Recently I was told by a principal in our district that I need to get better at tooting my own horn. (It was a bit frustrating to hear this as I have colleagues across the district and in at least 4 other districts in the county that are aware of the work I do.) But the comment reminded me of the first time I heard this phrase.
I was a junior in high school and my parents and I were meeting with my class advisor to review my plans for after graduation. I told him about the colleges I wanted to apply to and he looked over my academic records and said, “You need to get involved in some extra curricular activities.” My mom was flabbergasted. Of course this was in the 70’s when most school personnel equated “extra curricular” with sports or being in the band or a cheer leader. My parents told the advisor I was involved in outside activities: Girl Scouts, church youth group, the drama club and the school literary journal.
The advisor quickly wrote these down and asked me more about my interests. I did get into the college I wanted to attend and I’m sure the application essay I had to write speaking to my passions and engagement helped as I was a capable, but not stellar, student.
It was discouraging to realize a teacher who was supposed to “know” me and advise me hadn’t a clue about who I was or what I cared about. The exchange prompted my dad to tell me I needed to learn to “toot my own horn.”