What does your school need? Tell BING and win bucks!

I’ve been teaching in public high schools for over twenty-two years. I’d like to tell you that every year, there is more money to fund needs than there are needs to fund.

But then that wouldn’t be the truth. And this year, more than ever, schools are experiencing the same budge issues are most American families. In our district, positions lost due to attrition were not refilled, more teachers are needed to relieve overcrowded classrooms, and supplies? Well, there’s a shallow well and too many buckets.

So, as a classroom teacher, I’m delighted when I find companies willing to extend a hand for the future of education and, ultimately, all of us.

In their latest philanthropic campaign supporting kids’ education, Bing wants to help teachers and students by providing them with supplies and financial support needed to ensure a successful learning experience. Bing will potentially give away over $1 million dollars through their new “Our School Needs” program. This user-generated content competition easily enables students and teachers in elementary, middle and high schools to submit a request for what their school needs most by submitting a photo, essay or optional video.

Students and teachers can learn more about the contest and submit an entry on behalf of their school by visiting www.bing.com/ourschoolneeds.

From now until October 22nd, you can upload photos, essays and videos telling Bing what your school needs for a chance to win up to $100,000!

What does your school need? Every school needs something, from a library to computers to even more teachers. Hear what others are saying in this heartfelt video and get inspired to create your own.

Special Giveaway!

As part of this outreach, five lucky winners will receive a $50 donation to use at DonorsChoice.org to support a local classroom! Click here to enter to win.

Our School Needs: Everyone Deserves a Great Education!
What Does Your School Need?
What: User‐generated content competition that will identify and fulfill the dreams of 4 schools: 1 grand prize winner and 3 first prize schools. Bing will give up to a million dollars in prizes and donations to schools in need!
Why: Every child deserves a great education. Bing enthusiastically supports the teachers, educators and parents who make it happen with products, programs and donations that help provide a great learning environment. This competition is a great opportunity to let teachers and students show everyone through essays, photographs and videos (optional) what they think their schools needs the most.
When: Students and teachers can submit entries from now until Friday, October 22nd (Winners will be announced Tuesday, November 9th)
Where: http://www.Bing.com/education
How: There will be 3 categories: grades k‐6, 7 – 9 and 10 – 12. . The overall grand prize winning school will receive $100,000 and each category will have a first prize of $50,000.
• Step 1: Teachers and students can create an entry for their school, including a story of what their school needs, photos and a video (optional). Students under 18 will need a parent/guardian or
teacher submit the entry on their behalf.
• Step 2: Entries are made available for everyone to see and rate online. The 5 top rated submission in each category (15 total) is guaranteed a slot in the final panel. Top rated submissions and the
top editors picks will then be turned over to a distinguished panel of judges who will determine the 15 finalists.
Step 3: Voting begins on October 27. Stay tuned for more information about this phase of the contest and for your opportunity to participate in the Blog Tour for the Voting phase!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Bing and received a DonorsChoose.org giving code and gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

SMART Board: Write about the best teacher in the world and win a whiteboard

A lifetime ago, in 1974 when I first started teaching, nothing happened without chalk and a blackboard.  You can just imagine the excitement when colored chalk started hitting the shelves.

Then, in the 1980s, we celebrated the introduction of the overhead projector. We learned to live with rainbow-colored hands as the price we paid for having to recycle transparency sheets.

Less than ten years ago, an ELMO appeared in my classroom. No, not the Sesame Street character. An electronic visual presenter that let me show anything, anytime, anywhere just by popping it under the lamp.

And just when I thought I’d reached teacher heaven, along came the SMART board to push me right past the pearly gates.

People choose the SMART Board interactive whiteboard because it helps energize presentations and motivate learners. In 1991, it was the world’s first interactive whiteboard. Today, it is the world’s leading interactive whiteboard. Combining the simplicity of a whiteboard with the power of a computer, the SMART Board interactive whiteboard engages students and audiences around the world.

The touch-sensitive display connects to your computer and digital projector to show your computer image. You can then control computer applications directly from the display, write notes in digital ink and save your work to share later.

Best of all, the full-featured SMART Board interactive whiteboard is incredibly easy to use. If you can use a computer, you can use a SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

It revolutionized the way I teach writing, and the kids are totally engaged when I use it. And now, this  truly smart SMART group is making it possible for teachers who don’t have a board to win one.

SMART Technologies is proud to announce the launch of “SMART Love of Learning.”
It acknowledges and celebrates all of the teachers who have impacted individuals around the world, and it all comes down to one simple question: “Who do you think is the best teacher in the world?”

Follow the link below to the Facebook group to enter to WIN a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for your child’s school or a school of your choice! (simply click on the “WIN” tab to
• The Parent’s Toolkit gives tips to those parents who want to raise money so they can get a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for their school.

