP? (3-UP)
Playlists:

Grades K-1
Grades 2-3
Routines
Writing Process
Launching Writing Workshop

Description: Offer an invitation for students to create their own writing projects. Students consider audience, genre, purpose, and topic when developing writing projects. 


Special Notes: Make sure to create the chart to use in the minilesson, inspiration boxes for students, and to give students access to the WIP Brainstorm Sheet (found on the resource page).

Extra Resources: Click here for the chart, inspiration box explanation, and WIP Brainstorm Sheet on the resources page.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Give LOVE Away {CELEBRATE This Week: 175}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

***




image from The Giving Keys website

I gave LOVE away this week. 

Ever since May, I've been wearing a Giving Key necklace. The Giving Keys is a pay it forward company that helps people move out of homelessness. I bought it at the same time that I bought Kim's retirement gift. (If you missed last week's celebration, click here to read about my friend Kim.)

It was the perfect gift. Kim and I often exchanged kitschy jewelry. The key held an extra meaning because Kim was a realtor. She also believed in supporting organizations that made the world better. She liked companies with a cause. I gave Kim a key stamped with the word INSPIRE. She was a beacon of inspiration for many people.

Personally, Kim inspired me as an educator, momma and business woman by the way she unabashedly loved people. She was over the top in the love department. She never worried about whether it was her place to love people; she just did. So while I was buying Kim a necklace for her retirement gift, I bought one for myself too. Mine was stamped with the word LOVE. 

Kim loved her necklace. (I knew she would.) And she loved that I bought a similar one as a reminder to love without embarrassment. She giggled when she saw me and we were wearing our necklaces. She would lift her key and shake it, saying, "I love this!"

The premise of The Giving Keys is to "embrace your word, then pay it forward to a person you feel needs the message more than you." I've been wearing my necklace and learning to love in bold and unprecedented ways. I was beginning to think maybe I wouldn't be positioned to pass it on. I wasn't sure if I would ever master the message of radical love. Then Kim died suddenly, and I didn't know if I would want to pass on my necklace.

I wore it to the Celebration of Life. Standing in line, there was a teacher who Kim mentored. I do not know the teacher personally, but I know her through Kim's stories. Kim loved the way this young teacher loved children. Kim believed this teacher has much to offer other teachers. Often I would ask about her, much like I asked about Kim's sons. Kim would rattle off a story from her kindergarten classroom, and glow at the way this teacher has developed the art of teaching.

She wept softly as we waited to go into the gym. My heart cracked with sadness. I wanted to hug her, to whisper, "It's all good," and to slip my LOVE necklace over her head. Kim would have liked that. 

Instead I stood silently.

I wore the necklace to the funeral. We remembered Kim for her big love. It was impossible love. No one could possibly love as big and as much as Kim. Yet she did it. The pastor said it was because Kim knew the love of God and passed it on to others.

I knew it was time to give LOVE away, except I felt embarrassed about giving my necklace to someone I barely knew. It took me a few days to muster up the courage. I kept wearing the necklace that began to feel like stolen treasure. No longer was it mine to wear.

I wrote a note to the teacher.
I thought about what to say.
I waited until after school.

I took a deep breath, walked down the hall, through the classroom door and across the room to the teacher.

I leaned into love.

I stumbled over the words. 
I told bits of the story. 
I blinked back tears. 

I pressed LOVE into her hand and said, "This is so you'll always remember how much Kim loved you and how much your love matters to others. Don't grow weary."

I hugged her, a stranger who no longer felt like a stranger, and left the room.

Giving LOVE in a bold way made me feel a little embarrassed. I wished I could have been someone different, someone whom she called friend. I wondered if she would wear the necklace. 

It's all good. It was a wisp from my heart, but I knew it was true.

Today, the teacher stopped by my door to talk. She was wearing LOVE around her neck. It is true, we can't love too much.

It's all good.