Know Your Strengths: The Back-To-School Edition

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I am just loving the discussion following yesterday’s post on knowing your strengths. With so many of you back to school already and others–like my family–heading back in the next week or so, the Yahoo! Motherboard is discussing back-to-school topics right now, and I thought this might be a nice opportunity to extend our conversation as well. Because there’s perhaps no time when understanding your strengths is as important as the beginning of a new school year.

Our back-to-school ice cream social is tomorrow night. You know the drill: there will be tables set up all over the school(s) (between my four school-aged kids, there’s three of ’em) with sign-up forms for volunteer opportunities: PTA. Band and Orchestra boosters. Concession sales. Classroom reader. And the list goes on.

If you’re like me, you have great intentions and a real desire to help out…but limited time. So how do you keep from signing up for a dozen volunteer gigs and then kicking yourself by the end of September? Knowing your strengths!

This year I’m going to go into that ice-cream social armed with a deep understanding of 1) what I’m good at, 2) what I want to do and 3) what I’m able to do right now. And I’m going to start by eliminating the things I definitely don’t want to do. For example, I’m going to avoid the PTA like the plague. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself from my experience in office jobs and at my kids’ last school PTA, it’s this: I hate meetings. I hate them with a white-hot passion. Sitting in a room with a lot of people arguing over whether to print the fliers in coral or mustard yellow is like my version of eternal damnation. So why torture myself? There are lots of other ways to help out.

I also won’t be cutting out shapes for my preschooler’s classroom. It’s not that I think I’m above cutting. It’s that I’m horrible at it. My shapes look like they were gnawed by horse’s teeth, and my hands cramp up and it’s just awful. Plus, I have a toddler who gets into everything. Hello! Not the job for me.

Concessions at sporting events? With kids of varying ages and a husband who has an irregular out-of-town work schedule, that’s not something I can commit to. So when the nice lady with the clipboard asks if I could be a pal and sign on, I’m going to smile graciously and say ‘No thanks’.

Now, Media Center assistant? That I can get into. A pre-set schedule during school hours, a system I understand (Dewey Decimal and I are good friends), helping kids use the Internet and cite research material? Yep and yep. I’ll also gladly sign on to read out loud to my son’s classroom…as long as it doesn’t involve any Dr. Seuss.

How about you? If you considered your strengths before signing on for school volunteer gigs, which ones would you choose…and which ones would you avoid at all costs?

P.S. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my interview with Jen Singer.

P.P.S. In case you’re interested, my Media Kit is now available to view or download.

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