• Enter the contest and share in the discussion!
Love of Learning Facebook Group


I have been teaching over twenty years. This has never happened.

Never. Ever.

And if it never happens again, this one time will be with me for always.

Waiting on my front porch when I arrived home from school recently was a ProFlowers box. I opened it to find  a beautiful arrangement of  lilies and stargazers on the verge of blossoming and this note:

“Mrs. Allan,

This is a thank you from a former student. You have changed my life and I will never forget it. Thank you for giving me confidence and the most inspiring English lessons. You are an amazing woman, and I hope the best for you and your family. I hope to see many more Allan books for me to keep reading. THANK YOU!

From: One of the many lives you changed.

If you’re the person who sent these, I hope you read this or find your way here from Facebook or Twitter. Not that you expected gratitude or recognition; otherwise, you would have signed your name. That you didn’t makes this act of kindness all the more remarkable and powerful. Thank you. God bless you.


In the process of writing her second book for Simon & Schuster,Stacy DeBroff interviewed over 250 teachers. One of the interview topics concerned the most meaningful moments they had experienced in their careers, and the majority of teachers expressed that feeling appreciated meant more than any tangible gift they could have received.

My experience truly reflects what Stacy found in her interviews because even though I received a tangible gift of flowers, the truth is the note itself was gift enough.

Sometimes, parents and students aren’t sure how to convey their appreciation or, perhaps, like my student, would prefer to do so anonymously. Bing is encouraging students and parents to recognize teachers who have made a difference in their lives through a new philanthropic campaign focused on supporting kids’ education. Bing has committed to a gift of up to $500,000 and teamed up with DonorsChoose.org to provide both kids and adults with a way to express their thanks to a teacher and help another teacher or school in the process.

Visit www.bing.com/education to post a comment or share a story about a teacher who made a difference in your life (or the life of your child), and Bing will provide you with a $5 donation to DonorsChoose.org, which can be applied toward any classroom project of your choice. I’ve posted a project on DonorsChoose for our ONE SCHOOL, ONE BOOK literacy initiative next year.

Bing’s Teacher Appreciation Website helps teachers help themselves. Here’s how it works: a teacher can log onto the DonorsChoose.org website to start a “classroom project” or donation request. Parents and students can then visit the Bing Teacher Appreciation site to leave a comment [up to 5 per visitor] about a teacher who has made a difference in their life, enabling them to receive a $5 giving code to donorschoose.org [one per comment]. Parents and students can then apply the $5 giving code to the “classroom project” of their choice.

One of my daughters, Sarah, who had Down’s Syndrome, was blessed to have a teacher, Mrs. Hebert, whose enthusiasm and passion were gifts to her students and to us as parents.She never patronized her students; in fact, she challenged them to become productive and engaging members of society. I’ll always appreciate her for that, and Bing is giving me a way to recognize her.

Each visitor can leave up to 5 comments, resulting in a total donation of $25. At the end of June, Bing will aggregate the comments and share them with each teacher in the form of a congratulations letter.

Go ahead. Make a teacher’s day!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Bing and a $100 DonoseChoose.org giving code to facilitate my review. Mom Central also sent me a thank-you gift certificate.”

MAMA PhD…no womb at the university?


This book is a must-have for any woman who intends to pursue motherhood and academics. In truth, it should be required reading IN the universities for everyone–male and female–in education.

My first child, my son, is now 31, with two daughters of his own, and I still remember arriving at school in the mornings looking like a raccoon, mascara puddling on my eyelids, the wet sorrow of peeling myself away from him.

This book is one I’m ordering copies of for my own daughters, not because they’re mommy/academics, but because the stories of the struggles are honest and funny. They’re written by women who know that sometimes the solution is equally problematic, but who recognize that balance is a goal…not a given.

Mama, Ph.D. is a literary anthology of deeply-felt personal narratives by women both in and out of thMama, PhD covere academy, writing about their experiences attempting to reconcile bodies with brains. This anthology voices stories of academic women choosing to have, not have, or delay children. The essays in this anthology will speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, and will make recommendations on how to make the academy a more family-friendly workplace.

Robert Drago, author of Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Life (Dollars & Sense, 2007) says, “Through the voices of those who have weathered the storm, Mama PhD fills a crucial gap in our understanding of why gender equity has been so difficult to achieve in academe. More importantly, it provides invaluable lessons for young scholars — both men and women — striving to navigate family and academic careers.”

Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family (Penguin, 2005) says, “All those sleepless nights and dirty diapers and baby food in your hair — where’s the discursive construction of motherhood when you need it? It’s here, in these smart, funny, poignant essays that struggle to balance mind and body, to balance body and soul.”

And Mary Ann Mason, author of Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Families and Careers (Oxford University Press, 2007) says, “This is a charming, heartfelt book that expresses the difficulties and the joys of combining a life in academia with motherhood. Each story is different, but the experiences and challenges are widely shared.”

Caroline and Elrena decided to assemble this collection because it’s the book we needed when we entered graduate school and the academic job market. We wanted to know that blending family life with life in the ivory tower might be possible; we needed to know that other women were attempting this balancing act. Those women were invisible to us then, but as we began to seek out their stories, we discovered so many women living out this very challenge. We want their stories to be told, so that other women who face these difficult choices will know that they are not alone. We hope this book will encourage and inspire these women, as they try to decide if, when, and how to balance motherhood and academic work.


Our stories will be told more fully in the book, but for now, here’s a brief look at our backgrounds. Caroline, an editor and columnist for Literary Mama, got married six weeks after earning her Ph.D, and got pregnant, two years later, the same week as finally landing a good teaching job. She thought she might attempt to balance teaching and motherhood, but over the course of her pregnancy and brief maternity leave realized that she needed to leave academia. Elrena (a contributor to Literary Mama and other publications) found out she was expecting during her second semester of Ph.D. studies, but her plans to sail blithely through her pregnancy while continuing her studies were radically altered by serious pregnancy complications. After trying to balance recovery, new motherhood, and graduate student life for a semester, she realized she needed to take a year off and rethink her commitment to the academy. Caroline and Elrena, having both left the confines of the ivory tower, are now working on this book.


Part I: The Conversation
This section contains essays representing the variety of choices women have to make as they enter academia, and the struggles and losses encountered as a result of each choice. Selected essays will include topics such as:
~ choosing to have children and an academic career, in a range of fashions
~ choosing not to have children in favor of an academic career
~ choosing to delay having children in favor of an academic career

Part II: That Mommy Thing
In this section, women write about pursuing both academic careers and motherhood. Essays will feature women who have experienced:
~ children before and during graduate school or the dissertation process
~ children during job searches or new appointments
~ children and the tenure track process

Part III: Recovering Academic
This section features essays from women who are redefining themselves and their careers after a period within the ivory tower. Essays will talk about women who have:
~ left the academy after landing a tenure-track job
~ left the academy after achieving tenure
~ moved from teaching positions to administrative work or independent scholarship

Part IV: Momifesto
Having delved into the realms of motherhood in, out, and on the periphery of the academy, this section offers hope for the possibility of a different future, as contributors envision:
~ changes toward family-friendly university settings
~ changes in the economic structure of the academy to benefit mothers
~ changes in the tenure structure that would benefit mothers

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Affirmations for the Academic Mother

by Cynthia Kuhn, Josie Mills, Christy Rowe, and Erin Webster Garrett

As graduate students in a rigorous PhD program, we often marveled at the professors raising young children amid the intense demands of academia. Such conversations took place in private, however, as anything outside of publishing and landing a job was considered frivolous for serious doctoral candidates. We all had babies within the first few years of joining faculties (at a state college, a community college, a private university, and a state university, respectively) and found that sharing our unsettling Dr. Mom experiences in phone conversations, e-mails, or the occasional meeting helped us to process the multifaceted challenges faced by the academic mother. 1 The medieval structures and traditionally juvenile attitudes toward women in the higher education system have not been completely dislodged; they just appear in more covert but equally insidious ways. Motherhood is constructed as All Body—our own and/or our baby’s—while scholarly work is rendered All Mind. This is an impossible theoretical dialectic to negotiate, and establishing realistic expectations is crucial for anyone considering (or reflecting upon) maternity in light of myriad obstacles erected by academic culture. We hope the following list might be useful in that regard.

Ten Things We Wish Someone Had Told Us

1. You are strong enough to handle any disturbing assumption regarding maternity before, during, and after your pregnancy—know that it reveals more about the system than it does about you.

The notions that only an unorganized person would get knocked up and that pregnancy makes women irrational and impossible to deal with are fostered by the higher education system, which is often hostile to feminism and is decidedly antiparent (there is no day care on my campus, for example, and hysterical laughter at the very thought). The default assumption seems to be that faculty members have wives at home who take care of distractions like reproduction. On my campus, suggestions for family-friendly practices such as paid parental leave, designated private nursing areas, day care, and health-care coverage for infertility issues are dismissed out of hand as unnecessary. Which brings me to the whopper: birth or miscarriage is to be scheduled at the convenience of the school, preferably on holidays. You may not want to tell your department chair you are expecting until after the second or third ultrasound, as going back and revealing a miscarriage can be both nerve-wracking and violating. I learned this the hard way.2

People may assume all you want to talk about (or are capable of talking about) is your child. In meeting after meeting, the dean would ask other colleagues about their writing projects while she just asked me, “How’s the baby?” I felt like she assumed that I was no longer in the same professional realm; I was (only) a mother.

To some onlookers, I waited too long to have children and now am reaping the appropriate punishment for that selfishness (three miscarriages so far). The most vocal detractor has been a sister-in-law who so much as said that maybe this was God’s way of saying I shouldn’t have another child because I can’t handle what I have. When I was pregnant at thirty-three and had gained more than the ideal amount of weight, a doctor told me that my body would have a harder time snapping back and that this is what I got for putting my career before my fertility. Thus, according to the larger culture, I am of “advanced maternal age,” too old to be trying to have more babies.3 Meanwhile, in my department, I am considered a young professor—and motherhood is viewed as a code word for “occupational interference.”


When I told my chair that I was pregnant, the response was, “You do know how that happens, don’t you?” While I was reeling from that, he said, “Oh, I thought you were going to tell me that you’d gotten a job at Cornell”—so I felt troublesome in having become pregnant and also less acceptable for only having become pregnant, rather than landing a prestigious job.


2. You are maternally beautiful, even if you feel more like a spectacle than at any other time in your life.

Your expectant body will be inscribed by colleagues, students, friends, and family. Those notations may seem disparaging or embarrassing even when they probably aren’t.

It was difficult not to feel self-conscious standing in front of classes with my belly bursting out of whatever ridiculous ensemble I’d created in an earnest effort to look polished (“Do you think they’d notice I’m enormous if I add this scarf?”). Simply acquiring a professional maternity wardrobe can be hard on a junior faculty or adjunct salary; you might try eBay, where postpartum women often sell gently used work clothes in lots, and baby-oriented consignment stores.

You may be shocked at how pregnancy can pull everyone’s attention to your body. My pregnant waddle and growing belly prompted unsolicited commentaries: some good-natured, some funny, but all rather unnerving. (And imagine the awkwardness of interviewing for a new faculty position while eight and a half months pregnant—talk about an elephant in the room!)


COLLEAGUE 1: “You are getting so big!”
COLLEAGUE 2: “It’s good, though, that you only have one chin. I never understood why pregnant women gain weight in their faces—the baby is in their stomach, for goodness’ sake!”



how to ROCK YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL and not be arrested for vandalism!

Enter to win a chance to win a concert with Radio Disney star Jordan Pruitt at your child's school.

If you’re a parent of a student in any grade from kindergarten through eighth, this is your opportunity to rally the PTA and win prizes for the school, the top one being a concert PLUS the box tops.

Look over the list at the end of this post, I’m sure some of the products there may already be in your house.

The Kimberly-Clark Rock Your School Sweepstakes is easy to enter! All you have to do is register and then you can enter daily, through September 15, 2008, for your chance to win. There are two ways you can enter: By mail or on the Internet at RockBackToSchool.com. The information you provide when you register will be used to contact you if you are a winner. Remember, you can enter once a day, every day.

You can enter the Kimberly-Clark Rock Your School Sweepstakes once a day, every day, through September 15, 2008. The winners will be chosen on or around September 22nd and notified shortly thereafter.

The Prizes
One lucky winner will receive the grand prize of a concert with Radio Disney Star Jordan Pruitt at their child’s school, plus 100,000 Bonus Box Tops!

That’s not the only thing we’re giving away though. 100 winners will receive 1,000 Bonus Box Tops (that’s a value of $100!) for their child’s school, 200 winners will receive an autographed Jordan Pruitt CD and 1,000 winners will receive a non-autographed Jordan Pruitt CD. Good luck!

Box Tops Logo

Box Tops for Education has helped America’s schools earn over $200 million since 1996! In fact, Kimberly-Clark has donated over $4 million to schools just in the past year through its partnership with Box Tops.

Schools, grades K-8, In addition to having the chance to win Box Tops through our sweepstakes, you also can help earn Box Tops for your school when you look for specially marked packages from the following participating Kimberly-Clark brands:

When yes means know

Overheard: “I have Mrs. Allan. We don’t learn anything in that class.”

Well, if you learned you didn’t learn anything, wasn’t that learning?

Too many students measure learning using the following formula: student + worksheet = work of consequence. Sad. How did that happen?

Recently, one of my students, writhing in her desk, alternately moaning and whining said, “Can’t you teach like everyone else? Can’t we just memorize this stuff? You expect us to be able to use it too.”

Me: “No. No. Yes.”

During my brief twenty years of educating high school students, I’ve learned that the most significant learning can be purely accidental. The learning that catches you by surprise years later when an event triggers some memory, for example,  and my “you have to know what to do when you don’t know what to do” suddenly makes sense.

Maybe in the yawning midst of the lesson on uses of semi-colons, there’s the lesson in perseverance or patience or possibilities.

I’d like to pat my own back for that particular “accidental” learning, butI can’t.  Actually, my role is to provide the opportunity for the serendipity, not to provide the moment it happens.